“The Brady Bunch” is a 1960s sitcom. Even though everything looked rosy with the plot and characters, there were lots of secrets going on behind closed doors, here are some of the most surprising.
The Show Stemmed from a Newspaper Statistic
If you have ever wondered where the idea for “The Brady Bunch” came from, you would be surprised to know that it originated in a newspaper statistic. Producer Sherwood Schwartz read a filler piece in the Los Angeles Times that mentioned that 31% of all marriages consisted of individuals who had one or more children from a previous marriage.
}Photo of Brady Bunch Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Even though this may not have been the most exciting piece of news, Schwarz became fascinated with the idea of an unusual family dynamic.
The Final Episode Left Robert Reed Out
Source: Getty Images
Because Robert Reed and Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s producer, had multiple disagreements about the quality of the script, Reed was eventually written out from the final episode. This happened because Reed thought the script for “The Brady Bunch: The Hair-Brained Scheme,” was silly. Many fans agreed with it in retrospective, because this was the episode in which Greg used her tonic and turn his hair orange by accident.
Is There a Romance Budding?
HOLLYWOOD – MARCH 2: Actors Maureen McCormick and Barry Williams perform during the TV Land Awards 2003 at the Hollywood Palladium on March 2, 2003, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Most fans were not aware of the offset romance between Barry Williams, the actor who played Greg on the show and Maureen McCormick, the actress who played Marcia. The relationship was exposed when Barry Williams published a book called “Growing Up Brady,” in which he revealed details about their romance. Because they were in a relationship, the two were sometimes getting a bit too familiar, such as when filming “A Room at the Top,” an episode where they argue over attic space. But wait to see what happened next.
Not Everyone Was Happy on Set
A parent-child scene from the American TV series, The Brady Bunch, featuring from left: Florence Henderson as Carol Brady, Robert Reed as Mike Brady, Maureen McCormick as Marcia Brady, Eve Plumb as Jan Brady, and Susan Olsen as Cindy Brady. Source: Getty Images
Robert Reed didn’t have a good time on set, and he mentioned it multiple times. He believed that the TV show would be a serious one about the modern American family and had a lot of contempt for the way his character Mike Brady was shaped instead. Even though he felt that way, Reed decided to go on for the sake of the kids, so he didn’t quit his job throughout the five series of the TV show.
Carol Wasn’t Happy Either
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 13: Florence Henderson attends the signing of Tim Conway’s New Book ‘What’s So Funny’ at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on November 13, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
Florence Henderson, the actress who played Carol, repeatedly argued with the producers about the direction the character of Carol was going and the way it changed over time. Most of all, she thought that Carol Brady should get out the house and get a job, but the producers left her a homemaker until the end of the show. This is surely something that wouldn’t fly these days, but in the 60s, it was what was mostly expected of the average American woman. This is nothing, however, compared to the next controversy.
Haven’t We Seen That Some Place Else?
BURBANK, CA – AUGUST 16: (L to R) Producer Sherwood Schwartz, ‘Gilligans Island’ actress Dawn Wells and ‘Brady Bunch’ actor Barry Williams appear at the First Official TV Land Convention at the Burbank Airport Hilton on August 16, 2003, in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Because of the many similarities of “The Brady Bunch” and another very successful movie, “Yours, Mine and Ours” (1968), the producers were threatened to be sued for taking the idea and the plot summary as well straight off the movie. However, the Brady Bunch producer, Sherwood Schwartz, demonstrated that his outline and notes for the series had been written at least a year or two before the movie was released. Even though this made it possible to avoid going to court, the accusations of plagiarism cast a shadow over the show.
Is That What Sisterly Love Looks Like?
Child cast members of the US TV sitcom ‘The Brady Bunch,’ September 1969. Top (left to right): Maureen McCormick, Susan Olsen, and Eve Plumb. Bottom (left to right): Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland. (Photo by ABC TV/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Even though fans of the TV show couldn’t tell while looking at the episodes, Susan Olsen, the actress who played Cindy, revealed in multiple interviews that she didn’t get along well with her co-star sisters, Eve Plumb, and Maureen McCormick. As such, “Marcia Marcia Marcia” looked like it had some truth to it after all. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, because this is what often happens in families where multiple systems of different ages have to cohabitate. But who could believe the next one?
Now Where Is That Dog?
Many fans wondered what happened to Tiger, the boy’s dog who only made an appearance in season one before disappearing completely. It was later revealed that the dog who played the character died crushed by a car before the first five episodes were complete. It was tough to find a replacement, so the producers decided to scratch his character out entirely. Another thing that many fans noticed was that his doghouse would remain on set, and the reason behind this was that it covered a hall produced by one of the studio lights on the floor.
Casting Was Done According to Hair Color
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Before they cast the children actors, producers don’t have any idea what the parents would look like, but they were sure they wanted the parents’ hair colors contrasting and the ones of the children corresponding. For this reason, they tried to have 12 child actors ready, to include three blonde boys, three blonde girls, three brunette boys, and three brunette girls. After the parents were cast, the kids with her dad didn’t match their parent were dropped. But the hair caused even more problems as you can see next.
