‘Brady Bunch’ Star Susan Olsen Said She’ll Be ‘Forever Cindy’

by Taylor Cunningham
Television's The Brady Bunch (1969-1974) gathers for a "family" Easter portrait on March 12, 1972. The actors present are (left to right) Robert Reed, Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen.

Originally, Susan Olsen was thrilled to play Cindy on The Brady Bunch. But by the time she was an adult, the role had worn old.

At least, that’s how the star felt during a 1995 reunion interview with CBS. By that time, Olsen had played the youngest Brady sister in the original Brady Bunch series, four spinoff series, two made-for-TV movies, and one TV special.

Because she donned those curly pigtails so many times, the role almost felt like a prison sentence. And Susan Olsen remembers exactly when she began to wish that she could break free and expand her acting portfolio.

The moment came shortly after she got a call about The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. That series picked up two years after the original show was canceled.

Initially, Olsen thought, “cool! You know, I’d love to have another job.”

At the time, she was only 15. And the novelty of being a big star was still fresh. But she later realized that choosing to reprise her character got her stuck in the Cindy Brady persona for life.

“Be careful what you ask for,” Olsen told the camera. “You just might get it. I’ll be forever Cindy. Where will this end, I’ll be 80 years old playing Cindy.”

‘Brady Bunch’ Star Susan Olsen Once Had a Near-Death Experience

Cindy Brady actor Susan Olsen nearly drowned while filming the famous Brady Bunch episode in Hawaii. But thanks to Florence Henderson, she lived to tell the tale.

When the young Olsen arrived on the island, she recalled being “drawn to the water,” despite the fact that she didn’t know how to swim. But that fascination quickly changed to horror when the actors were rehearsing a boating scene.

As the actress shared in a vintage interview, she was with the rest of the Brady family in an outrigger when the boat carrying the camera crew crashed into them. And the impact caused Olsen to fall overboard.

Luckily, Florence Henderson jumped into action.

“All I could think of was I knew that Susan didn’t swim,” Henderson recalled.

She said that Olsen grabbed onto the side of the boat after she hit the water, but the current was strong, and she was losing her grip.

As she told Variety, Henderson planted her feet under the seat and tried to pull the struggling child out of the water. And Henderson finally got a hold of Olsen only moments before it was too late.

“I’m hanging on just the point where I got where I couldn’t hang on anymore, then Florence grabbed me,” Olsen said.

And Henderson held the terrified Susan Olsen in her arms until Olsen stopped shaking.

“I didn’t have any family on that outrigger to calm me down,” Olsen said. “Except for Florence.”