‘The Brady Bunch’: The Role of Carol Brady Was Almost Given to a ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Actress

by Anna Dunn

The role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch almost went to someone other than Florence Henderson Producers almost gave the role to an actress named Joyce Bulifant before changing their minds and casting Henderson. Producers technically cast Bulifant. But something unexpected occurred just days before they shot the pilot.

Producers were eyeing Henderson for the role as Carol Brady. She was initially unable to audition due to a scheduling conflict. However, she had a sudden opening in her schedule. At the time, Henderson was a Broadway actress.

“I got a call from my agent saying ‘They want you to come down to Paramount and meet John Rich and Doug Kramer and Sherwood Schwartz and all these people I have never heard of.’ Henderson said in a documentary called The Brady Bunch Exposed.

“I said ‘why’ and they said ‘for a new TV series’ and I said ‘I don’t want to do a TV series, I’m in New York City.'” Eventually, however, Henderson changed her mind. Just days before the pilot, they let Henderson audition for the role.

She impressed everyone so much that they offered her the role immediately. Unfortunately, this was quite sad news for Joyce Bulifant.

Sherwood Schwartz Has to Tell Joyce Bulifant What Happened

In the documentary, The Brady Bunch producer and creator Sherwood Schwartz detailed what it was like to go over to Bulifant’s home and break the news that they changed their mind.

“I said ‘there’s been a change’ Florence Henderson who was scheduled to test wasn’t available, but she’s come up, and she’s very good.'” It had to be dreadful news to hear. Bulifant described that disappointing moment.

“To think that you’ve got the lead in the series and then you don’t have it… that’s tough,” she admitted. Thankfully, it wasn’t the end for Bulifant’s acting career. The actress has dozens of credits after the tough break that occurred with The Brady Bunch.

Florence Henderson Attributed ‘The Brady Bunch’ Cast to its Success

Henderson recognized just how lucky she was to be there, however. She said in an Archive of American Television Interview that Schwartz casting the right kids happened to be a “stroke of luck”

“They saw hundreds and hundreds of kids and, my goodness, what a stroke of luck that they wound up with those particular kids. Because I think another reason why the show has lasted was that initial chemistry of Bob, Ann, me, and the six kids,” she said of the casting decision.

While it’s unfortunate that it came at the expense of another actress, Henderson’s role as Carol Brady was simply iconic. Her time on the series helped put forward a model parent all while mastering the signature Brady charm.