Cindy Morgan is a name that might not be etched into your mind, but if you grew up watching the classic comedy, Caddyshack, then you very much know who she is. Cindy played the seductive character Lacy Underall, who beguiled the men played by Chevy Chase, Michael O’Keeffe and others. It was a potentially star making turn for the young actress, especially because of how well she played the part, and how well the movie was received. And Caddyshack even went on to outshine many of the comedies from that era in terms of staying power in pop culture. It’s a film that still is referenced often, and thought of as one of the tentpoles of comedy films from the 1970s and beyond. Yet Cindy’s career never really took off after Caddyshack. She was able to land another starring role in the big budget Disney film, Tron, a couple years later, but not much else in the decades since. So what happened? Just Facts Verse as we present: Cindy Morgan Sizzled in Caddyshack, Then She Disappeared for Years.
Her early years
Morgan was born in Chicago as Cynthia Ann Cichorski. After attending a local Catholic school, she graduated from Northern Illinois University. After that she got jobs in local radio, during which time she decided on her stage name, Cindy Morgan. She did well on air, but after discovering she was making a fraction of what the male DJ’s were making, she quit. After picking up a few assorted modeling gigs locally, she moved to LA and began auditioning to be an actress. She found almost immediate success in the world of commercials, becoming the “Irish Spring” girl for the popular line of soap.
While she technically had a role in a small release called, Up Yours or Up Your Ladder, her legitimate debut on screen was in Caddyshack. And it was that role that would be perhaps her most defining one. Jon Peters, one of the producers, had initially tried to snag Bo Derek for the part. But the other producers insisted on casting an unknown actress instead. According to Morgan, she knew she had gotten the part when, in the audition, she saw a tiny bead of sweat dripping down the cheek of producer Doug Kenney. Kenney was reading the scene with her, and clearly her sexy performance had gotten him hot under the collar. And Morgan was right. She was given the role, and began to sink her teeth into creating “Lacey Underall.”
At first Morgan had a tough time trying nail down the character. But after Doug Kenney showed her Lauren Bacall’s sultry and seductive performance in To Have and Have Not, things clicked for Cindy. Of course, there were other challenges to the newbie Cindy, including the fact that Caddyshack was full of actors who liked to improvise at all times. Morgan found this frustrating (as did legendary comic Rodney Dangerfield, so at least she wasn’t alone in that) and ended up getting into a fight with co-star Chevy Chase because he was changing things so much from take to take. Takes that ended up in the movie were ones that included actions that Morgan had not agreed to, such as Chevy pouring massage oil all over her back. And then there was the issue of the nude scene…
Morgan was pressured into appearing nude
At one point during filming it was brought to Cindy’s attention that the powers that be wanted her to appear topless in the movie. She hadn’t been told this before, and was against it. Director Harold Ramis talked to her about it, and was inclined to let it slide, not wanting to make his actress uncomfortable. But producer Jon Peters wasn’t quite so kind. Reportedly, Peters demanded to speak to Cindy on the phone while she was mid conversation with Ramis. After a couple minutes of their conversation, Morgan agreed to be topless. According to Ramis, when he later asked Morgan what Peters had said to her that made her change her mind, Morgan told him Peters gave her an ultimatum. He flat out told her that if she didn’t appear nude in Caddyshack, she’d never work in the film business again. And that was the end of the story either. Peters became convinced that a great way to promote the film would be for Morgan’s nude photos to appear in Playboy Magazine. So he had a photographer come to set to take photos while they filmed her love scene. This enraged Morgan, who had never agreed to such terms. She demanded that filming shut down.
The ramifications of Cindy’s feud with John Peters
After Cindy’s refusal to be photographed for Playboy, John Peters took it upon himself to make things more difficult for her. For starters, he refused to allow Cindy to be credited on the movie as “Introducing Cindy Morgan.” This might seem like a small thing, but it’s the type of thing that can make Hollywood insiders take notice of a young talent. And besides, she’d been promised the title card when they filmed. Then, when it came time to screen the film’s premiere, Peters excluded Morgan from the invite list. Morgan, however, was able to come to the premiere, after Doug Kenney provided her with screening passes and first class tickets to NYC for the event. Peters was dumfounded when he saw Cindy at the event, having tried his best to keep her from attending. Morgan said that she calmly said to Peters, “Jon, what are you doing here?” and that Peters was so surprised, he spilled his popcorn.
These squabbles might sound like the end of the issue, especially since the movie was over. But Peters was a vindictive man. In the years following Caddyshack’s release, he used his Hollywood clout to make things increasingly hard for Cindy. Despite being a major part of a huge Hollywood release, she had a really difficult time even securing auditions, let alone job offers, in the years after the movie came out.
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Her other major movie
Despite Jon Peters’ attempts to keep Cindy from working again as an actress, she did manage to secure some TV guest spots in the years after Caddyshack. These included roles in staples like CHiPs and The Love Boat. And she was actually offered roles in a couple of movies as well, but she turned them down. One was for the campy teen comedy, Porky’s, which she turned down because she felt it was too sex driven for her. She also didn’t love how it portrayed women. She also turned down Motel Hell because she wasn’t a fan of horror films, and she felt the movie wasn’t socially responsible. But after a couple years, she finally found her next movie role. She was cast as the female lead in Tron, the technological and futuristic Disney movie that was lauded for its incredible special effects. Starring alongside Jeff Bridges, Cindy actually played two characters in the movie. And while the movie has had some cultural staying power over the years, and even got the reboot treatment a few years ago, it was generally a box office and critical failure.
Cindy’s career after Tron
In the many decades since 1981’s Tron, Morgan’s career has had a series of minor successes, but it never was able to reach the pinnacles of starring in Caddyshack and Tron. She didn’t stop acting though. She was able to land roles in an assortment of shows and an occasional movie over the years. In 1982 she starred in the action series, Bring Em Back Alive. Sadly the show proved too costly to make, and wasn’t able to make a splash against rival shows like The A-Team. So CBS scrapped it after 17 episodes. In the next decade Cindy made appearances on shows like Amazing Stories, The Return of the Shaggy Dog, and comedy classic, The Larry Sanders Show.
She also began to work behind the camera, producing several sci-fi movies in the 1990’s alongside producer Larry Estes. Morgan reportedly learned a lot from the experience, include the fact that, as she put it, “Everybody is making things up as they go along!” But, just as with her early acting experiences, Cindy was forced to confront the issue of female nudity and the role it plays in selling TV and movies. She was making those sci-fi movies for Showtime, which, as a premium cable channel, is accustomed to showing nudity. And to Morgan had to deal with that fact again, but this time from behind the camera.
Her most recent appearance was in a short film in 2016 called Face of the Father. There were reportedly some rumors flying around after that she was set to appear in an action film called “The Seventh Year.” But those proved unfounded. These days Morgan lives in Florida. She does occasional voiceover roles, and it apparently considering writing a book about her time on the set of Caddyshack. But that has yet to come to fruition.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Do you think Cindy Morgan’s career would have gone much better had it not been for Jon Peters’ moves to thwart it? Should Jon Peters be talked about in the context of #metoo for his actions on the set of Caddyshack and afterwards? Let us know in the comments section below! And before you go, be sure to give this video a like, and subscribe to Viewcation if you haven’t already. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content!