The Brady Bunch ran for only five years but has endured as a pop culture phenomenon. The wholesome sitcom about a blended family was popular with children and teen audiences long after its initial run. The cast and crew were extremely close. Over the years, they've revealed personal stories and secrets from the making of the show, some of which are adorable while others are surprisingly dark.
The actors who played Bobby and Cindy both said onscreen dad Robert Reed was closer to them than their own fathers. He was a warm and protective presence on set. At one point, Reed refused to let his young costars get onto a roller coaster for filming until it had been tested. This turned out to be a wise choice, as the camera flew off the train during the test run and could have seriously injured someone. He also paid to take the entire cast on a family vacation.
The actors who played the siblings had an unusual childhood. Many of their early crushes were on each other, as they weren't actually related and didn't have many peers to spend time with outside the show. The actors who played Marcia and Greg snuck off-set during the Hawaii episode for a kiss and moonlit walk on the beach. When he was only 15, the actor who played Greg also became enamored with Florence Henderson, who played his mother. He wanted to spend time with her, so he invited her to dinner. Henderson had no idea that he considered it a date until later.
Sherwood Schwartz was inspired to create the show by a New York Times article discussing the new increase in marriages between partners who already had children. Nowadays, blended families aren't surprising. During the 60s, however, they were often misunderstood. The Brady Bunch was particularly important for children from blended families who had never seen their type of family represented positively before.
The actors who played the Brady children were often frustrated by their out-of-date clothing. Several actors asked Schwartz if they could wear more fashionable styles throughout the run of the show, but he always refused. Schwartz worried that putting the kids in trendy clothing would quickly make the show look dated. Given the timeless reputation of The Brady Bunch, that may have been a good call.
Like her character, Carol Brady, Florence Henderson was a friendly and humorous person. Schwartz saw hundreds of fans approach Henderson during the time they worked together, and she was always ready to greet them with a smile and a joke. However, her actual sense of humor was much darker than her onscreen counterpart. When the show kept Carol Brady's backstory vague - she was a divorcee, but the writers felt that was too risqué to reveal in 1969 - Henderson began joking that Carol murdered her previous husband.
Cindy Brady was known for her adorable lisp. While some viewers suspected it was fake, the lisp was an actual speech impediment that actor Susan Olsen had throughout her childhood. Other children outside the show teased Olsen for it. She visited many speech therapists who tried and failed to correct her speech. The actor eventually had to have corrective surgery at 19.
Robert Reed was gay during a time when coming out would have ruined his career. According to Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, he also struggled with a lot of self-hatred. In a social media post, she discussed how much being forced to hide who he was hurt Reed and how the stress of living in the closet may have contributed to his death. Olsen believed Reed would have been an amazing husband if he'd had the chance.
The Brady Bunch were a highly musical family and often burst into song. Backstage, however, they weren't always in perfect harmony. Christopher Knight, who played Peter Brady, had been cast for his acting talent and was actually tone-deaf. So Schwartz had him lip-synch instead. Knight later said that the musical scenes were traumatizing for him.
The producers of The Brady Bunch wanted to show some scenes of characters getting ready for the day in the bathroom, but at the time, television guidelines wouldn't allow them to show a toilet bowl onscreen. So they decided to remove the toilet altogether. The sliding door in the house was also made without glass so that it wouldn't reflect too much light on camera.
Florence Henderson was working in Europe during the filming of the first six episodes of the series. Rather than delay the entire production, the makers of The Brady Bunch simply filmed the episodes without her and then had her deliver her own lines alone when she got back. The actors had tremendous chemistry with people who weren't even in the same room.
In the famous episode where the Brady family goes to Hawaii, Greg is seen showing off his talent with a surfboard. Barry Williams was a surfer in real life; however, he cut his foot on some coral while filming the scenes. According to Williams, sharp-eyed audience members can actually see the blood when Greg falls headfirst off the board.
The Brady's dog Tiger shows up less frequently than his iconic dog house. This is because the trained dog who played Tiger in the first season was tragically struck and killed by a car while on set. Unsure what else to do, the trainer found a dog who looked similar. New Tiger was not trained, and the energetic dog was known for causing chaos on set. Writers addressed this problem by only including Tiger in a few episodes.
The episode "The Subject Was Noses" was inspired when Marcia's actor Maureen McCormick injured her nose in a car accident. The producers decided to write an episode where Marcia is hit in the nose by a football right before a big date. They tried many methods of getting the injury on camera, but none of them looked real. Eventually, the producers had someone throw a football at McCormick's face.
Schwartz waited until the parents were cast to choose the child actors. It was very important to him that the girls have hair like their mother's, while the boys took after their dad. Mike Lookinland, whose hair was naturally strawberry blonde, had to dye his hair dark to match his onscreen dad and brothers. Cindy was already blonde, but not blonde enough. Actor Susan Olsen had to bleach her hair for every episode and eventually lost patches of hair because it was so damaged.
Spending a childhood on television isn't easy. Many of the young stars struggled with addiction. Barry Williams, who played Greg, constantly smoked during the show. After playing Bobby Brady for much of his childhood, Mike Lookinland tried to relive his childhood in his twenties and struggled with alcoholism. Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia, developed a serious cocaine habit. This severely damaged her future career and nearly cost her her life.
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