Sunday, January 7, 2024

Whatever happened to Quinn Cummings?

 “I loved everything between ‘action’ and ‘cut," but hated every other aspect of celebrity, including interviews and talk show appearances.”

- Quinn Cummings, As quoted in People Magazine, 2002

Quinn Cummings was s very familiar face on television in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  She had great success as a child actor.  Although she hasn't had any acting credits since 1992, she has remained active as an entrepreneur, inventor, author and humourist.  She is passionate about the world of books.

Quinn Louise Cummings was born in Los Angeles, California on August 13, 1967.  She was an only child.  Her businessman father, Sumner Cummings, was the president of a necktie company.  He died of a heart attack in 1977 when Quinn was just ten year old.  Quinn's mother, Jan, was a bookkeeper.  

Quinn began her career after being discovered by a neighbour, master cinematographer James Wong Howe (1899-1976).  Howe was so impressed with her that he put her mother in touch with a talent agent.  Quinn began appearing in television commercials and landed the role of Lucy McFadden, the precocious daughter of Marsha Mason's character in 1977's The Goodbye Girl.  On the last day of the filming of the movie, Quinn's father died suddenly. 

Sumner Cummings never lived to enjoy the accolades his daughter received for her performance in The Goodbye Girl.  She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture.  "It was very tough," Quinn's mother, Jan, told People Magazine in 2002..  "Quinn is an only child, and my husband and I were only children." "I remember his as being as a really lovely man," Quinn added.

In 1978, Quinn appeared in an episode of Starsky and Hutch entitled "The Action" (Season 3, Episode 12, Air Date: January 7, 1978).  That same year, she guest-starred on the drama Family as Marcy Willis in a Season 3 episode entitled "Lifeline" (Season 3, Episode, Air Date: January 31, 1978).  In Season 4, Quinn joined the cast as Annie Cooper, an orphan adopted by the Lawrence family.  She remained on Family until the show ended its run in 1980.

During her stint on Family, Quinn found a paternal figure in her TV dad, James Broderick.  Broderick, the father of actor Matthew Broderick, passed away in 1982.  According to Sada Thompson (1927-2011), who played Kate Lawrence, the matriarch of the Lawrence family, Quinn "used to hang around Jimmy all the time."  She recalled that Broderick was "very sweet with her."

Quinn and James Broderick

Quinn starred in the 1980 TV movie The Babysitter, along with Patty Duke and William Shatner as her parents.  She played Tara, a spoiled, rambunctious 12-year-old, whose mother (Duke) hires an 18-year-old live-in companion for her daughter, after which things go awry.

In 1984, Quinn made a guest appearance in an episode of the TV adventure series Remington Steele, alongside stars Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist.  The episode is entitled "Elegy in Steele" {Season 2, Episode 16, Air Date: February 21, 1984).

Quinn had a role in the short-lived comedy series Hail to the Chief, in which Patty Duke portrayed the first female President of the United States.  The sitcom aired on ABC in 1985.  Only seven episodes were produced, and Quinn appeared in all seven.

Below is a 1985 press photo of the cast of  Hail to the Chief: Top (Left to Right): Maxine Stuart and Quinn Cummings, Bottom (Left to Right): Patty Duke, Ted Bessell and Taliesin Jaffe.

Quinn also guest-starred in a 1986 episode of The Love Boat, and a 1991 episode of Blossom.  Her final TV credit is a 1992 episode of the comedy Evening Shade, starring Burt Reynolds and Elizabeth Ashley.  After retiring from acting, Quinn began working as a recruiter of short stories writers, which she published online.

On October, 27, 2017, published an article by Quinn Cummings entitled "I Was a Child Actress in Hollywood. There Were Always Whispers."  The article describes a culture of routinely ignored sexual assault in Hollywood, much of it involving the abuse of youngsters. 

In the year 2,000, Quinn Cummings gave birth to a daughter, also an only child, named Anneke DiPietro, by her partner Donald Di Pietro, an internet software executive, whom she met at a business meeting in 1996,  After the birth of their daughter, Quinn created the Hip Hugger baby carrier, a sling-type device for carrying babies securely and comfortably.  While pregnant with Anneke, Quinn had suffered from carpel tunnel syndrome, a painful compression of the nerves in the wrist and hand that eventually prevented her from picking up her child.  She also found that strollers did not provide Anneke with the eye-to-eye contact that she needed, and the front carrier wasn't working either.

Not satisfied with the baby carriers on the market, Quinn and a high school friend, fashion designer Amy Turner, were inspired to create their $75 slings in such fabrics as denim and pink faux python.  They sold out quickly in Los Angeles boutiques.  Quinn became president of the company, which she sold in 2006.


* According to some internet sources, Quinn and Don Di Pietro are no longer a couple.  However, I have not been able to confirm that this is true.  Quinn is very private about her personal life.

* When Family ended, Quinn, who had been schooled on the set, enrolled in a private school.  She later attended UCLA for two years.

* Quinn worked as a casting agent in the late 1980s.

* In February of 2005, Quinn began a blog, The QC Report, which contained Quinn's insights on life from the point of view of a 30-somehing mother.

* Quinn's first book, Notes from the Underwire Adventures from My Awkward and Lonely Life, was published in July of 2009.  It is a memoir of her life as a mother, a series of quirky and funny vignettes in which she explores subjects such as home repair, childhood orthodontics and child stardom.

* Quinn's second book, published in August of 2012, is entitled The Year o f Learning Dangerously,  Its topic is the state of home schooling in the United States and her decision to homeschool her daughter.

* Quinn's third book, Pet Sounds, was published in 2013.  In Pet Sounds, Quinn draws from her own experiences and from her popular blog, to write funny and droll stories about living with various pets.

* In 2019, Quinn began a  podcast, Quinn Cummings Gives Bad Advice, in which she responds to questions from listeners on any topic, even if she has no special knowledge or understanding of the subject being discussed.

In 2021, Quinn self-published a book called Modest Blessings for Modern Times.  It's a humorous compilation of situations where the reader might be "modestly" grateful for a certain outcome.  Quinn donated some of the proceeds from the book to non-profit groups.


People Magazine; "Getting the Hang of It," by Susan Horsburgh, February 18, 2002; Amo Mama (, "Life of 'Family and 'The Goodbye Girl' Child Star Quinn Cummings After Retiring from Acting," by Aby Rivas, November 21, 2019; Wikipedia; Internet

- Joanne

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