About The Brady Bunch
Barry Williams Talks About Life on the Set
Nov. 6 —
One of the grooviest sitcoms of the era, America’s love for the Brady family spawned numerous movies, television specials, cartoons, books and related paraphernalia.
From Robert Reed, the beloved TV dad known as Mike Brady, hiding his sexuality, to creative differences and romantic interludes among cast members, the real-life Brady family was not always picture perfect.
What was life like behind the scenes? What was it to be a teenager growing up on the set? Did the cast know that Reed was hiding his sexuality? Did Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady, really date his on-screen mother, Florence Henderson?
Barry Williams joined us in an online chat after his appearance on 20/20 Downtown. The transcript is below.
You can learn more about Barry Williams here. Welcome to our conversation with Barry Williams, whom some of you may know better as Greg Brady.
Good evening. Thank you for joining me. I am looking forward to our discussion.
I loved your book "Growing up Brady". You have a great style of writing. It's almost as if you and the reader were sitting around a table having a coffee and you telling me all about what it was like to be a part of American pop culture. Have you ever considered writing another book? Perhaps it could be about another subject other than the Brady show.
Thank you. Yes, I have, and because I travel and tour such as I am currently on tour with The Sound of Music, I thought an appropriate title would be "Road Warrior".
When the show was cancelled how old were you? Did you end up going to college? What other career paths, besides acting, have you contemplated?
I was 19. I attended Pepperdine University. And medicine has always fascinated me. Which is why I play a doctor on TV! LOL!
Mr. Williams, what is your opinion of today's TV shows, and compare and contrast today's TV show to the Brady Bunch.
I enjoy many of today's television shows. Law and Order, The West Wing, Frasier, but, I think many of the programs today are more cynical than they were when the Brady Bunch was being produced.
If you could do it all again (meaning the Brady Bunch show), would you?
Yes, I'm proud of the show, and pleased that so many families continue to enjoy it. It has not prevented my being able to expand beyond that one character. Check out my web site, www.barrywilliams.com for more information.
Hi Barry, If you could change one thing about your career, either during the Brady years or now, what would it be?
I would have introduced more music. Music is a very important part of my life and career currently.
Hello Barry, Was their a family type atmosphere on the set of The Brady Bunch?
With the exception of all of our dating, yes. And, remember, we were not really related. :-)
Hello Barry, Will you be appearing in any TV shows or movies in the future?
I'm currently at the beginning of a six and a half month national tour of "The Sound Of Music", so perhaps after that. And check my web site for schedules.
Why do you think America is still fascinated with The Brady Bunch?
Family values and timeless morals, relatable situations, and super-groovy fashion statements.
Was it hard to handle the fame that came with the popularity of the show at such a young age?
I have loved every minute of it! I have friends everywhere I travel to. And I appreciate the privilege.
Barry, do you watch The Brady Bunch reruns today? What goes through your mind when you do?
I watch shows such as this evening's 20/20 Downtown and have a flood of memories from that time. I know how each episode turns out, because "I wrote the book". So, I don't often watch full episodes.
Does the cast ever get together and keep in touch?
Yes, frequently, both socially and professionally, it has been like having a second family.
What advice do you have for a teenager who would like to try acting?
Join community productions, keep it fun, and unprofessional. Stay in school. Graduate from college and move to New York City.
Have you had any contact with Bob's daughter since she appeared on the show?
What was one of your favorite memories of Robert Reed?
Traveling on the QEII from New York City to London with our cast.
Did you think The Brady Bunch would last as long as it did?
No one could have predicted the longevity of The Brady Bunch There was no cable TV, when we filmed our show. And Nick At Nite is responsible for allowing new generations to experience the show.
Hi Mr. Williams. ABC put on a great program about Robert Reed. My question is if Mr. Reed ended up acting after your show in other projects? (I also wanted to say congrats in the Sound of Music- my sister and I are going to see you in Cincinnati this December!)
I look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati! Yes, he worked consistently in television, and on Broadway, scoring an Emmy nomination for his work on "Medical Center". Also, acting in "Rich Man, Poor Man" and playing roles on Broadway including "Deathtrap".
Was there added pressure on yourself from those on the set or media as the oldest "kid" cast member to answer for the behavior, the secrets, etc?
No, because that which was secret, was secret. And, questions about Robert Reed's personal life did not surface until after he passed away in 1992.
If you have children, would you allow them to be a child actor?
The short answer is "no". You have one time in life to be a child, the rest of your life to be an adult. A child has too many demands as a professional to just be a kid.
Saw 20/20Downtown tonight and of course remember The Brady Bunch from the early 1970s. (I'm about the age of Barry W.) I wonder how you think the issue of Robert Reed situation might be handled if the show started today?
I believe that we as a society have come forward to where it may be a non-issue. I certainly hope so. Ask Ellen DeGeneres.
Was Robert Reed really hard to work with, or were those reports exaggerated? Did you as children know about his lifestyle?
Yes, we were aware of his lifestyle. No, he was not difficult to work with from the actor's point of view. The producers, the studio, and the network, may have had other problems.
Does it bother you when people still refer to you as Greg Brady?
I prefer to be recognized as who I am, Barry Williams. Rather than the character that I played. Which is why I recorded the single "The Real Greg Brady".
Hello Barry, Did you enjoy writing Growing Up Brady?
