Robbie Rist, an American actor born on April 4, 1964, has established himself as a versatile talent in the entertainment industry. He gained recognition for his notable roles, including Cousin Oliver in The Brady Bunch, Martin in Grady, and “Little John” in Big John, Little John. Rist has also made a significant impact as a voice actor in various television shows, games, and movies. Some of his notable voice roles include Stuffy, the prideful stuffed dragon in Doc McStuffins, Whiz in Kidd Video, Star in Balto, Maroda in Final Fantasy X, Choji Akimichi in Naruto, and Michelangelo in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films (1990, 1991, 1993) and Casey Jones (2011). Additionally, Rist and director Anthony C. Ferrante collaborated to provide music for the Sharknado film and the theme song for the Sharknado franchise. He also played Ted Baxter’s adopted son on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
During his childhood, Rist gained prominence for his role as Cousin Oliver in the final six episodes of The Brady Bunch. The intention behind introducing the character was to bring in a younger, adorable child as the original cast members grew older. However, the plan backfired as the audience did not warm up to the Oliver character. ABC had already decided not to renew the series even before Oliver’s debut, rendering the idea ineffective. This led to the coining of the TV term “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” or “add-a-kid.” Rist delivered the final line of the series, saying, “Me! Cousin Oliver! / Gosh, it was only a suggestion,” but both the character and Rist were excluded from subsequent revivals of the original cast. In 2021, director and actress Marla Sokoloff cast Rist alongside four other original cast members of The Brady Bunch in the Lifetime television film “Blending Christmas,” where they portrayed different characters, providing viewers with a Brady kids reunion.
After The Brady Bunch, Rist appeared as Glendon Farrell in Lucas Tanner, starring David Hartman, portrayed “Little John” in the Saturday Morning series Big John, Little John, played Tommy in the series premiere of the short-lived CBS drama Bronk, and Martin in the short-lived Sanford and Son spin-off Grady. From 1975 to 1977, Rist played David, the son of Ted Baxter (played by Ted Knight), on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He also made appearances in three episodes of The Bionic Woman. In 1980, Rist portrayed “Dr. Zee” in Galactica 1980. He guest-starred in four episodes of CHiPs and the short-lived CBS series Whiz Kids. Rist also played “Booger” in an unsuccessful Revenge of the Nerds TV pilot. Notably, in 1986, he had a significant supporting role as Milo in the action film Iron Eagle, which achieved box-office success despite negative reviews.
As of 2006, Rist has been actively engaged in acting, music, and film production. He produced a horror/comedy film titled Stump The Band, directed by William Holmes and JoJo Hendrickson.
In 2013, Rist portrayed Robbie the Bus Driver in the camp horror film Sharknado. In an interview, Rist mentioned that his friend Anthony C. Ferrante discovered the film’s poster at the American Film Market and became excited about the concept. Rist insisted that Ferrante take on the directing role and suggested that if he did, Rist should have a part in the film. Sharknado marked Rist’s very first red carpet premiere experience.
In his adult years, Rist has excelled as a voice actor. Notably, he voiced Michaelangelo in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series. From 1984 to 1986, he starred in the Saturday morning cartoon Kidd Video, portraying the character Whiz in both live-action music videos and animated sequences. Rist lent his voice to Star, a mauve-and-cream Siberian Husky, in the animated Universal Studios film Balto, released in 1995. This marked his first and only role in a full-length animated film to date. He also voiced Aaron in the PC game Star Warped. Rist made a guest appearance in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series titled “Baby Doll,” where he voiced a character named Cousin Spunky, which was a reference to Cousin Oliver and the idea of introducing new characters to boost ratings (Rist did not portray Cousin Spunky; his character was an adult).
Rist’s voice talents also extend to Choji Akimichi in Naruto and Bud Bison in Mega Man Star Force. He voiced Stuffy, the overly proud stuffed dragon, in Disney Junior’s popular animated series Doc McStuffins.
In 2009, Rist voiced Griffin in Terminator Salvation and provided additional voices in Final Fantasy XIII. He also reprised his role as Michelangelo in a fan-made movie about Casey Jones. Rist voiced the reincarnation of Mondo Gecko in TMNT 2012 and portrayed an alien character in the James Rolfe film Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, released in 2014.