Robbie Rist Played Cousin Oliver on "The Brady Bunch." See Him Now at 57.
Rist played a despised character, but handled it just fine.
Child actors can't possibly grasp what they're getting into when they join a TV show or movie, and that was the case tenfold for Robbie Rist of The Brady Bunch. The child actor joined the show during its final season as Cousin Oliver, a character who was so controversial that his name took on a meaning outside of the classic sitcom. The phrase "Cousin Oliver Syndrome" now refers to a sitcom adding a cute child in an attempt to boost ratings once the original child stars of the series have gotten older.
Now 57, Rist is still active in the entertainment business, including behind the camera. Read on to find out what happened to the actor after he accidentally annoyed so many Brady Bunch fans.
Rist had a great time playing Cousin Oliver.
When Rist joined The Brady Bunch he had already been acting professionally. He told Legendary Rock Interviews in 2012 that he had done "something like 100 commercials" and had been in the series Love, American Style and Emergency!.
Rist was in the final six episodes of The Brady Bunch, which had already been canceled by the time his part aired. While the character of Cousin Oliver was definitely not a hit with viewers, Rist thoroughly enjoyed himself filming.
"I had fun," he told Legendary Rock Interviews. "All I knew was I was getting out of school, I got to stand on a piece of tape and say some words every once in a while and people would laugh. It was great for me. Then again, when you're nine everything is great."
He's still close with one co-star in particular.
Rist told Legendary Rock Interviews that he's still close friends with Susan Olsen, who played youngest daughter Cindy. "Susan is probably the one member of the cast I'm still close with and talk to, she's great," he said. "Every once in a while I will bump into the others at conventions or something but mostly I talk to Susan." He shared that they bonded over music and she got him into the band Queen. "She played guitar and I played all kinds of musical instruments and sang so we had that in common as well," he added.
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He's also a voice actor and musician these days.
Rist continued acting following his time on The Brady Bunch, but has made an impact with his music and his voiceover work. Notably, Rist has provided voice acting for Balto, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Doc McStuffins. As for music, he has been in many bands and very active in the Los Angeles music scene.
"I don't really consider myself an actor or a musician. I am just an entertainment guy," Rist told the Glendale News-Press in 2015 . "The only differences between acting and music are subtle criteria. There are many similarities, although most actors and musicians would probably despair me saying that. I just like making stuff. I do all the cartoon stuff, acting. I wrote commercials for a while. I produced a movie in 2006. I have a podcast called The Spoon, and I have my band."
One way that Rist's various entertainment talents overlapped was in composing the music for the Sharknado movies. He's still doing live action acting roles, too. This December, you can catch him in Lifetime's Blending Christmas, along with other Brady Bunch stars.
He made it through child stardom just fine.
While some child actors face struggles as they grow up in the business, Rist credits his parents with helping him make it through that period unscathed "I think I was able to avoid the pitfalls of other child actors. You know, drugs and alcohol because my parents said they would kill me and make another one that looked just like me," Rist joked with HuffPost in 2016. "And I'm too much of a people-pleaser to run the risk of somebody going, 'I'm sorry, we can't hire you anymore.' The work is too important to me."
He's also glad he had the experience that he did. "Everyone in this culture is obsessed with immortality, everyone wants to somehow make a mark or leave something behind, be it children, fortune, the Sistine Chapel or The Brady Bunch," he told Legendary Rock Interviews. "It's cool that I got this ride, whether it's a really amazing thing to you or a not so amazing thing the bottom line is it happened, and I am still working in entertainment and grateful, and there's so many people who don't even get that close."