Actress Suzanne Crough passed away, unexpectedly, this week at the age of 52. With only a handful of credits over an eight-year career, she is best known as "Tracy," the youngest sibling in the 70s sitcom The Partridge Family. Of course, her role was overshadowed by series stars David Cassidy (every prepubescent girl's heartthrob, specifically the ones who didn't care for Bobby Sherman) and Shirley Jones, the Oscar-winning actress from Elmer Gantry and some of Hollywood's most successful musicals. Unfortunately, Suzanne wasn't given a whole lot to do in the show. As the "baby" of the clan, she was mostly sent out of the room with brother Chris (played by, at different times, Jeremy Gelbwaks or Brian Forster). Sometimes, she was used for two-second "reaction" shots or called upon to deliver a line or two of dialogue as a set-up for a joke by one of the other cast members. During the performance sequences, Suzanne was confined to an elevated platform near the drum kit, where she smacked a tambourine against her hip and smiled.
I was nine years-old when The Partridge Family premiered on September 25, 1970. I never missed an episode of its four season network run. Despite a pretty impressive array of guest stars (Ray Bolger, Richard Pryor, Louis Gossett, Jr., Rob Reiner, Jodie Foster, three future Charlie's Angels — even Johnny Cash appeared in the first episode!), the acting was sub-par, the jokes were typical sitcom fare and the story lines were unimaginative. But, The Partridge Family was wedged between The Brady Bunch and Room 222, so I watched it and I loved it. Evidently, I wasn't alone. The show was in the top 25 for three of its four seasons. In addition, I had stacks of Partridge Family trading cards and a couple of paperback books featuring TV's "first family of pop music."
Suzanne eventually left show business and led a normal life. She attended college. She got married and had two daughters. In the 90s, she owned a bookstore and later she was employed as the store manager of an Office Max in Bullhead City, Arizona, just across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada.
I don't know why the news of Suzanne's death made me so sad. She wasn't a big star and I never met her. Maybe it's because she was so close to my own age. Maybe it's because she was a small part of a life that seems so far away and will never come back. Maybe it's because, unlike her TV co-stars, she was just a person with a family and a job and a life with no pretense.
I think it was most upsetting because it wasn't Danny Bonaduce.