“The Patridge Family” Actress Susan Dey Tells All About Her Young Life In The Spotlight
Susan Dey sure has come a long way from a small-town model to Hollywood royalty! At just 18 years old this former Partridge Family starlet made an impact on Hollywood, and decades later she's still remembered as one of the most sought-after actresses. We were all wondering what happened to the iconic actress that we grew up with - so if you want to catch up on her story and learn some fascinating facts about her life then you'll definitely want to keep reading to find out!
Modeling Started Her Career
Unlike many other performers, Susan Dey didn't begin her career in theater or commercials. In 1968, her stepmother Gail sent modeling snaps of the teen and her stepsister to a New York agency.
After a short stint as a model, she was approached by ABC producers who cast the 17 year old with no prior acting experience in The Partridge Family as Laurie -- thus offering an invaluable opportunity for on-the-job training.
Published At Only 19 Years-Old
During her time on The Partridge Family, Susan was also working on her own project. At just 19 years of age, she released a book entitled Susan Dey's Secret on Boys, Beauty and Popularity in 1972 - roughly halfway through the show's run. In it, Susan shares some of her insights gained from personal experience about topics like cosmetics, romantic relationships, physical fitness and hair care - all still relevant today despite the publication date being over five decades ago!
She Tried Her Hand At Music
Susan Dey, who famously starred on The Partridge Family alongside her TV family, also had a musical side. She played the piano and organ and lent her stunning vocal harmonies to iconic songs such as "Welcome to Our Club".
Despite this success, when the show ended she chose not to pursue further music opportunities but instead focus on acting. Her first post-Partridge movie was 1972's Skyjacked where she appeared in a lead role.
Pulling Pranks On Set
On the set of The Partridge Family, Susan was determined to get back at Danny Bonaduce for his mischief. So she and the other kids hatched a plan - pour milk over Danny's head!
Surprisingly enough, this prank ended up fuelling an episode in the show. It just goes to show that even if you're trying to revenge-prank your co-star, it can still prove beneficial!
Years Later, The Show Still Gets New Fans
When The Partridge Family was released, it achieved instant success and went on to be a beloved show for four seasons and 96 episodes. However, eventually the ratings began to fall due to other competing shows in the US and it had to be canceled.
Despite this, fans of the show were still loyal and in 1993 Nickelodeon picked up reruns which were accompanied by effective advertising campaigns featuring recreated school buses - making Susan Dey a household name even among millennials!
Another Failed Spin-Off
Following the conclusion of the original The Partridge Family series, a spin-off titled The Partridge Family 2200 A.D. was produced, featuring an animated cast with a science fiction twist. Susan Dey initially voiced her character in these episodes; however, she was replaced after only two installments - though this did not cause any major disruption to her career trajectory.
Regrettably, for the show's producers, ratings for the animated take deteriorated and it was ultimately canceled after 16 episodes had aired; but Susan continued to pursue more successful projects regardless.
A Crush On Her Co-Star
While working on The Partridge Family, some behind-the-scenes drama occurred between the supposed siblings. Susan Dey had a huge crush on her co-star, David Cassidy. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, David admitted that he rejected her advances.
Although Susan was smitten, David saw her as more of a sister than a partner. During a 1994 interview, David revealed that the two had a brief relationship that he regretted. The two slowly drifted apart throughout the years.
People Warned Her Against David Cassidy
Other cast members knew about Susan's crush on David Cassidy. Their TV mom, Shirley Jones, wrote about the relationship in her autobiography. Jones said that Susan wouldn't listen to her advice to stay away from David.
If she had listened to her fellow co-stars, Susan might not have ended up so heartbroken.
Most Of Her Awards Came From L.A. Law
In 1986, Susan Dey played the calm and practical Grace Van Owen in L.A. Law. The show won numerous awards--12 Emmys in its first four seasons. Susan herself received three Emmy nominations throughout the show's run.
But that's not all. In 1988, Susan won a Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She was nominated for the same award over the next four years. It's no wonder why the name Susan Dey became synonymous with L.A. Law.
She Got Her Single Mother Role
Before Susan Dey fought for a single mother role on L.A. Law, she portrayed a single mother in a much dark film. Susan played the main character, Mary Jane Harper, in the TV movie drama Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night.
The movie won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe nomination. Although she seemed to enjoy portraying single mothers, Susan wasn't raised by one. Her biological mother passed away when she was eight years old.
A Household Name In The '90s
When the '90s came around, Susan Dey was a household name. She hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1992, where she participated in a skit about the Brady Bunch family versus the Partridge family. She also acted in numerous TV movies.
