‘The Brady Bunch’: Why Ann B. Davis Said Robert Reed Was ‘Not a Happy Man’ on the Series

by Josh Lanier

Robert Reed didn’t like being on The Brady Bunch. It wasn’t a secret that America’s dad for five seasons was miserable. He started fights with show creator Sherwood Schwartz often and other members of the show’s production staff.

It was a complicated situation, co-star Ann B. Davis said in The Brady Bunch Exposed documentary. Davis, who played maid Alice on The Brady Bunch, said Reed trained Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He was a Shakespearean-trained actor playing second seventh banana to six children.

“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. I mean, he had quite a classical training background, and I don’t really think that working on a children’s show was his idea of where he wanted to go with his career. And so that you know there was that tension right from the start.”

Sherwood Schwartz explained in 1997 how Reed, whom he called a “pain in the neck,” ended up on the show. The Brady Bunch creator spoke with The Archive of American Television about the casting process.

Reed wasn’t looking to do a kids’ show. But he had signed a contract with Paramount, and the two pilots he was in that the studio believed would make it on air didn’t work out. So, they were left with paying him, show or not. That’s when Sherwood Schwartz came up with the idea for The Brady Bunch. And he needed someone to play the dad. Executives forced Reed to audition, and he had great chemistry with Florence Henderson.

Robert Reed Tried to Quit ‘The Brady Bunch’ Often

Robert Reed was also coming off of a serious drama called The Defenders. He felt people took him more seriously as an actor then.

During the first season of The Brady Bunch, Reed tried to quit multiple times.

“There were multiple times he came to my office and said ‘I gotta get out of this,’ and ‘how did you ever talk me into it,’ and ‘I can’t deal with this man (Schwartz)’ and a couple of times he threatened to hold press conferences and do things,” said Douglas Cramer, former VP of Production for Paramount. Reed never did follow through on those threats, however.

His television son Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady, said Reed just “wasn’t a happy camper on our show.”

And he took out his frustrations on the production staff. Fighting with Schwartz and the writers over the quality of the scripts. He ended up not even appearing in what would be the final episode because he felt the premise was too silly. So, Schwartz had him taken out of the episode, and was considering writing him out the next season by sending Mike Brady on an extended work trip.