As The Brady Bunch came to an end the child cast found themselves locked out of Hollywood. They were typecast from their roles on the show and they all struggled to find work. All but one. At least at first.
Eve Plumb decided the best course of action to escape Jan Brady’s shadow was to embrace controversy. She explained what happened in The Brady Bunch Exposed documentary.
“I think every actor wants to play somebody who’s bad, you know,” she said. “Doing the bad things, so I got to play a bland teen prostitute and of course I was so naive.”
But she received great reviews for her role in the 1977 TV movie Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn. The movie caused a good deal of controversy at the time for its sexual content.
To make matters worse, the cast received very little money from the re-broadcasts of the show. The Brady Bunch aired every day across the world, and most of the younger cast was struggling to make ends meet.
“I look back they got us for so little,” Florence Henderson said. “And then the residual contracts were not very good. So Paramount Studios has made so much money off of that show.”
So, if the cast couldn’t cash in on the reruns, they’d cash in one their celebrity cache.
The Brady Bunch Returns … Sort Of
As the cast was looking for work, an interesting opportunity arose. Their celebrity was rising because of the syndication broadcasts. They just weren’t making much money off of them. So, they did what they could, and resurrected their old characters in 1976.
Several of the cast members, including Henderson, Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland, and Maureen McCormick 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 one of Donnie & Marie’s most-watched episodes, and it lead to future Disney CEO, but then ABC executive, Michael Eisner to push for The Brady Bunch Variety Show.
ABC was able to get eight of the original cast members for the show that featured singing, dancing, and sketch comedy, including Robert Reed. Ironic, as he famously hated playing the role of Mike Brady. He and show creator Sherwood Schwartz fought constantly over the scripts.
Eve Plumb was the only cast member not to return.
“Everybody always wants you to ‘come on, do one for the team,’ you know,” she said. “‘It’ll be fun. Let’s get everybody back together,’ and you that doesn’t seem to be the argument that’s gonna get me there.”
Producers replaced Plumb in the cast with a look-a-like.
The special was a hit, and they produced several episodes under the title The Brady Bunch Hour from 1976 until 1977. And even though the variety show technically takes place in The Brady Bunch universe, it’s never discussed in any of the later reunions.