Cindy Wasn’t Blonde Enough
(Original Caption) Susan Olsen from the TV series ‘The Brady Bunch’ and Donny Most from the series ‘Happy Days.’ (Photo by Steve Azzara/Corbis via Getty Images)
Because Cindy wasn’t as blonde like her mother, the producers decided to bleach her hair regularly. For this reason, Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, started to go bald progressively, and by season two she begged producers to stop bleaching her hair. Her request was granted, fortunately. This is yet another thing that wouldn’t be an issue these days because no one would think about using peroxide on a child’s hair no matter the reason.
Is That Lisp for Real?
Former Brady Bunch cast member Susan Olsen, who played Cindy Brady, promotes ‘Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of The Brady Bunch’ as told by the Father/Son Team Who Know’ at Barnes & Noble, Lincoln Triangle on September 9, 2010, in New York City.
Many fans wondered whether Susan Olsen’s lisp was the same in real life, and the answer is yes. The girl had quite a pronounced lisp, but the producers didn’t seem to mind, so they incorporated it into the show. It was later revealed that Susan Olsen worked incredibly hard to fix her lisp but had to have surgery at the age of 19 to correct it completely. Her lisp became one of the show’s trademarks nevertheless. But this was nothing compared to the next one.
The Flower Power 60s
Maureen McCormick, Lloyd J. Schwartz, Christopher Knight and Barry Williams, winners Pop Culture Award for ‘The Brady Bunch’ (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic for Nickelodeon Television)
The 60s are known today as the decade of experimentation and a time when flower power movement was in full swing. It should come as no surprise that Barry Williams showed up “high” multiple times on the set, and the producers had to rewrite the script more than once to eliminate his character temporarily, so he wouldn’t have to appear on television in that condition.
They Were All Waiting for Henderson
Actress Florence Henderson attends a ceremony honoring producer Sherwood Schwartz with a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 7, 2008, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Florence Henderson was wrapping up filming in Denmark when “The Brady Bunch” got the green light and filming started without her for this reason. The producers filmed the entire six episodes without her, and then went back and filmed all her scenes when she came back from Europe. This is not something that fans would realize at the time, and it came as a surprise for many of them when the information was released. You wouldn’t believe the next one.
There Was a Lot of Jealousy on Set
Actress Maureen McCormick, who played ‘Marsha Brady’ on The Brady Bunch, visits backstage at ‘Xanadu’ on Broadway at The Helen Hayes Theater February 19, 2008, in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
It is indeed difficult to cope with puberty changes in any situation, but doing so with the eyes of a nation on you can lead to some serious issues. Maureen McCormick, the actress who played Marcia, revealed in multiple interviews after the show was over that she was jealous of Eve Plumb who played Jen because she believed she was prettier than her. McCormick’s self-esteem to a huge blow when Eve developed curves before her, and that was the moment her jealousy peaked.
Dealing with the Show Ending Turned Dark for Some
Ann B. Davis, Lloyd J. Schwartz, and Maureen McCormick, winners Pop Culture Award for ‘The Brady Bunch’ (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic for Nickelodeon Television)
Maureen McCormick had a really difficult time after the show ended. As it happens with many child actors, she found it difficult to cope with her life after fame, and she turned to drugs. At some point, she revealed that she was a cocaine addict and that she offered sexual favors in exchange for drugs. Her struggles affected her career, and McCormick lost her reputation quickly. She went on to appear on multiple reality television series after the 2000s. But wait to see what happened next.
Christopher Knight Was Lip Syncing
‘The Brady Bunch’ original cast members Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Larry W. Jones, Sal Maniaci, and Barry Greenberg (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
Not all of the children in “The Brady Bunch” had great voices, and Christopher Knight was one of those who couldn’t carry a tune. While Maureen McCormick, Barry Williams, and Mike Lookinland had amazing voices, Knight, Susan Olsen, and Eve Plumb weren’t that great. The former child star admitted in later interviews that the singing parts were traumatic for him because he was told that he had to do lip syncing while the other characters got to use their voices.
But Where Is the Toilet?
(Photo by Darlene Hammond/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Many fans noticed at the time that the shared bathroom the children didn’t have a toilet. This was not a mistake, however, but it was because of the strict rules television networks had in place at the time regarding showing toilets on screen. Because it would have been difficult to keep avoiding showing the toilet bowl when filming in the bathroom, producers decided not to include a toilet at all. However, this was less controversial than the next one.
Carol Brady Had a Former Husband
HOLLYWOOD – MARCH 07: Producer Sherwood Schwartz attends a ceremony honoring him with a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 7, 2008, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Producer Sherwood Schwartz mentioned in multiple interviews that he wanted Carol to be divorced, which is something that was quite taboo at the time. Mike Brady is depicted as a widower, and even though Schwartz wanted to portray Carol as a divorcee, the network objected, and he compromised by never mentioning Carol’s previous marital status directly. We know, however, that she had a former husband, even though it was never revealed what had happened to him.
