The Brady Bunch introduced to us one of the most iconic families in American TV history. Although it only aired for five seasons, it gave the viewers valuable lessons about love, life, and family. And for this reason, multiple networks have shown its reruns even years after its final episode. Everyone has seen The Brady Bunch, and everyone can recite the song about the “lovely lady” and “man named Brady” meeting and coming together with their six kids. The world fell in love with Mike, Carol and their kids, Marcia, Greg, Peter, Jan, Cindy, Bob and of course, the housekeeper Alice! The whole bunch would always get into wild shenanigans. Besides the lighthearted moments, we saw teenage woes, conflicts between siblings, insecurities with self-image and so much more.
Even though we all love and adore The Brady Bunch, the show didn’t actually get the best ratings while on air. However, once they put the show into syndication, that really boosted its popularity and ratings. Now, thanks to reruns and spin-offs, it’s become a staple of American culture. Of course, many knew of The Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz long before. He created the show Gilligan’s Island back in 1966. It was when he saw so much success from that show that he came up with the idea for The Brady Bunch. He was casually reading The Los Angeles Times when he saw an article that cited a marriage statistic. We don’t want to spoil the whole story, but don’t worry, we’ll get to it soon enough!
Thus, for five seasons and yes, 117 episodes, television audiences got to enjoy the Brady family. Again, even though the show wasn’t an instant hit, it became iconic during its syndication. While airing reruns, younger audiences were exposed and fell in love with the show. Sherwood Shwartz claims that since the show’s episodes were from a children’s point of view, this helped make it relatable to kids. Therefore, they were able to address problems children could relate to and understand. Sadly, the show ended in 1974, but luckily, we got to enjoy years of reruns! Of course, we also got movies and music albums.
Now, let’s delve deeper into the details about Mike and Carol’s well-loved family. Like what really happened with the actors who played Marcia and Greg…
Have you ever wondered what inspired the creator of the show? No one would guess that it’s simple math. It was when Sherwood Schwartz read an article in The Los Angeles Times saying that, “in the U.S., having children from a previous marriage usually happens for 3 out of 10 married couples”
Not A Natural
The actor who played Bobby Brady wasn’t always a brunette with straight hair. Mike Lookinland had to change his hair color to dark brown. He also straightened his hair to make sure he matched his brothers, Peter and Greg. However, he still encountered problems when his dye job would run down his face whenever he sweats too much on set.
That’s A No From Me
Robert Reed wasn’t the first choice for the role of Mike Brady. Gene Hackman was originally considered to be cast as the head of the family. However, producers decided to pass on Hackman and choose the more well-known actor at the time, Robert Reed. The rest as you know is history.
The Lisp Is Real
The youngest of The Brady Bunch, Cindy, was portrayed as someone who had a lisp. This was because Susan Olsen, the actress who played the role, had a lisp. This was despite her efforts for speech therapy when she was in her 20s.
Not A Fan
If you watched episodes of The Brady Bunch, you might have noticed their horrible fashion choices. Even the young actors complained about their character’s outfits. However, their complaints fell on deaf ears since the production crew didn’t change their cringe-worthy wardrobes.
Over 260 Kids Auditioned For The Show!
Considering that only six children were selected to be part of The Brady Bunch, having 260 actors audition for the role may sound overwhelming. It seems that the producers wanted to have variety and cast only the very best as the Brady children. This brings us to another juicy fact…
Speaking of the auditions, producers employed a lot of psychological tests during casting. The most notable one was when they placed eye-catching toys on top of a table. The goal was to narrow down the selection by eliminating kids who were distracted by the toys.
Double The Fun
You probably didn’t know that actress Joyce Bulifant was initially cast as Mrs. Brady. She played the role of Carol Brady during screen tests. However, as you know, producers decided to go with Florence Henderson. This was in order to have a toned-down Mrs. Brady as opposed to Bulifant’s cheerful character.
Fans of The Brady Bunch would probably remember the iconic line, ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’. The line was in fact inspired by the ongoing feud between the Brady sisters. Although Maureen McCormick and Eve Plumb played as loving sisters, they were not on good terms in real life. The feud started when Eve grew jealous that Maureen’s character was romantically linked with teen superstar Desi Arnaz Jr.
So They Called It Puppy Love
During filming, Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen had somewhat of a fling. They both confessed that they secretly kissed in the doghouse several times. However, during the time of filming, they were only around nine years old. Honestly, we could just call that innocence puppy love.
