Did Marcia Really Hurt Her Nose? 8 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brady Bunch
You may think you know the story of a lovely lady, a man named Brady, six seamlessly blended stepsibs and their groovy family sitcom that has since become a classic. But here’s your first eye-opener: Conceived by Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz in the mid ’60s after he read that nearly 30% of marriages were between people who had kids from a previous union, The Brady Bunch peaked at just No. 34 in the ratings. It seems primetime viewers didn’t know quite what to make of this modern brood with Andy Griffith, Ozzie & Harriet and the Cleavers so close in the rearview. Here are eight more things you (probably) didn’t know about The Brady Bunch.
When Florence Henderson arrived for her screen test, no one on the show’s makeup crew was around. Instead, she was sent to the adjoining studio, which housed the original Star Trek series, and ended up being made up alongside William Shatner, who ignored her.
Robert Reed, who played amiable family patriarch Mike Brady, was perhaps the show’s most vocal critic. A classically trained actor, Reed claimed Schwartz promised that the show would be a “boundary-pushing” look at modern family life and chafed at its increasingly goofy storylines. Schwartz, in turn, claimed Reed only took the show out of contractual obligations to Paramount Pictures.
Ew, her nose! After Maureen McCormick bonked her proboscis in a car accident, Schwartz wrote the injury into the 1973 episode “The Subject Was Noses,” in which Peter (Christopher Knight) accidentally drills Marcia in the schnoz with a football. Knight couldn’t master the throw, however, so Schwartz’s son, Lloyd, stepped in — and threw a perfect spiral right into McCormick’s already aching nose.
Barry Williams really did surf in the three-part Season 4 opener set in Hawaii. When Williams wiped out on some rocks, injuring himself and halting production while he healed, ABC wanted the scary footage wiped out, too. The network and Schwartz compromised, allowing the spill to air, but with Mike coming to Greg’s rescue in the same episode, rather than the cliffhanger Schwartz preferred.
“Girl,” the tune Marcia’s celebrity crush, a post-Monkees Davy Jones, sings on the 1971 episode “Getting Davy Jones,” was actually an earlier radio flop that appeared in the film adaptation of Neil Simon’s The Star-Spangled Girl. Jones’ charming turn as Marcia’s prom performer — and date — revived both the song and Jones’ teen idol status.
With a sixth season in limbo because of Reed’s ongoing feud with Schwartz (Reed doesn’t appear at all in the Season 5 finale, which also turned out to be the series ender), producers considered a real switcheroo. According to Brady, Brady, Brady, a 2010 tell-all cowritten by Schwartz and son Lloyd, they planned to recast the role of Mike and have Carol give birth to twins — a boy with hair of gold like his mother, and a girl who looked like, well, whoever played her dad.
Susan Olsen, Eve Plumb and Maureen McCormick on set getting direction from Schwartz
Among the show’s fan mail were letters from children asking to leave their own troubled homes and come live with the Bradys. Schwartz himself would answer those letters, encouraging the kids and reminding them that this perfect family only existed on TV.
Henderson, herself a working mom of four, hated that Carol wasn’t employed, since the Brady kids were in school and live-in housekeeper Alice (Anne B. Davis) handled most domestic duties. But Schwartz felt that a blended family with two working parents was too progressive for a mainstream sitcom, so Carol stayed home.