April 4-10 1970
"Don't Tell His Pasadena Neighbors...But Robert Reed is an
by Leslie Raddatz
It may be a little late to mention this since Robert Reed has been acting practically all his life--most notably as E.G.Marshall's son and law partner in the late lamented "Defenders," and currently in ABC's situation-comedy series "The Brady Bunch"--but just possibly he should never have become an actor in the first place.
At least he doesn't act like an actor.
For instance, Reed lives in Pasadena. Now actors don't live in Pasadena. They live in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, at Malibu--and a few even live in Hollywood. Which is the principal reason Robert Reed lives in Pasadena. "I love the business," he says, "but isn't it nice to get away from it? Maybe one of my neighbors knows I'm an actor, but otherwise I'm just somebody that lives there and we discuss our roses."
(A friend says "I don't see how someone that's been on television as much as he can avoid being recognized, even in Pasadena." But someone else says, "I don't think he'd be recognized. He looks like an ordiary all-American boy.")
Unlike most actors, Reed does not enjoy talking about himself. The morning of a recent interview, he stood in front of his mirror, shaving and trying to think of what he would say. He couldn't come up with a thing. He can start a sentence, get off the track and finally confess lamely, "I thought I had a point there." In his own defense, he says, "Most actors I know are screaming introverts." But when he was in analysis some years back, his psychiatrist said "You're not an introvert--you're a raving extrovert." If so, it doesn't show.
(I have never seen such a secret person, says a co-worker. "He is reluctant to talk about himself," says another, Sherwood Schwartz, creator and producer of "The Brady Bunch, says "I've dealt with all sorts of performers and temperaments over the years but he is the hardest nut I've ever had to crack. Somehow I can't get around him. He is very guarded." His co-star, Florence Henderson says, "He's not prone to talke about himself--not as outgoing as a lot of people. The only time I've seen him talkative is when he wants a better script." Ann B. Davis, who plays the housekeeper in the "Brady Bunch" says, "He doesn't lay it out there for you." And E.G. Marshall says "He's the sort of person who just doesn't like to talk about himself. Bob can chitchat, but things that concern him personally are not for casual conversation. What you may think you don't know about him may be unknowable. Perhaps it's Southern or Midwestern reticence.")
Reed will talk a little about his background. Born John Rietz in Highland Park, Ill., on Oct. 19, 1932, he was an only child, "but there were a lot of cousins," he adds. He has never legally changed his name from Rietz to Reed, which he dislikes intensely. "I think of vanilla pudding or tapioca when I think of Reed," he has said. But an agent thought Rietz would not look right on a theater marquee, so Rietz became Reed. The Rietz family moved to Oklahoma when Reed was 6 years old. Reed's recollections of his early life are, for the most part, trivial-learning to cook and knit and crochet from his girl cousins while teaching them baseball and other boyish pursuits; belonging to the 4-H Club; having a pet mink named Charlie on his father's mink ranch in Illinois; living on his father's cattle ranch in Oklahoma, where he and a calf used to enjoy butting each other; walking 2 miles to a one-room country schoolhouse. It was in high school that Reed first became interested in acting. He says, "I was on the basketball team, the debating team, and the drama class. I felt most secure in drama--you find an avenue." After high school, he enrolled in Northwestern University as a drama major.
(Someone who knew him at Northwestern recalls, "He was a suave, handsome party-type man about the campus. I never really thought of him as a serious actor--nobody knew he really had ambitions to the theater. Paula Prentiss and Dick Benjamin were in school at the time, too, and everyone knew that they were interested in show business. But he impressed me as somebody who thought the theater might be a nice way to make a living, so why not try it? I almost fell off my chair when I saw him in "The Defenders.")
Whether anyone at Northwestern suspected it, Reed was--and still is--extremely interested in acting, almost to the exclusion of everything else. He has confessed, "I'm a little overserious about myself." And surprisingly, since at 37 he looks like a leading man hin his 20s, he says, "I think of myself as a character actor, not as a leading man."
After Northwestern, he went to England for a year at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. With him went his bride, Marilyn Rosenberg. When they returned to the United States, theatrical pickings were slim, and Reed's wife taught dance to tide them over. They have since been divorced for many years, she has remarried and has their 14-year-old daughter, Karen. "I'm not a family man," Reed has said.
