‘The Brady Bunch’: Why Robert Reed Refused To Say 1 Line on the Show

The Brady Bunch aired on ABC from 1969 to 1974. At the heart of the series were Florence Henderson and Robert Reed as Carol and Mike Brady. The actors portrayed parents who decided to get married and blend their six children into one household. 

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 20: THE BRADY BUNCH - "Hawaii" 9/22/72 Robert Reed, Florence Henderson
Robert Reed and Florence Henderson|Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives

Robert Reed wanted ‘The Brady Bunch’ to be a ‘more realistic show’ 

Reed was born John Robert Rietz Jr. on Oct. 19, 1932, in Highland Park, Illinois. While growing up, he developed a love for Shakespeare and theatre acting. He studied drama at Northwestern University and eventually went to London to further pursue his craft. According to The New York Times, the actor studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the University of London.

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Throughout the 1960s, Reed continued to immerse himself in the theatre world. In 1964, he made his Broadway debut in Barefoot in the Park. Singer Neil Simon wrote the play, and he reportedly wanted Robert Redford for the part. However, Reed won him over.

After two years of studying Shakespeare and working in theatre, the actor accepted an offer from Paramount to work on a TV version of Barefoot in the Park. Unfortunately, the job fell through and the studio offered Reed a part on The Brady Bunch. At the time, he had already moved to Los Angeles and needed the sitcom gig to support himself. 

“He wound up on a show that he didn’t want to do in the first place, and it became more and more difficult for him,” series creator Sherwood Schwartz said. “His idea of a show was based on the Encyclopedia Brittanica.”

Robert Reed told ‘The Brady Bunch’ creator, Sherwood Schwartz, that he couldn’t say this line

The Brady Bunch became a success when it debuted on Sept. 26, 1969. Viewers tuned in each week to see what shenanigans Carol and Mike’s kids-Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland), Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb), and Cindy (Susan Olsen).

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Although their audience enjoyed the episodes, Reed frequently took issue with the scripts. According to Kimberly Potts, author of The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking About Today, the actor reportedly often shared his frustrations with the lines his character had to say. 

Reed’s annoyance with the show’s scripts reached new heights during one day of shooting. The Mike Brady actor reportedly refused to say that the fictional family’s house smelled like “strawberry heaven.” 

When he saw the script, the Daily Mail reported that he confronted Schwartz with an Encyclopedia Brittanica. He then explained to the show’s creator that strawberries don’t have a smell, and he didn’t want to say it to the audience. However, Schwartz countered Reed’s theory by bringing him to the set after he refused to say the line. The producer showed the TV dad that, when cooked, strawberries will produce a scent. 

Reed didn’t appear in the show’s final episode

Throughout the series, Reed became infamous for defending the accuracy of The Brady Bunch’s scripts. When the show wrapped on ABC after six seasons, the actor had to veto an episode one last time. For its series finale, Bobby tries to sell tonic to make money. When he tried out the product on Greg, the chemicals turned his hair orange

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In his book, Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch, Lloyd Schwartz wrote Reed declined to participate in the finale after reading its script. 

“[Reed] had written another one of his familiar diatribes to the studio which ended with his firm declaration: ‘And that is why I cannot do the episode,’” he wrote. “Robert’s big complaint this time was that hair tonic can’t do that to hair.”

After The Brady Bunch, the actor appeared in multiple TV shows, including Harry O, Medical Center, and McCloud. In 1992, he died of cancer.