If you grew up in the early 70s, then there’s a good chance you were a fan of the Brady Bunch. And if you were a child of the ’80s and ’90s who tuned in to Nick at Nite, then you probably were also a fan of the iconic sitcom, as reruns of the show were recurrent. If you tuned in to watch the blended family of eight live in their large two-story house, then you may have even felt a hinge of envy.
So, you will be happy to know that behind the Brady’s perfect white picket fence, things weren’t always as perfect in reality as they were in their on-screen version. After the show came to an end in 1974, the show’s secrets were finally revealed. Here are 23 huge secrets that you probably don’t know about the Brady Bunch.
Searching for the Perfect Children
Casting characters on a TV show is never easy. When thousands of actors show up to audition, it can be difficult to know what is the best choice to make. Well the producer and creator of the show, Sherwood Schwartz was definitely no stranger to the struggle. For the cast of The Brady Bunch, it was important for him to find actors that bore a resemblance, considering that they were to play siblings in the show.
Making a show seem realistic to the audience is very important. To find the perfect fit, Sherwood auditioned over 464 boys and girls. It was also important for him to find kids who would be able to endure the challenges of spending long hours on set, filming. During auditions, he placed toys on his desk to filter out the children who became distracted by the toys. He ultimately found the best kids to play the Brady children.
What’s in a Name?
When Mike and Carol met, Mike Brady was a widow. Carol Brady’s former status was never revealed. However, during the Honeymoon episode, Carol Brady’s former name was revealed to be Carol Tyler.
When she married Mike, she changed her name to Carol Martin. This supports the theory that she was a divorcee and not a widower like her new husband.
Do you know a 7 letter word that is even worse than the F or S swear words? Well, in the decade that the Brady Bunch was filmed, DIVORCE was about as taboo as it gets. As a result, the network didn’t allow Schwartz to cast Carol as a divorcée.
While it was never made clear what Carol’s status was, she is thought to have been a widower, similar to Mike whose wife passed away. Schwartz wasn’t happy about the network’s decision, so he never mentioned her deceased husband during the series.
Many Widowed Parents
In the late 60s and early 70s, several TV shows centered around widowed parents. The Brady Bunch did the same, although they took it a bit to the extreme, so much that they were criticized for this. For each parent to have a set of three children, one with all boys and one with all girls already seems like a bit of an exaggeration. The show took this even further when everyone seemed to accept one another as family members and lacking was the resentment which is typically involved in blended families.
Although the children were ambivalent at the beginning, once the family was living all together, there weren’t any conflicts involved and the family lived “happily ever after.” Also quite excessive is the fact that all of the children call both Carol and Mike mom and dad from the get-go.
Cindy and Bobby Had a Crush on Each Other
Although Cindy and Bobby were step-siblings on the show, their real-life selves were into each other in a way that a step-brother and sister are typically not, but nine-year-old kids are. According to Susan Olsen, things got hot and heavy between her and Mike Lookinland.
Think, kissing sessions in Tiger’s doghouse. To call it a heavy heated make-out session would be a bit much, considering their young age.
Not in Front of the Children
Despite 8 visible smiles in the show’s opening credits, behind the scenes, drama was constantly brewing between cast and crew members. Apparently, Robert Reed was known to cause quite the ruckus on set. This was partially due to the fact that he felt like the show was getting more and more out of line with each new episode. A declining quality sometimes happens with TV shows as they go on. Although Reed played a good dad to the children both on and off the screen, Sherwood would have some less than positive things to say about him.
The two constantly butted heads, so much that Schwartz didn’t even include him in the final episode of the show. But, you could say that Reed asked to get the boot. Reed had become so fed up with the show’s quality and silly plots, and was appalled by the show’s final episode. He demanded that Schwartz rewrite the final scene. Instead of rewriting, Schwartz simply cut him from the scene. Well, Reed being Reed, he showed up for the filming of the scene anyways and Schwartz kicked him off the set so as not to have a showdown in front of the children.
