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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Susan Has Her Own Doll
The Partridge Family came with its fair share of merchandise. This means that Susan Dey’s face appeared on board games, lunch boxes, and card sets. But the most notable was a Laurie Partridge doll.
The doll came in Susan Dey’s likeness with her autograph printed on the front. In the ’70s, this doll sold for $35. However, a recent auction saw a mint condition doll in the box sell for $250! It seems that Susan’s likeness is no less popular today.
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.
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.
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 Threatened To Leave L.A. Law
During the fifth and sixth seasons, Susan Dey famously threatened to leave L.A. Law. She took issue with the developing romance between Grace and Harry Hamlin’s character Michael Kuzak. Initially, she said she would leave during the fifth season, but then she remained for a sixth.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Susan said that she wanted to keep Grace as a single mother. The producers wrote into her contract that they would not further the romantic plot.
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.
She Influenced Many Teenagers
During her modeling career, Susan Dey quickly became a sought-out magazine model. She appeared in popular magazines such as ‘Teen and Seventeen. In just two short years of modeling, Susan impacted teenagers across the country.
Susan also made endorsement deals with several products. From clothing brands to makeup to hairspray, she appeared in advertisements across the nation. By the time she landed a role in The Partridge Family, many teenagers already knew who she was.
She Inspired A Book Character
In 2008, author Gwyn Cready published her hilarious debut novel, Tumbling Through Time. The heroine of the story, Persephone “Seph” Pyle, ends up in an old romance novel. Oddly enough, Seph mentions Susan Dey several times.
In the story, Seph thought of Laurie Partridge as her heroine. She often yearned to be like the character. While it’s an unusual dedication, it demonstrates how Susan continued to impact the world 30 years after her series aired.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
She Has Millions In Net Worth
Although Susan Dey quit acting in 2004, she still has an estimated net worth of $10 million. Her husband, Bernard Sofronski, still works as a movie executive producer. He has an estimated $4 million net worth.
Susan lives with her family in New York, close to where she grew up and began modeling. The two never had any children other than Susan’s daughter from her previous marriage, Sara. Needless to say, they’re living the life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Partridge Family Epitomized The ’70s
One of the most loved shows on television during the early 1970s was The Partridge Family. Audiences across America were captivated by the singing family for the four seasons it ran, and the show won some prestigious accolades along the way, including a Grammy nomination, five Golden Globe nominations, and some very high ratings.
If you’re a big fan of The Partridge Family, you’ll want to read these little-known facts and fun trivia about the actors.
Shirley Partridge Or Carol Brady?
Shirley Jones played Shirley Partridge, the mother of the Partridge family. She also had the opportunity to play another timeless television mother character, as she was previously offered the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch.
In the end, as appealing as the offer was, Jones identified more with the character of Shirley Partridge and decided that was the best role for her. Her character was also recognized as one of the first working mothers on television, not a bad title to have.
After Mrs. Partridge
After The Partridge Family, Jones continued her acting and music career. She tried her hand at her own television show titled Shirley, which eventually canceled due to bad ratings. However, she also worked on the dramatic project There Were Times, Dear, where she was nominated for an Emmy.
She now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame and has been in numerous plays such as Oklahoma! and even played a role in the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Her last appearance on television was a guest star role in an episode of General Hospital in 2014.
David Cassidy, a teen heartthrob of the 1970’s played the character of Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family. He was the son of Shirley Partridge, who was actually David’s stepmother in real life.
The Partridge Family helped to push Cassidy into musical stardom, with his solo music career surpassing The Partridge Family’s musical success and went on to have sell-out concerts all over the world. He had become a teen idol, which he resented at the time, as he was striving to become a respected musician rather than a teen star.
Cassidy’s Later Life
During and after the filming of The Partridge Family, Cassidy had beyond a successful music career. He became so popular that at one of his shows 800 people were crushed. From there, he continued on with his musical career releasing numerous successful singles and albums.
Tragically, he passed away from liver failure in 2017. Co-star Danny Bonaduce shared this to Twitter: “I have known, loved, and admired David Cassidy for 48 out of my 58 years. He has been as kind to me as any real brother could ever be. We’ve been through a lot together and he was always there for me. This loss is huge. RIP my dear friend.”
Danny Bonaduce played Danny Partridge, the bass-playing middle son of the show. Although he was described by the rest of the cast as a “very smart” and “extremely talented” boy, he was also prone to some juvenile hijinks and mischief as we read about earlier. It was not uncommon for him to stage pillow fights or throw a dish of food across the room.
Hard to blame him when he’s just a kid. Many claimed that he was a wild child, and even took up smoking cigarettes at 11 years old! That’s the ’70s for ya!
Both during and after The Partridge Family, Bonaduce was featured in films such as Corvette Summer and the television show CHiPS. He notes that in a 14-year period from 1974 to 1988, he only worked a total of 20 weeks. In 1990s Bonaduce made many guest star appearances on television shows such as Married…With Children, Monk, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and more.
He also spent some time as a radio personality and had a variety of shows over the years. During that time, he also participated, in reality, TV shows. Since then, he has been relatively out of the limelight.
The Partridge Family Featured Some Unbelievable Guest Stars
As is often the case on television shows, some current big-time celebrities found their first flash of fame on The Partridge Family. The show featured celebrities like Farrah Fawcett, Rob Reiner, Richard Pryor, and eleven-year-old Jodie Foster.
