When it comes to sitcoms, nothing can beat the classics. There are some great television shows these days. But it’s never tiring to go back to the shows produced and aired in the past. One excellent example of a well-loved classic is “The Partridge Family.” It was a show about the journey of a family with six members. It followed them to the heights of their musical fame.
But unlike any other television show in history, the cast didn’t just enjoy their musical fame on TV. The TV family also successfully released 8 albums which made it into the charts. Because of this, some of the cast members used their fame on the show. They used it as an opportunity to launch their musical careers. Unlike them, actress Susan Dey used the show to achieve recognition in the acting world.
Click ‘Start Slideshow’ and read on to learn all about her incredible life…
The show that started it all
“The Partridge Family” was a television show which gained a lot of followers. In it, Susan Dey played the role of Laurie Partridge, one of the family’s older siblings. Despite its popularity, the show caused a lot of controversies. News spread that the cast members were all underpaid. The controversies also focused on the lifestyles the fame led the actors into. The show features a number of impressionable stars. Sadly though, they inevitably succumbed to the pressures of Hollywood.
Susan Dey was one of those impressionable young stars. The show was the start of her acting career which was full of ups and downs. Famous as she was, life wasn’t always easy for this young star. But we all know that she rose above all the negativity as time passed by.
Despite the fame, Susan remained to be a very humble person…
The humble beginnings
Back in December 10, 1952, Ruth Dey gave birth to Susan Hallock Dey in Illinois. Robert Smith Dey, her father, worked for a newspaper back then. After some years, he moved the whole family to New York for his job. Tragically though, Susan’s mother passed away when she was just 8 years old. The event took a huge toll on Susan but her father supported her well.
When she grew up, Susan attended high school in New York and she graduated in the year 1970. When she was 15 years old, Susan started modeling. But when she reached 17 years old, she caught the role that would change her life. She became part of the huge television show called “The Partridge Family.” It was a well-loved show. It focused on a family who formed a band because they all wanted to make it big in the music business.
This role was huge but it proved to only be the start of her career…
Susan’s acting success
After starring on the huge television show, Susan gained much recognition. Incredibly though, she didn’t have any previous acting experience. She never even attended any workshops or acting classes when she was still young. But Dey didn’t let her lack of acting experience stop her. She took her role on the show seriously and used it to gain valuable hands-on experience. This helped her develop her acting skills which paved her career.
The show in itself was a huge success and from it, some of the cast members moved on to start their music careers. Sadly, the show’s final season aired at a new time slot. At that time, it had to compete with a rival television series. It wasn’t able to stand up to its rival and after some time, the ratings started to drop. Although it became famous in the UK, in America, the show began to lose popularity.
The decline of the show was just one of Susan’s many struggles…
Her struggle with weight
It was a quite unfortunate time for Susan Dey gained fame because of her role as Laurie Partridge. Since she was still young, she couldn’t handle all the success. At the time, she was just 18 years old and when she received so much attention. With it, she had to go on a diet, restricting her food intake so she can stay slim. At her lowest point, she only weighed 92 pounds! Some news even reported that her fingers started to turn orange. It was because of consuming too many carrots to prevent weight gain.
Fortunately, Susan was one of the lucky ones. She had come to realize the extreme lengths she went through just in the nick of time. The realization happened when she had to don a bathing suit for one of the scenes for the show. Instead of admiration, she received shocked reactions because of her figure. This gave her the motivation to start adapting healthier habits.
Then she decided to share her story with the public…
Courageously sharing her story
Susan Dey shared her story in public about the time when she had to deal with her eating disorder. But she only did so recently, after coming to terms with everything she had been through. She claimed that while playing the role, she felt stuck. They treated her like an adult when in reality, she was still a naive child.
She also experienced conflicts in her relationships. So she always felt like she was struggling to take control of her life. Because of this, she started to control her eating habits, which led to the disorder. Fortunately, she was able to pull herself out of the rut she was in. And now, she can say that she has completely recovered from her struggle. This was one of the many struggles she had to go through and it was just beginning!
Susan Dey still had a long way to go…
Her movie debut and her show’s cancellation
In the year 1972, Susan Dey starred in “Skyjacked,” her very first movie debut. The novel-based movie came out after a wave of hijackings which happened on airplanes. This series of events occurred for more than a decade back in the 60s and 70s. The producers of the film bought the rights to the novel and they cast Susan as Elly Brewster. The film gained a good reaction at the box office. In fact, it was one of the biggest films at the time it came out.
Sadly though, as her movie career kicked off, the show which made her famous got canceled. After 4 seasons, “The Partridge Family” met its end. Through the years, the cast recorded 96 episodes for the show along with 8 albums. They also gained an impressively loyal following of fans.