Reed the Instigator
There were several other scenes that Robert felt to be ridiculous and refused to be associated with. During the scene in which characters got into a silent food fight with pie, Reed was very upfront with Schwartz, as he usually was.
He told Reed that the silent pie fight was ludicrous and the Brady Bunch wasn’t meant to be a silent film.
Dad of the Year
Although Robert Reed was impudent with Sherwood Schwartz and their relationship was anything but cordial, Reed’s acting abilities shone through in his parental role on-screen. His talent garnered him the ranking as the 14th greatest TV dads of all time by TV Guide in 2004.
Ahead of him on the list? Cliff Huxtable from 'The Cosby Show', Howard Cunningham from 'Happy Days', and Steve Douglas from 'My Three Sons'.
A Royal Actor
There’s a good reason for Reed’s insolent persona (actually, does anything ever truly give validation for arrogance?). Robert Reed wanted the show to go his way. He was a very trained actor who had studied for one term at the reputable Royal Academy of Dramatic Art London.
Before appearing on television, he acted in Shakespeare plays. He then moved to L.A. to pursue his acting career and got started with a guest appearance on 'Father Knows Best'. His first television role was in 'The Defenders'.
Against the Odds
Despite Florence Henderson’s performance as Carol, a multi-faceted and uber-talented woman who seems to keep the family functioning smoothly while keeping up with her own hobbies and work, her background is, you could say, rather different. Henderson comes from a very poor family and was the youngest of 10 children.
Fortunately for her, she had a headstrong mother who despite all odds and the battle with an alcoholic husband, managed to give her children as good a life as possible and encourage them to be successful. Florence often credited her professional success to her mother.
Stuck in the Closet
Robert Reed was gay, however, he didn’t disclose his sexuality in fear of it ruining his career. Although it wasn’t discussed between him and fellow cast members, most of the cast and crew of The Brady Bunch knew. Florence Henderson commented on Reed’s hidden secret: "Here he was, the perfect father of this wonderful little family, a perfect husband. Off-camera, he was an unhappy person - I think had Bob not been forced to live this double life, I think it would have dissipated a lot of that anger and frustration. I never asked him. I never challenged him. I had a lot of compassion for him because I knew how he was suffering with keeping this secret."
Reed was unwilling to come to terms with his sexuality and this resentment often led him to self-deprecate and have mental breakdowns. After having unprotected sex with men, Reed contracted HIV. He died in 1992 from complications of AIDS. Although initially, it was believed that Reeds died from colon cancer, his death certificate revealed that he was HIV positive.
Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!
If you are a female who tuned in to watch 'The Brady Bunch', there’s a good chance that you felt jealousy towards the family’s gorgeous eldest blonde daughter, Marcia. Well, Marcia’s on-screen perfection was quite inconsistent with Maureen McCormick’s real-life self. It was revealed after the show came to an end that she was battling drug addiction to coke. Turns out that she slept with her drug dealer in order to score some coke.
“I did it only a few times — and always for the same reason: I wanted coke”. Although she experienced success on the show, her addiction to cocaine and quaaludes led her to struggle for years after the show’s surmise and lose her reputation as a reputable actress.
Hitting the Peace Pipe
You can be sure that Marcia wasn’t the only member of the clan to be experimenting with drugs. It was the 70s, after all. Barry Williams played Greg Williams, the eldest of the Brady sons. Williams used many drugs during 'The Brady Bunch' years, he sometimes even smoked marijuana during filming and even showed up high on set.
Interestingly enough, he had a sporadic romance with his on-screen costar and fellow drug user, Maureen McCormick.
Barry’s drama didn’t end with his drug involvement. Recently, his ex-girlfriend came forward claiming that Williams owed her child support of $12,000 a month.
Hopefully, for Barry, he managed to save some of that money he made from his years of playing Greg!
