Top 10 Questions About The Brady Bunch






Top 10 Questions About The Brady Bunch

The following are perhaps the Top 10 questions I am asked about The Brady Bunch and its cast members. By making this page available as part of my Web site, I'm hoping to avoid having to answer these questions over and over again by e-mail. Please note that many other common questions can be answered by visiting two other pages of this site. Please read these pages thoroughly before sending any e-mail.
Encyclopedia Brady FAQ
A list of this Web site's most frequently asked questions, including tips on where to find episodes on video, news about the original cast members, sound clips, fonts, music, books, etc.
Brady Bunch Internet Resources
A comprehensive, annotated list of Web sites devoted to The Brady Bunch and its many spinoff shows and products.

1. What happened to Mike and Carol's first spouses?

The only references to the boys' mother and the girls' father in the entire five-year run of the series occur briefly in the pilot (and first episode), "The Honeymoon." A single scene with Mike and Bobby suggests quite strongly that Mrs. Brady died, though neither character explicitly says so. A later scene with Mike and Carol only offers the vague suggestion of some previous trauma before Carol's marriage to Mike. She never refers directly to her former husband. To read the entire relevant dialogue from both scenes described above, visit the encyclopedia entries for Mrs. Brady and Mr. Martin. The characters' full names were never revealed.

Sherwood Schwartz, the series' creator, has given numerous interviews in which he has said that Mike was originally created as a widower and that Carol was supposed to be divorced. However, when ABC refused to allow Carol to be described as divorced Schwartz said he made all references to her previous marriage deliberately vague. Schwartz also has said that he always considered Carol divorced. Despite Schwartz's intentions, the series was described to the public as the marriage of a widow and widower. Consider this excerpt from the 1969 "Fall Preview" issue of TV Guide:
This season's widows-and-widowers epidemic reaches an inevitable climax in The Brady Bunch. Widow (Florence Henderson) marries widower (Robert Reed, late of The Defenders), and they live happily -- if frenetically -- ever after.
Seizing on the ambiguity of Carol's earlier marriage, the writers of the 1996 movie A Very Brady Sequel based the plot on the return of Carol's "long lost" husband, Roy Martin. (His first name was never revealed in the TV show.) The film, a spoof of the TV show just like 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie, explains exactly who Roy Martin is and what became of him. However, it should be obvious that the situations in the movie have no relation to the continuity of the original television series.

2. What was Carol's maiden name? What was her first married name?

In the series pilot (also the first episode, "The Honeymoon"), Alice refers to Carol as "Mrs. Martin" in a breakfast scene with Mike and the boys before the wedding. Presumably, this is her first married name. Her parents are introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Tyler, so presumably she was born Carol Tyler.

3. Was Robert Reed gay? Did he die of AIDS?

Reed was gay, or perhaps bisexual considering that he once was married and fathered a daughter. However, he zealously guarded his privacy during his lifetime and to my knowledge never acknowledged his sexual orientation publicly in the media. To their credit, Reed's co-stars on The Brady Bunch refrained from discussing this subject while Reed was alive and only years after his death have they begun to offer respectful confirmation.

The subject of Reed's homosexuality was addressed openly (though a bit delicately) on the "E! True Hollywood Story" about The Brady Bunch, which premiered on June 6, 1999. In it, Florence Henderson said she first suspected Reed was gay when he appeared uncomfortable rehearsing an intimate scene with her during production of the series pilot in 1968 and voiced her suspicions to series creator Sherwood Schwartz. Schwartz reflected that despite his many battles with Reed over the show, he sympathized with the actor's inability to come out of the closet.

A few months later, TV Guide aired a prime-time special on sitcom scandals that covered much of the same ground. In it, Barry Williams emotionally blasted the emphasis tabloids placed on Reed's sexual orientation after his death.

On Oct. 16, 1998, Florence Henderson addressed this subject in the "Ask Flo" section of her official Web site, Here's her answer to the question:

Did the cast of The Brady Bunch know that Robert Reed was gay?

Yes, we all did. And it had no bearing on any of our lives. We all adored him. He knew I was heterosexual, and that was no big deal either!
Reed, whose real name was John Robert Rietz, died May 12, 1992, at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif. His Los Angeles County death certificate notes that the immediate cause of death (item 21) was "colon lymphoma" -- colon cancer -- and that he had been ill with cancer for six months prior to his death. The death certificate also lists "human immunodeficiency virus infection" in a section labeled "other significant conditions contributing to death but not related to cause given in 21."

Consider this excerpt from a June 1, 1992, cover story in People about the show and Reed's death:
Interest in the series was also heightened -- tragically -- when Robert Reed, who played architect and paterfamilias Mike Brady, died May 12 at age 59 (PEOPLE, May 25). His death, first attributed to colon cancer, was later revealed to have been hastened by AIDS. "There were a few of us who knew that he was HIV positive, and we protected his privacy," says Florence Henderson (Reed's TV wife, Carol Brady). "I really, honestly don't think everyone on the show knew. I never discussed it with anyone except Barry Williams. The others, even if they had known, would have protected his privacy."

