Whatever Happened to “The Partridge Family” Star Susan Dey

Whatever Happened to “The Partridge Family” Star Susan Dey

At just 18 years old Susan Dey became a big star. The young actress played daughter Laurie in the hit television series “The Partridge Family” when it aired in the early 1970’s. Following the show, Dey would go on to star in movies and other television shows including the hit “LA Law” from 1986 to 1992. Although Dey would continue to appear in TV and film and even work as a producer, Dey left acting in 2004. She and her husband television producer Bernard Sofronski live in upstate New York.  So what’s she up to today?

Early career

Susan Dey was born in 1952 in Illinois. Her mother Ruth, a nurse, died when Susan was just 8 years old. Her father Robert Smith Dey, a newspaper editor, worked at the “Standard Star” in New Rochelle, New York. When her stepmother Gail saw an add for models, she submitted photos of Susan and her stepsister Leslie. Susan briefly modeled before being chosen to star in ABC’s new television series “The Partridge Family”. Susan starred as older sister Laurie in the show about a family that also were a band that traveled to shows in a refurbished psychedelic school bus. The series also starred Shirley Jones, her stepson David Cassidy, and Danny Bonaduce. Susan Dey learned acting hands on while starring in the series and developed musical skills including piano, singing and harmonizing. Despite the popularity of “The Partridge Family” among fans, the show was canceled after just four seasons. While starring on “The Partridge Family”, Dey published a book titled “Susan Dey’s Secrets on Boys, Beauty and Popularity”.

TV and Movies

After “The Partridge Family” was canceled, Susan Dey had no trouble finding acting roles. During “The Partridge Family” she starred in disaster film “Skyjacked” alongside Charlton Heston. In 1975 she appeared in a guest role on “Hawaii Five-0”. In 1977 Dey had roles in TV movie “Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night”, the short lived sitcom “Loves Me, Loves Me Not” and “First Love” with William Katt. Susan Dey married Lenny Hirshan in 1976. They have a daughter, Sarah, who was born in 1978. Hirshan and Dey divorced in 1981. In 1978 she was in “Little Women”. Susan turned down the role of Sandy in “Grease”. Ironically, Olivia Newton John was once up for the part of Laurie Partridge.

LA Law

Susan Dey played the role of district attorney and later Judge Grace Van Owen on Steven Bochco ABC series “LA Law” from 1986 to 1992. Dey won the Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1988. She was nominated for the Golden Globe the following four years. She also received Emmy nominations three times during “LA Law’s” run. Dey famously threatened to leave the show after its sixth season when because of the tired romantic storyline with Harry Hamlin’s Michael Kuzak. The series wrote into the pair’s contract that the romance would not be revisited. Susan Dey appeared in the “LA Law” reunion movie in 2002. Dey and “LA Law” co-star Corbin Bernsen co-narrated a documentary on Campus Rape. Dey serves as a board member for the Rape Treatment Center at UCLA Medical Center.

After LA Law

Susan Dey appeared as host of “Saturday Night Live” in 1992 which included a sit about The Partridge Family versus The Brady Bunch. That year Dey starred in the sitcom “Love & War” with Jay Thomas. Dey was replaced by Annie Potts because of apparent lack of chemistry with Thomas. In 1993 Dey produced and starred in “Lies and Lullibies” playing a pregnant cocaine addict. Dey starred in several TV movies including “Bed of Lies”, “Deadly Love” and “Blue River”. Her last movie was the war film “Rain” in 2003. Her last appearance on a television show was as Dr. Beene on a 2004 episode of “Third Watch”.

The Partridge Family Fallout

After her early success on “The Partridge Family” Susan Dey avoided her cast mates and showed no interest in making a reunion show. Dey had a serious crush on co-star David Cassidy during the show’s run and the two briefly dated following the series’ end. In her memoir, Shirley Jones tells of how she warned Dey not to date her stepson because he wasn’t sensitive enough and his singing career was taking off. Cassidy would later write in his own memoir details of the couple’s relationship. Dey was so upset by what was disclosed that she never spoke to Cassidy again before his death in 2017. Dey has never been willing to participate in a “Partridge Family” reunion special over the decades.

What she’s doing now

Susan Dey has stayed out of the limelight since her last television appearance in 2004. Her daughter, Sarah, briefly acted. Dey expressed sadness at the death of “Partridge Family” co-star Suzanne Crough in 2015 of a heart condition. Crough played the youngest sister on “The Partridge Family” and Susan was close to her. Susan Dey enjoys her life after retiring from acting and lives in upstate New York with her husband Bernard Sofronski.

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