Turning Over a New Leaf
Unlike Florence Henderson’s happy on-screen role as Carol Brady, off the screen, she was battling depression and a less than happy marriage to her ex-husband Ira Bernstein. Two years after their divorce, Henderson married her second husband, a hypnotherapist. Florence made several television appearances well into her late seventies. She passed away at the age of 82.
After her passing, a few of the Brady Bunch kids took to Twitter, sharing their feelings on the age-old actress. Eve Plumb who played middle sister Jan wrote “Florence was a wonderful role model for me and all of us 'kids'. She taught me how to be a professional actor by her example of preparedness and respect for the work and her fellow cast and crew members.”
Where two blonde sisters are involved, there is also drama to be found. It was no secret that Maureen McCormick played the most beautiful older sister, Marcia. Eve Plumb, on the other hand, played Jan, the less pretty of the two sisters. Susan Olsen later shared that her two older sisters were in some pretty heated competition during the show’s filming.
According to RadarOnline.com, due to the feud between the sisters, a Brady Bunch reunion appearance was canceled.
Cindy’s Green Thumb
Remember adorable little Cindy? The youngest of the three Brady Bunch sisters ended up retiring from acting to pursue a career as a pot farmer. Ironically though, Susan seems to be one of the only ones of the Brady children not to have smoked drugs herself. She didn’t like smoking marijuana because it made her feel paranoid. But, she did like turning them into truffles and chocolate bars.
During these times, pot was far from becoming legal! Side note - apparently Susan had a radio show that she was fired from in December 2016 after she had a feud with gay actor Leon Acord Whiting. We wonder if her chocolate bars were involved in the incident…
Up to No Good
Susan Olsen dished out a juicy rumor about costar Maureen McCormick sharing that she had a guilty affinity for shoplifting. She got busted once for the act, with her friend Susan Cowsill.
The girls shoplifted and apparently Maureen hid in their car while Cowsill took the blame for the act.
Crushing on Mom
Apparently, Barry Williams who played Greg Brady was crushing on Florence Henderson who played his on-screen mother. While it wasn’t his blood mother, the age difference between the two is enough to make the relationship a big no-no.
Greg was crushing so hard that he wanted to get with Henderson. Fortunately (for the show’s sake at least, and our appetite) Henderson turned down Greg’s advances.
Bobby for the Win
Greg Brady plays the charming stud on the show. The oldest of the Brady Bunch, he is super talented at sports and, you guessed it, with the ladies. While he is seen dating many girls on the show, he actually doesn’t have any on-screen kisses for the entire duration of the show.
Ironically enough, Bobby, the youngest of the family, was the only child to have a kissing scene of his own. We can imagine that Barry Williams had much to say about this.
Although Barry Williams didn’t get to have a kissing scene on-screen, you shouldn’t feel so bad for the stud muffin; his romantic life was anything but dry. Turns out that Barry was getting it on with his on-screen costar and sister, Maureen McCormick. During the episodes filmed in Hawaii, the pair were allegedly hooking up behind the scenes. McCormick later shared in her memoir, 'Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice', about her first kiss with Williams.
"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." Side note - Greg Brady was the only character in the show to ever talk about sex. He mentioned it during the first season as well as in the final episode.
Sleeping in the Bed
At the time that Brady Bunch was released, showing a couple sleeping in the same bed on TV was very taboo. Although people believe that Mike and Carol Brady were the first on-screen couple to do so, this wasn’t the case.
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns from the late 1940s sitcom, 'Mary Kay and Johnny', were actually the first ones to be seen in a bed together.
Not an Immediate Success
Although 'The Brady Bunch' would become a widely successful show and one of the most popular American sitcoms, when it was initially released, it wasn’t a big hit. Because the ratings were disappointingly low, the show was renewed for only thirteen episodes at a time. During the five years that the show was aired, it never made it to the top 30 of the Nielsen ratings. By the time the show reached its final season, it finally gained the rights to release an entire season at once.
