Before she was Alice Nelson on the hit sitcom “The Brady Bunch”, Ann B. Davis dreamed of becoming a doctor. That was until one fateful night involving the esteemed play ‘Oklahoma’.
One night, Ann B. Davis went out to see her brother perform in the play with a national company. She later told House Beautiful that her experience that night changed her mind altogether. Instead, she attained a bachelor’s degree in theatre in 1948.
It would be another six years before Ann Davis was discovered while performing for free at a cabaret-coffeehouse. A casting agent saw the then 28-year-old and suggested that she audition for The Bob Cummings Show. Davis would later be cast as Charmaine Schultz aka Schultzy. Her character was a love-sick secretary for a playboy photographer in Hollywood.
In its four-year run, Ann won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Ann Davis Becomes Alice Nelson
For the next decade, Davis appeared in several television shows and movies. Then, in 1969, she was cast as Alice Nelson. As House Beautiful put it, the show’s produces had no idea “what an integral part of the family the character would become, thanks to the actress’s interpretation.”
Lloyd Schwartz, son of producer Sherwood Schwartz, told the San Antonio Morning Call in 2014 that “Dad didn’t create ‘Alice.’ She was Ann B’s own creation.”
“He just wanted a funny housekeeper. But he got a whole lot more. America got a whole lot more. I got a lot more. I got a lifetime friend,” he added.
Ann shared the story of her inspiration for her most memorable character with the Archive of American Television in 2004. She told the organization that she drew on memories from her own life.
“I decided that my twin sister was going to be a doctor who couldn’t afford school, so I started doing maid’s work so she could afford to go to college,” Davis said.
She added that Alice’s backstory made it easy for her to build a genuine connection with her co-stars.
“I cared very much about this family. It was my family…I would’ve died for any single one of them,” Davis continued.
Life After The Brady Bunch
“The Brady Bunch” was eventually canceled by ABC in 1974. Afterward, Davis moved from Los Angeles to Denver, Colorado, and joined an episcopal community. She continued to be dedicated to that community until her final days.
Davis passed away on June 1, 2014, at the tender age of 88. She passed in San Antonio, Texas surrounded by her friends and family in her home parish, St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Boerne, Texas. Davis is remembered for her strong faith and character, according to her obituary.