Eventually the actor became a member of an early off-Broadway company called the Shakespearewrights. Reed returned to Chicago in 1956 to join the Studebaker Theater, where he met E.G. Marshall for the first time. Then came a try at Hollywood and minor roles in such TV series as "Lawman," "The Danny Thomas Show," and "Man Into Space." It was a part as a young lawyer in "Father Knows Best" that got him his role in "The Defenders." He has also appeared in the Broadway hit nonhit "Avanti" and in movies.
Although Reed is reluctant to talk about himself, he talk readily about Sherwood Schwartz, producer of "The Brady Bunch," creator of "Gilligan's Island," and former gag writer for Red Skelton and other comedians. Reed says, "I thought the show was going to be something else--that it was going to be more realistic, that we would be real humans. The pilot turned out to be "Gilligan's Island" with kids--full of gags and gimmicks. At first I went along and decided to do the best I could. But now I argue. Once on "The Defenders" I stayed home because I objected to a script, and I had to pay for a day's shooting. Now I argue on the set, and I think the show is better. But Sherwood is a compulsive rewriter; and as an old gag man, what he writes is gags. I can always tell what he has put into a script--it's like riding along a smooth concrete highway and then hitting a rough spot of asphalt."
(Sherwood Schwartz says, "This isn't a hokey series, but Bob is so used to "The Defenders" realitythat he can't get used to situation-comedy reality. If we say that Denver has a population of so many thousand, he'll look it up and tell us how many thousand the population really is. He's always on the phone to the Los Angeles Times or the Police Department or looking in the encyclopedia to check some matter of fact. His attitude is one of pure logic
"For instance, in the third show, he said that the kids could not come into his den. In the 19th show, the kids did come in, and Bob said, "But we said the kids couldn't come into the den." He doesn't realize that by the 19th show, people won't remember what we said in the third. So now, whenever they come in , we have Bob say, "You know you're not supposed to come in here." On another show, he was supposed to tell one of the kids, "You look full." Bob objected to the line--he said "You don't look full. You feel full."
"But these qualities of sincerity and honesty come across on the screen and contribute to the character. That's why I think Bob does such a good job in the role. But if I--a situation comedy producer were hired by "The Defenders," I wouldn't try to tell them how to run the show.")
Reed seems to be a happy man, although he admits, "I sometimes get bored with myself--doing formula stuff every day after day is hard." But he says, "I always look forward to going to the studio--even to arguing with Sherwood." He also looks forward to going back to his home in Pasadena at the end of the day. He has lived there for six years and says "I love my house. I hope to die in it and be buried not far from it." The house itself is half a Mediterranean-style mansion built in 1914 when Pasadena was a wintering spot for the very rich. Some years ago, it was separated into two houses, but Reed's home, on an acre of ground, still contains 25 rooms and is filled with Italian marble. There he "pounds the piano for therapy," works with the plants he has put in --including tomatoes he keeps from freezing in winter with heat lamps--cooks occasional gourmet dinners and guards his precious privacy.
("I've never been to his house and he's not been to mine," says Ann B. Davis. A Hollywood aquaintance says, "He has never been part of this town. "He has never been part of this town. He might as well live in "Racine, Wisonsin, and commute. He's not a swinger." E.G. Marshall says, "I've been to his house because we are old friends." Says Florence Henderson, "Nobody goes to Pasadena."
"Nobody? Robert Reed does.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE FAMOUS AND THE FASCINATING
| Robert Reed, the Brady
Bunch dad who died last week
at age 59, had AIDS.
The actual cause of his May
But the "human immunode-
H. Rex Greene, the Pasade-
"I have no information on
"Because of his career, and
Others on the show include
Bill Eliel, a Reed "confidant"
Reed's marriage ended in di-
In this week's People maga-
Taken from USA Today-May 1992
"Brady Bunch" dad led secret gay life
"Brady Bunch" dad Robert Reed headed TV's most wholesome family, but he led a secret gay life filled with one-night stands and sex-for-hire partners and died of AIDS.
Although the actor was married briefly in the 1950s and his daughter and grandson were at his side when he died, an ENQUIRER investigation reveals that Reed:
Haunted gay bars in the Los Angeles area and was a regular guest at a seaside hotel where he frequently brought gay pickups from a nearby bay.
Favored young blond men and cruised a park near his Pasadena home looking for partners-paying them up to $200 for sex.
Kept his homosexuality secret because he feared it would shatter his squeaky-clean image- and guarded the secret so zealously that even some of his "Brady Bunch" costars didn't know he was gay.
