Ahem, here’s the story of a lovely lovely lady, a man by the name of Brady who could have been played by Gene Hackman(?), six kids with their own problems, an eccentric housekeeper, and how a simple series with low ratings transformed to a syndicated giant. Sit back and relax as we dish out some facts you may not know about The Brady Bunch.
Let’s kick off by looking at the show’s origins because, believe it or not, The Brady Bunch was pretty much based off of math. Yes, really. The producers read a very interesting statistic in a newspaper: in 1965 about 31% of all marriages involved children from a previous marriage. That’s quite the inspiration!
Not A Natural
Most Hollywood actors need to make adjustments to portray a new character – whether it’s changing their accent or dying their hair. Turns out the latter was the case for Mike Lookinland, who played Bobby Brady. Repeatedly he was required to dye his blonde hair in order to match the rest of the brunette family. Could be worse.
That’s A No From Me
As far as great Hollywood actors are concerned, Gene Hackman ranks at the top of such a list, and everyone knows it. However, he was declined the lead role of Mike Brady because producers felt he was not established enough back then. Therefore the part was offered to Robert Reed as he was more famous than Hackman at the time.
The Lisp Is Real
Cindy, played by our very own Susan Olsen, was easily a fan favorite – just ask anyone, and they’ll say the same. Maybe fans loved her because of her imperfection? Yah know, her lisp. Well, as it turns out, her lisp was real! Despite working with a speech therapist well into her 20’s, the lisp persisted.
Not A Fan
Pretty sure everyone can agree that the fashion on The Brady Bunch was seriously cringe worthy. However, fans weren’t the ones who agreed with that statement. All of the younger actors routinely complained about their hideous outfits – pleading with the costume department to wear more fashionable items. Although not a single request was accepted.
Over 260 kids auditioned for the show!
260 sounds like peanuts in today’s society but if you stop and consider how many child actors appear on The Brady Bunch – it clearly puts things into perspective. Producers were determined to test as many people as possible so they could perfectly cast all of the roles.
With that being said, producers used tons of psychology tricks during casting to sift through the “weaklings”. There was just one particular trick they repeatedly used – they would place distracting toys on the table. Basically when one of the child actors would pay more attention to the toys, they were instantly passed over for a part.
Double The Fun
If you think that Florence Henderson was the only actress to play Mrs. Brady, you’d be wrong. Originally, the comedic actress Joyce Bulifant was brought on for the part. During screen tests, Bulifant was extensively used and also as an aid during casting. At the end of it all, producers opted to cast the more subdued Florence Henderson for the part of Mrs. Brady.
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” Three words no Brady Bunch fan could ever forget! And wouldn’t you know it, but those words were specifically written into the show because there was extreme real life tension between the two oldest Brady sisters, Jan and Marcia. Eve and Maureen had a massive on-set feud even – which centered around a romantic subplot with Desi Arnaz Jr, the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
So They Called It Puppy Love
Did you know that Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland had a fling?! Okay, okay, the word fling is stretching the truth a bit. Susan and Mike have admitted they kissed numerous times – but come on, they were just nine years old. Additionally, they would kiss in the doghouse so that way, they wouldn’t get in trouble. Otherwise known as puppy love!
Missing In Action
Florence Henderson missed a large chunk of filming time during the show’s first reason. Why? Well our dear Mrs. Brady was under contract to perform in an off-Broadway play! Therefore she would go on to miss the first six episodes and would return at a later time to film her scenes.
Not A Happy Camper
Just in case you didn’t know, Robert Reed was extremely trained as an actor before he signed on for the role of Mike Brady. However, Reed was incredibly unhappy with his role, he just felt silly acting in a sitcom that was so below his serious Shakespearean training. Later on, Reed admitted that he only took on the part because of financial stress.
