Thanks (or no thanks) to a colleague who sent me this link, I've been catching up all afternoon with the Jenkinses, Partridges, and Bradfords. Yes, NBC's Today show has managed to bring together in its studio the cast of such classics as 227, The Partridge Family, and Eight Is Enough. Or at least remnants of the cast. Some of the actors have passed away, others just couldn't make it (Dave Madden who played Reuben Kincaid on The Partridge Family doesn't fly), while still others simply went unmentioned (think Susan Richardson of Eight Is Enough who once claimed she was abducted by filmmakers and sent to North Korea in 1987).
Overall, reunion shows are mostly terrible. They satisfy our curiosity—Dick Van Patten is still alive, Susan Dey is despised, Jackée has still got it—while reminding us how the ravages of time spare almost no one—especially not Danny Bonaduce. (To his credit, Bonaduce admitted he now resembles a shar-pei with the voice of Brenda Vaccaro.) Van Patten, Marla Gibbs, and Hal Williams appeared fragile. Curtis Baldwin, who played young Calvin on 227, looked like he was recovering from something. (One exception, of course, is Regina King, now a superstar with a slew of movies under her belt such as Jerry Maguire and Ray, and TV dramas including 24 and currently Southland. No doubt Baldwin, who once dated King, wishes he were dating her now.) And for some strange reason, when Matt Lauer introduced Brian Forster (Chris Partridge), the former actor unrolled a mini-banner with his name on it.
So what are these actors doing now? Amazingly, Van Patten and Hal Williams are still working—the former with HBO, the latter on stage. Jackée is pushing a line of beauty products. (As noted earlier, she still has that swagger about her and had the studio crew laughing when she responded to a teasing Al Roker with, "I'm gonna cut you up, Al!") But there was a definite awkwardness when Roker asked what the lives of the Partridge family cast would have been like had there been no hit show and Suzanne Crough (Tracy Partridge) revealed that she is a manager at an OfficeMax. Would her life have been better or worse? Hard to tell.
As for eye-opening revelations, it should come as no surprise that only David Cassidy played and sang on The Partridge Family while the rest lip-synched and faked their instruments. But it turns out Lani O'Grady, who played the responsible oldest sister Mary (she had the husky voice) on Eight Is Enough died in 2001 of a drug overdose. On the other hand, Willie Aames, who played her brother Tommy and whose real life sex-and-drug exploits are well known, looked great and is now a financial adviser. (Speaking of Aames, I am still eagerly awaiting the Charles in Charge reunion, but only if Scott Baio and Nicole Eggert can both attend.)
And finally there's Adam Rich, who played the adorable Nicholas on Eight Is Enough. In a statement sent to the Today show, Rich said in part, "Although I may not be there in person, please know that I am there in spirit." Such a cryptic message will only fuel those rumors of Adam Rich's untimely demise.