The Brady Bunch: Surprising Facts About America's Favorite Sitcom Family
Here’s the story of a man named Brady, who starred in one of the best sitcoms of all time. Okay, that’s not exactly how the theme song goes, but you get the idea. You probably even tried to read the words in tune to the song. After all, the Bradys were a second family to more than one generation of kids, thanks to the show’s enduring popularity on TV Land and other syndicated networks.
Despite what you saw on screen, things weren’t always perfect behind the scenes. The cast and creative team worked together quite well and did a great job of hiding the issues that could have changed the show for so many people. Here’s your inside look at life behind the scenes of The Brady Bunch.
The Creator Was Inspired by a Newspaper Article
Inspiration can come from some strange places. For The Brady Bunch, the original idea for the show came from a simple statistic in a newspaper. After his previous success creating and producing Gilligan’s Island, Sherwood Schwartz was looking for his next project.
The Show Originally Had a Different Name
Given its iconic status, it’s hard to imagine how something so quintessential to the show could have been different. Nonetheless, The Brady Bunch almost had an entirely different identity. When he first started working on the pilot script, Sherwood Schwartz originally named the show Mine and Yours.
Hair Color Played a Huge Role in the Casting Process
From the start, the show’s creator Sherwood Schwartz knew that he wanted the mom’s kids and the dad’s kids to have contrasting hair colors. Before they even began casting the parents, they focused on finding the children first.
Robert Reed and Florence Henderson Were Both Second Choices
The Brady parents we know and love almost never existed. Both Florence Henderson and Robert Reed were the second choices for their respective roles. The role of Carol Brady was originally offered to Shirley Jones. Although she turned down the part, she went on to play another iconic TV mom: Shirley Partridge on The Partridge Family.
Florence Henderson Wanted Carol Brady to Have a Job
On the show, Mike Brady was an architect, and Carol Brady was a homemaker who took care of the family with the help of housekeeper Alice Nelson. If Florence Henderson had gotten her way, Carol would have had a job outside of the home as well.
The House’s Backdoor Didn’t Have Any Glass
Keen-eyed viewers may notice something strange about the backdoor of the Brady household. If you look closely, you will notice that the door doesn’t have any glass in it. There's not some crazy reason for this, however. It’s surprisingly practical.
The Show Wasn’t a Big Success at First
Although we now think of the show as a classic, it wasn’t quite as popular when it first aired on television. During the five seasons it aired in its prime-time TV slot, it never appeared in the Top 30 list for network shows.
Maureen McCormick Really Got Hit with a Football
Over the course of its five-season run, The Brady Bunch had so many memorable scenes. Perhaps the most iconic one is when poor Marcia gets hit in the face with a football. During the season four episode, Peter throws a football in the house, and it smacks Marcia right on the nose.
Some of the Kids Needed Hair Makeovers Before Filming
Although hair color was a key factor considered when casting the show, the rule didn’t apply to all the kids. When Robert Reed was cast as Mike Brady, Schwartz knew the boys needed brown hair. However, he made a slight exception for Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady), who had dark blondish hair. To become a Brady boy, they regularly darkened his hair.
The Original Tiger Died Early in the Series
Along with the three Brady sons, Mike also brought Tiger the dog to the bunch. The adorable pup was featured heavily in the first and second seasons. Sadly, the dog who originally played Tiger died while filming. He was reportedly hit by a car on the Paramount lot.
Alice Never Ate
Alice Nelson (played by Ann B. Davis) was the Brady’s housekeeper and the glue that kept the family together. During each episode, she spent much of her time cracking jokes, providing helpful advice to the kids and cooking delicious meals for the family.
Robert Reed Didn’t Appear in the Final Episode
According to some sources, Robert Reed was unhappy with his role as Mike Brady. He considered himself a serious actor and found the comedic moments to be difficult. He often sent creator Sherwood Schwartz memos with suggestions about the script and his character, but they were usually disregarded.
Many Supporting Characters Are Mentioned but Rarely Seen
Some of the most memorable recurring characters on The Brady Bunch got shockingly little screen time. Although they may have felt like a big part of the Brady’s lives, some characters were rarely seen by the audience.
Barry Williams Went on a Date with His On-Screen Mother
Well, the "date" part is debatable, depending on who you ask. What’s true is that Barry Williams (Greg Brady) did have a crush on his on-screen mom, played by Florence Henderson.
