Now, at 58 and fresh off an exciting HGTV special series, where the surviving castmembers renovated the venerable “Brady Bunch” house, Olsen is opening up about her time as Cindy Brady and why she detested being on the series.
“I say in order to have immortality, you have to have a soul and the soul is love. And I think that the love that was shown on the show, it was genuine between all of us cast members and I think people pick up on that,” Olsen told Fox News in reference to why the show has managed to stand the test of time so many years after its television exit.
But she didn't always feel that positive.
“I never thought I would say this because when I was younger I was very rebellious and I really hated the fact that I was in such a wholesome show with American values and family values. But guess what – now I'm so proud of that,” added Olsen while attending the Jose Iturbi Foundation’s rooftop dinner "Under the Stars" event at the Hollywood Bowl.
The animal rights activist said she appreciates that people saw the Brady family as something they could aspire their households to be and explained that it was actually the role of Cindy Brady itself that helped Olsen come into her own as a young woman.
“I think that being an actress helped me to grow. I don't really think that the show helped me to grow so much as people that watched the show learned to grow,” shared Olsen. “People would ask me, 'Don't you wish that 'The Brady Bunch' was your real family?' And I'm like no – because my family is just as good and they're a little bit funnier, a little weirder, but I know so many people that literally say that the show saved their lives.”
She continued: “And you know, I had a great family life but for people – and other people that had a great family life loved it too-- but there were people that didn't have a great life and as children, they depended on the show. And it's for them that I really feel responsible.”
The radio host said she never wanted to become an actress and simply used it as a means of helping her to focus on other avenues where her interests laid.
“Well, I didn't pursue having a career in acting. I did at first because I just didn't have much imagination,” Olsen explained. “I thought, 'I've got my foot in the door with something that everybody wants,' and it took me a while to realize that I didn't want it. Acting is not really my medium – I'm a creative person, but I prefer visual arts.
“But now I'm teaching acting for kids among other things, so I love it but it's not really my thing,” Olsen said, adding that she loves Cindy Brady for allowing her to connect with fans.
“As far as careers go, you know, Cindy Brady has certainly been a good ambassador. She opens doors, people have a nice feeling about me and they may not know why. [They say] 'Gee, I just feel like I grew up with you.' I'm like, 'Oh, that's nice,'” said Olsen.
When asked if fans of the series are ever surprised at her rebellious nature and problem with authority, Olsen said yes, adding that Cindy really wasn’t that smart to begin with.
“I think people generally are happily surprised when they find out that my tastes were not quite so wholesome,” she said. “You know, I was very into punk rock and rock music and I'm really outspoken. So I'm definitely not Cindy, but I don't want to be the anti-Cindy because she was fairly nice.”
“She just wasn't very bright,” Olsen added with a laugh.
Today, Olsen says she’s having the time of life and said when she isn’t teaching acting classes or listening to her rock and roll, she passes her time with video games and cellphone apps that keep her mind sharp.
“I play 'World of Warcraft,’" Olsen said. “I am a big gamer kind of person, yeah. I'm not very good at fast things, but the strategies I'm good at.”
Olsen continued: “I do some of those mental [exercises] deliberately because I'm not getting any younger. I do some of those apps on the phone. I try to keep frosty and try to learn new things. I teach children – I teach a filmmaking class where we just put together a little film and just keeping up with the technology in video is a constant challenge.”
Olsen said she had no more secrets she could share from the old “Brady Bunch” set, telling us that “Barry [Williams] told all and then some because a lot of what he told in his book ‘Growing Up Brady’ didn’t actually happen if you read the book.”
“Yeah I mean we all, we weren't really related, we didn't really share a house – so yeah, we kind of tended to date each other, although I was too young to date,” said Olsen.
“But we made out in the dog house,” she added. “I mean we were just such good kids. We were a lot like the characters and in fact, we didn't argue as much as the characters because we didn't have to share one bathroom with no toilet.”
“That can make people cranky,” Olsen said with amusement.