Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
The Brady Bunch
Currently Known For:
Actress, Artist, Animal Advocate and Former Radio Host
1969 - 1974
August 14, 1961
The Brady Bunch
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“Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls, all of them had hair of gold, like their mother. The youngest one in curls.” Winning hearts with her piercing blue eyes and blond curls, Susan Olsen is an actress and former child star who is best known for playing Cindy Brady on ABC’s iconic television sitcom, The Brady Bunch. After making her acting debut in episodes of Ironside and Gunsmoke in the late 1960s, Olsen found even bigger fame at eight years old when she was cast as Cindy in 1969 alongside her on-screen siblings—Mike, Greg, Bobby, Marcia and Jan. Wrapping up the series in 1974, her success as Cindy didn’t stop there when she reprised her role in The Brady Bunch Hour variety show, in the television film The Brady Girls Get Married, and in the short-lived spinoff sequel titled The Bradys. In the decades since then, the former Brady youngster has grown up with sporadic appearances in television and in film with her main career as a graphic designer and artist. Most recently, she hosted the Two Chicks Talkin’ Politics’ radio show on LA Talk Radio before she was fired, but more on that later!
The youngest of four siblings, Susan Marie Olsen was born on August 14, 1961 in Santa Monica, California. Her older brother, Christopher, had already made his acting debut in the 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much so it was only a matter of time before the young Susan set out to make a career of her own in Hollywood. First landing appearances in television series like Ironside, Julia and Gunsmoke, she made her feature film debut alongside Elvis Presley in The Trouble with Girls in 1968. The following year, the eight-year-old Olsen caught a huge break when she was cast as the adorable Cindy Brady on ABC’s newest show, The Brady Bunch starring Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb and Mike Lookinland with Ann B. Davis playing the beloved housekeeper, Alice.
Despite the show’s incredible popularity as one of the last of a generation of family-style sitcoms, Olsen was quickly typecast in the good-girl role and saw the effects of stardom take a toll on her life at home, especially when it came to making friends. Often portrayed as the tattletale who snitched on her siblings, she had few friends of her own growing up and spent most of her time on the set with her costars. In fact, the cast was together so much that they were a hot topic in the tabloids for their rumored hookups and rivalries. “It was very much like we really were siblings,” Olsen told The Huffington Post, “except we didn’t have to live together and share one bathroom.”
As for the sibling rivalry, Olsen admitted there was obvious tension between Marcia—played by Maureen McCormick—and Jan—played by Eve Plumb. Even decades after the show ended, the two remain at odds with Olsen often caught in the middle. “I think it’s kind of petty. From day one with these two I have always been in the middle,” Olsen told People magazine. Then, things took a turn for the worse when Olsen wasn’t even involved in the feud. “Now it’s at the point where there isn’t even a desire to communicate through me.”
Beyond the sibling rivalries and Olsen’s juicy make-out sessions with Bobby Brady—played by Mike Lookinland, Olsen said that the cast was like every other television family at the time. “We led a sheltered life for part of the year,” she said, “so if there was anybody to get a crush on or try to date, it would be our counterparts.” The romances, of course, were short-lived with The Brady Bunch wrapping up its final season in 1974 as the cast went their separate ways.
Olsen reprised her role as Cindy for television reunions and spinoffs like The Brady Kids, The Brady Bunch Hour, The Brady Girls Get Married and The Brady Bunch Movie but life after the show proved a bit difficult for the former child star. She struggled to find her footing as an actress with minor appearances in Gimme My Reality Show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Larry King Live. She later shifted gears from acting to graphic design and proved her talents in 1998 in a campaign for glow-in-the-dark Converse shoes. From there, she took a seat behind the mic as a co-host for Los Angeles’ KLSX radio station and, until recently, was the cohost of Two Chicks Talkin’ Politics when a feud with actor Leon Acord-Whiting spun out of control as Olsen lashed out and was fired from the network in 2016. LA Talk Radio released the following statement, “We will not tolerate hateful speech by anyone associated with our radio station and have severed our ties with a host that veered off the direction in which we are going.”
Her outspokenness hasn’t been the only thing that’s landed the 55-year-old in the spotlight in recent years thanks to her animal rights advocacy campaigns to promote animal welfare. Apart from that, many believe that Olsen was moonlighting as a **** star in the early 1980s and 1990s as a woman named Crocodile Blondee in Love Probe from a Warm Planet. Olsen hasn’t denied the accusations but, instead, said she only made the sound effect of the spaceship in the film as a favor to her friend. Should we believe her… or not?
Today, Olsen is cashing in on her fame as one of the “100 Greatest Kid Stars” of all time as an acting coach in California. Although many argue that Olsen earned a pretty penny from the show, she’s the first to admit that The Brady Bunch wasn’t a moneymaker for anyone, which explains why she and her husband later found a more profitable—but illegal—business: growing marijuana. Although she called it gardening, Olsen now says, “I guess technically, I was really a marijuana grower.” How’s that for a blond-haired tattletale turned marijuana connoisseur?