Childhood & Early Life
Cynthia Lauren Tewes was born on October 26, 1953, in Braddock, Pennsylvania, to a German immigrant father, Joseph Robert Tewes, and an English–Irish mother, Joanne Woods. Her father worked as a wood-pattern maker.
After spending the first 8 years of her life in the industrial borough of Trafford, Pennsylvania, she and her family moved to Whittier, California, where she had a modest upbringing alongside her three siblings.
The Tewes children were an active bunch since an early age, participating in community theater and school plays. After ‘Ada S. Nelson Elementary School,’ Cindy joined the ‘Pioneer High School,’ where she excelled in drama and won the ‘Best Actress’ award thrice.
Tewes enrolled for an associate of arts degree with a major in theater arts, at the ‘Rio Hondo College,’ but soon transferred to ‘University of California’, Riverside, upon winning ‘The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Theatre,’ a one-year scholarship. Tewes could not continue at the university after the scholarship expired and left her theater studies incomplete. However, she now had a new name, “Lauren Tewes.” She had apparently changed her name upon the suggestion of a drama teacher.
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Lauren Tewes made her stage debut in 1973, with the ‘Pacific Conservatory Theatre’ in Santa Maria, appearing in productions of playwright Joseph Kesselring’s ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and Frank Loesser’s ‘The Most Happy Fella’.
Tewes soon joined the famous ‘Birdcage Theatre Company’ at the ‘Knott’s Berry Farm’ amusement park, near Los Angeles, pinning her name alongside other famous theater dignitaries such as Steve Martin and Dean Jones. She starred in the dual roles of a villainess and a heroine in a drama production for the company.
In 1974, after a short stint of 4 months with the company, Tewes moved to Burbank, California, to try her luck on screen. She attended TV and film workshops while waiting tables at a Sunset Boulevard coffee shop, trying to make ends meet. Tewes earned a ‘Lipton Ice Tea’ commercial the same year, allowing her to get a talent agent and register at the ‘Screen Actors Guild.’
She had a long wait before she could make her presence felt in Hollywood. She continued working in hospitality until 1977, when she finally became a recognizable face, appearing in 20 TV commercials. Meanwhile, Tewes went through a huge personal loss following her mother’s demise in 1975.
Her acting career started with bit parts in Aaron Spelling productions such as ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘Family,’ though she made her full-fledged debut with ‘ABC’s ‘The Wide World of Mystery,’ in 1975. It was her short but seminal performance as ‘Assistant Attorney Sharon Freemont’ in Spelling’s ‘Starsky & Hutch’ that turned Tewes’s life around.
Tewes was not the first choice for the role of ‘Julie McCoy.’ By 1977, producer Aaron Spelling had already attempted to assemble a cast for ‘ABC’s cruise adventure–drama series ‘The Love Boat’ twice, starting in September 1976. Tewes was among hundreds of blondes who had auditioned for Julie McCoy’s role. The first episode of ‘The Love Boat’ was screened on May 5, 1977.
After appearing in the telefilm ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,’ in 1979, Tewes made her feature-film debut in 1981, alongside Jennifer Jason Leigh, in ‘Eyes of a Stranger.’
In 1984, Douglas Cramer, the executive producer of the show, refused to renew Tewes’s contract after the season was shot. She was replaced by Pat Klous, as ‘Julie’s younger sister, ‘Judy.’ It became a highly publicized departure, bringing Tewes’s unprofessional behavior and cocaine addiction to the forefront.
Her flourishing career came to an abrupt halt. Besides a few campy movies such as ‘It Came from Outer Space II’ and ‘Attack of the 5’2” Women,’ nothing significant came her way. In 1985, she was cast in the ‘CBS sitcom ‘Anything for Love,’ which was never transformed into a series after the summer special. She also appeared one last time in ‘The Love Boat’ in 1985. Throughout the 1980s, Tewes spent time appearing in guest roles on shows such as ‘The New Mike Hammer,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ ‘T.J. Hooker,’ and ‘Hunter.’
Tewes came full circle in the 1990s, deciding to renew her stage career. However, this time, she worked as a director, too. In 1990, she starred in Lee Blessing’s ‘Independence’ at the ‘Burbank Little Theatre.’ The same year, she directed William S. Leavengood’s dark comedy ‘The Head,’ which ran at the ‘Attic Theatre’ before its run at the ‘Matrix Theatre’ in West Hollywood.
She moved to regional theater in the later years, performing with the ‘Tacoma Actors Guild,’ the ‘Seattle Repertory Theatre,’ and ‘A Contemporary Theatre.’ She appeared in a number of plays, namely, ‘Side-Man’ by Warren Leight (1999), ‘A Delicate Balance’ by Edward Albee (2001), ‘My Fair Lady’ (2003), ‘The O’Conner Girls’ by Katie Forgette (2004), ‘Prayer for My Enemy’ by Craig Lucas (2007), ‘The Prisoner of Second Avenue’ by Neil Simon ( 2011), and ‘Good People’ by David Lindsay-Abaire (2013).
She has voiced characters in video games such as ‘Police Quest: SWAT 2,’ ‘Pajama Sam 3: You Are What You Eat from Your Head to Your Feet,’ and ‘Putt-Putt Travels through Time.’
Family & Personal Life
Tewes met ad director John Wassel in 1977, during the casting for a ‘Hickory Farms’ dairy commercial. After a brief long-distance courtship of 3 months, Wassel asked for Tewes’s hand in marriage at his parents’ house in Ohio. The couple got married in November the same year. However, Tewes’s cocaine addiction resulted in her losing her house and her husband. She got divorced in 1982.
She met drummer Paolo Nonnis while working in ‘The Love Boat,’ at a time when she was married to Wassel. After Wassel’s stormy exit from Tewes’s life, she revealed her affection for Nonnis. The pair got married in 1986. A year later, Tewes lost her premature baby, who was a month old. This ended her marriage with Nonnis.
Tewes met her third husband, co-actor Robert Nadir, in 1993. They remained in a long-distance relationship for a year before Tewes joined Nadir in Seattle, in 1994. Two years later, on May 1, 1996, Tewes married Nadir. She remained by his side until his death on April 25, 2002.