Susan Marie Olsen (born 14 August 1961) is a former American child television actress and current animal welfare advocate. The naturally blonde-headed Olsen is best known for her role as Mike and Carol Brady's youngest daughter, Cindy Brady, on the 1970s television sitcom The Brady Bunch for the full run of the show, from 1969 to 1974. Her book Love to Love you Bradys was published by ECW Press in September 2009.
Susan was born in Santa Monica, California, as the youngest of four children, with two older brothers Larry (24 years older) and Christopher (fourteen years older) and a sister Diane. Her older siblings had also all been involved in acting, but all had quit by the time she landed the role on The Brady Bunch.
During childhood, she lived in Tarzana, California, attending Wilbur Avenue Elementary School from grades 1-5. She graduated from William Howard Taft Charter High School (the same school her TV sister Maureen McCormick attended) in the class of 1979. She also attended Hollywood Professional School in 6th and 7th grade in 1972-1973 with TV siblings Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland.
The Brady Bunch
After landing a number of supporting roles, most notably, Ironside, Gunsmoke, and Julia, at age seven she was cast as Cindy on The Brady Bunch. According to an urban legend from the show's creator Sherwood Schwartz, Susan Olsen's lisp was a major factor in her being chosen as Cindy - when during the interview, Olsen told "Mr. Thwartz" about her recent work on "Gunthmoke", which involved riding a "horth" and seeing a "thnake", Sherwood had laughed hard and hired her on the spot. However, as she got older, the lisp became less desirable and ultimately, she had it surgically corrected.
As an adult, Olsen has expressed that portraying Cindy made peer relations difficult for her as a child. While having no resentments towards the Brady Bunch in general, she didn't like the Cindy character. Olsen has said that the episode she dislikes the most is the (second season) "tattletale" episode, in which Cindy snitches on her brothers and sisters. Because of the episode, she was shunned by her real-life peers, who did not understand the difference between actors and their characters.
She also disliked the Season 5 episode "The Snooperstar" as it felt embarrassing for her to play a five-year-old Shirley Temple at the age of twelve. Actually, the episode was supposed to be included in Season 1.
Olsen has appeared in all Brady Bunch reunion movies, with the exception of A Very Brady Christmas in 1988, because she was on her honeymoon with her first husband. In that movie, Cindy Brady was played by Jennifer Runyon.
In 2007, Olsen and her fellow cast members were honored with the TV Pop Culture Awards on the TV Land Awards. It was noted that this is the first award that The Brady Bunch had ever won.
During The Brady Bunch production, it was noted that even though her 'Brady series father,' star Robert Reed, was suffering a great deal of unhappiness (both on and off the set), Olsen continued to develop a wonderful on- and off-screen relationship with him, as well as with Florence Henderson, who played her television mother. Olsen remained close to Reed until his death on 12 May 1992. She, along with her Brady Bunch castmates, attended Reed's funeral.
Post Brady Bunch
As an adult, Susan moved into the graphic design business and in 1998 briefly marketed a brand of glow in the dark shoes for Converse. She also worked as a talk show host at Los Angeles radio station KLSX from 1995 - 1996 with Ken Ober and co hosted and co-wrote another radio show with comic Allan Havey at Comedy World in 2000.
Susan then appeared on Cartoon Network's talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in its twenty-sixth episode "Switcheroo" with Cassandra Peterson as "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark". Olsen has also been an advocate for migraine sufferers since 1998. She described her headaches on CNN's Larry King Live.
An urban legend claimed that Olsen had become an adult film star. On a late 1990s television interview, Olsen herself stated on-camera that her "porn" connection was that she created space ship sound effects for a porn film called Love Probe from a Warm Planet. She did this as a favor for a friend who worked in the technical side of the business. She also went on to state that perhaps the legend got started because the star of a porn film Crocodile Blondee which was widely distributed among troops during the Persian Gulf Crisis, was rumored to be her, when it was actually 80s porn actress/adult model Amber Lynn.