The show didn’t gain popularity and its iconic status until years later when reruns were shown on TV, especially during after-school hours when children could tune in. The show’s director, Schwartz says that the show gained its iconic status despite low ratings because children could relate to the show.
Due to the show’s low ratings, the actors’ salaries were nowhere near the $1 million per episode paychecks of stars nowadays, like on 'The Big Bang Theory'.
Not only was their pay low, but apparently they even had to pay to park their cars on the ABC lot while filming. Talk about cheap, ABC!
The show’s ratings were declining and ABC was desperate for Sherwood Schwartz to save the show. So, they recommended (or rather, demanded) that Schwartz introduce a new young character in hopes that he’d be the savior of the show and prevent the show from plummeting all together. So, the four-eyed blonde cousin Oliver was introduced during the last season to save the show.
The term “Cousin Oliver” has since stuck in Hollywood and it’s used to describe a character that is introduced to salvage a dying show. Unfortunately, cousin Oliver had no honorable moments and he didn’t impact the series at all. Fans felt that the character was unnecessary, but clearly, the producers didn’t have a choice at that point.
It has been joked about that the Bradys didn’t have digestive systems because a toilet is never seen in the show, although the bathroom is frequently shown. While the Bradys were a very wholesome and pure family, of course they needed to go #2 sometimes, just like the rest of us less than perfect families. Despite this, no scenes depict a toilet. Apparently, ABC didn’t want a toilet filmed in the show.
Showing a John would have been a violation of regulations. We are talking about the early 70s after all, when censorship was much different than it is now. On a side note, the eight-member family shared one bathroom. So, maybe they didn’t have digestive systems after all, if that was the case…
Tiger’s Doghouse Stays
It’s either the adored family dog, Tiger, or his doghouse that stays. Well, apparently, producers chose the doghouse. Tiger was tragically killed off the show in a car accident. While producers never introduced another dog to replace him, they chose to keep his doghouse in the backyard of the Brady’s house.
Perhaps to commemorate the life of Tiger? Not exactly… the doghouse was meant to cover up a spot on the Astroturf where a studio light had fallen and burned the ground.
Carol Brady was the matriarch of the Brady bunch and the one to keep the family running and things flowing smoothly. She was, what you would nowadays refer to as a “boss lady”. Despite this, she was the only character not to have an episode named after her or based on her character.
This seems ironic, considering that Carol was such a central component to the show. Well, Florence Henderson didn’t seem so bitter about this, as she happily reprised her role many times following the end of 'The Brady Bunch', and are we ever glad that she did!
The Neighbor’s Big Debut
If you live in the suburbs, then you know just how special the relationship can be between neighbors. Well, the Bradys lived next door to the Ditmeyer family. Despite a frequent mention given to the family, Mr. Ditmeyer only made one appearance throughout the entire series.
Even more ironic than this, his appearance was for no more than a few seconds. If you blinked, then you probably had no clue it even happened.
Big Changes for Paramount
Prior to creating 'The Brady Bunch', the famous Paramount Studios was strictly a movie studio. After creating the iconic American TV series, the studio completely changed its direction, thus impacting in a major way the entire television industry.
Bonus fact: Sherwood Schwartz is also the brains behind Gilligan’s Island for CBS.
No Glass in These Doors
Although the Brady’s home had an infamous sliding glass door, there wasn’t actually glass in it. The reason for this was that the glass would have interfered with the imaging on camera.
The producers wanted to prevent the glares from lighting during filming, so they built the door without glass. Another fact about the home? It’s reportedly the most photographed home in the United States after the White House.
Sherwood Schwartz was very concerned with keeping the TV show as authentic as possible and he took great measures to achieve this. There are many examples of this in the show.
One of them is that the clubhouse in the show was actually built by the Brady boys. Seems like the girls pitched in by making those signs.
Growing Up Fast
If you thought that the Brady kids looked older and more mature in the second episode than they did in the pilot episode, well there’s a reason for that. An entire year went by in between these two episodes.
