Susan Dey, eternally etched in the memories of a generation as Laurie Partridge from the beloved 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family,” captivated audiences as the insightful, keyboard-playing teen in the musical family ensemble. Adored for her girl-next-door allure, sharp wit, and genuine warmth, she quickly rose to fan-favorite status.
Now, as Dey celebrates her 70th birthday, we take a moment to catch up with the once teen sensation, tracing her fascinating evolution from a widely admired sitcom star to a figure who yearns for a life away from the relentless spotlight.
Born in Perkins, Illinois, to Ruth Pyle Dey, a nurse, and Robert Smith Dey, Susan Hallock Dey entered the world on December 10, 1952. Tragically, her mother passed away when Susan was just eight years old.
Inspired by their stepmother’s Seventeen Magazines, Susan and one of her sisters began modeling at a young age. Susan’s acting career took off with her debut in the 1972 action thriller “Skyjacked,” where she played Elly Brewster alongside Charlton Heston and Yvette Mimieux, in a film about a hijacked plane based on David Harper’s novel.
The Partridge Family
However, it was her breakthrough role as Laurie Partridge on “The Partridge Family” that truly defined her career. In this hit musical comedy series, Dey shone across all four seasons and 96 episodes, showcasing her talents alongside stars like David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce, and Shirley Jones.
Behind the scenes, Dey’s unrequited affection for co-star David Cassidy led to tension and a strained relationship, further exacerbated by Cassidy’s detailed revelations in his autobiography. Despite a brief reunion as presenters at the 1990 MTV Awards, the two never fully reconciled before Cassidy’s passing in 2017.
The only time after the show the pair was seen onscreen together was as presenters at the 1990 MTV Awards.
Sadly, it was the last, as David Cassidy passed away in 2017 and the two never reconciled.
Following her stint as Laurie Partridge on “The Partridge Family,” Susan Dey navigated through a series of smaller roles in television, appearing in shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and “S.W.A.T.,” and TV movies such as “Cage Without a Key,” before regaining widespread acclaim with her role as Grace Van Owen in “L.A. Law” in 1986.
In 1986, Susan Dey landed the role of Deputy District Attorney Grace Van Owen in the acclaimed legal drama. Over eight seasons, Dey appeared in 126 of the 172 episodes, tackling socially relevant cases in a series that amassed 147 award nominations and 45 wins.
Her portrayal of Van Owen earned her multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, including a Golden Globe win in 1988 for Best Actress in a Television Drama Series.
After L.A. Law, Susan Dey worked consistently in a variety of TV movies and guest appearances, but struggled to find another defining star vehicle role. Notable credits included TV movies like Deadly Love, Rain, and Bridge of Time, along with appearances on shows like Third Watch.
Her last came in 2004 on the third season of NBC’s firefighter drama Third Watch playing Dr. Breene.
What is Susan Dey doing now?
Susan Dey continues to live a life away from the spotlight. Since retiring from acting, Dey has maintained a low profile, embracing a private life that is far removed from her past celebrity.
In recent years, there has been minimal news about her, with no personal updates coming from social media platforms, as she has chosen to stay away from these channels.
However, in a rare and delightful appearance for fans in 2020, Dey participated in a virtual reunion of “L.A. Law,” rekindling memories of the acclaimed series and her significant role in it.
Dey talked about her audition process and her experiences on the show. She mentions how she originally auditioned for a different role and how she was eventually cast in the part of Grace.
Dey also reflects on the memorable scenes she had with Jimmy Smits, who played Victor Sifuentes, particularly a scene involving a belt buckle which she found challenging and scary.
She praises the show’s producer, Steven Bochco, for his talent in producing and bringing together a great team.
Key cast members who also attended the reunion included Corbin Bernsen, Michele Greene, Harry Hamlin, Jimmy Smits, and Blair Underwood.
When her Partridge sister Suzanne Crough passed away in 2015 at the age of 52, Dey publicly declared her condolences about her death.
But when it came to the passing of her onscreen brother David Cassidy in 2017, Dey had nothing to say, and has never spoken about it.
In 1976, Susan entered into her first marriage with Leonard “Lenny” Hirshan, a talent agent known for representing stars such as Clint Eastwood. Their union, however, ended in divorce in 1981. During their marriage, the couple welcomed a daughter, Sara Dey-Hirshan, in November 1978. Lenny passed away in 2014 at 86, succumbing to skin cancer.
Since February 1988, Susan has been married to Bernard Sofronski, a television and film producer recognized with three Emmy nominations. The pair are approaching their 35th wedding anniversary.