Sunday, February 28, 2021

You wanted to know about . . . Neil J. Schwartz, ("Bag" Zombroski on Happy Days)

TV Banter reader Mark C. wanted to know about Neil J. Schwartz, who played the recurring role of  Bag Zombroski in nine episodes of  Happy Days,  from 1974 to 1977.

Neil J. Schwartz was born on November 16, 1942.

In 1966, Neil performed in an episode of Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall.  In 1968, Neil made an uncredited appearance on The Carol Burnett Show as Chubby.  

In the second season of All in the Family, Neil delivered a very funny performance as Levy, an Orthodox Jewish repairman who argues with Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor).  The episode is entitled "The Man in the Street" (Season 2, Episode 11, December 4, 1971).  The versatile actor also portrayed a cook in the war drama Fireball, a 1972 television movie (Air Date: March 5, 1972).

Prior to Happy Days, Neil appeared in a segment of a 1972 episode of Love, American Style entitled "Love and the Heavy Set."   He followed that up with guest roles in episodes of Medical Center (1973), The Secrets of Isis (1975), a live-action Saturday morning superhero series, and Barney Miller (1976).

As a recurring character on Happy Days, "Bag" was the leader of a social club for pranksters called the Demons.  The character first appeared in an episode of the show entitled  "Deadly Dares" (Season 1, Episode 6, Air Date: February 19, 1974).  In the episode, Richie (Ron Howard) and Potsie (Anson Williams) enlist Fonze's (Henry Winkler)  help to join the Demons.  

Bag never became more than a minor character on the show.  He was dark-haired .jowly and heavy-set.  At times, he and Richie Cunningham were friends.  At other times, they were adversaries,  During the first season, he was a drummer in Richie's band.  During the show's second season, ratings began to fall, causing its creator, Gary Marshall, to shine the spotlight on Fonzie, who had previously been a minor character.  Winkler's Fonzie character became a sensation and the focus on him caused the show to be a real hit.  Anson Williams' Potsie Weber and Donny Most's Ralph Malph also remained major characters.  Bag Zombroski somehow got lost in the shuffle and never became a major character.  His final appearance is in an episode entitled "The Book of Records" (Season 4, Episode 14, Air Date: January 18, 1977).

 Below is a photo of Neil as Bag Zombroski on Happy Days.


After his stint on Happy Days, Neil made few screen appearances.  In 1977,  he guess-starred as Harold in an episode of What's Happening!!, a TV comedy about a trio of inner city black youths.  The episode is entitled "One Strike and You're Out" (Season 2, Episode 11, Air Date: December 8, 1977).

Neil played the role of role of "Young Man" in a 1983 six-episode TV adaptation of Bruce Jay Friedman's play, Steambath, on the cable network Showtime.  Neil's last screen appearance of note was in the 1983 film remake of To Be or Not to Be, produced by Mel Brooks.  He retired from acting in the mid-1980s and has been  involved in the real estate business since 1986..  He has enjoyed a highly successful career as a realtor in Nevada and Southern California.  He and his wife, Ronnie, are active in the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. (GLVAR).

Below is a photo of Neil and his wife, Ronnie.


Mark C. also wanted to know why Bag Zombroski was replaced as the drummer of Richie's band in Season 3 of Happy Days.  

* Richie's band didn't seem to have a name.  Bag Zombroski was the original drummer and Potsie was the lead singer.  In an episode entitled "Fonzie's New Friend" (Season 3, Episode 12, Air Date: November 25, 1975). Fonzie becomes friends with Bill "Sticks" Downey (John-Anthony Bailey), a new youth in the neighbourhood.  Fonzie hires Sticks to play drums with the band at Riche's Hawaiian-themed party.  However, 1950s racism rears its ugly head when many refuse to attend the party when they learn that Sticks is Black.  

John-Anthony Bailey

Unfortunately, I have never viewed "Fonzie's New Friend."  I checked it out on IMDb and Neil J. Schwartz as Bag Zombroski is included as part of the cast in that episode (It was his second last appearance on the show). There may have been a reason why Bag was not able to play with Richie's band at the Hawaiian party.  If anyone out there remembers the episode, perhaps you can enlighten us.