Told friends only that he was suffering from colon cancer-but the cancer was actually brought on by an AIDS infection. And after he died May 12 at age 59, his death certificate clearly indicated he was stricken with the AIDS virus.
Reed also played a cop on the TV series "Mannix," and a lawyer on the acclaimed 1960s show "The Defenders." But he is best remembered as Mike Brady, TV's favorite dad, on "The Brady Bunch" sitcom, whose five-year run ended in 1974.
"We were supposed to be such a fun-loving, typical American family- but Robert was far from your typical TV dad in real life!" confided "Brady Bunch" mom Florence Henderson to a friend.
Gay scene insider Don Preston, owner of the Pasadena gay bar, Boulevard, disclosed: "I've seen Robert Reed in gay bars for about 20 years. The first time I met him I was a bartender and he came in and asked me to got home with him, but I said no.
"There were rumors he had AIDS but he was so private that nobody knew him well enough to know anything that intimate about him. But I saw him last December and he looked very bad then."
During his "Brady Bunch" heyday, Reed picked up Bill Eliel at a gay bar called The Club House, Eliel recalled, "I'd seen him at the bar before and at that point he was till very popular as the father on "The Brady Bunch." He asked me if I wanted to go home with him and we went to his house in South Pasadena. We had sex but as soon as the sex was finished he wanted me to go and wanted to forget about me.
"He was very remote. I saw him in gay bars after that for the next 15 years but we never had a meaningful conversation. One night he said to me "How did the Dodgers do tonight?" That's as close I ever got to this man-and I spent the night with him!"
Another of the star's gay lovers confided: "Reed was not well like by the gay community. He was very cold and had a razor-sharp tongue when he was drunk- which was often.
"He'd frequent all the gay bars in Pasadena including Incognito, a bar that attracted a young crowd. After the bars closed he'd be seen cruising a gay pickup area on Raymond Avenue. It was a park and he'd drive around in his yellow Mercedes until he found someone who'd go home with him. He was really a sad man."
Said a Hollywood insider: "Reed's favorite hangout was a notorious gay bar, Main Street, in Laguna Beach. The first time I saw him his show was on the air and I recognized him immediately. It blew my mind. Robert Reed gay!
"He always went for the same type: a young man about 19 with blond hair and blue eyes. The surfer type.
"Later I worked as a security guard at the nearby Surf and Sand hotel. I saw him bring his young lovers back to the hotel and take them to his room. The all called him a $200 trick." He gave them $100 for sex and an extra $100 to "shut up." Then he threatened them: "You tell anyone you were with me and it'll be over for you. I'll send someone after you."
"One handsome blond man told me Robert had picked him up and told him: "If the world finds out that I'm gay my career is over. I'll stop at nothing to keep that a total secret."
Gay bars weren't the only places where Reed searched for lovers--he also frequented an adult bookstore in Pasadena, said a former bookstore employee.
"In the back of the store are individual booths where people can go and watch porno films. Reed would enter a booth with another man and they'd have sex as they watched a porno movie."
Even after his "Brady Bunch days ended, Reed still kept his gay adventures a secret. He felt America would never accept that "Mike Brady" was a homosexual- and that the revelation would doom his acting career, said a TV insider.
Reed kept his secret so well that even Barry Williams who played his son Greg Brady on the show, was in the dark about Reed's homosexuality right up until the actor's death.
"This is the first I've heard of it, Williams told an interviewer. "I have no knowledge of that at all. I'd never heard that he was gay. And I'd never heard anything about AIDS!"
Reed first began to suffer symptoms of the AIDS virus about six months ago, but kept his illness hidden from everyone, a source disclosed.
As the star's condition worsened, he checked into Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and was joined by his daughter Karen Baldwin and her 17-month-old son William.
"Karen and William stayed with him for hours at a time," said a longtime friend. "Robert loved nothing more than holding the boy in his arms."
"Robert probably knew he had just hours to go when, on his third day in the hospital he tried hugging his grandson. But by then his body had become so weak that he couldn't even hold the child.
"As tears ran down Robert's sunken cheeks, the boy stood on a chair next to his bed, placed his hands on his grandpa's arm- and smiled. With that, Bob turned his head, smiled back broadly-and then drifted off to sleep.
"And when the end came his daughter and grandchild were with him."
Although Reed's death certificate indicates he was infected with the HIV (AIDS) virus, the official cause of death is listed as "colon lymphoma."