Aside from her acting career, Susan also found love and got married for the first time…
Her first marriage and the problems that came with it
Susan Dey met Lenny Hirshan, her first husband when we worked as her agent. They fell in love despite having a 25-year age gap between them. In 1976, they got married and two years later, they had a daughter. Sadly, their marriage didn’t last very long. In 1981, the couple got a divorce. This left Sarah without a husband and without an agent.
Rumors spread about the real reason behind their marriage problems. Apparently, it was because Susan had problems with drinking. At that time, reports claimed that Susan suffered from alcohol addiction. This caused the breakdown of their relationship. The problem came to light when a tabloid sent one of their informants to attend one of Susan’s AA meetings. This pushed the actress to speak about her drinking problem publicly. But it also outraged her as this was a very private part of her life.
But the bad things didn’t keep on coming, after some time, she got another huge movie role…
More success in movies
In the year 1977, Susan received a huge opportunity to play the lead in a new movie. The film entitled “Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night” received a lot of praise. It even got a Golden Globe Award. In the film, Susan played the role of a mother constantly struggling with her personal issues. In that same year, Susan also played the lead in the movie “First Love.” This was a romantic movie which gave her an opportunity to act next to William Kat.
After the huge success of her films, Susan received a lot of offers for roles in television shows and movies. She starred in the movies “The Comeback Kid” and “Little Women.” She even managed to grab the long-standing role in “Emerald Point N.A.S.” She featured in 22 episodes of this television series. After these roles, she played a lot more.
But all these were nothing compared to her big break…
The break with the law
No, we don’t mean that Susan actually broke the law. But in the year 1986, she got the role of her lifetime. When she attended her child’s school picnic, she met the co-creator of the show “L.A. Law.” This was a highly-praised show which accurately portrayed American lawyers. Susan played the role of Grace Van Owen. Her character began as a district attorney who worked her way up until she became a judge. “L.A. Law” was hugely successful as critics raved about how well all the cast members portrayed their roles.
Susan’s role in the show paved the way for her to receive nominations for a number of different awards. She even received the Golden Globe in the year 1988. It was for the “best performance by an actress in a television drama series.” At that time, she felt incredibly happy because of her achievement.
Of course, this wasn’t the only award she would win during her acting career…
The beginning and the end
Amidst the success of her television series, Susan married Bernard Sofronski. They tied the knot on February 20, 1988, in a very private ceremony. They only chose to invite their closes family and friends. When they met, Bernard worked as a television producer and he was very successful at his job. They’ve shared almost 3 decades together but they’re still very much in love.
In the year 1992, Susan Dey left “L.A. Law” after the 6th season’s finale. She chose to leave after realizing she got bored with her onscreen romance with Harry Hamlin. He played the character of Michael Kuzak. Even the writers agreed that the romance would already end. But Susan and Harry agreed that if the writers tried to reunite them onscreen, they would walk away from it. And that’s exactly what they did.
But Susan didn’t stop there!
The work just kept on coming
In the year 1992, Susan guest-hosted a unique episode of the show “Saturday Night Live.” The episode featured a portion which pitted the famous television show families. These were the Partridge Family and the Brady Bunch. It also featured several sketches which featured the actress. This episode drew a big crowd as they all wanted to watch her hosting the show. In the episode, she gave a tremendous monologue along with other famous appearances.
Throughout the next decade, Susan Dey just kept on working constantly. She starred in several television movies. Some of the most prominent ones were “Blue River,” Bed of Lies,” and “Deadly Love.” She also appeared in the very first season of the show “Love and War” but after some disputes, her role ended. The producers claimed that Susan didn’t have any chemistry with the leading man. Because of this, they fired and replaced her.
Fortunately, she still received some movie roles…
All her movie roles
Susan Dey’s huge television show, “L.A. Law” was so popular and well-loved. Because of this, the cast members were able to convince the network to produce a television movie. The main cast returned in the movie which they released in the year 2002. It was relatively successful as a television movie. The critics were quite happy to see all the original characters after a decade.
In the year 2003, Susan Dey gave her final appearance in the big screen hit entitled “Rain.” She played the role of Diane Davis in the war film. The film received mixed reviews from critics. It focused on the story of Rain, a German Shepherd who got drafted into the army. Some reports claimed that the movie had a decent storyline but a lot of inaccuracies. So a lot of people thought it was a shame that this disappointing film was Susan’s final movie.
However, she still appeared on a television show…
Her final TV show appearance
Back in 2004, Susan Dey made her final appearance in a television show. She played the role of Dr. Beene in a show entitled “Third Watch.” The show was another crime-drama series which was set in New York City. Susan’s performance on the show was short-lived as she only came out in two episodes. After playing the role, she formally retired from acting. Since then, she hasn’t appeared in any movies and TV shows. Also, she doesn’t have anything in the works too.