John-Anthony Bailey appeared as Sticks for a second and final time on Happy Days in an episode called "Fonzie the Superstar" (Season 3, Episode 19, Air Date: January 27. 1976), in which Richie asks Fonzie to be their lead singer at Arnold's restaurant when Potsie can't make the Senior High Dance.

John-Anthony Bailey, also known as Jack Baker, died of bladder cancer on November 13, 1994.  He was 47 years old at the time of his passing.

SOURCES:, Neil J. Schwartz Biography; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (

- Joanne

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Y&R Report (February 27, 2021): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet.  Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance

Hi fans,

What did you think of Don Diamont's appearance on Y&R as Brad Carlton . . .uh sorry, I mean Bill Spencer?  I don't mind crossovers from The Bold and The Beautiful, but not with actors who have already played other character on Y&R.  It's confusing, especially in the case of Don Diamont, whose Brad Carlton character died on Y&R.  It was so strange seeing him in a scene at Jabot with Jack Abbott.  It was very surreal.  I almost expected Jack to call him "Junior," his old nickname for Brad Carlton.  Have the producers and writers forgotten that Brad was a character on Y&R for years and that not all Y&R viewers watch B&B?  They pulled the same stunt with John McCook, who plays Eric Forrester on B&B.  Longtime fans didn't forget that McCook portrayed Lance Prentiss for years on Y&R.  However, in the case of  McCook, his character had departed Y&R for for a longer than the Brad Carlton character.  The Genoa City residents that Lance Prentiss interacted with are long gone, but it's a different situation with Don Diamont's Brad character.  Brad Carlton was killed off in 2009, while John McCook portrayed Lance Prentiss until 1980.  Dennis Cole replaced McCook n the role of Lance Prentiss until 1982, when Lance left town.

I don't mind that Sally Spectra (Courtney Hope), crossed over from B&B.  She never portrayed a another character on Y&R.  I realize that Tracey Bregman appeared on B&B, but she always played her Lauren character.

Kyle Abbott's life is going to spin out of control and he is almost certain to lose Summer "Snowflake" Newman.  Kyle (Michael Mealor) has no one to blame but himself.  If he were upfront and honest with Snowflake, they might have a chance.  However, he continues to hide the truth from her.  So, it's just more secrets and lies.  That's the way it has to be on a soap opera.  That is what creates conflict. 

I know Devon (Bryton James) is proud of his tattoos, but did he have to display them while eating  breakfast with Amanda?   To be perfectly honest, I find them somewhat distracting.  As for Devon's offer to be the donor for Abby and Chance's prospective baby, I'm not so sure it's a good idea.  Devon's intentions are honourable and his heart is in the right place.  He wants to help Abby and Chance fulfill their dream of having a child.  However, there may be complications associated with having a donor who is a close friend of the couple.  It might be confusing for the child to learn that "Uncle Devon" is really his biological father.  As lawyer Amanda pointed out, there are also legal issues.  What happens if Abby and Chance decide to move and leave Genoa City behind?

In truth, I think the whole idea of Abby planning a surrogate child without Chance around is ludicrous.  Chance should be a part of the decision making.  It was so wrong for him to leave it up to Abby.  Why can't it wait until Chancre returns home?  By that time, he may be able to be the donor himself.  There may also be complications with Mariah, too, especially with Tessa in the mix.  Things will not go smoothly because we're dealing with a soap.

CLARIFICATION: In the last edition of Y&R Report, I wrote that the show had ignored Valentine's Day this year.  In fact, that did not turn out to be true.  A whole episode was devoted to Valentine's Day, only  it was delayed due to preemptions during Donald Trump's impeachment trial.  It was aired a few days after February 14th. 


If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 
My email address:

Here is a very thought-provoking email that I received from longtime Y&R viewer CC in Etobicoke, Ontario:

Hi Joanne, 

I really agree with fellow reader Joc's February 13th comments about Chance's exit.  Something is definitely up and it isn't just about COVID costs.   

