‘The Brady Bunch’: This Actor Was Going to Be Replaced if the Show Wasn’t Cancelled

The Brady Bunch introduced viewers to the now iconic blended Brady family starring Robert Reed (Mike) and Florence Henderson Carol) as the happy newlyweds. The sitcom focused on the ups and downs of remarriage while bringing up their six kids: Greg (Barry Williams), Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Peter (Christopher Knight), Jan (Eve Plumb), Bobby (Mike Lookinland), and Cindy (Susan Olsen). Alice (Ann B. Davis), the family housekeeper, helped keep everyone in line.

On the air from 1969 to 1974, the family comedy unexpectedly got cancelled after its fifth season. If the show had continued for a season 6, one character would have been portrayed by a new cast member.

Cast of 'The Brady Bunch' | Christopher Knight, Barry Williams, Ann B. Davis; middle row: Eve Plumb, Florence Henderson, Robert Reed, Maureen McCormick; bottom row: Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland
Cast of ‘The Brady Bunch’ | Top row: Christopher Knight, Barry Williams, Ann B. Davis; middle row: Eve Plumb, Florence Henderson, Robert Reed, Maureen McCormick; bottom row: Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives

Robert Reed wasn’t happy portraying Mike Brady

Reed was a classically trained actor before taking on the role of Mike Brady. Having starred on screen with Julie Andrews, in theater, and on the successful TV legal drama The Defenders from 1961 to 1965, Reed never planned on heading a TV sitcom. 

“From the very beginning of filming, Bob Reed was reticent about the series,” show creator Sherwood Schwartz wrote in the 2010 book Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch. “He objected to just about everything.”

Often bombarding the show’s producers with his contempt for the sitcom, Reed was often adversarial with Schwartz. Yet the actor always maintained a fatherly presence with the Brady kids. 

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“Bob saved his anger and resentment for me and my son, Lloyd, who was the producer of the series,” Schwartz wrote. “We both shared the brunt of Bob’s constant anger and resentment for as long as we worked with him.” He added that Reed, “who was a personal pain to me, loved the kids and they loved him.”

Season 5 ended without Robert Reed

During filming of the season 5 finale, Reed again became belligerent over the validity of the script. The producers decided to write him out of the episode.

“Not only was his heart not in it, he wasn’t either,” Lloyd commented in the book. “People have spoken to me about that episode, and no one has ever mentioned that they didn’t realize Robert Reed wasn’t in it.”

Contract negotiations had also begun for the cast members. The Schwartz team saw the timing as a perfect opportunity to remove Reed from the cast.

“Meetings were held, and it was decided that if the show came back, Robert Reed wouldn’t,” Lloyd revealed. “He would be replaced as the father.”  

‘The Brady Bunch gets cancelled

Lloyd recalled breaking the news to Reed’s agent, Merritt Blake, when he called in to check on the status of the actor’s contract. At first, Blake assumed they would be writing out the character of the Brady dad. 

“‘I didn’t say Mr. Brady wouldn’t be coming back,’” the producer explained to Blake. “‘I just said Robert wouldn’t.’” 

Pointing to Reed’s continued disdain for the role, Lloyd framed the decision as beneficial for the dissatisfied star. 

“Robert has made it plain that he has been unhappy with the limitations of the role,’” Lloyd remarked to Reed’s agent. “‘We just felt we should relieve him of his unhappiness and allow him to explore all the other roles that he wants to. He did a great five years, and he’s fulfilled his contract.’”

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It turned out to be an unnecessary conversation since The Brady Bunch was suddenly cancelled, never airing a season 6. In Reed’s boycott of the season 5 finale, he missed out on appearing in the sitcom’s very last show.