Robert Reed refused to do the series finale of The Brady Bunch because he thought the story was too outlandish. Series creator Sherwood Schwartz said Reed called him the morning of the show’s shoot day to say he wouldn’t do the finale.
Schwartz, speaking to the Television Academy Foundation in 1997, recalled the conversation with the actor who played Mike Brady.
The premise was fairly simple, even for The Brady Bunch standards. Bobby Brady buys into a get-rich-quick scheme selling natural hair tonic. However, the only bottle he ends up selling is to his brother Greg. The tonic turns Greg’s hair bright orange. So, he must rush to the barber to dye his hair back to its original color for his high-school commencement.
Reed called the showrunner and said the story was a cliche, and he wouldn’t be a part of it. Schwartz said he spoke with a hair-care company who told him they fought off lawsuits often where this exact thing happened. But Reed “wouldn’t even listen,” Schwartz said. “He just said, ‘I won’t do the show.'”
“I quickly reviewed that episode, and (Reed) was really very light in it,” Schwartz recalled. “He wasn’t in it very much at all, and I saw that I could remove him from one scene and put in Ann B. Davis. I could rearrange another scene and let Florence take his dialogue, and it could easily be done. Well, by the time I got through shaving and showering and getting to the office, (the revised script) was all in my mind. And I called my secretary and said the new script is coming out immediately without Bob Reed.”
Schwartz OK with How ‘The Brady Bunch’ Ended
The fifth season finale served as the unceremonious end of The Brady Bunch. ABC canceled the show shortly after it aired. The ratings were down, but the show was still popular. However, the network had a clear reason to cut the show. Money.
“At the end of five years that’s all our initial contract called for,” Schwartz told Television Academy Foundation. You then have to renegotiate with everybody — with Ann B., with Florence Henderson, with all the kids, and it’s a big problem. It’s a lot of money difference.”
Schwartz said he was fine with the decision to end the show. He felt the show’s quality had dipped, and he had other projects to work on.
“I don’t think they thought it was worth it because the show was not doing that well,” he continued. “It was OK, but not anywhere near as good as it was two or three years earlier. So, it went out peacefully. That was OK with me.”