‘The Brady Bunch’: How Creator Sherwood Schwartz’s Philosophy Was Different for This Series

by Joe Rutland

Sherwood Schwartz already did prove he could create a popular TV series. Yet working on “The Brady Bunch” called him to change a bit.

Schwartz, for those who don’t know, created “Gilligan’s Island” that ran on CBS for three seasons. He employed one type of philosophy around that show. When it came time for his next sitcom, airing on ABC, he had to use some different way of looking at characters and stories.

“It’s a show without explosions,” Schwartz says in an Australian TV special for Network Ten in the early 2000s. “It’s a show without drugs, [and] it’s a show without rape. [Also] it’s a show about nice, decent, normal people.”

“You really had to accept his philosophy and then try to tweak it wherever you could,” said Douglas S. Cramer, former vice president of production at Paramount Studios. “And find ways of not having it so molasses and cotton candy.” Cramer also spoke with Network Ten for its “The Brady Bunch”-themed show.

‘The Brady Bunch’ Creator Looked Upon The Kids In A Fatherly Way

Now Schwartz always had an eye on his cast for the show. Schwartz had a definite idea about how “The Brady Bunch” should look and appear. Some have said he took his show’s idea from the 1968 movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.

He reportedly felt like a bit of a father to the young cast. Schwartz wanted “The Brady Bunch” to have a family feel to it.

“Well Sherwood Schwartz could tell you because I think he saw them all,” Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady, said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “But he was very, I guess, fatherly to these kids.

“He really felt so close to them that he had such definite ideas about what they should do or shouldn’t do,” she said. “I think as they grew and developed very definite ideas of their own, I think that was sometimes very hard for Sherwood.”

Casting This ABC Sitcom Did Take Some Time For Schwartz

As for casting “The Brady Bunch,” Schwartz talks about it in a 1997 interview with the Television Academy Foundation.

“I wanted the instant recognition of blonde-haired mother, blonde girls — dark-haired father, dark-haired boys,” Schwartz says. “But I didn’t know if that was going to be true. It could be a blonde father. Then I would need three blonde boys and vice versa. So, I didn’t have to cast six kids. I had to cast 12 kids because I had to start that casting process before I got to the mother and father.”

It was quite a process for him to go through, but eventually, he did find his parents and six kids to fill out the cast.

“The Brady Bunch” remains one of television’s most-watched shows thanks to reruns. Schwartz, who died on July 12, 2011, at 84 years old, left behind quite a career in the field of television. “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch” were two totally different shows, but Sherwood Schwartz made sure they were done professionally and according to his own plans and ideas.