She added that since the porn star was very pretty, she did not try too hard to dispel the rumors. In the Fall of 2008, Olsen appeared on Fox Reality's Gimme My Reality Show, in which celebrities compete to win their own reality show. Susan used this show to make a statement about animal rescue, a cause with which she is involved.
On 6 June 2009, Susan thanked retired game show host and current animal rights activist Bob Barker when The Bradys accepted an honor at the GSN Game Show Awards. Olsen is an animal welfare advocate and serves on the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit organization Precious Paws, a rescue group. Olsen personally takes care of un-weaned homeless kittens until they are old enough to adopt.
Olsen's coffee table book Love to Love You Bradys, celebrates the The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. In addition to many color photos and artwork, the book features over 100 interviews including the Brady Bunch, Sid Krofft, Marty Krofft, Sherwood Schwartz, Bruce Vilanch, Rip Taylor, and Paul Shaffer.
In September 2010, Olsen made a guest appearance on The Young and the Restless playing Mrs. Liza Morton, a preschool owner. In 2011, Olsen appeared in Season 3 Episode 43 of The Biography Channel reality show Celebrity Ghost Stories.
Susan married musician and kickboxer Steve Ventimiglia in August 1988; they divorced in February 1992. She then married Mitch Markwell, a medical equipment salesman, in 1995. The couple had a son, Michael (named after Mike Lookinland) born in 1997, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (a mild form of autism). She and Markwell divorced in 2004. She is presently married to stand up comedian Chris Fonseca, who she wed in 2009. Her husband Chris was born with Cerebal Palsy himself; the couple shuffles time between Los Angeles and San Antonio, Texas.
In early 1990s, Susan had two DUI arrests - first in 1991, which was bargained down to reckless driving, even though there was evidence of excessive alcohol ingestion.
Second arrest was in November 1993, which resulted in her serving a 48-hour prison stint in early 1994, a fine over $1,000, having to complete an 18-month alcohol education program and losing her driver's license for 2 years with a 5-year probation.
Susan's "Art" Career
While pursuing all of her passions, Susan Olsen has always continually turned to art as a creative outlet. Olsen's Art Collection, called "Fluffart", has been curated into a collection made available in Limited Editions.
As an Animal Welfare Advocate, Olsen has also created a collection of art entitled "The Art of Rescue", with proceeds assisting animal rescue organizations and their animals until the animals are able to be adopted.
In July, 2012, Susan Olsen was one of a limited number of artists invited to show in "Art With An Agenda: An Exhibit Inspired by Kelly Thomas" at the PAS Gallery in the Orange County town of Fullerton, California. All the art on display was inspired by the life and circumstances surrounding the death of Kelly Thomas; a homeless, schizophrenic, 37-year-old man brutally beaten by members of the Fullerton Police Department on July 5, 2011. Olsen's piece created for this exhibit was titled "Still Life" and received high praise from art reviews and critics  furthering Susan Olsen's career as a relevant and respected artist within the art world.
- ↑ http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vh1-names-gary-coleman-the-greatest-kid-star-54607837.html
- ↑ "Art With An Agenda – Inspired by Kelly Thomas". 2pas.org. 2012-07-06. http://www.2pas.org/art/past-exhibits/art-with-an-agenda-inspired-by-kelly-thomas/. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- ↑ Bose, Lilledeshan. "Art With An Agenda: An Exhibit Inspired by Kelly Thomas | Orange | Artbound". KCET. http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/orange/justice-for-kelly-art-show.html. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- ↑ Ponsi, Lou. "Kelly Thomas' life, death are focus of graphic exhibit | thomas, kelly, officers - News". Ocregister.com. http://www.ocregister.com/news/thomas-361336-kelly-officers.html. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- ↑ Orange Juice. "A Very Kelly Thomas Weekend – Art With an Agenda Friday night, and The ADOLESCENTS FREE Saturday! | Orange Juice". Orangejuiceblog.com. http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2012/07/a-very-kelly-thomas-weekend-art-with-an-agenda-friday-the-adolescents-free-on-saturday/. Retrieved 2012-08-12.