Susan Sullivan has had one of Hollywood's longest careers and relationships. However, despite her professional and personal success, she "forgot" to have children with her partner of 34 years, Connell Cowan.
Becoming an actress had always been Susan Sullivan's dream. She made her stage debut when she appeared alongside Dustin Hoffman in the Broadway play "Jimmy Shine."
She then played Lenore Curtin on the 1964 soap opera "Another World," which gave her the much-needed TV experience, and from there, her career began taking off. In 1976, her role on "Rich Man, Poor Man" won her an Emmy nomination.
Susan Sullivan as Maggie Gioberti on "Falcon Crest: on August 28, 1986. [Left] Sullivan with her long-time partner, Connell Cowan. [Insets] | Source: Getty Images & Twitter.com/realssullivan
Other roles were in "Having Babies II" and "Having Babies III." Her acting career shot to immeasurable success with the role of Maggie Gioberti on the 1981 nighttime soap opera "Falcon Crest" that many remember her for today.
FROM A CHAOTIC CHILDHOOD TO A BREAKOUT CAREER
Sullivan's life began in the heart of New York City, where she was born to Brendan Sullivan, an advertising executive, and Helen Rockett, a retired piano service manager, in 1942.
Actress Susan Sullivan on November 8, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
She spent her childhood on Long Island with her brother Brendan Jr. and younger sister Brigid. She loved performing in backyard plays. And while her childhood was a typical one, she said this of her family holidays:
"Our family holidays were usually chaotic, so there aren't a lot of good memories to share."
Growing up, Sullivan had difficulty impressing her drunk and disorderly father, who often made her feel inadequate. The "Doctor Doctor" actress says her father was an alcoholic and would always get wasted at significant events, such as her senior play.
Susan Sullivan in Los Angeles in January 2019 | Source: Getty Images
He would also criticize her while praising the rest of the cast members, leaving Sullivan feeling let down. She would then turn to psychotherapy to help her deal with the hurt.
Nonetheless, apart from her father's skewed way of parenting, she enjoyed a happy childhood. In the early 60s, Sullivan became one of the first Playboy bunnies in New York.
She worked weekends while also attending Hofstra University, where she studied acting. After graduating with a BA in Drama, she found work at the venerable Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio.
Susan Sullivan attends the Gala Screening of "The Kominsky Method" at AFI Fest 2018 in November in Hollywood | Source: Getty Images
Despite their strained relationship, Sullivan says her father knew best, and soon after, he challenged her to leave the security of the playhouse and move back to New York.
If she didn't, she would remain there for the rest of her life. And he was right! Within weeks of relocating to New York, she landed her first Broadway role in "Jimmy Shine."
WHEN LOVE CAME AT THE RIGHT TIME
After her stage debut, Sullivan's career began going up, and after several other TV parts, she landed herself a role in "Falcon Crest." But after an eight-year run, she began facing a career slowdown.
Actress Susan Sullivan and husband Connell Cowan on April 9, 1991 at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images
She was in her mid-40s and did not have the work she always did in her 20s. Understandably, she was feeling lost, but then, she experienced true love for the first time when she met then-Beverly Hills psychologist Connell Cowan.
For years, she had been on the lookout for the perfect man but had never found one that checked all her boxes. Cowan did. He was a twice-married father of two grown sons, and he taught her to love unconditionally. She says:
"Connell really opened my heart. I trust him totally."
Cowan even hinted at a possible millennium wedding which never came to fruition, and the pair never got to walk down the aisle. However, they feel married and are still going strong 34 years later.
They still live in their four-bedroom, adobe-style home off Los Angeles' Mulholland Drive. The couple loves walking trails, mountains, and long beaches on weekends and going to movie theatres and art galleries.
SUSAN "FORGOT TO HAVE CHILDREN"
In the 60s, when Sullivan was a beautiful young damsel, she dated Hollywood icon Cary Grant, who was 38 years her senior. While enjoying a good time out one day, Grant advised her to stop pursuing acting and instead get impregnated and have a baby.
However, babies were not on Sullivan's agenda. She loved acting, and eventually, her stand would pay off as she began landing significant roles in revered shows. She says of motherhood:
"I am like that cartoon where the woman has the bubble over her head, and in it, she is thinking, 'Oh, my God, I forgot to have children!'"
Decades later, she still stands by her choices and declares that work has always been more important and is what has carried her through life. But despite never having any biological children, "The Monroes" actress is a mother to Cowan's children.
Connell Cowan and Susan Sullivan on February 22, 2014 in Santa Barbara, California | Source: Getty Images
For years, she was also a "den mother" to the crew and cast of the ABC drama "Dharma & Greg." She always offered a sympathetic ear and would not rest until everyone was okay.
WHAT IS SUSAN SULLIVAN UP TO NOW?
Sullivan is a name everyone recognizes, and she continues to make a name for herself, even though her Hollywood acting days are far behind her. Today, she keeps busy with her philanthropy works and is associated with the Blue Cross.
As a nod to her childhood journey where she grew up with an alcoholic father, Sullivan also involves herself with the ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). She is also a proud spokeswoman for Tylenol and appeared on its commercials in the 80s and 90s.
In her 1988 commercial for the painkiller, Sullivan looked gorgeous in a maroon turtleneck and a matching blazer and completed the look with white earrings, a matching lapel pin, and a blonde bob hairdo.
Recently, she has taken on another hobby offering counseling to her fellow seniors by sharing her family's experience with health issues. She shared an instance that happened years back that changed her and her partner's lives.
She disclosed that Cowan was struggling with back pain, and they started a program of high-intensity interval training, relieving most of their health issues.
Susan Sullivan attends the 2013 Summer TCA Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in August 2013 | Source: Getty Images
Her other advice is bent on encouraging people to explore their complicated relationships with others, including parents. She says that it is not enough to acknowledge parents for their positive roles in one's life.
It is important to forgive them for their shortcomings and release some resentments that people carry throughout their lives, which she calls "the biggest killers of love."
The "Joan of Arcadia" actress continues to explore different growth avenues, one being working with Smartphone Theatre production, a live stream digital performance platform that features staged readings and presentations.
Susan Sullivan attends the 2012 Media PaleyFest in Beverly Hills in March 2012 | Source: Getty Images
Sullivan says her involvement and experience with Smartphone Theatre productions inspired her to continue writing and delving into personal topics that may relate to.