Michael Lookinland, the youngest Brady Bunch son, said he learned the difficult way about what happens when you turn down an acting job.
The Brady Bunch had ended — this was back in 1974 — and Lookinland still had work. He played Bobby Brady for five years of his life. Before the Brady Bunch, he starred in more than 30 commercials. It all was big time for a kid from Utah.
Then, producers cast him in the Towering Inferno. Paul Newman and Steve McQueen starred in this blockbuster of a disaster movie, which was the highest-grossed film in 1974. There were eight Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. It was a fire-rescue epic. The world’s tallest building, which is located in San Francisco, catches fire. Lookinland, the youngest boy on the Brady Bunch, was in a mix of all-star talent.
“That was a huge epic,” Lookinland said in an interview for the Brady Bunch Hour Variety Hour DVD. “The script was like 250 pages or something. That took four months.”
Lookinland Said He Needed a Post Brady Bunch Break
Then another TV job was offered. And Lookinland, who was then in junior high school, wanted to take a break. Producers for Swiss Family Robinson wanted him. He wanted to say no. His parents wouldn’t turn down the part on his behalf. They made him be an adult about it.
“My high school, my 8th grade class was going on a ski trip in the middle of winter,” Lookinland recalled. “My parents wouldn’t turn it down for me. They made me get on the phone and say to the producer ‘I haven’t had a vacation in six years and I just don’t want to do your show.’
“You don’t turn down work in Hollywood if you ever want to work in Hollywood, you know what I mean?Nobody ever called me again after that.”
The show Swiss Family Robinson was about a family shipwrecked on an island. Irwin Allen, who created Lost in Space, also was responsible for Swiss Family Robinson.
When Lookinland turned down the role, producers turned to Willie Ames, a soon-to-be teen heartthrob. Susan Olsen, who played Cindy on the Brady Bunch, also had a chance for the show. But producers cast Helen Hunt. She grew up into an Academy Award winner for As Good as it Gets and an Emmy victor for Mad About You.
Lookinland, now 60, discovered that his acting career in anything other than Brady Bunch reunions wasn’t going anywhere. He was in an episode of the Secrets of Isis. And Sid and Marty Krofft used the Brady Bunch kids in some of their shows. That’s about it.