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"The E! True Hollywood Story: The Brady Bunch"
June 6, 1999
On E!'s "True Hollywood Story" we learned that the "Brady Bunch" was much more than "the story of a lovely lady... and a man named Brady." Over thirty years of Brady history was covered in two hours. From interviews with Joyce Bulifant, the original Carol, to Leah Ayres, the "fake" Marcia, this show had it all.
Series executives were interviewed, including Douglas S. Cramer of Paramount, whose name we've seen in the closing credits for years and Lloyd and Sherwood Schwartz. All the actors appeared except for Maureen McCormick and Mike Lookinland. E! said that Lookinland has refused all interviews since his arrest for DUI in 1997. Even usual hold-out Eve Plumb cooperated, reverting back to her natural blond hair.
We learned that two other actresses were originally hired to play Carol and Alice. Joyce Bulifant, who went on to play Murray's wife on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," could be dubbed the "Pete Best of the Brady Bunch," as she was hired, then fired for the role of Carol. When Florence Henderson was cast, the producers hired Ann B. Davis for her comic talent. Gene Hackman was the original choice for Mike.
Much of the show discussed the irony of how "America's favorite father" played by Robert Reed, was "in the closet" until his death of HIV complications in 1992. Florence Henderson revealed that she figured out Robert Reed was gay during taping of the first episode when he had trouble doing love scenes. Reed's sexuality was never discussed on the set, but his homosexuality was common knowledge. Henderson recalled how Reed called her on his death bed and asked her to tell "the children" that he was dying. However there was always conflict between Sherwood Schwartz and Robert Reed over the quality of the scripts. We learned if the series went to a sixth season, Schwartz wanted to write Reed out of the show. Schwartz did not attend the memorial service for Robert Reed.
There was a large segment about the Brady Bunch Kids singing group, which actually caused more discord than harmony behind the scenes of the show. The popularity of the singing project led managers to ask for more money and to try to incorporate more singing into the sitcom. Schwartz balked at the contract demands and the group dissolved.
Every reincarnation of "The Brady Bunch" was covered from the atrocious "Variety Hour" to the hilarious movies. I especially liked the clips of the "Variety Hour."
I thought everyone came across very well. Florence Henderson always presents herself with class. Everyone looked good too - from now 30-something Susan Olsen to old timers Ann B. Davis and Sherwood Schwartz.
Most of the information was taken from the books "Growing Up Brady" by Barry Williams and "The Brady Bunch Book" by Frank Lovece and Andrew Edelstein. E! did an excellent job obtaining photos and video.
The only things missing were letting us know about the kids' personal lives today and coverage of the Brady Bunch web sites (natch).
"The E! True Hollywood Story: The Brady Bunch" is required viewing for any fan.