Brady Bunch Secrets from Behind the Camera
The Brady Bunch may not have been the highest quality show of all time, but it was wholesome fun for the whole family. Nonetheless, despite its legendary status, the show was never a ratings hit when it initially aired. In fact, it never even reached the top 30 which eventually led to its cancellation.
The show, which lasted only five seasons, became increasingly popular after it aired – and the show is still watched by families today. Several reunion specials were released after the show aired and twenty years after the finale of the show aired, it even got a film adaptation: The Brady Bunch Movie, and a sequel A Very Brady Sequel which mostly poked fun at the show.
But whether you love it or hate, there’s no denying The Brady Bunch’s place in pop culture. Even if you’ve never watched the show, that theme is undoubtedly stuck in your head to this day.
While the family may have seemed perfect in front of the camera, behind the camera the family had some pretty dark secrets. From alcoholism to shoplifting, these are the secrets about the Brady’s you may not be aware of. These are the Brady Bunch secrets from behind the camera everyone should know…
Marcia Struggled With A Cocaine Addiction.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia may not have been so perfect in real life. Maureen McCormick, who played the beautiful and smart Marcia Brady wasn’t quite what she appeared to be on-screen. In real life, Maureen McCormick struggled with cocaine addiction through much of her career as an actress.
Dealing with the pressures of Hollywood and with family trouble, McCormick became depressed and turned to drugs. Her addiction became so severe that she would even sleep with her dealer in exchange for more drugs. Her addiction ultimately cost her career as she lost out to parts like Raiders of the Lost Ark because of it.
Marcia Dated Greg.
Marcia dated her brother? EWW. But for real, Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick briefly dated while the show was filming in Hawaii. They even took a moonlight walk on the beach. But apparently as they got closer, it started to feel a little weird for McCormick.
She wrote in her memoir, Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, “It was our first kiss, and it was long, passionate and deep. It was wonderful, too, though as we continued to kiss and press against each other so closely that we could feel each other's body heat, a part of me - a tiny part, admittedly - said to myself, 'Oh my God! I'm kissing my brother. What am I doing?'”
Marcia was a Shoplifter.
Maureen McCormick was allegedly a shoplifter according to co-star Susan Olsen. When she was younger, Maureen allegedly shoplifted with a friend and was caught by the police. Her friend, however, ended up taking the blame for the incident. The friend I question was Susan Cowsill.
According to Olsen, “There was a family band called The Cowsills, and the show ‘The Partridge Family’ was based on them. When we were all at Hollywood Professional School, Susan Cowsill, who also went there, became very good friends with Maureen. They used to go shoplifting just as a sport and one day they got caught and Maureen bolted and hid in a car for hours and let Susan take the rap for it.”
Bobby was an Alcoholic.
A mere child on the show, Bobby became an alcoholic later in life. Having lost the opportunity to be a child, due to his role in the show, Mike Lookinland tried to recapture his youth while in his 20s. The results were much like you’d expect of any child star and soon enough little Bobby Brady became an alcoholic.
Mike Lookinland eventually sobered up, left the film industry and now lives a quiet life with his family. Lookinland offered this advice in an Oprah interview, “You should really try to live your childhood when you’re a child, because if you do it when you’re 26, it can be dangerous.”
Peter and Jan were Caught by the Police.
Like Marcia and Greg, Peter and Jan almost dated in real life. Originally, Peter played by Christopher Knight developed a crush on his younger sister Cindy played by Susan Olsen but things soon changed as Jan played by Eve Plumb grew up, turning his eyes in the other direction.
Before you know it, Knight and Plumb began briefly dating. Knight set up a date in the back of his pickup truck with candles, beer and blankets, and the two were promptly interrupted by police who put an end to their night of romance. Wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
Robert Reed was in the Closet.
Robert Reed, also known as Mike Brady, the father of the Brady Bunch was actually gay and spent most of his life in the closet, a fact that he struggled with for a long time. Reed was HIV positive and eventually died from intestinal cancer in 1992.
Susan Olsen had this to say about her on-screen father:
“Because it was so taboo, he could never make peace with himself. He never allowed himself to have a genuine love. He was forever taunted by his own disdain for the natural inclinations that he was born with. Bob was a family man. Had he been allowed to form a relationship with another man, he would have been the best husband ever and might still be alive.”
Cindy’s Hair Started Falling Out.
Susan Olsen for almost every episode had bleached hair. While she was already a blonde, she wasn’t blonde enough for the showrunners. The star had to bleach her hair so much it ended up getting damaged to the point that it would fall out in chunks.
