‘Brady Bunch’ Star Eve Plumb Described Feeling Limited by Jan

by Josh Lanier

Being a child star can be a blessing, but it’s mostly a curse. That’s how most former young celebrities frame their time in the spotlight. Eve Plumb, who played Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch, said she felt held back after she left the show. Casting agents and audiences could only see her as the teenage middle child. She had to work against that for the rest of her career, but she learned something important during that battle.

Eve Plumb landed her first role when she was 6 by accident. A children’s agent moved next door to her family in Southern California and thought she’d be right for a commercial, she told Closer. That led to another commercial and then shows. She made appearances in The Big Valley and Lassie before landing her role on The Brady Bunch.

Plumb never expected The Brady Bunch to be a hit. It was a fluke, she said. Even as a kid, she realized the series was tame, even for the standards of the late 1960s and early 70s.

“We were very mainstream and saccharine,” she said in 2015. “We were not like the other shows that were on TV, like All in the Family or Mod Squad. A show about a bunch of kids and their dog is not relevant in the time of Vietnam.”

That outsider nature helped the show find an audience, but when ABC canceled The Brady Bunch in 1974, it also limited Plumb’s options. Doors in Hollywood that were once open to the sitcom star were now closed.

“I had so much success as a child,” she told Closer. “But once you age out of being the cute kid, then what? If you’re not ready for it, it can be very difficult.”

She landed a few made-for-TV movies and ended up on the miniseries Little Women, but by the time she was 20, Plumb said people only saw her as Jan Brady. Her acting career was over, and she turned her attention to other creative pursuits. Until …

Eve Plumb on Making Peace With ‘Brady Bunch’ Past

After not finding work as an actress for several years in the 1980s, Plumb said she realized that she and The Brady Bunch would be forever linked — for better or worse. She needed to get over that and accept it if she wanted to continue acting.

“Things go in cycles,” she told the Washington Post in 2000. “You have down times, up times, busy times, not-so-busy times. I’m having to fight against that stigma of being an ex-child star. And, yes, I’ve reconciled to the fact that the Brady series is what gets me that attention and what deflects what I’m doing now.”

It’s not always easy. She said people always ask the same handful of questions, and that can be tiring. But she’s thankful that fans still care about the show. She also learned to use her celebrity to help her in situations where it once held her back.

“If it gets me in the door [for jobs], then fine!” she told Closer. “If you’re surprised to learn I can do other things, then great!”