Catching Up With the Cast of 1970's "Family"

Updated on March 13, 2018
Rachelle Williams profile image

I'm a digital content creator, obsessed with creating unique articles and stories.

The Cast of Family (TV Series)
The Cast of Family (TV Series)

An early brainchild of Aaron Spelling, Family began in 1976 and ran until 1980. The show was a dramatic television series that chronicled the trials and tribulations of the Lawrence family.

Family was an emotionally charged dramatic television series, and it set a standard that most TV shows have yet to measure up to. It's been some time since Family went off the air, and now is as good a time as any to play catch-up with the beloved cast members of the iconic 70s TV show.

James Broderick

The veteran actor James Broderick played the role of Doug Lawrence, who was the fiercely dedicated patriarch of the Lawrence family,

Before Family, James Broderick was a character actor who appeared in more than fifty television projects.

He is also the father of popular ‘80s actor, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s husband, Matthew Broderick. James Broderick appeared in five other television projects since the show ended, but he succumbed to cancer in 1982.

James Broderick
James Broderick | Source

Sada Thompson

Sada Thompson was a highly respected actress who has appeared before television cameras since the mid-1950s.

She graced the set of Family, playing the character Kate Lawrence, the ever-wise matriarch of the Lawrence family.

Since its final episode, in 1980, Sada Thompson kept herself busy with guest-starring roles in series like The Love Boat (‘90s revival version), and Law and Order.

Sada Thompson recently passed away from lung cancer on May 4, 2011.

Sada Thompson with James Broderick
Sada Thompson with James Broderick | Source

Gary Frank

Gary Frank was the handsome young blonde actor who played Willie Lawrence, the only son in the Lawrence household (another son was deceased at the start of the show).

After the show ended, Gary Frank has continued to be a familiar face to television audiences. Gary has appeared in a multitude of television guest spots over the years.

Today, he has mostly faded into obscurity.

Gary Frank, Sada Thompson, and James Broderick on the set of Family.
Gary Frank, Sada Thompson, and James Broderick on the set of Family. | Source

Quinn Cummings

Quinn Cummings was added to the cast in later seasons. Her role as the adopted waif, Annie Cooper, was intended to replace some of the luster lost by the fact that Buddy Lawrence (Kristy McNichol) was growing up.

When Quinn Cummings was hired on to the cast of Family, she was fresh from an Academy Award nominated performance, alongside Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss, in Neil Simon’s film, The Goodbye Girl (1977).

She was looked upon as a gifted child actor and expectations for her future success were high.

However, Quinn Cummings drifted away from the Hollywood scene. Later in life, she decided to go into business as the inventor of a line of baby slings. She is also the owner of a highly enjoyable blog called The QC Report.

Quinn Cummings
Quinn Cummings | Source

Meredith Baxter (Birney)

Meredith Baxter Birney was the spoiled older sister of the Lawrence clan, although she was married and lived outside of the house for most of the show, her presence was always felt.

Today, Meredith Baxter (sans Birney) is easily the most well-known member of the cast of Family.

She went on to another successful television role as Alex P. Keaton’s (Michael J. Fox) mom in the blockbuster ‘80s TV show, Family Ties

Baxter has managed to stay relevant over the years through her reign as one of Lifetime TV's most recurring movie stars.

Today, Meredith Baxter is in her mid-sixties and she recently caused a bit of a media stir when she announced that she is a lesbian, who has been dating women for the past seven years (Well, you go girl!).

Meredith Baxter (Birney)
Meredith Baxter (Birney) | Source

Kristy McNichol

Leticia “Buddy” Lawrence was the undisputed focal point of this show. Although the other Lawrence family characters faced trials and tribulations that were breakthrough issues on television, Buddy’s issues were by far the most engrossing.

Kristy McNichol was surrounded by veteran actors and budding young stars, which was great for her career. However, having already had TV appearances on other programs, she was the breakaway star before the show even started.

After her four-year stint on Family ended in 1980, she went on to star in feature films like Little Darlings (1980) opposite Tatum O’Neal, and Only When I Laugh (1981) with Marsha Mason.

Kristy McNichol also went on to become a teen heartthrob and a late 1970’s, early 1980s, pop culture icon.

She had a second dose of TV fame on the Golden Girl’s spinoff series, Empty Nest, where she starred alongside Dinah Manoff and Richard Mulligan.

Sadly, for many adoring fans, Kristy McNichol retired from television after Empty Nest ended in 1995, citing a diagnosis of bipolar disorder as the reason for her departure from Hollywood.

However, she trumps Meredith Baxter in the lesbian media stir department, most people in the know have known for years that McNichol is gay.

Kristy McNichol today
Kristy McNichol today


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      2 weeks ago from Tempe, AZ

      Indeed, it would be GREAT if Kristy was still acting..perhaps she'll return to the screen some day...

    • KC3Lady profile image

      Kelly Ann Christensen 

      2 weeks ago from Johnson County, Kansas

      I was a kid when this show aired, but I remember it fondly. I just loved it. Thanks for the update on the actors. I'm sorry to hear that Sara Thompson died, and I really wish Kristy McNichol was still acting.