There have been so many unnecessary characters brought on lately, none of them necessarily in for the long haul.  They could easily have saved money by putting their storylines on the shelf.

While Chance and Abby are not my favourite couple in GC, I was looking forward to seeing how the surrogate mother storyline would be handled.  If well done, it could have been a big hit.  As it is, the idea of Abby seeking a sperm donor while Chance is out there somewhere and his ability to reproduce may be a possibility, is not how I am in favour of seeing this storyline go. 

Some possible scenarios: Abby is already pregnant . . . those miracles have been known to happen.  If they do resurrect by rehinging Melissa Ordway's real life husband (Justin Gaston), we will at least have part of the answer as to why Donny Boaz was given the boot.  The fans might not take well to that.  His acting was weak; their real life love didn't seem to add passion to the on screen romance.  As a matter of fact, I think Abby (Melussa) seemed to have more of a glow when she was acting opposite Donny compared to when she played the role opposite her real life husband.  Not to mention, whoever pulled the strings to match up Melissa O. and her real life husband again as Abby and Chance would seem suspect to me.  Maybe the powers-that-be have something really shocking up their sleeves.  Perhaps Victor has a hand in there somewhere.

We've been hearing about the exits of Nate, Rey and Lola for so long.  Why did they not just hurry those up?

I am not feeling the love and passion between Devon and Amanda that seemed to be there between him and Hilary.  Amanda seems to be a very lost soul when it comes to having been given up as a child.  It doesn't jibe with the ruthless attorney side of her character.  

Elena is trying too hard when it comes to building relationships with both Nate and Devon.

Mishael Morgan's return to Y&R has not been the hit it could have been.

Bringing back Gloria only opens the door to more Kevin, Chloe, Michael and Lauren shenanigans (YAWN).

Evil Sharon has returned!  Will Chelsea try to kill her?  Will Sharon try to kill Chelsea or will Adam scheme to get rid of Chelsea so that he can be with Sharon?  Who will take the fall?

- CC from Etobicoke

Yes, CC, something is definitely up with regard to the departure of Donny Boaz.  It was just too hasty and haphazard.  Although we may never know what really happened, one thing will provide a clue.  The door has been left wide open for Chance's return.  However, if another actor takes over the part, that could be a sign that Donny has done something to displease the powers-that-be.  If so, it must have been a very serious transgression for them to just yank him off the show that way.

I do think Donny is a better actor that Melissa Ordway's husband, Justin Gaston, who played the role of Chance when Donny tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.  To be fair, though, Justin was quickly thrust into the role as an emergency replacement when Donny went into quarantine.  He hadn't played portrayed Chance as long as Donny.  He didn't have the opportunity to grow into the role.  Everything was done in a rush and there wasn't time to even determine whether the part really suited Justin.  

You mention "unnecessary characters that have been brought on lately."  I assume you mean Nina and Gloria.  I think Nina's purpose is to be a sounding board for Abby.  With Chance gone, Abby needs someone to talk to about a donor for the baby.  Gloria is back to cause trouble and to interfere with Sally Spectra's plans.  

I also agree with you that Melissa sparkled more when she was with Donny on screen rather than with her own husband.  It could be that some real life couples feel awkward acting with their own spouses.  It doesn't make them feel romantic at all.

Yes, we have heard rumours about the departure of Nate (Sean Dominic), Rey (Jordi Vilasuso) and Lola (Sasha Calle), especially Rey, but not so much Nate.  Nate, is an integral part of the storyline with Elena, Devon and Amanda.  Lola's part has certainly been diminished lately.  She doesn't seem to fit into any of the storylines. She hasn't appeared on screen very much and has been mostly shown cooking up food at the Society restaurant.  Her brother Rey sometimes drops by and confides in her about his marital problems with Sharon.  However, I wouldn't worry too much about Sasha Caille.  According to Soap Opera Central, she has just landed the role of Supergirl in the upcoming DC Comic superhero film The Flash.   She will be the first Latina Supergirl.  As for Rey, it's hard to know what will happen to him once he splits from Sharon, which is inevitable.  Yet, with Chance gone and Paul hardly ever around, a police detective will definitely be needed. on the show.

