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Betty Buckley Reflects On Outdated Gender Roles On ‘Eight Is Enough’

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The comedy-drama TV series Eight Is Enough, which aired from 1977 to 1981, was created by William Blinn and based on the memoir of Thomas Braden, a syndicated newspaper columnist. The series tells the story of the Bradford family, headed by newspaper columnist Tom Bradford and his wife, Joan. The series featured a talented ensemble cast, including Adam Rich, Laurie Walters, Willie Aames, Grant Goodeve, and others.

Despite its popularity, the show faced challenges, including the untimely death of Diana Hyland, who played the matriarch Joan Bradford. Betty Buckley joined the cast to fill the gap as Abby, Tom’s second wife. Recently, the 76-year-old reflected on her time on the popular series and how she was gender stereotyped playing the role of the Bradford family matriarch

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Betty Buckley reminisces on outdated gender roles

EIGHT IS ENOUGH, Betty Buckley, 1977-1981

During her conversation with People, Buckley shared that appearing in Eight is Enough was a significant milestone in her acting career. However, despite the enthusiasm, the actress didn’t hold back her honest thoughts on the character she played. “It was the first time I’d been to Hollywood and gone through a big negotiation with attorneys and stuff like that. I had to hire a major gunslinger attorney to handle them. They were very, very tough to deal with,” she told the news outlet. “The first season, they promised me this character who was getting her doctorate and drove an old green MG, and they made her sound like this really interesting modern person.”

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RELATED: Betty Buckley Was Scared She’d Actually Die On ‘Carrie’ Set In 1976

“But that wasn’t the case. They put me in a muumuu and put me in the kitchen. And so I was like, ‘You guys, this is pre-1950s. Come on!’ I was so excited, because this idea that I had passed along from Penny Marshall was going to be used [and] they came to me and said, ‘You can’t be in the food fight because Abby’s a role model and ABC standards and practices said no,’” Buckley recalled. “They wanted me to behave and act with the maturity of a 40-year-old woman because Diana Highland, who was the original mother, had been a 40-year-old woman.”

EIGHT IS ENOUGH, from left: Dick Van Patten, Betty Buckley, 1977-81

She says she doesn’t regret starring in the series

Buckley emphasized that her time on the series was worthwhile and has helped her maintain strong bonds with her fellow cast members. She explained that whenever she finds herself in Los Angeles, she makes a point to reconnect with them through reunions, often organized by the late publicist Jeff Ballard. “He was always getting us all together,” she admitted. “‘Betty’s come to town!’ And they’d get everybody to come see me in concert and hang out.”

EIGHT IS ENOUGH, Betty Buckley, 1977-1981.

In a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress disclosed that despite encountering moments of frustration, she considers working on the series one of her best times due to its significant contribution to her career development. “I look back on it — 29 episodes a year for four years — it was an extraordinary gift,” Buckley confessed. “I grew into a better actress. I’m very proud of it.”

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