For five seasons The Brady Bunch was America’s family. We watched the blended family and their maid Alice go through the ups and downs of childhood. But with ratings starting to slip — but by no means bad — and constant behind-the-scenes drama, executives at the network and the show went through an acrimonious divorce.
Barry Williams remembers getting a call from a Paramount executive who told him he was “sitting there with now a half-gone bottle of bourbon. … (Because) I’ve been given the task of informing the cast that the series has been canceled and there will be no more new shows,” Williams told the documentary The Brady Bunch Exposed.
Each cast member had different reactions to the news.
Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady and was the cause of the backstage drama, was ecstatic. He hated the show. Executives were on the verge of firing him or replacing him in the sixth season. Reed was able to go after the more serious roles now that The Brady Bunch had ended. He earned his first Emmy nomination a year later in 1975 on the show Medical Center. He scored another the same year for the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man.
Florence Henderson, however, embraced her role as America’s mom. She took on other mother roles in other shows and was the spokeswoman for a cooking oil for 25 years.
Ann B. Davis, who played maid Alice had hoped the show would continue. “I could have done (The Brady Bunch) for another few years,” she said. “… I liked the people on camera, and I liked the people off-camera.”
‘The Brady Bunch’ Children Struggled After Show
Audiences tend to see child actors as their role only as the role that made them famous. McCaulay Culkin will always be Kevin McCallister from Home Alone. Jake Lloyd will always be Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
And so it was for the six Brady children.
Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady) said her acting work dried up after the show.
“Producers and casting directors didn’t want to hire somebody with my previous image,” she said. “I couldn’t help but kind of understand that. However, I was very frustrated that I had this mold on me that I didn’t think was fair.”
Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) didn’t fare much better. But making matters worse, she turned to drugs to fill the void. She spent most of the rest of the 1970s as a serious cocaine addict, she has said. She’s sober now and credits her husband for helping her get clean.
Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) said the stardom is like a drug. And when the spotlight moves away, things get very cold.
“I had bought in, a little bit, to the adulation,” he said. “So saying goodbye wasn’t gonna be something easy to do, but, nonetheless, I had another impulse to you know just want to throw it all away.”
He became a successful businessman later in life and an entrepreneur.
However, Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) said she was OK with The Brady Bunch coming to an end.
“By the last year I was ready to go, I think,” she said. “I was 15, it had been five years so I may have been ready to go anyway.”
She continues to act in shows.