Marcia and Greg Hooked Up – Off Set
Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia, experienced her first kiss with none other than her on-screen brother, Barry Williams, aka Greg. Later on Maureen admitted that while it was wonderful kissing Williams, there was a part of her that often thought, “I’m kissing my brother. What am I doing?”
Best Friends For Life
So while the older Brady sisters did not get along, the brothers surely did! Particularly Barry Williams and Christopher Knight – in fact, they became best friends. In the years to come, they would even attend each other’s weddings. How cute.
According to the Nielsen Ratings, the Brady Bunch only reached slot #34 in their ratings – which to sum up, is NOT very good. This meant that the show wouldn’t get renewed for another season until the very last episode aired. Furthermore, during the first four seasons, the show was only ever renewed for a mere 13 episodes at a time. Often causing the cast members to feel apprehensive when they finished filming the 13 episodes – they anxiously waited to see if ABC would even renew the show.
No PDA Allowed
Remember how we mentioned that Maureen and Barry kissed? Well that kissing lead to the development of a full blown relationship, in the real world obviously. However, their relationship eventually lead to interference with filming! Specifically when filming the three-episode plot in Hawaii, Maureen and Barry got just a bit too cozy during a few scenes and the director was often forced to cut in order to separate the two.
Stoner, Sorry To Say
Ahem, there were a few instances when Barry Williams showed up on set completely stoned. In his memoir that was published later on, Williams admitted that he “dabbled a little” with marijuana as a teenager. Which explains why there was even a scene where Mr. Brady purchases a boat and Barry looks totally out of it. However, you’ll never see the next part, the one that was cut out of the scene because Barry trips over nothing in the driveway.
Lloyd Schwartz, one of the producers on The Brady Bunch, was exceptionally worried about Maureen and Barry’s personal relationship ruining the chemistry on set. Rumor has it that he actually approached Barry and convinced him to end the relationship – telling him he was much too good looking and young to be in a new, committed relationship. Ouch.
That’s Right, IRL
Ready for it? (Why yes, we did just make a Taylor Swift reference!) Marcia, aka Maureen McCormick, did actually injure her nose! That wasn’t made up by the writers, it was based on real life events! Therefore presenting viewers with one of the show’s most epic and legendary scenes – the one where Marcia gets hit with a football.
What A Wig!
As we’ve already mentioned, during the first season Florence Henderson was working on an off-Broadway play. Because of this project, she actually had to wear a wig on The Brady Bunch! Producers felt her hair was much too short for Mrs. Brady, ergo the wig.
Dude, I Surf
We’ve already mentioned the Hawaii plot briefly, well there’s one more thing we need to mention – the surf boarding scene. See, Barry Williams really does know how to surf so he asked that instead of using a stunt double, he do it himself, they agreed. Unfortunately, Barry wipes out and injures himself, meaning that a stunt double has to be used anyways. Oh well.
Still A No
To this day, Maureen McCormick and Eve Plumb still can’t stand one another! Their co-star, Susan Olsen has also said that neither one will communicate to the other under any circumstance – which explains why chances of a reunion show won’t ever happen.
It’s Better If You Don’t
Pretty much every knows that all of the actors in The Brady Bunch can sing, and well at that. All of them except for Christopher Knight. Actually, his singing is SO BAD that all of his scenes where he has to sing is lip synced. Oh.
Mike Loonkinland (Bobby) Gave Up Acting
In 1974, the show went off air but a few Brady films were developed, which Mike Loonkinland was involved in. With that being said, Bobby Brady has given up acting and is currently operating a business which makes decorative concrete in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In The Closet
Robert Reed was actually gay in real life, but he kept this part of his life buried. Why is a sad reason really, he feared it would damage his career. Only after his death in 1992 did the cast acknowledge Reed’s sexuality. Barry Williams admitted that the cast and crew knew but didn’t discuss it with him, “Robert didn’t want to go there. I don’t think he talked about it with anyone. I just don’t think it was a discussion – period.”