That Peg in the Nose Was Real
In the episode “The Subject Was Noses,” Pen pegs Marcia with a football on the nose. What many fans don’t know about this famous scene is that Christopher Knight couldn’t hit the target, so producer Sherwood Schwartz had to go in and throw the spiral. This resulted in pegging Maureen on her nose, so the scene was not rehearsed or even part of the script. This was cute but meant nothing compared to the next.
You Wouldn’t Guess Who Barry Williams Had a Thing For
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for Nickelodeon Television)
Barry Williams was only 15 when he asked Florence Henderson out on a date. Moreover, in an interview years after the show had ended, he called Henderson a “white hot babe.” In a surprising twist of events, Henderson also admitted that the attraction was mutual, sparking a lot of controversies given the age difference. No one knows for sure the two did something about it, but many fans hope they did not.
No One Knew Whether They Were Coming Back
TV’s Brady Bunch family as they appeared in (top) the original 1969-74 series and (bottom) the 1981 series The Brady Brides.
The initial run of the show was not a very successful one, and because of that when filming ended for each of the seasons, the actors weren’t sure whether they would be called back for a new season. The show never managed to become one of the top 30 TV series in America, but it became a widely recognized American cultural icon, and its popularity continued even after the episodes went on syndication. But let’s find out another surprising fact.
There Are Lots of Flaws Fans Noticed
Photo of Brady Bunch (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
As mentioned before, the show was not very popular at the time it was airing, so no one thought that it might become a cult show running in syndication for over 40 years. This is why many two minor mistakes were overlooked in postproduction, including characters calling each other by their actual names, various wardrobe discrepancies and even Susan Olsen sticking her tongue out. If they knew they would become very popular after the finale, we guess they would have paid more attention.
There Was a Backdoor Pilot Ready to Air
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
In the final season of the show, several new characters were introduced in the form of the new neighbors of the Brady family, Ken, and Kathy, who have the adopted boys of three ethnicities. The producers hope that the idea would be picked up as a new series, but unfortunately, that never happened. It’s no wonder why, considering the following surprising fact.
A Controversial TV Show Concept
American actors Robert Reed and Florence Henderson stand in a hotel lobby with their television family in a still from the TV series ‘The Brady Bunch,’ circa 1969. (L-R) Christopher Knight, Barry Williams, Mike Lookinland, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Henderson, Reed, unidentified. (Photo by Paramount Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)
The end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s were a time when widowed parents became a common trope, so not everybody was a fan of the series for that very reason. When it first aired, “The Brady Bunch” received a lot of criticism for taking it too far. The show portrayed the family as a harmonious one, but the episodes were written from the children, so many believed that it wasn’t necessary to make the parents a widow and a divorcee.
Have You Noticed the Flaws of the House?
Photo of Brady Bunch Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Just like in the case of many other TV shows, fans paid particular attention to the interior of the house the Brady family was living in. Even though Mike Brady is an architect, the house looks like it could do with a bit of work. There are lots of signs of wear and tear visible in many episodes, including missing wood panels and tiles. But again, no one thought that the show would last too long, so they didn’t pay too much attention to these details. The next fact will surprise you even more.
You Wouldn’t Guess Who Was Up for the Part of Mike Brady
(Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images)
Many fans are not familiar with the fact that Gene Hackman had been considered for the role of Mike Brady, but he was turned down because he was not very familiar with TV audiences. The network wasn’t too keen on the choice, and they rejected the proposition, casting Robert Reed instead. Reed was already under contract with the studio and was better known then Hackman at the time. Who knows what would have happened with Hackman’s career had he got the part? The next bit will surprise even more.
Florence Henderson Was Not the First Choice Either
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Florence Henderson was not the first choice of the producers for the part of Ms. Brady. Joyce Bulifant signed the contract and performed all the screen test with the child actors before the show was given the green light. In another surprising twist of events, Eve Plumb was offered the role of Jan simply because of her resemblance to the original Ms. Brady.
Eve Plumb Auditioned for “The Exorcist” while still on “The Brady Bunch.”
The younger female stars of The Brady Bunch left to right, Maureen McCormick as Marcia Brady, Eve Plumb as Jan Brady, and Susan Olsen as Cindy Brady.
This is yet another less known fact about one of the characters of “The Brady Bunch.” In 1973, Eve Plumb auditioned for the part of Regan in what would become the cult movie “The Exorcist.” She ended up not getting the part, but she was strongly considered for it. The party eventually was offered to Linda Blair, who won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion picture for the role. However, you wouldn’t believe our last surprising fact.
Cindy and Bobby Were Smitten in Real Life
Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland, winners Pop Culture Award for ‘The Brady Bunch (Photo by M. Phillips/WireImage)
Even though Cindy and Bobby are brother and sister on the show, they had a crush on each other in real life. They were known to engage in kissing sessions, and Susan Olsen mentioned in an interview that she would even kiss Mike Lookinland in Tiger’s doghouse that remained on the set. While this may sound a bit awkward, you should remember that their “romance” took place when there were just nine years old. Olsen also mentioned in an interview that Eve and Chris also had a crush on each other.