Talent agent and former teen actress Lani O’Grady, who played strong, self-confident, eldest daughter Mary on the TV series “Eight Is Enough” but in real life suffered from panic attacks and chemical abuse, was found dead in her Valencia, Calif., home Sept. 25, apparently of natural causes. She was 46. Results of a post-mortem exam were pending.
Born in Walnut Grove, Calif., O’Grady was the daughter of Mary Grady, one of Hollywood’s top children’s agents. Her brother was Don Grady, one of the original Mousketeers and a co-star of the 1960s TV comedy “My Three Sons.”
Born Lanita Rose Agrati, she changed her name to Lani O’Grady after landing her role in “Eight Is Enough,” which ran 1977-1981.
She suffered from panic attacks starting at age 18, which led to abusing prescription drugs and alcohol for more than a decade, she said.
By 1993, she experienced agoraphobia, which kept her isolated at home, and she was having memory blackouts. But in 1994, she began treatment with a nonnarcotic medication for what was diagnosed as a brain chemical imbalance. The treatment, she said at the time, made all the difference in the world.
However, in December 1998, she checked into the Thalians Mental Health Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to detoxify from a prescription drug.