Brady Bunch Blondie
During the first few seasons, Susan Olsen had her hair bleached in order to keep it as blonde as per the producers request. However the moment Olsen’s fine baby hair began to came out in clumps, they immediately stopped.
Ahh yes, this sad fact is up next. Tiger, the family, was hit by a car while on set. Actually it happened during takes so Tiger was then replaced by a similar looking dog. Oh. That’s just incredibly sad!
When The Brady Bunch was on air, it was a different time which explains why showing toilets on television was taboo – or does it? Anyways, while there some bathroom scenes, you won’t ever directly see a toilet! Weird.
Think back to when we said that Marcia really was hit in the face with a football – the culprit? Oh, that would be the producer, Lloyd Schwartz. Yikes!
Following The Brady Bunch, Maureen McCormick tried her hand at stage acting before she shifted her attention to a music career. While she released four studio albums with the Brady crew, she only released one solo album, a country music album in 1995 titled ‘When You Get a Little Lonely’.
Swing and A Miss
Okay, well this fact is a bit strange so we’ll try to spit it out as nicely as possible! Barry Williams actually asked Florence Henderson out on a date, to which she politely declined. Now Williams went to a later time to say that the pair didn’t date but that they “did things”, however that’s just speculation so we don’t personally hold it in high regard.
So About The Ratings
Now the series did not reach any critical or ratings success during its original run, but it has since then become a rather popular staple in syndication, especially for young children and teenagers.
Goofs and Mistakes
Just like many other shows at this the time, The Brady Bunch is loaded with plenty of production mistakes and acting goofs. None which ever edited out. So if you were to re-watch the show now, you’d see many silly mistakes!
Dennis, the Menace
Producers and directors of the show found Robert Reed extremely difficult to work with both on and off the set; however, the entire cast got along really well with him. Reed often attempted to bring much more realism to the show, which is why he often got into arguments the show’s creator and executive producer Schwartz. In an interview, Reed said about Schwartz, “We fought over the scripts. Always over the scripts. The producer, Sherwood Schwartz, had done Gilligan’s Island…Just gag lines. That would have been what The Brady Bunch would have been if I hadn’t protested.”
Quite The Mistake
During the screen test phase, Florence Henderson accidentally walked into the makeup room for the television series Star Trek. Despite her innocent mistake, the makeup artists helped her anyways as she was seated between the late Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner.
Oh Really, Now?
Would you believe it but the theme song was originally recorded without the Brady children. I know it’s crazy but it’s true! It was the Peppermint Trolley Company who first recorded the song.
Out Of Luck
During the final season, producers introduced a new, neighboring family, The Kelly’s. Heck, they even dedicated an entire episode to the Kelly’s – hoping that it could produce a spin-off. But it didn’t. Well, you win some and you lose some, we guess.
For The Win
In 1968, ABC committed to 13 weeks of filming for the show therefore Shwartz hired the film and TV director John Rich to go ahead and direct the pilot, cast the six children out of the 264 interviews during the summer, and then hire the actors for the mother, father, and housekeeper role.
The D Word
So not only were toilets taboo but so was the discussion about divorce. If you recall, everyone knows that Mike Brady is a widower, but did you know that Schwartz originally wanted Carol Brady to be a divorcée, but it was the network who objected to this. Therefore a compromise was reached and Carol’s marital status – if she was divorced or widowed – was never directly discussed or revealed.
In the fifth and final season, the show saw a serious drop in ratings, so they introduced a new character, Cousin Oliver. It is now this very act that is dubbed a “Cousin Oliver”, the act of introducing a new character to try and save a dying show.
When Robert Reed read the script for the show’s final episode, “The Hair-Brained Scheme”, he was appalled! In turn, he immediately sent Schwartz a memo where he picked apart the entire episode, but Schwartz didn’t receive the memo with enough time to change the episode how Reed wanted. As a result, Reed actually refused to even appear in the episode!