It was one of the best, most challenging, demanding, experiences of my life. and the creative team, to be a part of it. We re-lived the experience 15 years later.
Barry, what was your fondest memory of The Brady Bunch?
Filming in Hawaii. Surfing, exploring, and getting sunburned!
Was getting your education tough while you were on the cast of The Brady Bunch? How did that work?
There were two people in my high school, Maureen (Marcia) and me. In one way we had a very specialized education. But, in another, it lacked social integration. I missed Friday night football games.
Today, a lot of people laugh at the story lines from The Brady Bunch because they seem so out of touch with reality. I wonder what you thought of them at the time?
I didn't agree about the story lines. Getting braces, having to get rid of a dog, running for class president, are very relatable. The treatment we gave those issues is laughable, because it's a sitcom. :-)
Captain Jack asks:
Ever regret when the Brady kids stopped singing?
No! But it did give me a chance to move on. I finally this year had a chance to record a CD that I have always wanted to make, called "The Return of Johnny Bravo."
Do you still own any props, etc. from your Brady Bunch days?
I have the tiki from Hawaii, from the movie. Most of the things that I still keep are pictures, except for the bell bottoms! One pair of which I'm wearing now.
I was watching the broadcast about 20 minutes ago, and I wondered if you felt that Robert Reed's "secret" needed to come out after he died? Did he ask that to be known or did people just tell?
No, I don't think it ever needed to be a topic of discussion. Unfortunately, the tabloids exploited his lifestyle and we felt it was important to set the record straight.
Hi. What is your reaction when fans still recognize you as Greg Brady after all these years?
I am thrilled to have had an impact in someone's life.
Barry, who was your favorite celebrity guest to appear on The Brady Bunch?
Don Drysdale. He taught me how to hold a curve ball. Of course, throwing it for a strike is an entirely different matter.
Are their any shows on TV today that you can compare to The Brady Bunch?
Full House. Step By Step. They are fairly similar. I think we could rule out Larry Sanders. :-)
Have you ever had any "crazy" girl fans, trying to break into studio or whatever to meet you?
We had a group of fans tip over our mobile dressing room at the Ohio State Fair. Fortunately, we were not in it at the time. But I felt that was fairly enthusiastic.
Are you the only one of the Brady children that took up singing after the show?
No, Maureen McCormick released a country CD four years ago.
Do you remember your first day on the Brady set and your first meeting with the other kids?
Yes! I couldn't wait to play the role of "big brother". In my family, I am the youngest of three boys. They had no idea what they were in for. And I couldn't wait to turn the tables! Christopher Knight was my first victim.
Mr. Williams, do you feel that playing the part of Greg has made it difficult for you to be considered for other roles?
I have been a part of at least seventy-five different theatrical productions. Currently, I am starring in the Broadway national tour of "The Sound of Music" as Captain Von Trapp. Audiences seem to accept me in new roles and still feel connected to their identification with me in The Brady Bunch.
Barry, would you like to work a lot more on episodic television?
>: I have a very diversified schedule, which includes recording, concerts, musicals, producing, and episodic television. I'm glad I can do it all.
What I want to know is what did the kids think when Robert "told" them about his orientation?
Robert did not ever discuss his lifestyle with the kids. We became aware of who he was because we all worked so closely together, and cared so much about each other.
Barry, loved you on The Brady Bunch. Are you now married, do you have a family?
Yes, I am happily and recently married, one and one half years. My wife and I have not yet started a new "bunch". Stay tuned!
Did you enjoy those special trips on The Brady Bunch such as the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, etc.? Also, what was Vincent Price like?
For us, getting out of the studio and on location was the highlight of our year. Vincent Price was the nicest, most professional, and enthusiastic guest star we had. He always was the first on the set, and the last to leave. He also made appearances on our variety show, later on.
Have you ever appeared in any other shows with your old co-workers?
We have appeared on The MTV Movie Awards, talk shows, and many cast members participated in an episode of "Day By Day". Which, I was unavailable for because I was on Broadway performing in the musical "Romance/Romance".
Did you want the show to last longer than it actually did?
I wanted to have one more year. And, was disappointed when we were cancelled at the end of year five. But, it has worked out OK.
Barry, I remember when you were on General Hospital years ago..did you like doing soaps?
It is very demanding work. Actors describe soaps as the velvet coffin. Steady work, very hard. But I enjoyed my limited run with Emma Samms on GH.
Do you still get a lot of fan mail from fans who now have families of their own?
Yes, and families communicate with me via my web site, www.barrywilliams.com and I love hearing from them. Also, as a part of participating tonight, if you log on and make a request I will make you an honorary Brady. For LIFE!
Bruce says: I believe we need more TV shows that show close tight knit families such as The Brady Bunch. Do you agree?
Yes. I think television has a role in setting examples, not necessarily for the way things are, but, for the way things can be. Maybe you will become a producer, and create a show.
Mr. Williams, thank you for taking the time to be here this evening! What final thoughts would you leave with the audience?
Thank you for participating in this chat. Please continue to stay in touch. And I hope to see you at one of my stops this year and next. With "The Sound Of Music". Keep on groovin'!
Barry thanks for chatting on ABCNEWS.com. And thanks to all those who submitted questions. If you would like to continue this conversation, please visit our 20/20Downtown message board. Good night!
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