40 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets About The Brady Bunch That The Show’s Producers Kept Firmly Under Wraps

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ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch was one of the defining family-friendly TV shows of the early 1970s. But behind its feel-good, squeaky-clean exterior, the comedy hid a whole host of dark and unusual secrets. From hook-ups and hair problems to casting choices and counseling sessions, here’s a look at 40 of the juiciest.

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40. The original Tiger was run over

Ever wondered why the family dog Tiger rarely shows up past the first season’s midway point? Well, tragically, the real pooch was knocked down during the show’s early filming. His trainer tried to replace him with a lookalike he picked up at a nearby pound. But unsurprisingly the substitute wasn’t able to follow commands in quite the same way. Producers eventually decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle and only featured the dog when absolutely necessary.

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39. Jan and Peter were once busted by the police

With so many adolescent hormones flying around on set, it was perhaps inevitable that several of The Brady Bunch co-stars would hook up in real life. Eve Plumb and Christopher Knight – aka Jan and Peter – were one such pairing. The on-screen siblings were once caught making out in Knight’s vehicle by the authorities.

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38. Mike Lookinland became an alcoholic

Sadly, the youngest member of The Brady Bunch found it difficult to cope with the pressures of childhood fame. Mike Lookinland became an alcoholic in adulthood, but thankfully got clean before it was too late. He told Oprah Winfrey, “When it became clear that the choice wasn’t between sobering up or drinking, but the choice was actually between living or dying, then it became a simple choice for me.”

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37. Barry Williams once went on a date with his on-screen mom

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In his 1992 autobiography Barry Williams admitted that as a teen, he became infatuated with his on-screen mom. He even managed to persuade Florence Henderson – who was 20 years older – to go out to dinner with him. Williams explained, “When those little things called hormones start kicking in, you get excited by even inanimate objects. It wasn’t that I sought to bed her. I just wanted to spend time with her.”

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36. Susan Olsen was forced to dye her hair

Susan Olsen was forced to repeatedly bleach her hair during her stint as Cindy to maintain the distinct aesthetics of The Brady Bunch kids. All three boys had to be dark-haired and all three girls had to be blonde, of course. And having been subjected to such treatment since the age of eight, Olsen eventually started to lose her hair in large clumps.

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35. Maureen McCormick was once a shoplifter

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Maureen McCormick – aka Marcia – was very much a teenage troublemaker according to one of her on-screen sisters. Susan Olsen claims that her co-star would often shoplift as a means of passing the time between filming scenes. Rather sneakily, she would also point the finger at the unsuspecting friend she brought along if she ever got caught.

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34. Christopher Knight felt exploited by his mom

Knight once told Oprah Winfrey that he felt betrayed by how his mother thrust him into the spotlight at such a young age. The actor – who played Peter Brady in the sitcom – said, “I’m feeling totally prostituted at that point by my mom. I think in a way, I totally was. And by her own admission it was, and that she was sorry about it.”

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33. Ann B. Davis passed away in a freak accident

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In 2014 one of The Brady Bunch’s most beloved cast members lost her life in a tragic accident. Ann B. Davis – who portrayed the family housekeeper Alice – suffered a subdural hematoma following a fall in which her head struck her bathtub. The 88-year-old – who picked up multiple Emmy nominations during her career – sadly failed to regain consciousness.

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32. McCormick and Williams hooked up

Williams and McCormick may have played siblings on screen but that didn’t stop them from getting hot and heavy away from the cameras. The pair first hooked up on a moonlit beach walk when The Brady Bunch went to Hawaii. McCormick later revealed in her memoir, “It was our first kiss, and it was long, passionate and deep.”

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31. Cindy’s lisp was real

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If you thought Cindy’s lisp was fabricated just to make the character more endearing, think again. The actress who played her was Susan Olsen, and she had a very real speech impediment. In fact, she regularly saw a therapist for the problem up until her late teens, before deciding to treat it with a surgical procedure.

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30. Florence Henderson wasn’t the first choice to play Carol Brady

It’s hard to imagine anyone else other than Florence Henderson playing The Brady Bunch’s matriarch Carol. But Joyce Bulifant was actually the first choice to take on the iconic role due to her comic timing. However, when the equally hilarious Ann B. Davis came on board, producers realized that Carol didn’t need to be so wacky and so they cast a much more homely figure instead.

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29. Shirley Jones turned down the role of Carol

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Henderson faced plenty of stiff competition for the role that would launch her to fame. Indeed, the part of Carol Brady was initially offered to – and then turned down by – her best friend. Shirley Jones would later assume the leading character in another classic family-friendly sitcom The Partridge Family.

