‘The Brady Bunch’: Why Ann B. Davis Called Florence Henderson’s Talent ‘Crazy’

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Ann B. Davis, who played the maid Alice on The Brady Bunch, said she was stunned by Florence Henderson’s abilities. But it wasn’t her acting that she found so appealing. It was a gift “she was born with.”

She told the Archive of American Television in 2004 that the matriarch on The Brady Bunch was a songbird. She had a singing voice that would put everyone else on set to shame. And she could just do it on command, something that Davis said was “crazy.”

“Nice lady, Nice lady. Talented,” Davis said. “She used to drive me crazy. Florence had this voice of hers, which she was born with. She doesn’t have to hum or warm-up, she’d walk on the soundstage going (mimics her singing). She this beautiful voice without even clearing her throat for pity’s sake. I’d be acting away for the first half-hour works very works period that’s a show she was busy doing Song of Norway. So, we were shooting around her, and then when she got through with the Song of Norway she was working very, very hard. And I love Florence. She and I are good friends, we don’t see each other a lot, but when we see each other we’re awfully glad to see each other you.”

How Davis Ended Up as Alice on ‘The Brady Bunch’

Davis was a late addition to the cast. Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of The Brady Bunch, said he cast Davis only a few days before shooting began and rewrote the part entirely around her. The reason was that she had a talent that Florence Henderson didn’t. She could tell a joke and sound natural.

In the original iteration of The Brady Bunch, Alice was much more of a task masker. She kept the house humming while the “comedy in the kitchen” was up to Mike and Carol Brady, Schwartz said.

“So, I now have this problem,” he recalled. “Florence can deliver jokes but she herself is too dainty and pretty really to be funny, and her voice is not a funny voice. So, now I have a talented, but not very funny person in the kitchen which is a lot of the show is going to take place there.”

Days away from shooting the pilot, Schwartz told the Archive of American Television in 1997 that the show wasn’t working. So, he called Paramount and told them he wanted Ann B. Davis. But it was going to cost them. He knew she could provide the needed kitchen comedy the show needed.

“We’re only three or four days away from potential production, and (Davis is) in Seattle doing stand-up,” he recalled.

The studio would have to buy her out of her three-week contract for the stand-up booking. Schwartz said he had to fight for the hire, but 24-hours later Davis was in LA being fitted for her famous blue dress and apron.