As the stars of The Brady Bunch Movie cavort through Sears, lipsynching the Brady anthem, ”It’s a Sunshine Day,” Susan Olsen sits watching them on screen. ”That’s us singing,” chortles the 33-year-old, who played baby Cindy in the ’70s sitcom. ”I was hoping they’d have the original music — it’s so cornball.”
And so very Brady, as is Cindy’s trademark lisp, which Olivia Hack, who plays the tattling tyke in the movie, faithfully replicates. ”It wasn’t written in — it was me,” notes Olsen, who didn’t completely smooth out her speech until she was 19. When, in another scene, the Brady’s nasty neighbor Mr. Dittmeyer barks at Cindy, ”The lisp thing is really getting old,” Olsen laughs out loud and comments, ”It’s about time someone said, ‘What is Cindy saying?”’
Visiting New York for a few days from her Los Angeles home, Olsen had already tapped her good humor to survive Howard Stern, who harped on her breasts during his morning radio show. For Olsen (who’s about to marry for the second time), outgrowing Cindy meant saying goodbye to acting. ”Even when I was a kid, I thought we were all so geeky,” she says. ”I went to public school, and people would come up to me and say. ‘The Partridge Family’s cool. The Bradys are nerds.”’ Ten years ago, after struggling unsuccessfully to get beyond her syrupy image, Olsen finally gave up performing and became a graphic artist.
Now that bell-bottoms and the Bradys are back, Olsen’s making the most of it, producing a Brady documentary for CBS that will mix clips with home movies shot with cameras that her TV dad, Robert Reed, gave the bunch one Christmas. ”It darn near makes me cry,” says Olsen, who loves the film and this turn of events. ”For the first time in my life, the Bradys are cool!”