AKA Susan Hallock Smith
Birthplace: Pekin, IL
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Model
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Partridge Family
Susan Dey is an actress, best known as the keyboard-miming Laurie on The Partridge Family and the uptight district attorney Grace Van Owen on L.A. Law.
Her mother, a nurse, died of pneumonia when Dey was eight years old. After her father remarried, Dey's stepmother tried to break her out of a teenaged funk by sending photos of Dey to a modeling agency, and she became a successful teen model, a cover girl on magazines like Seventeen. Prior to playing a Partridge, though, Dey had no acting experience, nor any interest in acting. She was offered her Partridge audition after studio executives visited the agency and looked through several models' portfolios to find just the right fresh and innocent-looking face. Dey was already somewhat famous among young girls, an audience producers hoped would tune in, and she was also attractive enough to pull an older male audience.
During the run of The Partridge Family, Dey had difficulties coping with fame, and she suffered both bulimia and anorexia. Her weight dropped to just 92 pounds, and she stopped menstruating. Her fingers occasionally turned orange from eating almost nothing but carrots. In 1971, during the program's second season, she wrote an article for a teen magazine titled, "How I Licked My Weight Problem," but the article was about how she had successfully lost weight. Eating disorders were not yet common knowledge, so when viewers worried about Dey's skinniness, they often wrote in wondering whether she had some form of cancer or wasting disease. She has said it was only when Partridge Danny Bonaduce saw her in a bikini and grimaced, "You look disgusting," that she knew she had a problem.
During the Partridge years, Dey moved in with the program's story editor, a man at least twenty years older than her. In the years since, she has married twice, both times to men many years older than her.
Immediately after The Partridge Family was cancelled, it was resurrected as a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon set in outer space, The Partridge Family, 2200 A.D. Dey performed Laurie Partridge's voice, but only for the first two episodes. The cast of The Partridge Family gathered for a clip-show reunion in 1977, sharing their TV special with the reunited cast of My Three Sons. Dey was invited, of course, but sent a videotape instead. She has since gained a reputation for being unwilling to talk about her Partridge years.
Post-Partridge, she starred in a women-in-prison flick, Imprisoned Women, several TV movies, and a few failed TV series, including the sitcom Loves Me, Loves Me Not and the soapy drama Emerald Point N.A.S. with Richard Dean Anderson and Sela Ward. L.A. Law revived her career in 1986, and after that series, she was in the first season of Love & War before being replaced by Annie Potts. Since then Dey has worked almost exclusively in forgettable TV movies.
In articles about Dey, her traumatic Partridge years are somewhat exaggerated by reports that she started modeling at 15, and debuted on The Partridge Family at 16. These numbers are based on a long-ago lie about Dey's age; all indications are that she was actually 17 when she began modeling, 18 when she became an actress.
Father: Robert Smith (newspaper editor)
Mother: Gail Dey (nurse, d. 1960 pneumonia)
Slept with: David Cassidy (actor, one-night stand)
Boyfriend: Dale McCraven (cohabited in early 1970s)
Husband: Lenny Hirshan (agent, m. 1976, div. 1981, one daughter)
Daughter: Karen Hirshan (stepdaughter, artist)
Daughter: Sarah Dey Hirshan (stage actress, b. Nov-1978, with Lenny Hirshan)
Husband: Bernard Sofronski (producer, b. 1940, m. 20-Feb-1988)
High School: Fox Lane High School, Bedford, NY
John Kerry for President
Risk Factors: Anorexia, Smoking
The Partridge Family Laurie Partridge (1970-74)
Emerald Point N.A.S. Celia Warren (1983-84)
L.A. Law Grace Van Owen (1986-92)
Love & War Wally Porter (1992-93)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Bridge of Time (15-Mar-1997)
Blue River (21-Nov-1995)
Bed of Lies (20-Jan-1992)
That's Adequate (Jan-1989)
Angel in Green (22-Sep-1987)
Echo Park (1986) · May
The Comeback Kid (11-Apr-1980)
Little Women (2-Oct-1978)
First Love (Nov-1977) · Caroline
Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night (5-Oct-1977)
Cage Without a Key (14-Mar-1975)
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