So no, the kids didn’t just grow up fast overnight. They had 365 days to grow up a bit more and prepare themselves for becoming big TV stars.
The Brady Brood
Sherwood Schwartz had plans to call the show 'The Brady Brood' instead of 'The Brady Bunch'. Why he changed the title is unknown, but we’re sure happy that he did, and we guess he’s probably happy about that too.
Other potential titles were 'The Bradleys' and 'The Bradley Bunch'.
Perhaps the most iconic part of the show is the opening theme song, which is sung by the children. Actually, if you were a fan from the beginning, then you’d know that the opening was sung by professional singers in the first season. Things changed (thankfully) in the second season and the Brady children received the coveted role of singing the song themselves.
The lyrics were also changed from the third person to the second person, becoming the quintessential song as we know it today - “The Brady bunch, the Brady bunch, that’s the way we became the Brady bunch.” The creative brains behind the song? Mr. Sherwood Schwartz himself.
The Original Mike Brady
Before Robert Reed was cast to play Mike Brady, Gene Hackman was supposedly meant to play the patriarch of the Brady bunch. Ultimately, Sherwood Schwartz chose Robert Reed to play the role. At the time of the filming, Hackman wasn’t a big actor.
We are sure that he was bummed out by this missed opportunity, but the actor went on to star in big things, and has won two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes. In the end, it seems as though everybody went home happy.
If you were a devoted fan of the Bradys, then you would know their address by heart - 4222 Clinton Way. You might also know that their phone number was 762-0799.
While it was known that the family resided in California, the city they called home was never revealed.
The Brady Bunch House Now
Although we never found out in which city the Bradys lived, we do know the exact address of the real Brady Bunch home. The actual Brady Bunch house is located at 11222 Dilling Street in Studio City, California. After the filming, the Brady Bunch house was sold. The owners, frustrated by all of the fans who were showing up to see the place, put up a fence and planted big shrubbery outside of their home to give themselves more privacy.
When the producers came around to ask the owners to use the home to film 'The Brady Bunch' movies, they turned down the offer. Well, they apparently had enough because they ended up selling the house. In the summer of 2018, the home was sold to HGTV. HGTV has plans to revive 'The Brady Bunch in A Very Brady Renovation'. The network released a video, in which the Brady children ask for help restoring their TV home. They are asking fans to come together and find artifacts from the Brady home, to help bring the home back to life.
All About Concentration
No, we aren’t talking about the children’s hand-clapping game. When Schwartz was interviewing children to play the parts of the Brady kids, he wanted to make sure that the hired children would be able to focus on set. In order to test their abilities, he put toys on his desk.
The children who were able to concentrate on Schwartz and not get distracted by the toys were selected to move forward in the hiring process.
I Love Lucy
Lucille Ball had many fans, and Sherwood Schwartz was one of them. Apparently, he got his inspiration from Lucille’s 1968 film 'Yours, Mine and Ours'.
Fortunately, Lucille Ball wasn’t bothered by this and actually took it as a big compliment. She gave Schwartz the OK to keep filming the series.
Peter Brady was played by actor Christopher Knight. Years later, he was on the reality TV show, 'My Fair Brady', with Adrianna Curry, who was the first winner of America’s Next Top Model. He proposed to her in the final episode of the show.
The two were married for five years before divorcing. Since his acting career, Knight has become a successful businessman. He has also since remarried to Cara Kokenes.
Not a Real Brunette
Usually, people go blonde, but you don’t often see people choosing to become brunette. Well, Mike Lookinland was blonde before filming 'The Brady Bunch'. As mentioned, it was important for Sherwood to maintain the authenticity of the show and with that, the siblings’ resemblance.
So, Mike had to dye his hair to match the cast’s hair color. You can see that years later, he was back to his natural blonde color.