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      My favorite TV show2 EVER!

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      11 months ago from Tempe, AZ


    • carey777 profile image

      carey pettway 

      12 months ago from n/a

      I noticed kristy waited until sada thompson and james broderick to pass before she finally came out..her acting always seem so quirky and offbeat to me which endeared me to her..i downloaded the movie.."Just the Way you Are"..from youtube

      ..if you have a keen can notice the before and after breakdown scenes....also ironic..the actor michael ontkean says in the movie..those "eyes"are hiding something..and she reacts..he was also in a movie called "Making Love"about homosexuality in 82 before making this movie.i love her even more after watching her in this

    • carey777 profile image

      carey pettway 

      12 months ago from n/a

      why did willie call buddy ''peaches''when she already had a nickname...and how did he keep his pants up with no belt?...i fell in love with kristy also..i went thru a unrequited love with a girl from jaipur,india who was the same height(5'3)..big brown eyes and brown hair

    • profile image

      patty r 

      22 months ago

      loved your piece! i loved family, watched it all the time as i grew up in the 70s! Thank You for bringing a little piece of it back!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 years ago from North Central Florida

      Hi Rachelle...welcome to HubPages...I was truly addicted to that show. I could not miss it. Thanks for bringing us some up to date info about the real life characters. Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • profile image

      Andrea M Smith 

      2 years ago

      Yes! This show needs to release ALL episodes. Like Knots Landing, it got better with every season!

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      2 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      No, I haven't, I wonder if there are any episodes on YouTube...I'll check..

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Hi, Rachelle,

      Have you heard anything at all about the possible release of seasons 3 through5. Granted, it's still enjoyable watching seasons 1 and 2 over and over, but it would be wonderful to have the rest of the seasons available. Is there anyone to whom we can write?

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      2 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      John Reubenstein has been a supporting cast member on popular TV shows since the late 1960s, and he's still going strong today. You can see him currently as President Fletcher on the show, "Dear White People." You'll be glad to know that he's had a successful career :)

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      And what happened to John Reubenstein ? He was the boyfriend and then husband of the Meredith B.B. character?

    • profile image

      Mark B. 

      2 years ago

      My all favorite TV show.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I'm pretty sure before and after "Family" Sada did a lot of theater. And Gary Frank's obscurity is really odd, hard to believe he isn't doing anything in entertainment and really hasn't for many, many years. Even an Emmy for himself for "Family"! Makes me think an Emmy doesn't really mean all that much.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hey, Grayson! You sure have great tastes when it comes to ckiooes! The Aggie cookie must have tasted really good!We are thinking about you and look forward to you getting well, heading to Texas A&M to study biology and going on to the A&M medical school to become a doctor so you can take care of sick little boys!We love you, little buddy!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi, I see that this entry is from 2010, but I am wondering if #2 disegn is currently available for purchase I absolutely love it and I have seen nothing like it anywhere else!Please let me know thank you!

    • profile image

      Waylon J. 

      5 years ago

      I hope that the dvds for "Family" will be made available to Asian countries, because presently, it is not possible to import this TV series dvd from USA. This dvd should be made available for many Asian homes, because the presence of actress Sada Thompson makes a great impact on families and so this dvd is worth buying and keeping it as a family legacy.

    • michaelbell2013 profile image


      6 years ago

      One of my favorite TV dramas from the '70s. I used to watch the reruns that aired at noon weekdays when I was a student at Kansas University in the early '80s. Great writing and tackled weighty issues. There was a lot of talking, but I thought that was the strength of the show. Great ensemble cast when most shows focused on 1 or 2 characters.

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      6 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      to Jeff Maitland: First of all, I didn't mention you because you are clearly a nobody with a failed acting career. Second, the title of this hub is called "Catching up with the Cast of Family," ... most people would realize that one would mean the "principal cast" in such an instance, but even if a person were not swift enough to catch that, my hub isn't titled "Catching up with the Cast and Guest Stars of Family," so I don't know how you got confused on that one. Third, my hub was compelling enough for you to read it all the way through, and that is all it needed to be.

    • profile image

      Charolette Stevenson 

      8 years ago

      Family was such a great show. The shows today just don't measure up. I purchased seasons one and two. Can't wait for the last two seasons to come out on DVD.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Oh my gosh - I completely forgot about this television show. It's always interesting to see what's happened to the actors and actresses of these sitcoms after the shows disappear.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Very interesting hub. You really went all out with your research. I never really watched the show, but I do like your critique of it. I also didn't realize that James was Matthew Brodericks' father. Very good hub, voted up, awesome.

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      8 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      Yep, Family was a great TV Show. I'm glad you liked the hub, and I didn't know that Kristy McNichol was doing Dancing with the thanks for updating me :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      8 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Interesting hub. I always heard about this show, but I've never seen it in reruns anywhere. The last thing I heard about Kristy McNichol was that she was trying to be on Dancing With the Stars. I also didn't know Matthew Broderick's dad was on the show either.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)