Williams and Susan Olsen (Cindy) agree that, for Reed, privacy was paramount. "It doesn't surprise me that he kept that information to himself," says Williams, who pauses to add, "This is still emotionally charged for me. My relationship with Bob was as a friend, father and actor."

As to how or when Reed could have contracted AIDS, his TV family refuses to speculate. "Nobody's business," says Olsen, when asked whether Reed -- who has a daughter from a marriage that ended in divorce in 1959 -- was gay. Olsen thinks there's a more important point for the public: "If AIDS can happen to Dad Brady, it can happen to you."
Reed's death certificate notes that his body was cremated and his ashes were returned to the family. The Find A Grave Web site includes a photo of Reed's tombstone at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, Ill.

4. How could Greg move into the attic when Mike had previously said it was too small?

This is what's known as a continuity error. In episode 43, "Our Son, the Man," Greg briefly makes Mike's den his funky, psychedelic bedroom. During a bedroom scene with Mike and Carol in that episode, the subject of Greg moving into the attic is discussed and Mike makes a joke implying that no one could stand up inside the attic space.

In episode 94, "A Room at the Top," it is revealed that the attic is quite large and it eventually becomes Greg's bedroom after a battle with Marcia. The writers were either unaware of Mike's earlier comment or ignored it when scripting the episode. Clearly, the series was never intended to have a rigid continuity like Star Trek or The X-Files.

5. What happened to the girls' cat, Fluffy?

The cat was never shown after the first episode, which depicted the chaos caused by Fluffy and the boys' dog, Tiger, at Mike and Carol's wedding. Presumably, the family got rid of the cat after that.

6. Where is the house used as the exterior of the Bradys' home?

I interviewed the home's occupant for a 1994 story in the Los Angeles Times, "Chateau Brady." The owner, an elderly widow, values her privacy and asked that the newspaper not include her address in the article. (The story notes that while she is good-natured about the attention the house continues to receive, she built a small wall around the front yard several years ago to keep visitors from walking on the property in an attempt to look in the windows.) I continue to respect her wishes and will not give out the address to people who ask.

7. Did another actress play Jan during the show?

No. All the original nine actors portrayed their characters from the pilot shot in 1968 to the last Brady Bunch episode aired on ABC in 1974. The confusion stems from subsequent spinoff shows that occasionally used different actors playing the Brady characters. The following is a list of every exception (except the satirical motion pictures):
  • Geri Reischl played Jan Brady only in the short-lived Brady Bunch Hour variety series on ABC in 1977 (and its lone pilot as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour in 1976).
  • Jennifer Runyon played Cindy Brady only in the 1988 CBS TV movie A Very Brady Christmas.
  • Leah Ayres played Marcia Brady only in the short-lived CBS dramatic series The Bradys, in 1990.

8. Did Florence Henderson really date Barry Williams?

In Chapter 13 of Williams' 1992 book, Growing Up Brady, he describes one evening out on the town with Henderson. During the promotion for the book that year, this innocent event was often described in breathless, tabloid terms as a "date." (Consider that Henderson was happily married at the time.) The book chapter is misleadingly titled "Dating Your Mom."

Here's how Henderson responded to the question in the FAQ section of her Web site,
That whole thing with Barry got blown way out of proportion. I guess in a sense it was a date, because Barry thought it was. But of course, I had no idea that his intentions were to "date" me. It has made for a good story though!
Did other Brady Bunch cast members date? Occasionally, as also described in Williams' book. Read it if you want more details.

9. Have the Brady girls done porn? Have any posed nude?

Here's how TV Guide addressed the subject in regard to Susan Olsen in the July 24-30, 1999, issue:

Cindy on 'The Brady Bunch' was dragged to death by a bus. No, wait, she's still alive, and doing porn movies!

Still flaxen-haired, full of life and fully clothed, 37-year-old Susan Olsen, who played little Cindy Brady, has heard all the rumors. She says the coat-in-the-bus-door story started in the 1970s with reports about an accident involving a girl with her name. Jokes Olsen, "I always liked being rumored to be dead, because it put me in company with, like, Paul McCartney. If you watch one of the 'Brady Bunch' episodes backwards, you can hear Greg saying, 'I buried Cindy.'" As to the porn-star rumor, Olsen played an adult-film actress on "Divorce Court" in 1983, but the more likely catalyst was the 1986 skin flick "Crocodile Blondee," whose star resembled Olsen. Her real résumé: graphic artist, 1983-95; radio host in L.A., '96; full-time mom (husband Mitch, 37, works in sales; son Michael is 2). Olsen was recently on the Game Show Network's "Burt Luddin's Love Buffet." "That sounds like a porn credit!" she cries. "Oh, great, the rumors will fly again."

The following is adapted from a message I posted to the newsgroup on June 1, 1998.

Here's the relevant portion of the Adult Movie FAQ, compiled by the regulars of rec.arts.movies.erotica and

26.2 Do the Brady Girls Swallow? [updated]

I don't know... maybe they spit, but I can tell you they've never done porn... but appearing nude? Could be.

