From their relationship on set, it’s almost hard to imagine that the actors had their own families outside of The Brady Bunch. However, in their real-life families, things weren’t always as easy-going. A moral resolution and lighthearted joke couldn’t fix every fight. Robert Reed, who portrayed doting father Mike Brady, knew this all too well.
In 1957, Reed married his college sweetheart, Marylin Rosenberg. Despite their quick divorce just two years later, the couple did have a daughter, Karen. However, with Reed filming The Brady Bunch and struggling with his sexuality, he hardly ever saw his daughter. According to actress Susan Olsen, who played the youngest Brady daughter, Cindy, this deeply affected the actor.
“I always felt like there was a hold in Bob’s heart because he didn’t have his little girl,” Olsen said on the documentary The Brady Bunch Exposed. “I think sometimes all the love he had for Karen went to us kids.”
According to the documentary, Reed often showered The Brady Bunch kids with gifts, attention and once even a cruise to England.
“Despite whatever problems he was having on the outside of the set, he was always very committed to our cast and to the kids in particular,” actor Barry Williams, who portrayed Greg Brady explained. “And we had a great fondness.”
‘The Brady Bunch’ Actor Was the Ideal Father To Cast
Unlike Robert Reed’s relationship with the kids of The Brady Bunch, other actors that portrayed dads on popular TV shows during the 60s and 70s were not as compassionate towards their cast.
“In real life, a lot of TV dads at the time… were not the greatest of men and were certainly dreadful to their co-stars and the children on their shows,” said TV journalist Michael Idato. “Robert Reed was a man who had tremendous affection for the children. Always looking out for them.”
In fact, if it wasn’t for Reed’s close relationship with his co-stars, it’s likely The Brady Bunch would have been cancelled much sooner.
“[The children] were pretty much the reason he kept resigning with the show,” Idato explained. “He battled for five long years about the scripts and the shallowness of the program. But at the end of the day, what kept him coming back was the tremendous affection he had for the six kids that were playing his children.”
Creator of the show, Sherwood Schwartz also recognized the actor’s connection with the kids.
“They became a family,” Schwartz told ABC News. “They became very attached to each other … Even Bob Reed, who was a personal pain to me, loved the kids and they loved him.”
And of course, the kids of The Brady Bunch loved Reed just as much.
“Bob remains to this day my shining example of how an adult should be with kids,” Olsen said. “There was this unconditional, fatherly love that he had for us that we were always aware of.”