‘The Brady Bunch’: Here’s Who Were Almost Cast as Carol and Mike Brady

by Joe Rutland

Wait a minute. Are you telling us that Florence Henderson and Robert Reed weren’t the only choices as parents on “The Brady Bunch”?

Yep, classic TV fans. They were not the initial choices for creator Sherwood Schwartz’s sitcom. Let’s start, though, with Carol. Actress Diane McBain, according to an article from MeTV, got producers’ attention. McBain starred in two 1960s TV series, “Parrish” and “Surfside 6.” In addition, she also landed a coveted role alongside Elvis Presley in his movie “Spinout.” Would she become Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch”?

Now, let’s take a look at filling the Mike Brady role. “The Brady Bunch” show producers again had their eyes on actor Jeffrey Hunter, who classic TV fans will know as the first captain on “Star Trek.” Hunter played Capt. Christopher Pike in “The Cage,” which was the original pilot for the science fiction show.

Obviously, Hunter didn’t stay in that role as “Star Trek” was retooled with William Shatner taking the helm as Capt. James T. Kirk.

‘The Brady Bunch’ Producers Looked At Three Other Actors For Key Roles

So, did Hunter become Mike Brady on “The Brady Bunch”? We all know the answer for both McBain and Hunter is no. Hollywood gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky actually broke the news that those actors, along with Broadway actor Bob Holiday, tested at Paramount for the roles. Holiday was another no.

They didn’t get those spots on “The Brady Bunch.” Henderson, who also had a Broadway background, ends up having her agent call her while she’s headed out to do a nightclub show in Houston, Texas. He tells her about the screen test and she agrees to do it, but can’t miss her nightclub engagement. Deal done. So she does the screen test in Los Angeles and leaves.

Reed, who was under contract at Paramount, just finishes two pilots that didn’t go anywhere. Studio executives suggested Reed screen test for the show. He didn’t really want to do it. Reed went and did the screen test.

“The Brady Bunch” is picked up by ABC and runs between 1969-74. Henderson and Reed, along with actress Ann B. Davis, would keep six kids under their watchful eyes.

Those kids included Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen.

Davis Believes Reed Was ‘Disappointed’ Classic TV Show Got Sold

Davis, who won two Emmy Awards in the 1950s for her work on “The Bob Cummings Show,” recalls how unhappy Reed was on “The Brady Bunch.”

“Bob was not a happy man on that set because, for one thing, he didn’t want to do the pilot,” Davis said. “It was a contractual thing he had to do the pilot.

“And I think he was disappointed that (“The Brady Bunch”) sold,” Davis says.

Reed, Davis, and Henderson are all dead. The six child actors are, obviously, all grown up now. Williams, at 66 years old, is the oldest living original cast member.