With regards to your comment about Mishael Morgan, I preferred her as Hilary rather than Amanda.  I also felt there was more passion between Hilary and Devon.  Hilary was more vibrant than Amanda.  I don't  think that they needed to kill off Hilary when Mishael left the show.  Hilary could have left town and the door would have been left open if Mishael decided to return, which she did.  Perhaps Hilary could have discovered that she had an identical twin sister.  Then Mishael would have had to play two characters, at least for a while.  That might have been fun and it would still have given the challenge of playing a different character.  Can you just imagine Hilary pretending to be Amanda or vice versa.

I don't think Michael and Lauren are a "YAWN."  They just don't have a good storyline.  Michael hardly  ever makes an appearance and he didn't even get to prosecute Billy in court.  The storyline in which Billy was accused of shooting chance just ended abruptly.  It's probably more accurate to say it fizzled out or faded out due to poor writing, or perhaps it was cut short due to COVID-19.

I do think that Chelsea is going to shock Sharon and Adam.  They have no idea that she is recovering.  They don't think she has made much progress.  Now that she has seen the picture of Adam and Sharon kissing, she is bitter and outraged.  When the time is right, Chelsea is going to surprise them.


Courtney Hope (Sally Spectra) is engaged

Courtney Hope

Chad Duell

Y&R's Courtney Hope (Sally Spectra), 31. is planning to tie the knot with another soap star.  She announced her engagement to Chad Duell, 33, (Michael Corinthos on General Hospital) in an Instagram post which showed off her glittering sapphire engagement ring.  Duell also shared some photos and described himself as "one lucky dude."  The couple became engaged on Valentine's Day.  

Courtney and Chad  met at a party hosted by Bryan Craig, who once played Morgan Corinthos, Chad's co-star, on General Hospital.

Y&R has cast Elizabeth Leiner as Tara Locke

Elizabeth Leiner

Elizabeth Leiner has been chosen to play the role of Tara Locke, the married woman with whom Kyle Abbot had a fling in New York City.  Elizabeth holds  a Master's Degree in both Social Work and Literature.  She starred opposite Burt Reynolds in 2014's Hamlet and Hutch, a family drama.  She has also appeared in television series such as Criminal Minds, Drop Dead Diva and Beyond Borders, as well as TV movies such as Nanny Killer and Suburban Swingers Club.  

Elizabeth is scheduled to make her daytime debut on March 1 on CBS, but I have already seen her in yesterday's Y&R episode on Global TV.  Tara confirmed that Kyle Abbott is indeed the father of her three-year-old son, Harrison.  She warned him to stay away from Harrison because she doesn't want him to upset the boy's life.

Now that Tara has arrived in Genoa City, can her husband, the rich and powerful Ashland Locke, be far behind?  Kyle's past is really going to catch up with with him because Tara's husband won't be too pleased to learn of his wife's dalliance and Harrison's true paternity.  Kyle is going to have to go into hiding soon. because he will also have to answer to Victor and Phyllis and Nick for breaking the  Snowflake's heart.  Be afraid, Kyle!  Be very afraid!


Devon (Bryton James) is set to be the donor for Abby and Chance's prospective baby.  What do you think of the idea, fans?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do you think Devon being Abby and Chance's baby's donor will work out?
Yes, it will work because they know him and trust him.
It will be a disaster. There are far too many complications.
It might turn out all right but there will be problems along the way.
I don't know.
Please Specify:

That's all for now.  Please remember that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

Take care,

- Joanne

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mike Richards would be an excellent choice to host Jeopardy!

Mike Richards

Jeopardy! is my favourite game show and I was saddened by the death of its longtime host, Alex Trebek.  As a fan of the show, I am very interested in who will succeed Alex as its permanent host.  Right now, the show's executive producer, Mike Richards, is filling in as guest host and I am very impressed by the 45-year-old native of Burbank, California.  Richards stepped to the forefront on February 22, right after Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings completed his six-week run.  Jennings performed well, but just as he was about to leave, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, leaving the show with few options for guest hosts.  Enter Mike Richards, who made the following statement to the viewers of Jeopardy!: 

"I'm Mike Richards the executive producer of Jeopardy! and I'm hosting today and for the next two weeks to keep the greatest quiz show in the world going.  We have some amazing guest hosts coming, that I can't wait for you to see.  But with the COVID outbreak here in L.A., folks were understandably a little reticent to shoot.  Ken Jennings did a great job, but he's unavailable due to obligations with his show The Chase, so as the producer my job is to quite literally live the mantra: the show must go on."