Know Where You’re Wanted
When Florence Henderson came to the set of 'The Brady Bunch' for her screen test, there weren’t any makeup artists on set. So, she popped on over to the studio where 'Star Trek' was being filmed and had the makeup artists do her makeup.
She was seated in between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who apparently gave the actress the cold shoulder.
Surf’s Up Dude
Barry Williams was as athletic off the screen as he was on. In season four, when the family vacations in Hawaii, Barry, who plays Greg Brady, is actually surfing.
In one of the scenes, he really did hurt himself after wiping out near rocks. Filming had to be delayed in order to give him some time to recover.
When you’re spending so many hours filming with people day and night, it’s hard to keep any secrets. Although Robert Reed thought that his sexuality was his own little secret, other cast members were well aware that Reed was hiding something. Florence Henderson, who played his on-screen wife, Carol, noticed that Reed was uncomfortable being romantic with her during filming.
After Reed had finally come out to her, they worked around Reed’s discomfort and would rehearse together off-camera so that when they finally filmed, their relationship would look natural.
Stay at Home Mom
Despite Florence Henderson’s many pleads to make her character, Carol Brady, an employed woman, promoters rejected her request. Carol Brady was a stay at home mother and unemployed. She did frequently volunteer and participate in charity fundraising.
During these years, it was commonplace for the woman of the household to stay home and care for the family while their husbands went off to work.
Friends in All the Right Places
When you have friends in the right places, you can often get hooked up with some pretty cool gigs. Well, when you’ve got parents in the right places, that’s pretty much a guarantee. Hope Juber, Sherwood Schwartz’s daughter, was lucky to make four guest appearances on the TV series.
She appeared in the following episodes: The Slumber Caper (1970), The Big Bet (1972), Greg Gets Grounded (1973), and The Hair-Brained Scheme (1974).
A Cat Named Fluffy
In the pilot episode of 'The Brady Bunch', The Honeymoon, the Brady girls had an orange cat which they called Fluffy. Sadly, Fluffy didn’t make another appearance after that first episode. Instead, the family got a dog called Tiger.
If you’re a cat lover, then you probably were devastated, however, dogs are way more popular than cats, so we’re sure many people fell in love with the family dog.
Although the Brady family was known for their pure and innocent image, in the episode “Goodbye, Alice, Hello” things got a little racy, to the point where the episode couldn’t be shown in its entirety. One scene got edited out in which Bobby and Cindy are standing in the kitchen wearing only robes, asking for Alice’s permission to go to a skinny-dipping party.
Alice refuses, saying that she won’t allow any Brady kid to go to “some x-rated party in their birthday suit.”
"My brown-eyed boy, you, my brown-eyed boy. Do you remember when we used to sing"… Okay, so maybe the lyrics don’t go exactly like that, but Christopher Knight, who played Peter Brady, was the only cast member with brown eyes.
This didn’t bother him much and he got along great with his fellow cast members despite their physical differences.
If you were a big fan of the TV series, then you would know that Cindy’s favorite doll on the show was Kitty Karry-All. The young actress and her doll were attached to one another.
We imagine that Susan Olsen really did have a strong attachment to the doll, considering that she was so young when filming the series. Needless to say, she didn’t go anywhere without her doll.
It’s safe to say that most of the cast members had braces at one point or another. We are sure that Sherwood Schwartz didn’t mind this at all, seeing that it only added to the show’s authenticity. Mike Lookinland, Susan Olson, Eve Plumb, and Maureen McCormick were all what you would call 'Brace Face' (if you’re a mean bully).
There was even an episode in the show called “Brace Yourself”, which features Marcia getting braces.
In the show, Robert Reed played the role of Mike Brady, and Mike Lookinland played the role of Robert Brady.
Schwartz did this as a play on words of their two names in real life, although we’re sure this led to a lot of confusion and slip-ups at times!
The Brady Bunch was actually the first TV show to ever show a mixed family.
Although the show received criticism for how fast the children got used to their new family, it ended up being a success and many shows have since followed suit.