However, she wasn’t the only star forced to color her hair. Mike Lookinland, who had natural strawberry blonde hair, had to cover up with dark brown hair dye. That being said, I guess the producers were not aware of the natural wonders of genetics…
Tiger Got Hit by a Car.
Tiger, the family dog, ended up getting hit by a car during the filming of the first season. The deceased dog’s grieving trainer, went to a pound to pick up a lookalike and it did not go well for the producers. While the dog did look like the old Tiger, it did not act like the old Tiger - in fact, the dog couldn’t act at all.
The new Tiger was completely untrained and wouldn’t follow any kind of directions. The producers ended up having to nail his collar to the ground, just so the dog would remain in the scene and not wander off. The dog was then gently written out of the show and only appeared in a few select episodes.
Peter Felt Exploited.
Peter felt exploited as a child, telling Oprah, “My dad, he was unemployed. Literally, his solution early when there wasn't any money -- and there was my brother and myself, 13 months apart -- he said, 'Feed them every other day.' I think that's when my mom said that she realized there might be a problem."
“I’m feeling totally prostituted at that point by my mom. I think in a way, I totally was, and by her own admission it was, and that she was sorry about it."
His parents, and in particular his mother, hated The Brady Bunch and television in general.
Alice the Housekeeper Died in a Tragic Accident.
Alice the Housekeeper was always the life of the party on the Brady Bunch. The wise-cracking housekeeper was really the highlight of the entire. The talented actress, Ann B. Davis already had four Emmy nominations and won twice before ever taking on the role of Alice.
Ann B. Davis died in a tragic accident later in life, at the age of 88, in a freak bathtub accident. She had fallen and hit her head in the bathtub, which caused a subdural hematoma. She never regained consciousness and died shortly after, in 2014.
Mike Didn’t Approve of the Finale and Doesn't Appear in It.
Mike Brady, aka Robert Reed is notably missing from the finale, which most fans noticed right away and found odd. Finally, there is an explanation and it has to do with a disagreement he had with the producers of the show over a plot point he found unrealistic.
In the finale, Greg gets his hair dyed orange accidentally, which Reed had a problem with since hair tonic wouldn’t do that. Out of all the cast members, Reed had been famously difficult to work with and this time demanded that the script be changed. He refused to leave the set at first but eventually did, and so he does not appear in the episode.
There's No Toilet.
That’s right, the Brady’s never went to the bathroom. Diligent viewers might have noticed that the Brady’s bathroom never had a toilet in it. The reason? Television censorship, of course. The rules were even crazier back then and during the time the show aired, you could not show a toilet on screen.
Apparently, the thought of even going to the bathroom was indecent. Moreover, censorship dictated that you couldn’t show a toilet bowl and so the producers decided to eliminate the toilet from the set altogether. In many cases, you couldn’t even reference a toilet on television.
Only Three Actors have Appeared in Every Show.
The Brady Bunch cast is pretty huge and in fact difficult to fit everyone into every show. That being said, only three cast members have made the cut in each and every episode: cast members Florence Henderson who plays Carol, Barry Williams who plays Greg, and Ann B. Davis who plays Alice.
Robert Reed was in every episode except for two. The first being the episode, “Goodbye, Alice, Hello” and the second being the finale as mentioned earlier. Greg appeared in every episode since he was easily the fan-favorite of all the children.
(Image via: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images for TV Land; Rob DiCaterino from Clifton, NJ, USA, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images)
The Brady Bunch Almost Got a Spinoff Series.
The Brady Bunch almost got a spinoff series based on the fourteenth episodes of season 5, called “Kelly’s Kids.” The Kelly’s were the Brady’s new neighbors Ken and Kathy Kelly who adopt three children. Since one of the kids was Asian, and the other African America, it upsets their racist next-door-neighbor Mrs. Payne.
The episode acted as a backdoor pilot for a series that would not be produced. However, the concept for the show would be used for a new show titled “Together We Stand” which aired in 1986. The show was short-lived but starred Elliot Gould, Dee Wallace and Scott Grimes.
Robert Reed Saved Everyone’s Life in "The Cincinnati Kids.”
In the episode, “The Cincinatti Kids,” the cast was meant to go on a real rollercoaster but Robert Reed sensed something was wrong and demanded that the coaster be tested before filming. And it turned out that Robert Reed was correct and there was something very wrong.
During the test run, the camera flew right off the roller coaster and had the actors appeared on camera during the actual run, they would likely have been hit directly, potentially killing one of them. It turned out that Reed’s demanding behavior ended up saving at least one life.