‘The Brady Bunch’ Star Robbie Rist Explains How He Avoided Dangers of Child Acting

by Liz Holland
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

‘The Brady Bunch’ star Robbie Rist says he avoided the dangers that often come with child acting. Rist played Cousin Oliver on the show, but had an impressive resume beforehand. Rist said in a 2012 interview that before joining The Brady Bunch cast, “… I had done something like 100 commercials and had done the John Denver TV show and worked with Jonathan Winters and all kinds of stuff.  I was cast as Oliver in 1973 and already had a lot of stuff on my resume at that point.” Cousin Oliver’s character was introduced into the final season of the series, and was certainly not a crowd favorite. 

However, it seems the character was written to be despised on purpose. In fact, Cousin Oliver’s character inspired a special phrase. “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” describes sitcoms that add a younger character late into the series. The idea is that this will boost ratings after the original child stars of the show have gotten a bit older.

Robbie Rist Enjoyed His Time On Set

When it comes to his experience filming, Rist has good things to say. In an interview with Legendary Rock Interviews, Rist says, “I had fun. All I knew was I was getting out of school, I got to stand on a piece of tape and say some words every once in a while and people would laugh. It was great for me. Then again, when you’re nine everything is great.”

When it comes to Rists thoughts on why some child actors struggle, he mentioned the fact that for a lot of young stars, their parents are doing double-duty as their managers. Rist says, “ A lot of the problem also lies in the fact that a lot of these kids’ parents double as their “managers”. [They] end up having kids that make a LOT of money.  Somehow, as a parent, you have to make it more about the art … not about the money. Because, in almost every case where a kid goes really wrong in entertainment, it’s because their parents lost control at some point. “

Rist continues, adding, “If your kid is making a million dollars a year and you’re their manager making 15% of that, your kid is still outproducing you by about 300%. It becomes a million times harder to make parental decisions.  Your kid can go, ‘Oh yeah mom?  I have a million dollars and you don’t.’  It’s that simple.  You have to be able to keep that perspective as a parent.” 

No Slowing Down

At age 57, Rist continues to be active in the entertainment industry. Unlike many child actors, who step away from the spotlight due to the pressures and damages that child stardom brought them. Robbie Rist also appears in the new Lifetime movie “Blending Christmas”, alongside several of his former ‘The Brady Bunch’ castmates.