Mike Richards is charming, but not phony or oily, and his voice is silky smooth.  He is also an experienced game show host and a multiple Emmy-winning producer.  He was the second host of the reality show Beauty and the Geek, as well as the executive producer of The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal!  In addition, he hosted the Game Show Network's 2012 revival of The Pyramid and its 2016-2017 version of Divided.  In 2019, Richards left both shows to join Sony Pictures Television.  He was assigned to Who Wants to be a Millionire?, which he co-produced along with the show's host, Jimmy Kimmel.  For the 2021 season, he became executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

I am curious to to view the other guest hosts, but Mike Richards has set the bar high.  Fans have responded very positively to him.  They have tweeted their approval.  That's why Jeopardy! may have found its new host by happenstance, that is if he wants the job

- Joanne

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Y&R Report (February 13, 2021): The Latest on The Young and the Restless


Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet.  Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance

Hi fans,

Are you still reeling from Y&R's decision to give the boot to Donny Boaz (Chance)?  Chance has been sent away on a secret mission.  He hasn't died, so the door is open for his return (Maybe he will die on the mission and then we will find out he has an identical twin brother).  All kidding aside, it  all happened so quickly.  We were all set for a storyline in which Abby and Chase became the biological parents of a baby, with Mariah as the surrogate.  Then suddenly, we learned that Chance is unable father a child right now. Then he got called away on a some kind of mission to save the world.  Nina arrived on the scene, as did Christine (Cricket),  Cricket had letters for Abby and NIna from Chance.  However, Abby and Nina weren't given much information.  All they know is that Chance intends to return some day.  It could be weeks or months or years.  In the meantime, Chance wants Abby to continue with their plan to have a baby with Mariah as surrogate.  Abby has set out to find a donor for the child.  It all seems so haphazard, so contrived.  It feels as if the show decided to quick get rid of Donny Boaz and they had to change the storyline in a hurry to accommodate his absence.  

As usual, there are many secrets and lies among the denizens of Genoa City:  Let's begin with The Heartbreaker himself - Kyle Abbott.  Kyle is going to break Summer's hear for the second time.  Not surprisingly, he hasn't been completely honest with the Snowflake.  Yes, he admitted to an  affair with a married woman named Tara during his wild days in New York.  He revealed that Tara's husband was a wealthy older man who doesn't know that Kyle is the one with whom Tara cheated.  

Kyle only confessed to Summer because Sally and Theo didn't give him much choice.  Further, he conveniently left out one very major detail.  He  foolishly neglected to tell Summer that he had fathered a child named Harrison, now 3 years old.  Kyle's "half-truth" confession leaves Sally with a lot of  ammunition to use against him and Summer.  It is inevitable that Kyle will hurt Summer, just as he hurt Lola.  When he does, he will have to answer to three people - He will incur the wrath of Nick, who is very protective of his "Supergirl," plus granddaddy Victor and mama Phyllis.  Kyle will have to start packing his bags very quickly because he is going to be run out of Genoa City.  

Next we have Elena's secrets and lies.  I am not a big fan of the Elena character.  I find her wish-washy.  She doesn't seem to know what she wants.  She just goes back and forth between Devon and Dr. Nate.  She hasn't been honest with either one of them.  Why is she with Nate when she's still dreaming of Devon?  As for Devon, he's not being honest with Amanda.  At least Amanda and Nate aren't deceiving anyone.  Amanda really wants to be with Devon.  As for Nate, he wanted to be with Elena until he figured out that she hadn't gotten over Devon.