Some people swear up and down that Maureen "Marcia" McCormick appeared nude, though they usually don't remember the movie. I asked Craig Hosoda (author of the Bare Facts) and he doesn't think she did, but he did mention the movie "Texas Lightning" in his book.

To cloud the waters a little more, someone sent me this in the e- mail...

Craig's objection to "Texas Lightning" is that the scene he has in mind was "dark, hard to see". Nothing much to see with only home equipment. But Craig MISSED the bar scene, where it is not dark. Her nip-slip is merely very quick. But yes, Maureen McCormick's nipple was exposed.

So, the issue is cloudy. I can't seem to find Texas Lightning in my area video stores, so I have come to rely on grainy vidcaps that people are kind enough to send to me.

Here's the accompanying text from a poster from alt.binaries.nude.celebrities whom I have come to trust:

These are vidcaps attached to this message which came from the 1981 film, TEXAS LIGHTING - Although the shots were very brief, there WAS nudity with Maureen McCormick. Some of these stills were published in an issue of Celebrity Sleuth (and I recommend that magazine above all others - including THE BARE FACTS GUIDE - though, I, myself do not write for Sleuth and even Sleuth is not 100% reliable) These caps were done by yours truly and I do not alter or fake any vidcaps.

But, as we know, nudity does not equal hardcore porn in any aspect, anyway. Susan "Cindy" Olsen was never in pornographic movies. Nor is she, as according to another rumor that is widely circulated, dead. She never committed suicide. And she was never in an adult video. And she's not related to the Folger's coffee lady.

In a recent interview with Howard Stern, Susan denied she ever revealed her body to the camera. Howard was understandably disappointed.

A new reader of a.s.m. ( pointed out this little tidbit which I think does a pretty darned good job of explaining the "Cindy did Porn" rumor...

"About 10 years ago or so there was this crappy American show called "Divorce Court" in which B and C list actors played the various parties in divorce cases supposedly drawn from real life. In one of these Susan Olsen played a young woman who was attempting to divorce her abusive, sleazeball, etc., etc. husband.

He had hooked her on heroin, blackmailed her and forced her to act in pornographic movies."

"I suspect that someone, having just glanced at this show, couldn't separate art from reality and leapt to the wrong conclusion and the rumor that she had done porn rose from this."

I'm told Susan Olsen is now a DJ for an LA radio station paired up with ex-MTV host and Blues Traveler video-posterboy, Ken Ober.

There have also been some fake pictures of Marcia floating around, and they are just that, fakes... and poorly done ones at that. I have not seen any vidcaps from the aforementioned "Texas Lightning."
Obviously, the section is slightly out of date since Olsen is no longer a disc jockey at radio station KLSX-FM (97.1) in Los Angeles. However, I still think it's safe to say this is an urban myth.

Some additional thoughts to ponder:

Some have said that 1970s-era porn actress Dorothy LeMay ("Taboo") bears a resemblance to the adult Susan Olsen. Also, I've heard a story that Olsen once helped a film-industry friend create sound effects for a science-fiction themed porn film.

Update: Olsen confirmed the sound effects story in a TV Guide prime-time special about sitcom scandals that aired in 1999.

A couple of notes about the other actresses:

Eve Plumb played a teen-age prostitute in the "Dawn" TV movies and there's a photo that constantly circulates which is frequently described as a nude shot of Maureen McCormick. It's pretty obviously not McCormick, just some other woman. I think this may be where the FAQ's confused reference to "fake pictures of Marcia" comes from, though there's nothing to suggest that the photo has McCormick's face attached to someone else's body.

Bottom line: The evidence (or lack of it) suggests pretty strongly to me that this is a persistent urban myth that refuses to die.

10. Was there a red-haired, "lost" Brady sibling named Phoebe?

NO. As part of a mid-1998 advertising campaign to promote the original Brady Bunch episodes, the Nick at Nite cable television channel created a humorous -- and fictional -- set of commercials about a "lost" Brady character named Phoebe who was later edited out of the series and never seen again. The ads used scenes from Brady Bunch episodes with a young, red-haired actress digitally inserted into the clips, a technique similar to the one that allowed Tom Hanks to interact with historical figures like President John F. Kennedy in Forrest Gump.

From the outrageous tone of the ads (which also included phony "reminiscences" from cast members such as Florence Henderson, Barry Williams, Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland), it should have been obvious that the entire campaign was a joke and that no character named Phoebe ever existed. Astonishingly to me, many people believed it and have expressed genuine confusion ever since in the newsgroup and in e-mail. What this says about the gullibility and sophistication of the contemporary viewing public is pretty depressing.

To repeat: There never was a character named Phoebe on The Brady Bunch. It was a joke created by Nick at Nite and was not meant to be taken seriously.

Where can I find more information about The Brady Bunch and the cast members?

Start by reading the Encyclopedia Brady FAQ, a list of this Web site's most frequently asked questions, including tips on where to find episodes on video, news about the original cast members, sound clips, fonts, music, books, etc. Also be sure to visit Brady Bunch Internet Resources, a comprehensive, annotated list of Web sites devoted to The Brady Bunch and its many spinoff shows and products.

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