‘The Brady Bunch’: Jan Actress Eve Plumb Explained the ‘Fight’ Against Child Star ‘Stigma’

by Chris Haney
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

It’s a rare case that a child movie or television star has a lifelong career as an A-lister in Hollywood. For many children in the entertainment industry, they struggle with getting typecast as they get older, which makes it harder for them to find good roles. Like many others, The Brady Bunch star Eve Plumb had to fight against her own child actor stigma.

Plumb, who played Jan on the popular ’70s sitcom, hit a crossroads not long after the show ended. However, even before she landed her big break on The Brady Bunch, Plumb had already featured in numerous prime-time shows. In addition, the young actress shot around 40 commercials before she was cast as Jan in 1969 at just 11 years old.

Once the series ended in 1974, she starred in a couple of made-for-TV movies. Additionally, she earned a role in the 1978 television mini-series Little Women. But by her 20s, Plumb thinks that Hollywood couldn’t differentiate Eve Plumb from Jan Brady.

From 1983 to 1988, the actress didn’t land a single role. She earned a bit role in the 1988 comedy I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, and then took part in two The Brady Bunch reunion specials. As she said in a Washington Post interview, “work is work.”

“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. We all grow up, but not everyone wants us after we do. It’s difficult because in our industry the people who cast shows either want a fresh face or established people.”

‘The Brady Bunch’ Star Admits to Periods of Self-Doubt

As parts dried up for Eve Plumb in the ’80s, that drought continued into the 1990s as well. Any roles that weren’t related to The Brady Bunch became hard to come by. Therefore, she focused her creative output elsewhere. She concentrated on her artwork and created two lithographs. Furthermore, she got into theater programs, voiceovers, and even dabbled in stand-up comedy. Yet she knows her The Brady Bunch fame will always stick with her, regardless of what she does.

“I keep thinking [the stigma] is going to end. But there’s other times when I realize it’s always going to be with me,” Plumb admitted.

“Don’t get me wrong. The series was – and is – a wonderful thing. . . . Sometimes I am sensitive. You do get defensive. It can be tiring sometimes trying to answer the same questions all the time. It’s easy to get defensive about it,” she added.

During certain rough patches of her career, she admits to letting in negative thoughts. Sometimes she wondered if her acting career was over. Self-doubt crept in on occasion, but she learned to accept the ups and downs of her career.

“I think everyone who lives long enough has questions about roads taken or not, and choices made,” Plumb said. “To say ‘if I’d only. . .’ is to drive yourself insane and not see the opportunities that are available now. My career is what it is, with good and bad parts, embarrassing parts and things to be proud of.”

The Brady Bunch star loves acting and she loves working on television shows. It’s one of the main reasons she continued to press forward. Thinking cup half full, Plumb said during her 2000 interview that she’d “keep trying.”

“I love TV, I want to be on TV,” she said. “But Hollywood is all about getting in the door, and if I could figure out why I don’t get more calls, hopefully I could do something to change that. But if I keep asking myself, `why, why, why’ . . . well, you can drive yourself insane trying to figure it out. So I can only be saying to myself, `I’ll keep trying.’ “