Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls. That lovely lady, Florence Henderson, or Carol Brady to my generation, died last week at the age of 82. That makes this a good time to reflect on the iconic show – and ten things you didn’t know about The Brady Bunch.
1. Florence Henderson wasn’t the first choice for Carol Brady.
Comedic actress Joyce Bulifant (Murray’s wife on The Mary Tyler Moore Show) was the first choice of producer Sherwood Schwartz. He envisioned a wacky mom-type, which fit Bulifant perfectly. But when Ann B. Davis agreed to play “Alice,” the wacky role was filled. A more serious person was needed to play Carol Brady, and Henderson was given the role at the last minute.
2. Henderson missed the first six episodes.
Sure, you see her now. But when they decided to give the role to Henderson, she was filming another project out of the country. They had to add in her parts after the other scenes of the first six shows had already been filmed.
3. Schwartz wanted Gene Hackman to play Mike Brady.
Paramount wouldn’t agree to a Hackman interview, because he was not seen as a popular enough actor for the job. Robert Reed was already under contract with Paramount, so it was less expensive to give him the role.
4. Eve Plumb should never have been on the show.
I’ll admit it. I was in love with Jan Brady. Sure, I was 13 and it was puppy love, but it was real to this puppy! But Eve Plumb only landed the role because of a bizarre set of events. In short, she got the role because she resembled Bulifant, assumed to be Carol Brady on the show. Had they hired Henderson first, Plumb would have never been on the show, and my first crush would have been put on hold.
5. Carol Brady was supposed to be a divorcee.
While Mike Brady was depicted as a widower, Carol’s pre-Brady marital status was a bit of a mystery. Sherwood Schwartz has said in several interviews that his intention was for Carol to have been a divorcee. (Her maiden name was “Tyler” and her married name was “Martin,” as revealed in the pilot episode.) But a divorce was still considered to be taboo for prime time television, especially for a family-friendly show, so the fate of Mr. Martin was always left a mystery.
6. The show was never a big hit.
The show never cracked Nielsen’s top 30 shows. But it did well enough to run for five seasons, which gave Paramount enough episodes to sell as a package for sydication. The show has been far more popular in reruns than it was in the 1970s.
7. Tiger met a tragic ending.
One evening after filming, Tiger’s trainer let the pooch out for daily exercise. But a careless driver didn’t see the dog. Tiger was hit and killed. A replacement dog was found at a local pound, but he was never the actor that Tiger #1 had become.
8. Marcia really took a football to the nose.
Christopher Knight was never able to hit his target when filming the crucial football-tossing scene in “The Subject Was Noses” (a.k.a. the “Oh, my nose!” episode). So Schwartz stepped in off-screen, threw a perfect spiral, and pegged Maureen’s nose with the pigskin in one take.
9. Six kids shared one bathroom with no toilet.
Toilets couldn’t be seen on television back then. So they didn’t have one.
10. Marcia and Greg shared romance.
In his book, Growing Up Brady, Barry Williams wrote that he and Maureen McCormick shared their first kiss while in Hawaii filming a three-episode story during the fourth season. A brief romance ensued.
From September 26, 1969 until March 8, 1974, ABC brought The Brady Bunch into our homes. No one was a bigger part of the show than Carol Brady, played by Florence Henderson. We will miss America’s favorite mom.
And that’s the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls.