Henderson was coming off of The Brady Brides, a limp attempt in the early 1980s at capitalizing on the remaining popularity of The Brady Bunch. And as work dried up for the TV star, her personal life was also coming apart. She and her husband of 29 years, Ira Bernstein, decided to divorce in 1985.
The stress left Henderson anxious and unnerved. She became frightened of getting on stage. The idea petrified her. So, the then 51-year-old turned to hypnosis to help alleviate her stage fright, The Brady Bunch Exposed documentary said.
It apparently worked, as Henderson was back on television later in 1985 with her own talk show Country Kitchen. Henderson’s regained popularity, coupled with another generation of kids finding The Brady Bunch in syndication, led to yet another Brady special.
“First of all, you have not only The Brady Bunch, which everybody loves,” he said. “You have Christmas — you can’t discount Christmas. So, you put those two elements together, and you have yourself a very big rating.”
A Very Brady Christmas was the highest-rated show of the week and highest-rated movie of 1988, the documentary said. Once again, The Brady Bunch was back from the dead.
“I think we were all stunned by that, truly, and again it just amazed me that people out there just loved the show,” Henderson said.
‘The Brady Bunch’ Cast Used Re-Runs To Rebuild Act
Shortly after The Brady Bunch ended in 1974, most of the young cast found themselves unable to find work. They were trapped in the Brady Bubble. Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady fared well, but the others were struggling to find jobs.
But as the show went into syndication, the cast found they were as popular as ever. Though, they were making little off the residuals from the re-runs. So Henderson, Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland, and Maureen McCormick decided to cash in on the new-found fans and appeared on Donnie & Marie as their former characters
“It’s funny because as uncool as I thought that would be, or as uncool as I knew it would be, I really really wanted to do the show,” Olsen said in the documentary. “Because I wanted to work with these people again. I just wanted to work.”
The show was a hit, the highest-rated episode for Donnie & Marie that season, the documentary said. And it rejuvenated interest in revisiting the characters. So, executives at ABC created a new strategy and got the Bradys back together for another show. This time, it was The Brady Bunch Variety Show.
The only cast member who didn’t participate was Eve Plumb, who played Jan Brady. She wanted to escape the image of her former character.