It had been nearly 10 years since Adam Rich made the wrong kind of headlines...Had been.
Rich, who played Nicholas, the littlest Bradford, on TV's Eight Is Enough, drove onto a closed-off stretch of Los Angeles-area freeway early Wednesday and nearly collided with a California Highway Patrol car, before being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.
The 34-year-old former child star, a frequent police-blotter entry in the late 1980s and early 1990s for a string of drug-related arrests, told officers he was returning to his Brentwood home from a rave party, CHP Public Affairs Officer John Escobedo said.
The incident began at 2:40 a.m. when a gray 2000 Chrysler Sebring, traveling westbound on Interstate 10 in Pomona, crossed over into lanes shut down for construction work, Escobedo said. Officers in a CHP cruiser that was parked in the area soon noticed the Sebring coming up on their tail.
The officers moved their car off to the side. When the Sebring motored right on by, they followed and pulled over the vehicle, Escobedo said.
According to the CHP spokesman, arresting officers did not immediately recognize the driver of the Sebring as Adam Rich, once one of TV's most popular child actors.
In addition to explaining that he'd just come from a rave, Rich told officers he was on anti-depressant medication, Escobedo said.
The erstwhile TV tyke subsequently flunked a field sobriety test, the officer said. Results of a chemical test are pending.
Rich was booked on suspicion of DUI, a misdemeanor, at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department station in the City of Industry. He was released at 9:15 a.m. He is to be arraigned February 20 in a Pomona court.
The Los Angeles office of Rich's talent agent said it had no information on the arrest.
Though he listed his occupation with the CHP as "actor," it has been years since Rich appeared in front of the camera. Per a 1997 interview with onetime TV dad, Dick Van Patten, Rich had taken up work behind the camera, as an assistant director.
From 1977 to 1981, Rich was a prime prime-time star, his floppy hair and bangs making him the signature moppet of ABC's Eight Is Enough, a family comedy-drama about a super-sized clan. Minus the bangs, he reprised the role of Nicholas Bradford in two reunion movies, in 1987 and 1989.
From October 1990 to January 1992, Rich was variously accused of drunken driving, sock-stealing, breaking into a hospital in search of Demerol and throwing himself down a flight of stairs during rehab in order to score painkillers.
"I have a disease," Rich told a court in 1991. "Some people are saying it was a cry for help, and I guess that's right. I am very remorseful, very embarrassed."
Rich put his legal troubles behind him in the mid-1990s. In 1996, he played prankster, faking his own death for the purposes of a satirical article for Might magazine, "Adam Rich, 1968-1996...His Final Days. His Last Interview. The Legacy He Leaves."
Troubles have trailed other members of TV's Bradford family. Willie Aames, middle son Tommy, battled cocaine until turning to religion and donning a cowl to play the evil-defying superhero Bibleman in a series of videos and live shows. In September 2001, Lani O'Grady, eldest daughter Mary, fatally OD'd on the painkiller Vicodin and the antidepressant Prozac.