‘The Brady Bunch’: Florence Henderson Said This Was the ‘Very Difficult’ Part of Working With the Show’s Child Actors
With six kids on The Brady Bunch – Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Maureen McCormick, Susan Olsen, Eve Plumb, and Barry Williams – there was no lack of bustle and noise on the show’s set.
Florence Henderson, who portrayed one of America’s most popular moms Carol Brady, explained in 1999 that, while the young talent brought energy and joy to the set, there was one aspect that she initially had a difficult time dealing with.
Florence Henderson on what ‘The Brady Bunch’ was all about
In her conversation with the Archive of American Television, Henderson touched on what the series was about at its core.
“I think The Brady Bunch reflects an idealized version of a family, and I don’t mean an American family,” she said. “I mean a family anywhere in the world. Because this show has been on the air for so many years; I get mail from so many different countries, like 122 countries or something.”
The actor offered her theory on the show’s appeal to so many people, regardless of their background.
“So I know that this show represents something to people, all races, all colors, religions,” she said. “I think that The Brady Bunch just represents in its purity a certain genre, I’m not sure what you would call it. It’s just something that strikes a chord in people’s hearts.”
Henderson didn’t expect to become ‘Carol Brady’
The Carol Brady actor, who died at 82 in 2016, explained how she came to join the cast of the iconic show.
“I was in California doing a Dean Martin show,” she recalled.
On her way to perform in Houston, Henderson learned from her agent that “they’re doing this new series and they want you to come down to Paramount and read for it.”
Henderson at first wasn’t open to the opportunity because she was living in New York City, but ended up going “to Paramount Studios and I meet people who I had no idea who they were: Sherwood Schwartz who created The Brady Bunch, John Rich one of the most known directors in television, all these people.
“They made me up, I did a screen test not with Robert Reed but with another actor,” she recalled. “The next day I got a call saying they want you to come back to L.A. to do the pilot.”
The most challenging part of the show’s child actors for Henderson
The Carol Brady actor spoke about what she felt was “hard” in working with the cast’s children, and all of the adults accompanying them.
“The kids, all of them, when we began, had to have a guardian, either one of their parents or someone they’re on the set with. Plus a teacher, plus a social worker, and God forbid we should go one minute over,” she explained. “I mean the social worker was up on her feet if the kids went past a certain time, or didn’t get play time, or didn’t get enough school time.”
What was even more challenging for Henderson, however, especially when the series began, was trying not to confuse each child actor’s name with their name on the show.
“I felt very much at home with all of them very, very quickly,” she recalled. “What was difficult was knowing in the beginning their real names and their stage names.”
The actor even remembered that she might have provided a blooper for viewers to try to find in the show’s rerun episodes.
“I think that on one of the episodes, I think I call Chris Knight ‘Chris’ [instead of ‘Peter’]. That was hard! Just learning everybody’s names. Very difficult,” Henderson admitted.