Missing In Action
Filming the sitcom didn’t always go smoothly, especially during the first season. Florence Henderson was absent during the filming of the first six episodes. At the time, she was fulfilling her contract to work in an off-Broadway show. Later, she went to back to filming and filled in all the scenes involving Mrs. Brady.
Best Friends For Life
Although on-screen sisters Eve and Maureen didn’t particularly like each other, the Brady brothers- Peter and Greg were best friends off-screen. Christopher Knight and Barry Williams are still close to this day. They even attended each other’s wedding ceremony as proof of their lasting friendship.
Marcia and Greg Hooked Up – Off Set
The Brady siblings Greg and Marcia had a romantic relationship off-screen. Maureen McCormick admitted that her first kiss was with Barry Williams, then her on-screen brother. She recalled that although it was a great kiss, she couldn’t help but feel awkward thinking she was kissing her brother.
Stoner, Sorry To Say
Another juicy fact about Barry Williams was that he got involved with marijuana during his teenage years. He confessed this in his memoir. In the episode where his father bought a boat, Barry looked lost and unlike himself. Although it didn’t air, he tripped by himself in the driveway as he entered the scene. Now, we all know the reason for this unusual behavior…
That’s Right, IRL
Another iconic scene in the show was when a football hits Marcia. This happened unintentionally and wasn’t in the script. However, the writers made it work and included it in the scene. They wouldn’t have imagined that it will turn out to be one of the famous scenes of The Brady Bunch.
What A Wig!
Going back to Florence Henderson, we all remember that Mrs. Brady had longish hair. However, Florence had very short hair at the time of filming for the first season. This was due to her role in the off-Broadway stage. Meanwhile, The Brady Bunch producers made her wear a wig to make her hair appear longer.
No PDA Allowed
Barry and Maureen had such an intimate relationship that it even began to show during filming. When they shot three episodes worth of film in Hawaii, Greg and Marcia appeared almost too close in the scenes. That’s why the director had to step in and say “cut” several times to set apart the two actors.
Dude, I Surf
Speaking of their Hawaii trip, Greg’s surfing scene was initially shot without a stunt double. Barry Williams was, in fact, a skillful surfer. However, he was injured while filming the scene. The production crew had no choice but to use a stunt double in his place.
Still A No
News of a reunion show for The Brady Bunch cast might not be appearing anytime soon. The former co-stars, Eve and Maureen, are still on bad terms. According to Susan Olsen, their other Brady sister, Maureen and Eve still avoid contact with each other even it involves The Brady Bunch.
The off-screen relationship between Barry and Maureen seemed to have worried a lot of people on set. A producer of The Brady Bunch, Lloyd Schwartz, didn’t want the couple to ruin the show with their obvious chemistry. He even asked Barry to break up with Maureen by implying that Barry was too good for Maureen.
It’s Better If You Don’t
The Brady Bunch cast seemed to have been all talented in singing. However, there was one exception. Christopher Knight was so awful at singing that he had to lip sync all his singing parts.
Mike Lookinland (Bobby) Gave Up Acting
One of The Brady Bunch siblings gave up his acting career. Mike Lookinland retired from Hollywood in 2000. He chose to run a business in Salt Lake City, Utah. His business involves creating decorative concrete.
An accident took place while filming a scene involving the beloved Brady family dog, Tiger. A car hit Tiger in between takes so another look-alike dog took its place.
While The Brady Bunch was on air, it was completely taboo for toilets to appear on television. Seems weird but times were different back then! You will scenes take place in bathrooms but you’ll never see a toilet on this show.
Remember the scene we spoke about where Marcia was hit in the face by a football. Lloyd Schwartz, one of the producers, was to be blamed. He threw the football that went right in Marcia’s face.
Swing and A Miss
You never would’ve thought that Barry Williams asked his on-screen mom to go out with him. At that time, he was only 15 and had a 20-year age gap with Florence Henderson. She respectfully declined his offer.
So About The Ratings
While The Brady Bunch was airing, the show received poor viewer ratings. Although it was renewed for five seasons and had great cultural appeal, they didn’t gain more viewers in the long run. This was probably because they had young viewers as their audience, to begin with.
Goofs and Mistakes
Goofs and mistakes were quite normal during the productions shows in the 70’s. The Brady Bunch, along with other 70’s shows, did not bother to edit out their production mistakes. When you watch re-runs of the shows nowadays, you can clearly point out the parts that need to be edited.