Robert Reed Directed a Few Episodes
As mentioned, Robert Reed frequently sent notes to Sherwood Schwartz about the scripts and his character. Although Schwartz may have ignored Reed’s input on his character, he still gave him some opportunities to exercise his creative freedom while on set.
Mrs. Brady’s Hair Was Actually a Wig
The Brady Bunch cast has a lot more hair secrets than most fans ever realized! After reading about the extreme focus on hair when casting the kids, it’s a bit surprising to learn that Florence Henderson (Carol Brady) actually wore a wig while filming.
Many Filming Errors Were Never Fixed
Like many other shows from the era, nobody working on the show anticipated that people would still be watching it more than 40 years later. As a result, many of the small mistakes made while filming were left uncorrected. After all, nobody had Netflix (or even a VCR) to rewind and rewatch scenes more closely.
Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick Had a Romantic Relationship
Although they played siblings on-screen, Barry Williams’ and Maureen McCormick’s off-screen relationship certainly proved they weren’t related. The two had a brief romantic affair in real life, despite playing stepbrother and stepsister on camera. While filming in Hawaii, they snuck off to take a moonlit walk on the beach, where they shared their first kiss.
Robert Reed Identified as Gay
Robert Reed was a private person and didn’t like to discuss his sexuality. Coming out could have had a negative impact on his career, which could explain why he wanted to keep his private life private. According to some sources, it was something that he struggled with throughout his life.
The Brady House Didn’t Have a Toilet
The Brady kids spent much of their time fighting over the shared bathroom, but eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed something odd about the bathroom: There’s no toilet. We see every inch of the bathroom over the five seasons, but never the actual toilet.
Carol Brady Was Supposed to Be Divorced
While writing the pilot, Sherwood Schwartz originally planned for Mike Brady (Robert Reed) to be a widower and Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) to be a divorcee. He stuck to that concept with Mike, but Carol’s original background became a point of contention.
Maureen McCormick Suffered from Anxiety While Playing Marcia
Facing the trials of adolescence is difficult for most people, but growing up in the spotlight presents even more challenges. All of it becomes even more difficult to handle when you have an anxiety disorder. In her memoir, Maureen McCormick outlined her struggles with anxiety while playing a character who is known for being "perfect."
Lucille Ball’s Son Guest Starred
During the first season of The Brady Bunch, the audience was treated to a guest appearance by American sitcom royalty: Desi Arnaz Jr. As the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz of I Love Lucy fame, Desi Arnaz Jr. was a star in his own right — and a major heartthrob.
Christopher Knight Met His First Girlfriend on Set
The identity of the mystery girlfriend? It was none other than Eve Plumb (Jan Brady)! That’s right, Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick weren’t the only brother-sister duo to find romance on set. According to TV Guide, Christopher Knight’s (Peter Brady) first girlfriend was his on-screen sister.
Jan and Marcia Didn’t Get Along in Real Life
The sibling rivalry between the eldest and middle daughters on The Brady Bunch seems to have transcended the small screen. Reportedly, Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) and Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) did not get along behind the scenes while filming the iconic sitcom.
Season Six Would Have Looked Wildly Different
Although the show was canceled before we got to see it, season six would have been completely different from the previous five seasons. Robert Reed (Mike Brady) and Sherwood Schwartz (the creator) often experienced creative differences. After refusing to appear in the final episode of season five, Schwartz and his son had reached their breaking point with Reed.
Cousin Oliver Was the Show’s Most Controversial Character
Played by Robbie Rist, Cousin Oliver (Carol’s nephew) was introduced during the fifth and final season. Producers thought the Brady children were getting too old, and they wanted to bring in someone younger to revitalize the show.
Christopher Knight Was the Only Brady Who Couldn’t Sing
Maureen McCormick, Mike Lookinland and Barry Williams were all blessed with excellent vocals, and even Eve Plumb and Susan Olsen could carry a tune. Christopher Knight, on the other hand, will be the first to admit that singing wasn’t his strong suit.
Ann Bradford Davis Released a Brady Bunch Cookbook
As the Brady family’s housekeeper, Alice Nelson (played by Ann B. Davis) was as beloved for her cooking as she was for her wisecracks. In a fitting tribute to her most iconic character, Davis published Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook.
The Season Finale Wasn’t the End of the Show
The show ended after five seasons, but that wasn’t the last we saw of the Bradys. Following the show’s 1974 cancelation, it went on to spawn a number of spin-offs, specials and parodies over the years.