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28. Gene Hackman nearly played Mike

Producer Sherwood Schwartz once revealed that Gene Hackman was in the running to play The Brady Bunch’s dad Mike. The future Hollywood legend only lost out on the role due to his lack of audience familiarity at the time. Just a year after the sitcom premiered, Hackman delivered an Oscar-winning performance in classic thriller The French Connection.

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27. Knight couldn’t sing

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The Brady family would often burst into song during an episode of the show. But while the likes of McCormick, Lookinland and Williams would all use their own voices, tone-deaf Knight had to lip-synch. The youngster later admitted to The Improper Bostonian that he was left traumatized by the show’s musical moments.

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26. Several bloopers made it into the final cut

In order to finish an episode in time, editors would often leave in little mistakes that they hoped no viewer would ever notice. But thanks to its syndicated run, audiences have had plenty of opportunities to spot such bloopers. These include the family returning home from an errand in a completely different vehicle to the one they left in and Jan’s haircut changing styles in the same scene.

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25. The show wasn’t as big as you may think

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Considering its impact on pop culture, you might have expected The Brady Bunch to have consistently topped the ratings. However, it failed to enter Nielsen’s Top 30 even just once during its five-season run. The show has only managed to stay in the public’s consciousness thanks to its later afternoon syndication.

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24. McCormick really did get hit by a football

McCormick learned that sometimes you have to suffer for your art while filming one particular episode. In “The Subject Was Noses,” Marcia was supposed to get hit by a football thrown by her brother Peter for one particular scene. But instead of using camera trickery or stunt doubles, producer Schwartz decided the best course of action was to lob the pigskin at McCormick’s nose for real.

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23. Carol was supposed to be divorced

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While we learned that Mike was a widower, we never truly discovered Carol’s pre-Brady status. Creator Schwartz had intended for the character to be a divorcee but back in the late 1960s this would have broken one of primetime TV’s main taboos. Instead, the show decided to avoid the subject altogether. However, Henderson later once jokingly claimed that her character had murdered her first spouse.

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22. The Brady bathroom had no toilet

The sight of a porcelain toilet bowl was a strict no-no during the time The Brady Bunch first aired. This explains why you never see one in the bathroom that all of the six kids share. The show could have given viewers a glimpse of the tank section as this wasn’t prohibited. However, to make filming easier, producers decided to do without altogether.

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21. There was very nearly a spin-off

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In the fifth season neighbors Kathy and Ken Kelly and their three adopted kids took up the majority of an episode. This new family on the block – who included the real-life sibling of Mike Lookinland – were lined up to star in their very own sitcom once The Brady Bunch came to an end. However, Kelly’s Kids sadly never made it to air.

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20. Reed was deliberately written out of the final episode

Robert Reed – aka Mike Brady – repeatedly fought on set with producer Schwartz over The Brady Bunch’s script. The actor was so unhappy about the show’s last ever episode, which centered on a high school prank that turned Greg’s hair orange, that he issued an ultimatum: change it or he would refuse to show up for filming. Schwartz called his bluff and that’s why the man of the house doesn’t appear at all in the sitcom’s last episode.

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19. Henderson liked a dirty joke

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Henderson may have played a butter-wouldn’t-melt mother on screen but it was a different story away from the cameras. The actress was renowned on set for having a risqué sense of humor. And yet she kept up the pretense any time she was approached by a fan. Schwartz’s son Lloyd once told Variety, “Whenever anybody came up to her to say anything about the show, she was as warm as could be. I saw it a million times.”

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18. Reed stayed in the closet for most of his life

Although many of The Brady Bunch cast and crew were aware that Reed was gay, the actor decided to keep his sexuality a secret from the public for most of his life. Henderson believes her co-star would have been much happier had he come out of the closet. She told ABC News, “I think had Bob not been forced to live this double life, I think it would have dissipated a lot of that anger and frustration.”

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17. Henderson wanted Carol to work

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Carol Brady is renowned for being one of TV’s quintessential housewives. But things could have been very different if Henderson had been given her way. Inspired by her own working mother experience, the actress pleaded with the show’s scriptwriting to give Carol another purpose in life. But sadly they refused to budge.

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16. Reed believed TV was beneath him

According to The Brady Bunch’s creator, Reed believed that television was beneath a man of his talents. Schwartz told ABC, “He wound up on a show that he didn’t want to do in the first place, and it became more and more difficult for him.” Reed had trained as a Shakespearean actor for two years before he landed the role of Mike Brady.

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15. The Bradys once had a cat

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It seems like you wouldn’t be able to trust the Bradys with looking after your pet. Indeed, Tiger the dog wasn’t the only animal who went missing early on in the show’s run. In the pilot episode, the family can be seen petting a cat by the name of Fluffy. However, the cute moggy was never seen of or heard of ever again.