Dennis, the Menace
Robert Reed might be TV’s favorite Dad, but he wasn’t quite popular with his co-stars and those in charge of production. He gave them a headache with his unpredictable and controlling behavior that caused some panic on set.
Quite The Mistake
Florence Henderson accidentally made a mistake when she went for a screen test. She walked into Star Trek’s makeup room instead. Although she went to the wrong room, the makeup artists gladly did her makeup. She even got to sit down in-between famous actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Nope, No Glass
In order for the crew to gain control over lights and reflected surfaces, the producers removed the glass from the sliding door which can be seen in many scenes on The Brady Bunch back yard.
Oh Really, Now?
The theme song for The Brady Bunch was originally recorded by the Peppermint Trolley Company. After the producers noticed the singing talent of the Brady children, they went on to record the theme song with the cast themselves.
Out Of Luck
The producers made the choice to introduce a new family, the Kelly’s, during The Brady Bunch final season. There was even a whole episode devoted to the Kelly’s. Producers hoped the new family would turn into a spin-off but that didn’t take off and the show about Kelly’s wasn’t picked up.
For The Win
The producers had a different strategy in mind when they did the show’s casting. They first picked the six children before the parents, Carol and Mike Brady. It might be unusual, but it still worked out in the end.
The D Word
The show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz wanted to portray Carol Brady as a divorcee. However, the network was strongly against this. At the time, “divorce” was uncommon and remained as a taboo topic. They came to an agreement with Mike being a widow while Carol’s background wasn’t revealed. Florence Henderson even joked that she killed her husband when she was asked about him.
In The Closet
Another taboo topic during the show’s airing was homosexuality. Gay actors stayed closeted as much as possible since they feared the public’s judgment. Among these actors was Robert Reed who played Mike Brady. Florence Henderson had begun to suspect something when she noticed that he was rather awkward while shooting romantic scenes. Reed later told her truth in private. The pair then diligently rehearsed their hugging and kissing scenes off-screen. This was to make their relationship seem more natural during filming. Another touching fact was that all the cast members kept mum about Reed’s secret even after he died.
Susan Olsen wasn’t always a blonde. She had to bleach her hair regularly upon the producers’ orders. However, after a few seasons, her baby hair was noticeable as they appeared in giant clumps. The production staff had no choice but to leave her hair alone.
For the finale of The Brady Bunch, Robert Reed was completely written out of the episode. This was after his continuous disagreements with Sherwood Schwartz regarding the show’s plotlines. Reed considered the writing to be absurd. However, during the filming of the last episode, Reed stayed on set to be right by the kids’ side.
During interviews, Susan Olsen disclosed that they weren’t paid much for their roles as Brady children. Also, they had to pay for their own parking. The good thing was that this rule was later lifted after the first season.
With These Hands
For authenticity purposes, the producers made the decision that the Brady boys should build the tree-house themselves for the scenes in the series. That’s precisely what the actors did!
Not A Happy Camper
Robert Reed was known to be an outspoken actor. He always made his issues with the script known to the producers. As a result, he frequently had arguments with the show’s producers. He consistently told them what they had to improve on.
Schwartz originally came up with a ridiculous name for the show – The Bradley Brood. It’s such a relief that the famous show didn’t end up with the name.
The last season of the show suffered a sudden drop in ratings. As a countermeasure, they employed a drastic change in the show to hopefully increase the ratings. A new character, Cousin Oliver, was introduced during the fifth season. However, his presence didn’t do much for the show. Nowadays, the character “Cousin Oliver” has turned into a term that means adding a young actor to the cast to hopefully revive the series and prevent its cancellation.
Fans of the series might have noticed that the Brady children looked much older after the first season. This was because season two was aired a year after the pilot episode.
The cast of The Brady Bunch was always on their toes after filming 13 episodes. They anxiously waited for ABC’s decision regarding the show’s renewal. The network didn’t renew the show for an entire season due to their dismal ratings. They were only granted 13 episodes each renewal.
The Brady Bunch franchise was entangled in a controversy when producers of the show Yours, Mine and Ours claimed that Sherwood Schwartz plagiarized the story’s plot. However, Schwartz refuted their claims after he presented his detailed framework for the show written a year earlier than the show’s pilot episode.
Say What Now?
Just try to wrap your head around this! Since 1975, each and every day, there has been an episode of The Brady aired somewhere all over the world. Those re-runs sure are doing wonders now!
“Sergeant Emma” is the episode where Ann B. Davis, the live-in housekeeper, played her own twin cousin. Which is ironic because Davis does actually have a twin sister in real life. However producers chose not to use her so Ann did it herself.
