Cindy Morgan
Cindy Morgan in “Caddyshack.” Image from official trailer

By Megan Bianco

For almost four decades, Caddyshack (1980) has been considered one of funniest movies ever made, and one of the most popular sports flicks. The slapstick, raunchy riot famously brought together the likes of Second City, National Lampoon and “Saturday Night Live” for what we can call “lightning in a bottle.”

TV stars Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Bill Murray were on board in scene-stealing supporting roles. Newcomer Michael O’Keefe, who then had just received an Oscar nomination for his debut The Great Santini (1979), was cast to play protagonist Danny Noonan. But the movie’s two female leads, Cindy Morgan and Sarah Holcomb, both surprisingly disappeared from the film industry not long afterwards.

Holcomb, who played Danny’s Irish girlfriend Maggie O’Hooligan, has been completely out of the public eye since 1980. The actress only made four movies, including Caddyshack and Animal House (1978). There were rumors about drug addiction and other problems as she faded into obscurity.

The second love interest of Danny, and also of Chase’s Ty Webb, is eye-candy Lacey Underall played by Morgan. The blonde bombshell was just as surprised as everyone else when she was chosen to be one of the faces of the comedy blockbuster. Morgan began her career in radio/broadcasting as a local Chicago DJ and landed the role of Lacey less than a year into modelling.

Supposedly producer Doug Kenney thought she was the best looking of the girls who auditioned. Most young male viewers had a similar feeling toward Morgan for the rest of the decade. But how does an actress that beautiful and with decent acting skills not become a star? Well, it’s an unfortunate tale as old as show business.

Caddyshack was co-produced by hit maker Jon Peters, who at the time was still building his own brand after gaining popularity from dating Barbra Streisand. Peters’ reputation in Hollywood is…interesting, to say the least. Filmmaker George Miller went all the way back to Australia after penning The Witches of Eastwick (1987) because he found Peters’ input to be a burden and obnoxious. Comedy director Kevin Smith has a famous stand-up bit on Peters’ bizarre idea suggestions when they collaborated in the mid-1990s.

For Morgan, her experience with the producer is more cliché. When it came time to film the sex scene between O’Keefe and Morgan, the latter signed on to the film with no plans of nudity. During the making of the Caddyshack DVD, Morgan and director Harold Ramis go over how the topless scene was decided the day of shooting. It isn’t specifically stated by either, but suggested that Peters told Morgan something in private that instantly made her decide to shoot the scene with frontal nudity. While Morgan could hold this against her colleague, she doesn’t regret being pressured into filming the scene. She otherwise had a great time on the production, and the rest of the crew were understanding about the situation.

You’d think the harassment would end there, but he tried again, according to Morgan in a 2013 interview with The Neon Rewind. During the movie’s press tour, Peters brazenly asked Morgan to do a nude photoshoot for extra publicity. This time Morgan refused flat out and even went as far as to fire her agent, who took Peters’ side, allegedly. She then spent a whole year frustrated and unemployed from the experience, as well as worried about typecasting.

It wasn’t until 1981, when Disney gave her a call offering the female lead in their sci-fi adventure Tron (1982), that she returned to acting. Sadly, even with the family studio’s help, Cindy’s career never really took off as much as it should have. Outside of Caddyshack and Tron, her resume consists of random appearances on shows like “Chips” (1981), “Amazing Stories” (1986), The Return of the Shaggy Dog (1987) and “The Larry Sanders Show” (1992).

Peters went on the thrive with hits like An American Werewolf in London (1981), Flashdance (1983), The Color Purple (1985), Rain Man (1988) and Batman (1989). Since the 1980s, Morgan has embraced the cult-classic status of both Caddyshack and Tron and regularly speaks fondly of both movies.

Not to sound like a broken record, as I’ve already written a couple articles on #metoo, but Morgan’s story is the first thing I think when “casting couch” tales are brought up. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have much ill will toward her early experience that we haven’t seen her name brought up more. But hopefully the days of similar stories being a norm will be over, though it may take a while.

Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.