Some guest stars were more popular with the cast than others, as Shirley Jones confessed in her biography that she really didn’t like Dick Clark or Richard Pryor. The show was a perfect way for young and upcoming stars to receive some attention from their public and get their name out there
David Cassidy Made $600 A Week While Sony Made Millions
Many of Cassidy’s fans were completely unaware that all of the sold-out shows, fan club memberships, and merchandise did little to line Cassidy’s pockets. Instead, they went directly to Screen Gems (Sony) and made them millions. His contract didn’t require the company to pay him any royalties or even request his permission to use his image.
Cassidy’s salary was a flat $600 every week. This would not be the first or last time that a television industry has taken advantage of their talent, while they sit back and collect the money.
The Partridge Family Featured Two Chris Partridges
It’s not uncommon for TV shows to replace one actor with another while still playing the same character. This is also frequent among children that don’t have star roles because the audience doesn’t tend to either notice or care too much. That’s exactly what happened on The Partridge Family with the character of Christ Partridge.
While Chris Partridge was originally played by Jeremy Gelbwaks, he was replaced by Brian Forster in the second season because everyone on set agreed that Gelbwaks simply wasn’t quite ready for showbiz.
The Reason The Partridge Family’s House Looks So Familiar
If you’ve ever seen the Partridge family home and thought you had seen it somewhere before, you’re correct! The house was used for other popular television shows filmed in the same era. Not only was it used as the nosey neighbors’ house in Bewitched, it was also featured in Dennis the Menace and I Dream of Jeannie.
Also, the house is right down the street from the original home of The Munsters! Who knew the house was so famous on its own!
Only Shirley Jones Was Meant To Actually Sing
Originally, the studio intended only for Shirley Jones aka Shirley Partridge to sing on the show. However, after the producers heard David Cassidy’s demos of some of the songs, they made the executive decision to let him sing as well.
Lucky for David Cassidy considering that his role as Keith Partridge rocketed his musical career and made him the music icon that he is today. Imagine the world of music where David Cassidy didn’t get his start on The Partridge Family!
Rick Springfield As Keith Partridge?
Most fans of The Partridge Family are aware that the show only enjoyed a limited run of four seasons. While the show’s producers wanted to keep it going longer, David Cassidy had no interest in continuing in his role, since his music career was far more promising than the continuation of the show.
Apparently, if the show had continued past four seasons, then it would’ve been the familiar face of Rick Springfield playing Keith Partridge. It was probably a good call to end the show when it did since switching out a star can prove to be difficult for the audience to adjust.
The Cowsill Family
Originally, The Partridge Family was meant to feature the real-life family the Cowsills. It was close to becoming a reality until the producers decided they wanted Shirley Jones to play the family’s mother instead of the group’s actual patriarch Barbara Cowsill. Obviously, the Cowsill family took issue with that and refused the part.
Although we are all happy with the way The Partridge Family ultimately turned out, it would have been interesting to see an actual family acting together as a different family on a television show.
The Partridge Family Songs Actually Charted
Some of the songs that were credited to The Partridge Family show actually performed quite well on the charts. “I Think I Love You” was the group’s first single, and it sold over 4 million copies while going to number-one on the charts. David Cassidy was even been known to perform that song in later years.
Some of the group’s other hits included “Doesn’t Someone Want To Be Wanted,” “I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” and “I’ll Meet You Halfway,” showing that this show was revolutionary in how it covered multiple bases in the pop culture world.
Danny Bonaduce Had Serious Trouble With His Lines
When filming The Partridge Family, Danny Bonaduce struggled with dyslexia while at the same time having a photographic memory. While he could easily remember his lines as well as his castmates, his dyslexia made it difficult for him to always get the lines right.
Fellow cast members apparently got annoyed with Bonaduce when he would correct them on their own lines. With Bonaduce already having a lot of energy and being a bit on the mischevious side, we’re sure his disorder made him quite the handful on set at times.
David Cassidy’s Voice Didn’t Actually Sound Like That
Turns out that David Cassidy’s voice sounded different than how it appeared to sound on the show. Cassidy claims that while recording his voice, the sound engineers would record it a quarter-tone lower and then play it back while raising it a quarter tone. This caused his voice to sound slightly higher than it actually was.
Although they were tinkering with his voice, it didn’t have much effect, because they weren’t trying to cover anything as if he couldn’t sing. Cassidy had a great voice, they just barely tweaked it for the sake of the show.
Shirley Jones Had A Hard Time With Her Partridge Family Fame
In her memoir, Jones commented that she attributed her divorce of Jack Cassidy to the fame that came with her acting career. She also said the life of a celebrity was very confusing for her son, Ryan, who at one point unknowingly invited a group of tourists into their home.
In an interview, she notes that her agents didn’t warn her that she would become Shirley Partridge for the rest of her life, and her movie career would suffer. However, she also explains that she has no regrets.
Fans Of The Show Thought The Kids Played Their Own Instruments
Apparently, it was a common misconception that the kids on the show actually played their own instruments. Danny Bonaduce claimed that many fans of the show thought the group should go on tour and play live. However, the only cast member to actually do so was David Cassidy, who had a very successful singing career.
Yet, this can be understood since although some of the cast was actually singing and the others weren’t, it would be hard to differentiate between the two. Also, surely the younger viewers wanted to believe that the kids were actually playing instruments.