The Brady Bunch told the story of the perfect American family, but things were far more complicated behind the scenes. Most of the drama came from Robert Reed, who played the always calm Mike Brady. He and show creator Sherwood Schwartz often butted heads over the quality of the show. It all came to a head on the final episode of the series when Paramount threatened to call security to have Reed thrown off of the set.
Schwartz explained to the Television Academy Foundation in 1997 that Robert Reed refused to be in the final episode of The Brady Bunch. He thought the plot was hackneyed and cliche. In that episode, Bobby Brady buys into a get-rich-quick scheme selling natural hair tonic. But it turns brother Greg’s hair bright orange just before his high school graduation.
Schwartz obliged and wrote Reed out of the episode. But on the day of filming, he showed up to set to watch the taping. He stood just off-camera and Schwartz worried it would rattle the young actors. So, he asked Reed to leave, but Reed refused. Schwartz called Paramount to ask what he should do, and studio executives said they’d send two security guards to physically remove him off the premises.
“What about those six kids looking at their father being hauled off the set,” Schwartz said. “I mean this is terrible.”
Schwartz eventually talked Reed into going to his dressing room to listen to music with an invitation to return to set later.
Co-Stars: Robert Reed Was Miserable Making ‘Brady Bunch’
Robert Reed was the cause of most of the backstage drama on the set of The Brady Bunch. He didn’t like the show’s saccharine nature, and he thought the material was beneath his talents as an actor. Reed studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
Ann B. Davis, who played Alice on The Brady Bunch, said Reed was miserable while making the series. His distaste for the show was there from the beginning.
“Bob was not a happy man on that set because, for one thing, he didn’t want to do the pilot,” Davis said in The Brady Bunch Exposed. “It was a contractual thing he had to do the pilot. And I think he was disappointed that (The Brady Bunch) sold. I mean, he had quite a classical training background, and I don’t really think that working on a children’s show was his idea of where he wanted to go with his career. And so that you know there was that tension right from the start.”
Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady, believes Reed had anger issues because he had to live a secret life. Reed was a closeted gay man, and his role on The Brady Bunch forced him deeper into the closet, she believed. Had the public found out about his sexuality, it would likely have ended his career.
“Here he was, the perfect father of this wonderful little family, a perfect husband,” Henderson said. “He was an unhappy person … 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.”
Robert Reed kept his sexuality a secret until he was on his deathbed in 1992.