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14. Its creator drew upon his own kids’ life experiences

The creator of The Brady Bunch didn’t look too far to seek inspiration for the hit show. Indeed, Schwartz would often draw upon his own kids’ experiences for storylines, something which daughter Hope wasn’t particularly enamored with. She told MeTV, “I was in a unique position regarding the show, and I was going through my own teenage girl angst at the time… When things I considered private showed up on the screen, I wasn’t always happy about it.”

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13. McCormick once joked about an affair with Plumb

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In her 2007 memoir Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, McCormick joked about having an affair with Plumb. However, her on-screen sister didn’t see the funny side and the actress was forced to apologize in an interview with Digital Spy. She said, “I made the crack to be funny – and for shock value. I’m sorry if she took offense.”

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12. McCormick struggled with anxiety

McCormick experienced many personal problems after leaving The Brady Bunch world behind. But she also had several while filming the hit sitcom. In her autobiography, the actress wrote, “As a teenager, I had no idea that few people are everything they present to the outside world. Yet there I was, hiding the reality of my life behind the unreal perfection of Marcia Brady. No one suspected the fear that gnawed at me.”

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11. Olsen hated playing Shirley Temple

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In the episode titled “The Snooperstar,” Cindy is tricked into impersonating Shirley Temple by her older sister Marcia as a punishment for scanning through her diary. It wasn’t a storyline appreciated by actress Olsen. She told Inquisitr, “That was really embarrassing. It would have been really cute when I was seven, but when I was 12, [I was] going, ‘I feel so stupid.’”

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10. McCormick once dated Michael Jackson

While competing in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2015, McCormick claimed she once stepped out with a megastar. After being asked by a fellow campmate whether she liked Michael Jackson, the actress replied, “We used to date. We used to go roller skating in Woodland Hills [in California]. I used to go over to their house all the time.” McCormick revealed that the pair were in their mid-teens at the time.

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9. Henderson initially wore a wig

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Henderson was forced to wear a wig during the first season of The Brady Bunch. Not because the actress was losing her hair, but because her style at the time didn’t suit the character of Carol Brady. You see, Henderson was sporting a short cut when she landed the role.

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8. Williams injured himself in a surfing stunt

In season four the Brady family traveled to Hawaii for a vacation where Greg shows off his skills on the surfboard. Unfortunately, this led to a real-life disaster for the man who played him. On his own blog, Barry Williams revealed, “I was injured during the filming of the surfing episode in Hawaii. I cut my feet on some coral. You can actually see it when I fall headfirst off of my board.”

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7. Henderson once counseled Knight for a VH1 show

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Knight landed his own reality show My Fair Brady on VH1 in the mid-2000s. And the actor invited his former on-screen mom to provide some relationship guidance during its filming. Henderson advised Knight to slow things down with his The Surreal Life co-star Adrianne Curry. But her one-time co-star paid no attention and within a year he was walking down the aisle.

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6. The kids were cast in a unique way

Creator Schwartz had to see 264 different kids for the roles of the six Brady children. And so he used a unique method to help whittle the total down – he would place an array of toys on his desk. Any kids auditioning who were seen being distracted by the toys were given the boot. Schwartz believed that those kids who stayed focused on the matter in hand had the perfect temperament to work in TV.

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5. The casting of Oliver created tension

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It’s fair to say Carol’s nephew Oliver – played by Robbie Rist – wasn’t exactly a fan favorite. And the youngster – who showed up in the sitcom’s final season – was just as unpopular with the rest of the cast. On his own blog, Williams revealed, “The writers were floundering and he introduced a very different type of humor into our show. Also we had been together a long time and we didn’t really have time to adjust to a new ‘family member.”

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4. McCormick developed a cocaine addiction

In order to deal with her mental health battles, McCormick turned to illegal drugs – and one in particular. In her memoir, she wrote, “I sought refuge in seemingly glamorous cocaine dens above Hollywood. I thought I would find answers there, while in reality I was simply running farther from myself. From there, I spiraled downward on a path of self-destruction that cost me my career and very nearly my life.”

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3. Williams was a pothead

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Greg Brady may have been a goody-two-shoes, but the actor who played him was anything but. Williams had started smoking pot in his early teens and he even showed up on The Brady Bunch set stoned for one particular episode. Take a closer look at “Law and Disorder” and you may notice that the squeaky-clean Greg looks suspiciously glassy-eyed.

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2. Reed died with HIV

Reed sadly passed away in 1992, with his daughter Karen initially stating that colon cancer was the sole cause. However, the disclosure of his death certificate revealed that the actor had an underlying condition which also contributed to his death. That is, the man who played Mike Brady was HIV positive.

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1. Sixth season storylines were planned

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The Brady Bunch finished in 1974 after a five-season run which meant we never got to see the storylines that producers had planned for its sixth. Carol Brady would have fallen pregnant with twins had another season gone ahead. And thanks to the ongoing dispute with Reed, its creators wanted to recast the character of Mike Brady.

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