Fascinating Facts About ‘The Partridge Family’ Star Susan Dey

At 18 years old, Susan Dey became one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood. She kicked off her career by playing Laurie on The Partridge Family, and later, she starred in L.A. Law. For decades, Susan Dey was a household name.

Whatever happened to Susan Dey? How did she go from a model with no acting experience to a crime drama staple? If you want to catch up with the famous actress, look no further. Here are some fascinating facts about Susan Dey.

She Got In Through Modeling

Unlike most other actors, Susan Dey didn’t start her career through theater or commercials. In 1968, her stepmother Gail submitted modeling photos of Susan and her stepsister to a New York modeling agency. Susan briefly modeled before running into ABC producers.

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Getty Images
Getty Images

Because of her modeling, Susan was chosen to play Laurie on The Partridge Family. She was only 17 years old with no prior acting work. However, she would quickly gain hands-on experience through her leading role in the show.

She Wrote A Book While Filming

While she was acting on The Partridge Family, Susan was working on her own project. At age 19, she published a book, Susan Dey’s Secret on Boys, Beauty and Popularity. The book came out in 1972, about halfway through her Partridge Family career.

Susan Dey arrives at the Genii Awards Luncheon in a car.
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In the book, Susan talks about her personal experience and advice. Her topics include makeup, dating, staying in shape, and hair care. Although the book came out over 45 years ago, it’s still relevant today.

Her Original Show Is Still Popular Today

When The Partridge Family first came out, it became a massive success. The show went on for four seasons and 96 episodes. Unfortunately, competing programs in the United States caused its audience to drop, and the show was eventually canceled.

Photo of the Partridge family against a yellow background, circa 1972.
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Even so, The Partridge Family maintained a loyal following. In 1993, Nickelodeon picked up the show and aired reruns. The campaign included effective advertising and a recreated school bus. Because of that, some millennials know who Susan Dey is.

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.

American actors David Cassidy and Susan Dey, costars of the television series 'The Partridge Family,' stand together and smile.
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey walks and shares a joke with her co-star David Cassidy.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Not only was David focusing on his music, but he also had swarms of fangirls meeting him near his hotel rooms and cars. If she had listened to her fellow co-stars, Susan might not have ended up so heartbroken.

Voice Acting For The Spin-Off Flop

After the original show’s finale, The Partridge Family received a spin-off show: The Partridge Family 2200 A.D. This show was animated with a science fiction twist. Susan originally voiced her character, but she was replaced after only two episodes.

Still frame from the animated show The Partridge Family 2200 AD
The Partridge Family 2200 AD/Sony Pictures Television
The Partridge Family 2200 AD/Sony Pictures Television

This wasn’t a major blow to Susan Dey’s career. The audience did not enjoy the animated cast. Ratings plummeted, and the show was canceled after 16 episodes. Meanwhile, Susan moved on to bigger and better projects.

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.

Susan Dey gets out of her car to arrive at the Primetime Emmy Awards, 1991.
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey whispers to a child in the movie Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night.
Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night/Paramount Television and CBS Television
Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night/Paramount Television and CBS Television

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.

Actress Susan Dey poses in an emerald green shirt against a pink background, 1986.
Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images
Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

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.

American actor Susan Dey touches her hair and smiles while at the annual Golden Apple Awards.
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images

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.

Practicing Her Vocals

Like many other stars on The Partridge Family, Susan tried her hand at music. She played the piano and organ and contributed to harmonies throughout the show’s songs. You can hear her vocals in songs like “Welcome to Our Club.”

Photo of the Partridge sitcom family playing music, circa 1970.
GAB Archive/Redferns
GAB Archive/Redferns

Although she contributed to the show’s albums, Susan never returned to the realm of music. Instead, she focused on her acting by taking on movie roles. After the show ended, she acted in the 1972 airplane hijack movie, Skyjacked.

Never Reuniting

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.

Actors of The Partridge Family lean out of the windows of their bus.
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey stands with Lenny Hirshan during
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey and her husband, Bernard Sofronski , pose for photos during the
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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 cast of L.A. Law, (L-R) Richard Dysart, Corbin Bernsen, Michele Greene, Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey, Susan Ruttan, Alan Rachins, Jimmy Smits and Michael Tucker who is holding a balloon.
Getty Images
Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey talks to Jack Lord in Hawaii Five-O.
Hawaii Five-O/Viacom Enterprises/CBS Television
Hawaii Five-O/Viacom Enterprises/CBS Television

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.

The Partridge Family Often Pulled Pranks

On the set of The Partridge Family, Susan took part in her fair share of pranks. Danny Bonaduce, who played Danny in the show, often messed with his fellow co-stars. Eventually, the other kids planned to get him back.

Partridge family poses inside a giant golden frame as Dave Madden
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

At one point, the other actors convinced Susan to pour milk on Danny’s head. Of course, this didn’t escape the director. He later translated Susan’s prank into an episode. Now that’s one way to get back at your co-star!

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.

Susan Dey stands with members of the LA Police.
SGranitz/WireImage
SGranitz/WireImage

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.

Susan Dey stars in Little Women.
Little Women/NBC
Little Women/NBC

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.

Susan Dey and Bernard Sofronski embrace during 39th Annual Emmy Awards, 1987.
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey and Sarah Sofronski hold hands during 8th Annual Mother Daughter Fashion Show
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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.

Susan Dey and Robert Dornhelm in front of a merry-go-round in the film Echo Park.
Pool DENIZE/PELLETIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Pool DENIZE/PELLETIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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.