As the series progressed, Florence Henderson would pester producers to allow Carol Brady to enter the workforce. Henderson felt that this would then align with how she actually is in real life. The producers didn’t agree and they kept Carol unemployed, although she did participate in volunteer work.
Turns out that the role of Mike Brady could have gone to Jeffrey Hunter as he urged Sherwood Schwartz to give him the role numerous times. However the network felt that Hunter was simply “too handsome” for the part so they gave it to Robert Reed.
Not Clean Enough
“Goodbye, Alice, Hello” is an episode that could have ruined the squeaky clean image of the Brady’s. In fact, they cut an entire scene from the episode. What fans didn’t see was Cindy and Bobby in the kitchen wearing their robes as they bed Alice to go to a skinny-dipping party. She of course replies that none of the kids will go to “some x-rated party in their birthday suit!” Not if she has anything to do with it that is.
Cats or Dogs?
In the pilot episode, the Brady girls actually had a cat named Fluffy. Although viewers never saw this orange cat again! Instead the family dog, Tiger, was always around.
Hope Guest Stars
Sherwood Schwartz is the father of Hope Juber and he got her on The Brady Bunch. She was credited as Hope Sherwood. She appeared in “The Slumber Caper,” “The Big Bet,” “Greg Gets Grounded,” and also “The Hair-Brained Scheme.”
My Fair Brady
Christopher Knight didn’t just play Peter Brady, his career really flourished after the show. He had his own show with his girlfriend, Adrianne Curry, titled My Fair Brady. If Curry looks familiar that’s because she is a former winner of America’s Next Top Model. During the finale of My Fair Brady, Knight proposed! They married in 2006 but divorced in 2013.
The Real House
If you’re a true fan then you know that the Brady home is located at 11222 Dilling Street in Studio City, California. However, we don’t think you should bother visiting. After the series finished, the owners added a fence out front and even added shrubbery for privacy. When the crew asked the home owners to filming future movies there, they flat-out refused.
And while we’re talking about the house, there were a few missing details. We know that they lived at 4222 Clinton Way but we also know that their number is 762-0799. But we never learned the name of the town or the zip code!
Paramount Studios used to be just used for movies. However the studio and industry changed for The Brady Bunch. We think this was the right choice in the end.
Five Seconds Of Fame
Having great neighbors is what it means to live in the suburbs. And we’re sure the same was for the Brady’s neighbors however they barely appeared in the show. In fact, the Ditmeyers lived next door and Mr. Ditmeyer appeared in just one episodes and for about five seconds. Blink and you miss it!
None For You Carol
Most of the episodes were thought of thanks to the actor’s real life triumphs and struggles. Although their was one character they didn’t include! Carol Brady. She never had an episode created out of her experiences nor were any named for her.
Double Purpose Doghouse
When Tiger passed away, he was never replaced with another dog nor another pet! Although they did keep his doghouse for the rest of the show. It actually helped to conceal a burn spot on the AstroTurf that was caused by a fallen studio light.
During this time, it was controversial to show a couple in the same bed on television. Although The Brady Bunch were credited as being the first couple to share a bed on television, that’s not true. The very first couple to appear in bed together on-screen were from the 40’s series Mary Kay and Johnny.
Just because Carol Brady lead a beautiful, happy life didn’t mean that Florence Henderson did. In real life, Henderson battled depression and had a really hard marriage. However she did make healthy changes! She divorced in 2984 and became a relationship therapist.
Throughout her childhood, Florence Henderson didn’t have it easy. She was the youngest of 10 and the family grew up in poverty. Moreover her father was an alcoholic. However her mother was very dedicated and Henderson credits her mom with helping her achieve the success in her life.
Robert Reed was truly a difficult cast member. But we have to say that in his defense, he does have a prestigious background. Reed was classically trained at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts in London. Long before he was Mike Brady, Reed starred in the legal drama The Defenders.
On-screen, Robert Reed’s character Mike Brady was sheer perfection. And we don’t just think so either. TV Guide named Mike Brady as one of TV’s greatest dads of all time in 2004.
Speaking His Mind
As we have already said, Robert Reed was difficult on set. And there was one moment where he really let his thoughts be known. Reed rejected working on a scene where the characters threw pies at each other without speaking. He called it “dumb” and even told Schwartz that this wasn’t a silent movie.