Finally, we have Sharon's deceptions.  In he most recent Y&R episode on Global (Friday, February 11) ,Rey Rosales finally put his foot down with his new wife, but it's too late.  He never should have married Sharon in the first place.  The red flags were there.  He was quite aware of her attraction to Adam Newman.  

After her tense confrontation with Rey, Sharon left the house and ended up at Society.  Of course, Adam was also there.  By the end of the scene they were kissing passionately.  Since they are a real-life couple, there was no social distancing.  One of the internet spoilers said that Faith would spot them and take a photo of them.  However, she was no where to be seen in that scene in Society.  Who knows?  She may suddenly show up or catch them later.  

Faith is going to be furious with her mother.  She absolutely despises Adam.  As for Rey, she likes him and wouldn't want him to be hurt.  Sharon is really playing with fire.  Faith is very rebellious right now.  If she catches Sharon and Adam, she could blackmail her own mother.  She could threaten to show the photo to Rey unless Sharon allows her to hang around with Jordan and drink.

There was no romantic Valentine's Day episode of Y&R this year, just as Halloween was ignored on the show last October.  I'm  sure the reason is COVID-19 restrictions.

Due to the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the show was preempted this week.  The most recent episode was shown on Global TV.  There may be more interruptions in the coming weeks.


If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 
My email address:

Here is an email that I received from longtime Y&R viewer Joc in Ottawa, Ontario.  Joc had this to say about the abrupt dismissal of Donny Boaz as Chance.

Hi Joanne,

That was quite a quick exit for Chance's character.  Went from a big storyline, wedding, honeymoon, baby drama to gone from one day to the next! Wow.

I think there is more to story than budget cuts.

I also think there is more more to the story than budget cuts, Joc.  Donny Boaz's exit was far too abrupt.  He was right in the middle of a big storyline, as you point out.  I doubt the powers-that-be just suddenly decided to yank him off the show due to COVID budget cuts.  I realize that COVID is a factor in every decision that Y&R makes right now.  However, if the show is dealing with severe budget cuts, why are Gloria and Nina back?  

Donny Boaz recently tested positive for COVID and was temporarily replaced by Justin Gaston, the real-life husband of Melissa Ordway, who plays Abby.  After being quarantined, Donny returned to the screen.  Everything seemed fine.  It obviously wasn't.  The fact that he was so abruptly removed from the show leads me to believe that he did something to displease Y&R's executives.

It's a shame because Donny Boaz was fast becoming a fan favourite.  I doubt they would let a popular character go in the middle of the February sweeps without sufficient reason.  However, the truth may never be revealed.  Fans may never find out what really happened to Donny Boaz.  

I suspect there is more to this than budget cuts, Joc.  Although we may never know the whole story,.  Chance will likely return at some point.  When he does come back to Genoa City, will there be a new actor in the role or will Donny Boaz return?   Is Donny's departure only temporary or has he been been permanently banished from the show?  There are so many questions and so few answers.


Donny Boaz (Chance)

Fans, what do you think about the departure of Chance (Donny Boaz)?  Are you disappointed that he's gone, at least for now?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

What do you think about Donny Goaz's (Chance's) exit?
I am very disappointed. I liked him. He's a victim of budget cuts due to COVID.
It makes no sense. There must be more to it.
I was not a fan of his. It won't make much difference to me.
I don't know.
Please Specify:
Created with Quiz Maker

That's all for now.  Please remember that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, February 27, 2021.

Take care and stay safe. 


- Joanne

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Whatever happened to Robbie Rist (Oliver from The Brady Bunch)?

"When I got The Brady Bunch, I had already logged three or four years in entertainment, and I was more of a Six Million Dollar Man guy.  To me, it was just another job.  It only got weird after it went into syndication, when it was on three to four times a day.  That's when there were some TV-obsessed kids who probably caught every episode multiple times.  So now it's this cultural touchstone that everyone shares.  It's pretty amazing."

- Robbie Rist.
Interview with Katherine Butler for Snakkle (, Circa 2011)

Do you remember Cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist) from The Brady Bunch?  He was the kid with a Dutch Boy haircut.  His had long blond locks with long bangs, and he wore round wire-framed spectacles.  He rather resembled a much younger version of the late John Denver.

