The Brady Bunch was one of the most popular shows on television during its five-season run. And with that came merchandise, a musical group, and other offers. So, ahead of the fifth season, feeling they deserved more money, the cast asked show creator Sherwood Schwartz for a raise. They also wanted some of their music featured on the show as well.
His answer, in short, was to shove it. The acrimonious disintegration of the show in its final season was captured in the documentary The Brady Bunch Exposed.
“They signed certain contracts,” Schwartz said, “I said, ‘I signed a contract when the rating goes up I don’t run to Paramount and say the ratings went up I want to raise.’ I said, ‘when I sign something, I sign something.”
The cast were all required to sign five-year contracts before the show went to air. This practice isn’t uncommon in the sitcom world. Mostly because shows rarely go that long. But if they do, young, up-and-coming actors have little leverage in negotiations.
At the end of the fifth season, the young cast dug in for tough negotiations, but Paramount decided to pull the plug on The Brady Bunch. The ratings had slipped some, and there was constant fighting behind the scenes. The studio had enough and decided to move on from America’s family.
How Each of ‘The Brady Bunch’ Cast Reacted
Losing your job is never easy. But things get complicated when you’re on one of the biggest television shows and suddenly find yourself without work.
For some of the cast, it was easy.
Robert Reed (Mike Brady) couldn’t have been happier. He’d wanted out of The Brady Bunch since the first season. He hated the show for its silly plot lines. Reed was a classically trained actor and he wanted a serious part. He starred on Rich Man, Poor Man, and Medical Center in 1975, a year after the cancellation, earning Emmy nominations for both.
But for the kids, it was a different road entirely.
Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) said he’d gotten used to the spotlight. And it got very cold when it was suddenly turned off.
“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.”
Maureen McCormick turned to drugs. She was a serious cocaine addict for most of the 1970s but got clean in 1980 with her husband’s help, she has said. In a 2018 interview, she said the drugs made her feel “normal” again.”
“When you’re an addictive personality and you’ve been addicted to something, it’s kind of like, always there, you know? It gets so much better as the years go by, but yeah, I miss the…feeling I got when I was doing it,” The Brady Bunch star said. “That really great high where I felt like life was perfect and I could do no wrong. It was very unreal.”