Susan Olsen revealed later on that the child actors didn’t earn a lot for their on-screen roles, in fact they were required to even pay for parking. (They’re children, most of them don’t even drive but okay). However, after the first season, this changed – thank goodness.
With These Hands
Remember the tree house in the yard of the Brady house? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question, of course you do! Well, it turns out that the producers decided that the actors playing the Brady boys should build the tree house with their own hands, for authenticity purposes. And that’s exactly what happened.
Florence Henderson was the youngest of 10 children, and during the Great Depression, she was actually taught to sing at the ripe age of two by her mother, who only had a repertoire of 50 songs. But by the time Henderson turned eight, her family was calling her “Florency”, and by age 12, she was already singing at the local grocery stores.
Sorry, but this fact is just too much to process! Barry Williams had quite the breakthrough role on the flick Mission: Impossible. His character is a king who decided to disguise himself as a young gypsy girl. Now that’s a sight to see!
Eve Plumb (Jan) Was Married First
Out of all the Brady children, it was Eve Plumb who got married first! Since 1995, she has been married to Ken Pace, a business and technology consultant, while she is a painter!
Maureen McCormick actually is the voice of the legendary Chatty Cathy doll! No seriously, the very popular doll from the 1960’s. How can we get our hands on one of those dolls is beyond us!
Before the pilot episode was sold, Schwartz considered naming the show The Brady Brood instead of The Brady Bunch. Let’s just say that we’re glad that never worked out!
Originally the title song was intended to be performed by only professional adult vocalists. But after the second season, the Brady kids wound up singing the song themselves forcing a change in the lyrics from third person to first.. “They became…” to “We became… the Brady Bunch”.
Once the show was officially cancelled, tons and tons of animated specials, reboots, and parody movies were subsequently created. And thanks to re-runs and post-production films, the show actually saw a huge boost in ratings! Funny how that worked out.
If you’re a true fan, you’ve watched all the seasons multiple times and no doubt that you noticed that after the first season the Brady children considerably older. Well there’s a reason for that. See, an entire year had passed from when the pilot episode was filmed to the start of the second season.
Throughout the course of the show’s entire run, Florence Henderson pestered producers to allow Carol Brady to enter the workforce. Henderson really believed aligned more with how she was in real life, along with other mothers. However producers kept Mrs. Brady unemployed!
The producers of the film Yours, Mine and Ours threatened to sue Sherwood Schwartz as they believed he stole their idea and plot for the show. After Sherwood showed them detailed notes and outlines of the show, which were actually written a year or so before the movie, the producers of Yours, Mine and Ours backed off.
Not the First
Oh look, another taboo! Showing a married couple sleeping in the same bed on a television show was rather controversial back then and while most people assume that The Brady Bunch was the first to do this, it wasn’t. In fact, it was a 40’s show called Mary Kay and Johnny.
Remember the next door family? The Dittmeyer gang. See throughout the show they are referred to many times but the audience only ever sees the father of the Dittmeyer family. On top of that, this viewing only happened one time.
Nope, No Glass
In order to gain control over lights and reflected surfaces of the set, producers decided to pull the real glass out of the sliding door which can be seen in The Brady Bunch back yard.
Say What Now?
Every single day since the year 1975 – the start of its syndication – an episode of The Brady Bunch has actually aired somewhere in the world. Say what now?
Mike and Carol Brady never seem to mention their previous spouses, nor do we ever see them. Just once, however, do we even see a picture of Mike’s previous wife, and that was in The Brady Bunch: The Honeymoon.
There’s an episode titled “Sergeant Emma” where Ann B. Davis, the wacky housekeeper, plays her own twin cousin. Ironically Davis really does have a twin sister, but producers chose NOT to use her for the episode. Huh.
Jeffrey Hunter wrote and called Sherwood Schwartz numerous times as he really wanted to snag the role of Mike Brady. But, the network honestly believed that Hunter was just “too handsome” for the part so they rejected him.