Robbie as Oliver

Look-alike John Denver

Robert Anthony "Robbie" Rist was born on April 4, 1964 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California. Robbie is an actor, voice artist, singer and musician.  Although he is best known for his portrayal of Oliver on The Brady Bunch,, he only appeared in the last six episodes of the show's fifth and final season.  Nevertheless, his character made  an impact and his character is still remembered, although not always fondly.

Living in Los Angeles made it easier for Robbie to break into acting as a child.  His parents were disciplinarians, but they gave him the support he needed after making his first few commercials..  "My parents are very old-school German immigrants. who have this small town work ethic thing," he told

In the early days of his career, Robbie starred in a number of TV commercials.  He also appeared on John Denver's TV show and  worked with Jonathan Winters.  Prior to his stint as Cousin Oliver, Robbie guest-starred in a segment of a 1972 episode of Love, American Style.  He also appeared as Jeff in a 1974 episode of  Emergency!, a series about a Los Angeles County Fire Department crew.  The episode is entitled "Insomnia" (Season 3, Episode 8, Air Date: November 10, 1973).  

In 1974, Robbie Rist was introduced to Brady Bunch viewers in an episode entitled "Welcome Aboard" (Season 5. Episode 17 Air Date: January 25, 1974).  Rist portrayed Oliver Tyler, Carol Brady's eight-year-old nephew (Robbie was actually nine at the time).  Oliver was the son of Carol's brother, Jack Tyler.  It was explained that Jack and his wife Pauline were travelling to a archeological excavation in South America.  Since Oliver was unable to accompany them, he was sent to live with the Brady family. 

Cousin Oliver's first episode did not provide a favourable impression of the new character.  He made an effort to help out around the house, but only succeeded in creating more chaos.  Immediately after his arrival at the Brady home, Oliver caused a string of accidents.  He became convinced that he was a jinx.  He wasn't able to save the show either.  The Brady Bunch was cancelled by ABC at the end of the season.  Many fans blamed addition of Oliver for the cancellation of the series.  According to BestLife, the character was "instantly loathed."  Many fans considered him an intrusion.  They felt that he upset the balance of the show.

In a 2017 article, the staff of MeTV defended Robbie Rist's portrayal of Cousin Oliver.  They described the child actor as "cute, curious and a little clumsy at times - a lively edition a lively edition to a cast of incredibly seasoned child actors.  They placed the blame for Cousin Oliver's unpopularity clearly on the writers.  They wrote: "If anyone is to blame for Oliver's part on the show, it's the writers.  They underestimated Rist's talents and made the character into a caricature. After all, the six main Brady children are never written to be stupid, they're depicted as children learning lessons from challenging experiences."

You may wonder why Robbie Rist was added to the cast when there were already six Brady children.  The answer is that the Brady kids were getting older.  They were all twelve and  over and the show was losing its appeal.  As the series entered its fourth and fifth season, it faced strong competition from The Partridge Family and Sanford and Son.  Its popularity was on the wane. Something had to be done to boost its sagging ratings.  The solution: Add a cute little boy to the mix.  This tactic became known as "Cousin Oliver Syndrome," a term used to describe a show nearing the end of road.  

When The Partridge Family faced the same predicament as The Brady Bunch, it added Ricky Segall to the cast as Ricky Stevens, a precocious four-year-old neighbour.  That didn't work either as The Partridge Family was also cancelled.  

Robbie believes that the term "Cousin Oliver Syndrome" was coined on a website called "Jump the Shark," named after an episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie had to jump over a shark tank, a sign that the show was running out of steam.  There was a page on the site called "New Kid in Town," and it was all about all the kids who were brought into television shows in order to freshen them up.

Robbie doesn't think Cousin Oliver caused the cancellation of The Brady Bunch.  According to him, "the series was over after Hawaii (the episodes in which the Brady family vacationed in the Aloha State).  It was just a dinosaur that was too stupid to find its tar pit.  It went out with a whimper.  They just didn't renew.  There was no final episode." 