All In The Name
At the time, as we have already said, divorce was a touchy subject. But the signs were there if you paid attention. We learned that Tyler is Carol’s maiden name. However when she married Mike Brady, her name went from Carol Martin to Carol Brady. The writers were able to mask that she was divorced and not a widow.
While Greg Brady did date over the show’s run, no one saw him kiss his dates. Actually, Bobby is the only one who had a kissing scene. He gave Melissa Sue Anderson a smooch in “Never Too Young” during season five.
Inspired By Real Life
It wasn’t just the football incident with Marcia that was inspired by real life events on the show. Actually Schwartz would often use the actor’s real life events as plots in the series. He used real life events, their personality traits, and even habits when writing.
After auditioning for the part of Regan in The Exorcist, Eve Plumb nearly landed the role. And yes, she did audition while still on The Brady Bunch. Although it would have been hard to see her the same if she got the part! Talk about a….head spinner.
Shirley Jones was originally offered to play Carol. However she turned it down because she would only “take a pot roast out of the oven.” Ironically she played the mom on The Partridge Family, which actually came out right after The Brady Bunch.
Back during The Brady Bunch days, sponsors were crucial. Some of the shows major sponsors were Mattel Toys and Cheerios. Those are hard gigs to land. And keep.
Reverend Alden from Little House on the Prairie was portrayed by actor Dabbs Greer. Greer would would actually go on to play the same reverend who marries the Brady parents, Mike Brady and Carol Martin during the show’s pilot episode.
When The Brady Bunch was no more, both Eve Plumb and Maureen McCormick starred in roles about promiscuous teenage girls. Eve Plumb received amazing reviews for playing a teenaged prostitute in Dawn Portrait of a Runaway. A role she reprised in the 1977 sequel “The Other Side of Dawn”. Maureen McCormick starred in When Jenny, When?, it followed a high school girl who has promiscuous sex so she can avoid intimacy. Not very Brady!
Throughout the series, all of the Brady kids wore braces. Neat? Maybe. Susan Olsen, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb and Mike Lookinland would all wear braces on The Brady Bunch. In fact, there was an episode about it, ‘Brace Yourself’ where Marcia got braces.
Even though many people didn’t like Cousin Oliver as the show had “jumped the shark”. That didn’t mean stop the series from handing him the final line for the show! That’s right, he uttered the very last words on The Brady Bunch.
The previous spouses of Mike and Carol didn’t have their names mentioned in the show. Viewers couldn’t know, it was all hush hush. Although we did see a photo of Mike’s first wife in the pilot episode as Bobby is holding it.
Eve Plumb (Jan) Was Married First
Turns out that Eve Plumb was the very first Brady to walk down the aisle in the real world. Plumb has been married to to Ken Pace, a business and technology consultant, since 1995. Aww!
Her Green Thumb
Cindy grew up to become a pot farmer? Yup! Olsen and her ex-husband grew marijuana. Although she didn’t like to smoke it as it made her paranoid. Oh, she was growing pot when it was illegal so that’s quite a daredevil move. While she appreciates the plant, she thinks her lack in was a leading cause in her divorce.
The Peppermint Trolley Company were the first to record for The Brady Bunch. But how did they come up with the idea to have the kids sing the theme song? Apparently they overheard Christopher Knight singing on set and BAM! The kids would sing the song every year.
No Such Luck
The Brady kids recorded and produced many albums over the years, however one album just featured Maureen McCormick and Christopher Knight. Unfortunately their joint album was a commercial failure. Oh well, can’t win them all.
Joyce Bulifant was originally cast as Carol while Kathleen Freeman was the first pick for Alice. However, once Florence Henderson was cast as Carol, they made a change. Alice’s role then went to Ann B. Davis because production wanted to keep things “evenly balanced”.
When Sherwood Schwartz pitched the pilot episode, “The Honeymoon”, to NBC, they felt that the storyline of the parents taking their blended family on their honeymoon was far fetched. They would only do the pilot if the ending was changed. However ABC loved the idea and wanted to make it into a 90 minute television movie. Sherwood disagreed, saying it was dull and that he felt the show wouldn’t get picked up.
Sherwood Schwartz said that Robert Reed only worked on The Brady Bunch because he had to fulfill a contractual obligation with Paramount. Initially, Reed was meant to star in a sitcom based on Barefoot in the Park (he had done this on Broadway), but the show never came to fruition. Moreover Reed was also in consideration for a TV adaptation of Houseboat, which got the axe. With both sitcoms dead in the water, playing Mike Brady seemed more plausible.