The Brady Bunch, a classic sitcom that aired from 1969 to 1974, was an enduring pop culture phenomenon. Now around 50 years later, many behind-the-scenes secrets about the show have been revealed, and here are 20 of the most fun facts that’ll surprise you.
You may be surprised to learn that creator Sherwood Schwartz got inspiration for the show from a feature story in the Los Angeles Times. That short article spoke of the increasing rate of marriages between partners who already had children. Schwartz had a light bulb moment and then began the creation of the sitcom.
It’s a little unimaginable now to call The Brady Bunch anything else. However, prior to its final moniker, the sitcom’s producers thought of several other names, including Yours and Mine and The Bradley Brood.
This fact may well warm millions of hearts. Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen, who portrayed Bobby and Cindy, have both said that Robert Reed was a better father figure even than their own dads. Reed also took them and the other Brady kids on vacation to London. Sadly, the actor passed away in 1992 at nearly 60.
You may feel surprised to hear that Florence Henderson was forced to wear a wig while filming the show’s first season. That wasn’t because the actress was losing her locks, but because her short hairdo then was not suitable for the role of Carol. As a result, a hairpiece was brought in.
The younger cast members once pleaded with the show’s creator for more up-to-date styles, but Schwartz turned down their request. He thought that the sitcom would quickly appear outdated upon syndication if he gave in to their demands.
Thanks to a sort of Final Destination-esque premonition, Reed rescued the show’s cast from an untimely demise. When they shot the episode The Cincinnati Kids, Reed questioned the safety of the roller coaster the family were about to ride, so he demanded a try-out. Alarmingly, the camera on the cart turned detached and hurtled toward where the stars would have been.
Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick played siblings on the sitcom, but that didn’t stop a romance going between them behind the scenes. The actor first hooked up with McCormick on a moonlit beach while filming the show in Hawaii. McCormick later revealed in her memoir, Here’s the Story, “It was our first kiss, and it was long, passionate and deep.”
During her stint as Cindy, eight-year-old Susan was ordered to bleach her hair regularly, as the producers felt the youngest Brady wasn’t blonde enough. This treatment successfully gave Cindy that adorable towhead look, but Olsen eventually started to lose her hair in large clumps.
In 2018, the 1,200-square foot Brady house was put on the market for nearly $2 million and was later renovated by HGTV. The house interior was used for several other shows, including Mannix, Mission: Impossible, and Hawaii Five-O. There was no toilet in the Brady bathroom, and the sliding glass door had no glass.
In his 1992 memoir, Williams admitted that he had become infatuated with Henderson, who played his mom on the show. The young actor, aged just 15 back then, convinced 35-year-old Henderson to go out to dinner with him. Williams explained, “It wasn’t that I sought to bed [Henderson]. I just wanted to spend time with her.”
Reed frequently fought on set with Sherwood over the show’s scripts. Due to disagreements on the last episode, the actor issued an ultimatum: change it, or he wouldn’t show up for shooting. When Schwartz simply called his bluff, Reed kept his word and didn’t appear in the series finale.
You may be surprised to learn that the first pick for Carol was actually Joyce Bulifant. However, when Ann B. Davis was cast, the producers realized that Carol didn’t have to be wacky, so they made the figure more homely. Besides, Henderson’s best friend Shirley Jones was also offered the role, but she turned it down and went to The Partridge Family where she made her name.
Most viewers probably thought Cindy’s lisp was fabricated just to make the role more endearing, but that’s not the truth. In fact, the youngest Brady’s player, Susan Olsen, did indeed have a speech impediment back then. The actress often visited therapists, and eventually treated the problem through a surgical procedure.
In 2015’s reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, McCormick dropped a bombshell that she had once stepped out with Michael Jackson, saying “We used to date. We used to go roller skating in Woodland Hills [in California]. I used to go over to [the Jackson family’s] house all the time.” McCormick added that they had both been teenagers back then.
While filming The Subject Was Noses, McCormick learned that sometimes you need to suffer for your art. In the episode, Marcia was supposed to get hit by a football using camera trickery or stunt doubles. However, for the best result, Schwartz finally decided to throw the pigskin at McCormick’s nose for real. This gave rise to the famous line, “oh, my nose!”
On talk show Watch What Happens Live in 2019, Susan Olsen revealed a surprising fact that Jodie Foster had been in the frame to play Cindy. Apparently, Olsen had beaten the future Oscar winner to the role.
While the Brady family were enjoying a vacation in Hawaii, Greg showed off his surfing skills. Unfortunately, Williams who played the eldest Brady boy suffered a real-life disaster. The actor revealed on his blog, “I was injured during the filming of the surfing episode in Hawaii. I cut my feet on some coral. You can actually see it when I fall headfirst off of my board.”
Avid fans must have noticed that the Brady family often burst into song on the sitcom. While McCormick, Williams, and Lookinland all belted out tunes in their own voices, Knight, who is tone deaf, had to lip-sync. The actor later admitted that the show’s musical moments had left him traumatized.
Future Hollywood legend Gene Hackman had been in the running to play Mike, but he lost out simply because he was a stranger to TV audiences at the time. Interestingly, The Searchers star Jeffrey Hunter was desperate to play Mike, but he was turned down for being too good-looking for the father figure.
Thanks to her family connections, Schwartz’s daughter Hope Juber showed up on at least four occasions in the sitcom. She first appeared in The Slumber Caper as Marcia’s fellow pupil Jenny, and then in two episodes as Greg’s romantic interest Rachel. Juber also played Gretchen in The Hair-Brained Scheme.