Did you know that the Brady Bunch had a different final script?
The decision was made by actor Robert Reed who portrayed the family patriarch. Series creator Sherwood Schwartz explained to the Emmys about how he managed to change the script just hours before filming. Robert Reed did not enjoy the final episode’s storyline and didn’t want any part in it. The plot concerned the youngest Bobby getting into the hair tonic business. He ended up selling a bottle to the oldest Greg. Greg used it the night before his high school graduation. His hair turned green.
“Bob called and said [that was an] outlandish story, unbelievable, ridiculous and I won’t do the show,” Schwartz recalled.
The Brady Bunch creators try to be as accurate as possible. In real life, they spoke with Clairol to see if this really happened. It turns out, that they deal with weekly lawsuits of people who get orange, green, or black hair from the products because everyone is different.
“But he wouldn’t even listen. He said I won’t do the show,” he added. “He didn’t tell me this the week before the morning of the show he calls and tells me that he can’t do the show, won’t do the show.”
With just a few hours before filming would begin, he had to re-read the original script. Luckily, he only had brief parts. So adjustements could be made within the span of a few hours.
“He wasn’t in it very much at all and I saw that I could remove him from one scene and put in Davis,” he admitted. “I could rearrange another scene and let Florence take his dialogue and it could easily be done.”
The Updated ‘Brady Bunch’ Version
Schwartz called his secretary to reveal the big news. She was shocked and transcribed what Schwartz told her to write for the script of the final Brady Bunch episode. By the time he finished showering, it was completed.
“She was terrific just took it all down and I said put that in and work immediately and get it to the cast,” he continued. “She did and she was told and so they all got this new script and I get a call from Bob Reed’s agent who said what are you doing about the script.”
Schwartz did not want to change the plot so he kept it and told Reed’s manager that he would not report for work that week. This also meant that he would not be getting paid or have residuals from the episode. The manager asked how exactly he would remove such an integral character.
“The ball is not in my court. It was in his court now, it’s in my court,” he explained. “I said him to stay home, go play golf or tennis. Do what you want.” Reed’s manager asked him if he could get one more try at convincing his client to agree to it. Schwartz declined and said that he wouldn’t do the episode even if he asked for new lines, which he didn’t. He broke the news to the television studio, Paramount, who weren’t that concerned.
A Not So Happy Response
Reed wasn’t thrilled with not appearing in the final episode of the Brady Bunch season. This also turned out to be the last episode in the series as a whole.
“We’re in the midst of shooting and he shows up, Bob Reed shows up at the stage door,” he recalled. “He comes in and says hello I said hi. I said you didn’t have to come down… He’s well I’m very interested in the show he says this show means a lot to me. I said well it means a lot to me too but that’s how things are.”
Reed ended up standing on the Brady Bunch stage while the actors rehearsed. The cast and crew were disturbed by his presence as it was an awkward situation. Schwartz asked him to get out of the cast’s eye line. He explained that this would make it difficult for the kids to work with their television dad standing right there not in it.
Reed refused to move. Schwartz ended up having to call the head of Paramount Television. The head said to call security and have the guards forcibly remove him. But Schwartz said that would be too drastic for the fellow actors. So he approached Reed one last time and it worked. His departure ended with high fives and a memorable episode.