In 1992, Dey landed another sitcom role in Love & War. She acted in 23 episodes before being replaced. Reportedly, the producers thought that she didn't have enough chemistry with her co-star, Jay Thomas.
She Regretfully Turned Down Grease
Susan Dey's wide breadth of acting skills landed her in many roles. However, she turned down one role that she later regretted. Dey was originally offered the part of Sandy in Grease (1978). The role eventually went to Olivia Newton-John.
Reportedly, Dey originally accepted the part. Afterward, Newton-John's manager convinced her to turn down the role. Newton-John claimed the role in the highest-grossing film at the time. Understandably, Dey later said that she regretted her decision.
Over 40 years after The Partridge Family aired, the cast filmed a special reunion show in 2010. But there was one face missing: Susan Dey. She has never appeared in a Partridge Family reunion since the show ended.
In his autobiography, David Cassidy wrote about his relationship with Susan. Apparently, she didn't appreciate how he described it. She admitted that she didn't want to be around him during the reunions. Although David hoped that she would return someday, sadly, he passed away in 2017.
Her First Husband
In 1976, Susan Dey married manager and agent Leonard "Lenny" Hirshan. The two met as he was working as her agent. Despite the 25-year age gap, the couple fell in love and married. Two years later, they had a daughter named Sara.
Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last longer than five years. In 1981, the couple divorced, and Leonard no longer served as her agent. However, this didn't prevent Dey from achieving future roles in movies and TV shows.
A Happily Ever After
Susan's second marriage was far luckier than her first. In 1988, she married TV producer Bernard Sofronski. When they met, Sofronski was incredibly successful and well-known in his career. They had a private wedding attended by only close friends and family.
Although her first marriage didn't work out, Susan's second marriage is still going strong. Thirty years later, the two love each other just as much as when they were married. Congrats to both of them!
The Movie Finale To L.A. Law
Although L.A. Law ended in 1992, Dey returned to the scene ten years later. The show's finale took the form of a movie called L.A. Law: The Movie. To date, it is still one of Dey's highest-grossing films.
The film revisited the old law firm, along with most of the main cast. Critics received the movie as well as the audience did. It seems that every fan yearned to see the characters a decade after the show.
Dey Acted In Crime Dramas Before L.A. Law
Although L.A. Law is one of her most well-known roles, Dey was no stranger to crime dramas. Eleven years before L.A. Live, Dey played the role of Susan Bradford in Hawaii Five-O. In the episode, Dey finds herself in the midst of a crime and decides to help the police.
During the same year, Dey acted in two episodes of S.W.A.T. She also appeared in an episode of The Streets of San Francisco in 1976. These roles prepared her for future shows to come.
She Worked Behind The Camera
In 1989, Susan Dey starred as the main character, Christina Taylor, in the dramatic movie I Love You Perfect. But she didn't just appear on camera. She also worked behind the camera as a co-producer.
Whatever she did for the movie, it worked. It was a massive success among both critics and the audience. Four years later, Dey took on a producer and actor role in the movie Sad Inheritance, also called Love, Lies and Lullabies.
Dey Fought For Little Women
After The Partridge Family ended, Dey yearned to get away from her innocent role as Laurie Partridge. To expand her breadth of work, Dey fought for a role in the 1978 remake of Little Women. She ended up playing Jo, the main character.
Little Women was initially meant to be the pilot for a TV show. Since it never became a series, the movie ended up stretching over three hours. Nonetheless, it won an Emmy and got nominated for another.
You May Not See The Family Work Together
Susan Dey and her husband, Bernard Sofronski, worked together for one movie. In 1994, the two made the movie Whose Child Is This? The War for Baby Jessica. Susan starred in the film, while Bernard co-produced it.
The TV drama was based on a real-life story about two couples who got in a legal battle over their child, Jessica. The film was pretty successful when it aired. Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to get a physical copy.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Susan Dey's daughter, Sara Dey-Hirshan, followed her mother's footsteps and went into acting. However, she only starred in one movie. In 2009, when Sara was 31 years old, she took on a leading role in Danger Island.
Sara played the character Clare in this crime drama that reflected her mother's earlier works. But once the movie ended, fans never saw more of Sara Dey-Hirshan. Time will tell whether she'll act again or fade into the shadows as her mother did.
Vanishing Into Thin Air
In 2004, Susan Dey stopped acting. Her last appearance was two episodes in the crime drama series Third Watch. Then, with no explanation, she never returned to the big screen.
Dey has kept her life private. After 34 years of remaining under the spotlight, she's likely relieved to get out of it. Her husband still works in movies, but Dey has yet to reappear in Hollywood. Time will tell if she chooses to participate in a reunion.