It’s been more than 40 years since the air of “The Partridge Family,” the show that started it all. But they did film a special reunion show back in 2010. All the original cast members came together to record the show. It featured all of the original members on the “Today Show,” but this time, they were all grown up.
But Susan never joined any of these reunions for a reason…
The love between cast members
Susan Dey admitted that while filming the show, she had feelings for David Cassidy, one of her cast mates. Unfortunately, David didn’t reciprocate her feelings back then. That is until the show ended in 1974. Then they started dating but the couple’s relationship only lasted for a few months. Apparently, Susan’s other cast mates had already warned her to stay away from David. They worried that things might end badly but Susan didn’t want to listen.
It seemed like their relationship was already doomed from the start. This was mainly because David was being constantly mobbed by his adoring fans. The pressure grew too much that it eventually forced them to break up. But the friction between them wasn’t caused by the breakup. It was because of David’s very revealing autobiography. He spoke of their relationship using descriptions which Susan didn’t like. Since then, the pair hasn’t spoken to each other!
Of course, Susan also had a lot of good memories…
Fun and good memories
Susan Dey and her other cast mates enjoyed their time while filming “The Partridge Family.” However, they did have to put up with the runaway pranks of Danny Bonaduce, one of their costars. Since he dealt with some personal issues in his home, they let him get away with practically anything. But one day, Danny’s pranks got out of hand that the other cast members convinced Susan to pull a prank on him. She poured milk over his head, a prank which eventually made its way into the show.
Aside from fun memories, there have also been a lot of memorabilia items produced for the show. They were especially popular in the 1970s when it first came out. The items include thermos flasks, lunch boxes, card sets, and even character dolls. But one of the most notable items was the board game which they made based on the television show.
What came after was quite notable too…
Roles here and there
After exiting her most famous role Susan got a lot of opportunities for acting as time went by. She even had a special appearance on the hit show “Hawaii Five-O” in 1975. On the show, she played the role of Susan Bradshaw. She played a woman who found herself immersed in the world of organized crime. Susan’s character asks help from the police force as she found herself in trouble.
Aside from this, Susan also received a lot of offers for starring roles. She had a unique confidence and versatile acting skills, making her a popular choice. She was also highly sought-after because of her captivating beauty. But there was one significant role she turned down. She was actually offered the role of Sandy in the movie “Grease” before Olivia Newton-John. Susan turned down the offer at the time when her own career was actively flourishing.
But this wasn’t the only time Susan and Olivia crossed paths…
Whose role is it anyway?
Before “Grease” came out, Susan Dey and Olivia Newton-John had already crossed paths. In fact, Susan’s breakthrough role in “The Partridge Family” was first offered to Olivia! The actress even accepted the role. However, Olivia’s manager convinced her to turn the offer down. At that time, they didn’t think the role would make much of an impact on her career. Then years later, they faced the opposite as Susan turned down the offer that made Olivia famous.
Back in 1978, Susan appeared in the remake of the film “Little Women.” In the beginning, the movie was actually meant to be a pilot episode for a television series. But it never happened so they ended up with a film that ran for more than 3 hours. Susan played the lead as best as she could. At that time, she was trying to break away from her character’s innocent image on “The Partridge Family.”
Aside from acting, she also explored other roles…
Susan the producer
In 1989, Susan Dey starred in the television movie “I Love You Perfect.” But that’s not all. She also co-produced the TV movie. It was hugely successful as the audience and critics loved the movie as well as her performance. The movie focused on the story of a woman, her partner, and their friend. Together, they had a journey through an illness which turned out to be a misdiagnosis. The movie showed how strong their love was for each other.
Four years later, Susan took the role of a producer once again. Once again, she starred and produced the movie entitled “Sad Inheritance.” It was another praiseworthy film as Susan played the role of Christina Kinsey. The story followed the struggle of a woman suffering from an addiction to narcotics. She then discovers that she’s pregnant and so she’s faced with difficult situations. Susan is an absolute chameleon in terms of her acting prowess.
And now… what has become of her?
Where is she now?
In the past few years, Susan put in a lot of effort to stay out of the limelight. This may be her attempt to regain her life. This is after spending so much time being constantly scrutinized by the public. Now, it seems as if she’s ready to enjoy a quieter life. Reports say that she now lives in Upstate New York with her husband. Residents have spotted her in their neighborhood.
In October 2017 a new show called “Hit the Road” came out. The show’s storyline has a familiar feel as it’s quite similar to “The Partridge Family.” The television show follows an All-American family who travels around while making music. Jason Alexander is the show’s creator and lead actor. He admitted that he based the characters on David Cassidy and Susan Dey’s roles on the classic show. People familiar with the old show may find this new one quite nostalgic.