But colon lymphoma can be a complication of HIV infection," Joann Schellenbach, director of media relations for the American Cancer Society, told the ENQUIRER.
"Death certificates usually indicate that AIDS is a complicating cause of death No one dies directly of AIDS. But generally, even though a cancer is cited as the primary cause of death, we would say that a person with an HIV-related cancer died as a result of AIDS."
The longtime friend added: "Besides Robert's family only a very few close associates knew anything was happening. And those that he did tell were sworn to secrecy.
"As his condition worsened, he told me: "I've had a very good life. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but especially of Karen and little William. I just thank God I lived long enough to see him born."
-ALAN BRAHM SMITH, LUDIA ENCINAS, PATRICIA TOWLE and JEROME GEORGE
BY UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
DON'T CALL ME BRADY: THE LATE ROBERT REED HATED PLAYING THE FATHER ON 'THE BRADY BUNCH." REED, WHO DIES THIS MONTH OF COLON CANCER, TRAINED AS A SERIOUS ACTOR AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY AND THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC ART AND WAS FRUSTRATED ON "THE BRADY BUNCH." "IT WAS JUST AS INCONSEQUENTIAL AS CAN BE," HE TOLD PEOPLE MAGAZINE IN AN INTERVIEW A MONTH BEFORE HIS DEATH. "TO THE DEGREE THAT IT SERVES AS A BABYSITTER, I'M GLAD WE DID IT. BUT I DO NOT WANT IT ON MY TOMBSTONE." FELLOW CAST MEMBERS ON THE SHOW, NOW APPRECIATED FOR ITS SCHLOCK VALUE, UNDERSTOOD HIS FRUSTRATION. "WE SUPPORTED HIM, SAID TV WIFE FLORENCE HENDERSON. "JUST LIKE IN REAL LIFE, YOU'RE GOING TO BAIL YOUR HUSBAND AND YOUR DAD OUT." BARRY WILLIAMS, WHO PLAYED THE OLDEST BRADY SON, SAID HE SPOKE WITH REED THE DAY BEFORE HE DIED. "I GOT TO TELL HIM THREE THINGS," HE SAID. "THAT THINGS WERE GOOD IN MY LIFE IN PART BECAUSE OF WHAT I LEARNED FROM HIM, THAT I APPRECIATED OUR FRIENDSHIP AND THAT I LOVED HIM."
UPI 05-17-92 03:43 PED
PRODIGY (R) 05/27/92
Taking Stock of the Bradys
Florence Henderson, the TV wife of actor Robert Reed, tells People magazine that she knew he was HIV positive. She says there were a few people who knew of Reed's illness and chose to protect his privacy. Reed died May 12 at age 59.
In the wake of Reed's death, People magazine tracks down the original cast members of that hot '70 show, The Brady Bunch, to find out what they are doing today
Henderson had a strong TV career after the show ended in '74. For 17 years, she made commercials for Wesson Oil, and now she has a cooking show on the Nashville Network.
Barry Williams, who played the eldest son, Greg, is starring in the touring musical City of Angels. In his new tell-all book called "Growing Up Brady," Williams reveals he had a crush on co-star Maureen McCormick, who played sister Marcia on the show. Williams lives in California with his wife, Diane Martin.
Maureen McCormick is concentrating on being a full-time mom, but she says she hopes to return to acting soon.
Eve Plumb is the 1 former Brady who doesn't like to be recognized as such. The blond actress dyed her hair copper red so she isn't as easily recognized.
Chris Knight, who played middle son Peter on the show, is the general manager for Visual Software Inc. in California. Knight tells People magazine he went through a period of low-level drug use after the show ended. Knight says he was not unhappy that it was Peter who got to throw the football pass that bopped Marcia in the nose, since he thought Maureen McCormick was such a priss.
Mike Lookinland lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Kelly and their 2-year-old son, Scott. Lookinland works as a production assistant with Rocky Mountain Pictures and hopes some day to become a director of photography.
Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, says she doesn't mind being recognized as a Brady. She recently got divorced from her husband of 2 years, and works as a freelance graphic artist in California.
Ann B. Davis, whose character was Alice the maid, is living in Ambridge, Pa. with an Episcopal bishop and his wife. Teh 3 are dedicated to prayer and Bible study.
Copyright 1992 Prodigy Services Company. All Rights Reserved.
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