After The Brady Bunch left the air, Robbie appeared in episodes of  numerous TV shows such as Lucas Tanner (1974), Petrocelli (1975, Medical Center (1975), Lou Grant (1978). and Trapper John (1979).  He played Andrew in three 1976 episodes of The Bionic Woman.  He also portrayed Little John Martin in 13 1976 episodes of the comedy/fantasy series Big John, Little John.  From 1976 to 1977, Robbie had a role in the seventh and final season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show He played David Baxter, the adopted child of anchorman Ted Baxter and his long-suffering wife Georgette.

From 1978 to 1982, Robbie appeared in three episodes of the police drama CHiPS.  In the 1980s, Robbie guest-starred in episodes of Galactica 1980 (1980), Simon & Simon (1981) and Knight Rider (1985) and The Love Boat (1986).

Below is a photo of Robbie as Terry McDaniels in a 1981 episode of of the crime drama Simon & Simon 

Despite his Oliver character's infamy, Robbie Rist has had a successful career in many ways.  He is an accomplished voice artist.  Robbie does voice work for animated films and television shows, as well as for video games.  He provided the voice of Michelangelo in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series.  From 1984 to 1985, he starred as the voice of Whiz in the Saturday morning cartoon Kidd Video.  From 2012 to 2020, he voiced Stuffy in 143 episodes of  Doc McStuffins, a Disney Junior animated show.

Robbie is also a talented musician and music producer.  He sings and plays several instruments, including guitar and drums.  Through the years, he has performed with a number of Los Angeles rock bands, including Wonderboy, The Andersons, Cockeyed Ghost and Nice Guy Eddie.  He is currently the drummer for the band Your Favorite Trainwreck, along with Jeff Caudill, Popeye V.  and Jeff Holmes.

Below is a photo of Your Favorite Trainwreck.  Robbie is pictured second from the left.

In November of 2018, Robbie and his longtime girlfriend, Alison "Ali" Riseling Thomas, announced their engagement.  Ali is a fitness trainer and a certified holistic and life coach for Sparkling Soul Wellness.  The Tulsa, Oklahoma native has also made acting appearances on such shows as Extreme Measures, American Housewife and Veronica  Mars.  In addition, she is a ceramic artist.  According to a 2019 biographical article by Joey Jordan, the couple met at a restaurant in Los Angeles and  "are planning to tie the knot in the near future."

Robbie Rist and Ali Riseling Thomas
SOURCE: Hollywood Mask


* Robbie Rist has a weekly comedic talk podcast called "The Spoon" with Chris Jackson and Thom Bowers on New Dissident Radio.  Here is how the podcast is described on "In their quest to understand this insane world and the people who inhabit it, hosts Robbie Rist, Chris Jackson, and Thom Bowers stir up silly discussions on serious topics (and vice versa), hopping through conversational hyperlinks like a trio of cats playing with a laser pointer."

* Robbie appeared as a pinball player in the final episode of the sitcom One Day at a Time (Season 9, Episode 22, Air Date: May 28, 1984).  The episode is entitled "Another Man's Shoes."

*Robbie did not appear in any of the Brady Bunch TV movies.  In 2001, however, he did appear with members cast in a special reunion charity episode of the game show The Weakest Link.  While introducing himself, he said in jest, "I hope I don't kill this show too.."  He turned out to be the "weakest link" of the episode and was eliminated by the other contestants.

* Robbie has promoted The Brady Bunch on MeTV..  He has spoken in support of a cause - The Oliver Preservation Association (OPA).

SOURCES Snakkle (, Interview with Katherine Butler, Circa 2011; Showbiz CheatSheat, 'The Brady Bunch': 1 Character Was So Hatted He Inspired a Notorious Industry Term," by Stuart Walker, December 16, 2020; MeTV, "In defense of Cousin Oliver On "The Brady Bunch'," by MeTV Staff;  June 12, 2017; WTOP, "Success cures 'Cousin Oliver Syndrome' for Robbie Rist," by WTOP Staff, December 17, 2012; ArticleBio, Robbie Rist Biography, by Joey Jordan, October Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne