Considered to be the “picture-perfect” family, The Brady Bunch worked their way into the hearts of American households throughout its run from 1969 to 1974. Featuring your ideal parents, the zany housekeeper and six children so studious, parents today would pay top dollar for them, it seemed like the cast of the show were the epitome of sugary sweetness.
However, behind the scenes, this ideal family had quite a few secrets the producers kept from the public. From the trials of casting to hidden messages within the episodes, here are 20 secrets that are sure to surprise you.
When searching for the six children, the producers went on a nationwide talent search to find them. Over 465 children auditioned for the coveted roles before the producers settled on: Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, and Mike Lookinland.
While the show couldn’t come out and say that wife Carol was divorced due to the rules and regulations for network television at the time, they chose to sneakily arrival her maiden name as Tyler during an episode. When she married Mike, her name was changed to Carol Martin. This was the only way the producers could confirm Carol was not a widow.
Behind the Scenes Love
There have always been rumors that the kids on the show hooked up when the adults weren’t looking and according to Susan Olsen who played Cindy, this was true. With the young actors spending a great portion of their time filming together, it was only natural that relationships would develop. “We led a sheltered life for part of the year, so if there was anybody to get a crush on or try to date, it would be our counterparts.”
Doghouse Makeout Sessions
Continuing from the hookup rumors, Olsen revealed in an interview that she and Mike Lookinland (Bobby) started making out in the set’s doghouse at the early age of nine. Talk about innocence lost! Alice would have completely freaked out if she had known what was going on.
Lack of Parents Criticism
While many shows in the 60s and 70s featured children who had lost a parent, The Brady Bunch was criticized for taking the concept way too far. Since both sets of children had lost a parent, many critics found the premise too morose for a family show.
Real Sibling Rivalry
While the characters of Marcia and Jan always seemed to be at odds, according to Olsen this animosity carried on off-screen as well. Apparently, Maureen McCormick (Marcia) and Eve Plumb (Jan) absolutely can’t stand each other in real life. Even after all these years, they still use Olsen to communicate.
“I think it’s kind of petty,” Olsen stated. “From day one with these two I have always, been in the middle and now it’s at the point where there isn’t even a desire to communicate through me.”
None of the Stars Ended Up Rich
Many would assume that the cast of the show would be rolling in the dough, but sadly that wasn’t the case. The cast was paid quite poorly by ABC and since this was prior to syndication, no royalty deals were written into their contracts. Therefore, once the show ended, the money did as well. Talk about a bum deal.
Marcia the Kleptomaniac
It seems that Maureen McCormick had a bad case of “sticky fingers” and shoplifted once during the show’s run. She ended up being caught and let her friend Susan Coswill take the rap for it. Marcia does seem like she would be that sneaky, don’t you think?
Greg Had Mommy Issues
Actor Barry Williams (Greg) had a huge crush on his TV mom, Florence Henderson. Rumors swirled for years that the two were sexually involved, but Henderson has always maintained that she kept the relationship strictly professional. We’ll never watch the show the same way again.
According to producers, Robert Reed constantly created conflict on the set of the show. While they never removed the actor from the set because they wanted to maintain a positive environment for the children, Reed was written out of the series finale due to disputes.
More Problems with Reed
Reed’s constant tantrums triggered many of the show’s episodes to be rewritten due to his refusal to perform. One episode was to feature the family throwing pies at each other without talking, something Reed thought was ridiculous. He refused to film that day and the sequence had to be cut entirely.
Why Daddy is a Diva
Apparently, the source behind Robert Reed’s frustrations on the set was due to the fact he was a classically trained actor who graduated from the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts. The silliness of the show seemed to clash with his training and personal preferences. Though one has to ask WHY he accepted the role in the first place?
The Lisp of the Matter
Many people took issue with Cindy’s lisp throughout the series run with some actually finding it insensitive to children with speech impediments. However, the lisp was not a character choice, actress Susan Olsen actually struggled with her pronunciation for years. When she was 19, she finally had surgery to help correct it.
The Original Carol Brady
While Florence Henderson absolutely nailed the role of Carol Brady, she wasn’t the first choice. Comedic actress Joyce Bulifant has originally been cast when the mother role was going to be more of a whacky character. However, when the writers shifted that persona to Alice, Bulifant was no longer right for the part.
It should come as no surprise (it was the 1970s ya know) that some of the cast experimented in drugs. Barry Williams who played Greg once got high on one of his days off only to be called in to reshoot some scenes. When he showed up to the set unable to deliver his lines, the episode was rewritten to reduce his screentime. That was the first and last time Williams showed up to set stoned.
Breaking Up the Romance
The two actors who grew the closest romantically on set were Barry Williams (Greg) and Maureen McCormick (Marcia). According to Williams, they were very hot and heavy during the fourth season of the series, but showrunner Lloyd Schwartz worked hard to keep them apart because he knew how teen romances could end. The last thing he wanted was tension on the set.
Christopher Knight Couldn’t Sing
One of the worst aspects of filming the show for middle son, Christopher Knight was when it began to incorporate musical numbers. While the other children could sing, Knight admits he couldn’t carry a tune. The show soon began to play this up for laughs, but even then Knight couldn’t hit the wrong notes right.
No Toilet in the Bathroom
Viewers began to notice that the Brady kids all shared one bathroom with no toilet. The reason for this was television networks had rules where you could not show a porcelain toilet bowl on screen. Rather than complicate shooting, the producers opted to forgo the toilet altogether. It must have sucked to grow up in that house!
The Tragic Story of Tiger
The family dog, Tiger, met a horrible fate on the Paramount lot after filming one day. His trainer let him out to run around the lot and he was accidentally killed by a car. While the show tried to find a suitable replacement, the dog was ultimately written off the show.
Mistakes Were Never Fixed
During that time, the producers of the show never expected that The Brady Bunch would have the long legacy it has today. Therefore, many mistakes in the episodes were never fixed. Scenes, where hair would go from ponytails to down and car models changing, were just left as is. At the time, these mistakes were never noticed, but now after years of syndication, viewers have begun to pick them apart.