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Suzanne Crough: What Happened to the Child Actress Who Played Tracy on ‘The Partridge Family’

Did you know she starred in an Oscar-winning short film after the show?


In the ’70s, there were few sitcoms more delightful than The Partridge Family. Every week, viewers followed the antics of a single mom and her five charming children as they played (or rather, pretended to play) catchy songs, toured in their colorful bus and went through all the comical situations that arise from being a very of-the-moment musical family.

While the sitcom only ran from 1970 to 1974, it’s had a long afterlife through reruns and it perfectly captured the innocence of the era. Young viewers watching the show when it originally aired identified with (and in many cases, had crushes on) the Partridge kids. While much of the attention was on the oldest siblings Keith (David Cassidy, the ultimate ’70s teen idol) and Laurie (Susan Dey, the lovely girl next door who everyone wanted to be BFFs with), the younger kids, Danny (Danny Bonaduce), Chris (Jeremy Gelbawks and Brian Forster) and Tracy (Suzanne Crough), were all adorable.

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As the youngest Partridge of all, the tambourine-playing Tracy always made us smile. With her red hair and freckles, Suzanne Crough was one of the child actresses who defined the era. Here’s a look at her far too short but fascinating life.

(Clockwise from left) Danny Bonaduce, Susan Dey, David Cassidy, Brian Forster, Shirley Jones and Suzanne Crough in 'The Partridge Family' 1972
(Clockwise from left) Danny Bonaduce, Susan Dey, David Cassidy, Jeremy Gelbwaks, Shirley Jones and Suzanne Crough in The Partridge FamilyGAB Archive/Redferns/Getty

How Suzanne Crough got her start

Born in 1963, Suzanne Crough was exposed to showbiz from her earliest days. She was the youngest of eight siblings, and her oldest brother had a small part on The Andy Griffith Show. Visiting the set gave her the acting bug. As she recalled in an interview, one of the show’s producers encouraged her mother to get her into acting. “He thought I was funny,” she said. “And I was not shy.”

Crough started getting work quickly, and appeared in a Barbie commercial before being cast as Tracy Partridge at just 7 years old. As the youngest member of the family, Tracy didn’t have the biggest part on the show, but she brought a sunny energy and made for a cute counterpart to her wisecracking brothers.

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Clockwise, from left: Dave Madden, David Cassidy, Shirley Jones, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough and Brian Forster in 1971
Clockwise from left: Dave Madden, David Cassidy, Shirley Jones, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough and Brian Forster in The Partridge Family Silver Screen Collection/Getty

The show made Crough and her screen siblings famous, even if she didn’t have quite the household name status of Cassidy and Dey. While she received schooling on set, in between seasons she would attend public school where, as she remembered, “The part that was hard was trying to be normal. I couldn’t. The kids would follow me all over the playground. Some were nice, some were mean.”

Read on for more ’70s TV!

Suzanne Crough post-Partridge

When The Partridge Family ended in 1974, Crough was 11. She reprised her role in voiceover form the the ’70s cartoons Goober and the Ghost Chasers and Partridge Family 2200 AD and in 1977 she played Elinor Donahue‘s niece in the series Mulligan’s Stew. The show was not a success, and aired just six episodes.

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Suzanne Crough in 1977
Suzanne Crough in 1977Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Crough then had a brief appearance in an episode of Wonder Woman and starred in the 1978 short film Teenage Father as a pregnant 15 year old. The film was shot in a documentary-like style and won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. The director, Taylor Hackford, went on to make acclaimed films like An Officer and a Gentleman and Ray.

In 1980, at age 17, Crough had her final role, a small part in the TV movie Children of Divorce. She felt that being known as Tracy Partridge made it harder to get parts, telling a fan site, “Either I looked like Tracy, or because I wasn’t in the show that much, it meant I couldn’t act. Well, you know, it is hard to change someone’s mind without meeting them. Sometimes they wouldn’t let me read for the part.”

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Leaving the industry

After leaving the industry, Crough went to college. She stayed outside of the spotlight and owned a bookstore in California until 1993. The nostalgic pull of her signature show continued through the ’90s and ’00s, and she made occasional appearances in TV specials about it. In a 2010 Today show interview, she revealed, “I’m an office manager for Office Max. I have two daughters, I’m married, I have a normal job.”

Left to right: Brian Forster, Shirley Jones, and Suzanne Crough in 2003
Left to right: Brian Forster, Shirley Jones and Suzanne Crough in 2003Eric Isaacs/FilmMagic/Getty

Crough didn’t fall into any of the drama that so often comes with child stardom, and lived a quiet life that was worlds away from her groovy, tambourine-wielding signature role.

Sadly, she died from a rare heart condition in 2015. She was just 52 years old, and was the first of the Partridge kids to pass away.

Suzanne Crough in 2014
Suzanne Crough in 2014Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty

Crough had a fascinating career trajectory getting famous so young and leaving Hollywood so early, and the sweetness she brought to the small screen as the youngest Partridge lives on.

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