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

Updated on July 18, 2017
The Cast of Family (TV Series)
The Cast of Family (TV Series)

Family was an early brainchild of Aaron Spelling that 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 of a time as any to play catch-up with the beloved cast members of the iconic 70's TV show.

James Broderick

Doug Lawrence was the patriarch and fiercely dedicated head of the Lawrence family, and veteran actor James Broderick played the role.

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

He is also the father of popular ‘80’s 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.

Sada Thompson

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

She graced the set of Family with her presence as Kate Lawrence, the ever-wise matriarch of the Lawrence family.

Since the final episode of the show in 1980, Sada Thompson kept herself busy with guest starring television 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.

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, by way of a multitude of television guest spots over the years.

Today, he has mostly faded into obscurity.

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 as an actor was high.

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

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 movie’s most recurring 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!).

Kristy McNichol today
Kristy McNichol today

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, but she was the breakaway star of the show immediately before and prior to the time it aired.

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 1980’s pop culture icon.

She had a second dose of TV fame on the Golden Girl’s spinoff series, Empty Nest 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.

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    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 8 weeks ago from sunny 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 months ago

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

    • Rachelle Williams profile image

      Rachelle Williams 2 months ago from Tempe, AZ

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

    • profile image

      Mike 2 months 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 image

      Rachelle Williams 3 months 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

      Susan 3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Mark B. 5 months ago

      My all favorite TV show.

    • profile image

      Allyoop 9 months 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

      Anas 2 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

      Daikon 2 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. 3 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

      michaelbell2013 4 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 image

      Rachelle Williams 4 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 image

      Rachelle Williams 6 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 6 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.