The Lovable Ann B. Davis is Back With A New Bunch
NEW YORK- Ann B. Davis, best remembered as the lovable comedian on two old TV series, became a born-again Christian and dropped out of show business for 15 years. Now she's back, in the road company of Crazy for You.
Davis joined the tour in Chicago on Nov. 9 and will crisscross the country to the tunes of George and Ira Gershwin until at least May 22.
She plays the starchy, uppercrust, 1930s New York matron who sends her son to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on a theater.
The son falls in love and he and his girlfriend bring the theater back to life. Mother is grumpy and funny and eventually gets romantic herself, with her son's father-in-law-to-be.
Davis played the secretary, Schultzy on The Bob Cummings Show and the maid Alice on The Brady Bunch. Since those days, her hair has gone from dark to gray-white, but she still has the same bright twinkle and feisty, endearing aura.
Asked what characteristic has been most mentioned about her, Davis replies, "I think I'm lovable. That's the gift God gave me. I don't do anything to be lovable. I have no control."
The reason that audiences haven't seen much of Davis lately is that 17 years ago she changed her life.
"I went to visit a Christian community in 1976 that Rev. William C. Frey, and Episcopal bishop had in Denver.
"We moved into a big Victorian house that looked like an ark floating in a sea of high-rises, 21 or 22 of us. To live with people who were that much in touch with the Lord was wonderful. After five months, I realized I lived there. I sold my house in Los Angeles."
At that time, she says, "I had everything the world had to offer and it wasn't enough. I felt kind of guilty. What do I think I don't have.?"
She started Bible study classes in 1974, while she was still doing The Brady Bunch.
"I was born again," she says. It happens to Episcopalians. Sometimes it doesn't hit you till you're 47 years old."
"It changed my whole life for the better. I had as much fun traveling, met as many interesting people, people with a totally different center to their lives. I don't regret it for one second. I spent a lot of time giving Christian witness all over the country to church groups and stuff."
When the Freys were called to a seminary in Ambridge, Pa., she moved with them.
"I didn't do anything for 15 years," she says. I did some of the Brady reunions and a commercial or two. I had four agents - for movies, TV, legit and commercials. I told them not to call me for awhile. I needed space and time.
"After we moved to Ambridge, I got an offer to do dinner theater in Canada. I anguished over that. Barbara Frey said she'd been praying for me to get a job. I started to turn my agents loose again. I did nine months in Canada that year, 1990. I call it digestive theater.
"Now I'm back in show business. So go, figure."
Before she went into Crazy for You, Davis did a media tour for Wisk, the detergent. "They sent an expert to answer the questions. I was just there to be darling and get attention as Alice, the world's best housekeeper."
She also has a cameo part as Alice in the upcoming spoof film, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.
Davis, who hasn't married, says, "I never met anybody I was more interested in than my career."
Davis doesn't sing in Crazy for You but she does sing. She says she was "discovered," singing and telling jokes at Cabaret Concert in Los Angeles, at the unfashionable end of Sunset Strip. "A friend had written comedy material and wanted to see what it looked like on its feet," she says.
"Somebody said, "Get your agent to call the new Bob Cummings show." They're looking for a funny lady. Within three hours I had the job. That was January 1955. I had such fun with the show."
I did a couple of pilots that didn't sell, a few movies and one year of nightclub work, which I hated. Then I did the pilot of The Brady Bunch and never had to do another nightclub."