‘The Brady Bunch’s ‘Alice’ Actor Ann B. Davis Recalled a Humiliating Incident Involving Star Robert Reed
The Brady Bunch remains one of television’s most beloved and enduring comedies. The now classic show followed the lives of the blended Brady family — a lovely lady with three very lovely girls and a man named Brady with three boys of his own — learning to get along as one family.
Actor Ann B. Davis portrayed long-suffering housekeeper Alice on the series.
In a revealing interview with the Archive of American Television, she shared the difficulty her co-star Robert Reed had in getting along and the incident that no one forgot.
How Ann B. Davis got cast on ‘The Brady Bunch’
In her 2004 interview with the Archive of American Television, Davis shared how it was that she landed on The Brady Bunch.
“Well, in 1969, I’d been doing nightclub work, which I was very unhappy in. But I was doing it because I had to eat,” she said. “The act consisted, Davis said, of “a few songs, some jokes that a friend of mine wrote. That’s what I was doing at the time.”
Davis said that when casting for The Brady Bunch began, her name “came up. [Show creator Sherwood Schwartz] said, he really felt like he was looking for me! He flew me down from Seattle, I met him, spoke to him. The next day, arrangements were made and Sherwood Schwartz bought out my last 2 weeks at the nightclub. So that’s how I got started on The Brady Bunch.”
The cast and crew soon learned that Robert Reed liked to be right
The show’s creator Schwartz before starting The Brady Bunch had created and worked on Gilligan’s Island. The comedy about castaways, according to Schwartz, was looked down upon by Robert Reed, the actor portraying family patriarch Mike Brady.
In fact, Schwartz wrote in his 2010 book Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of the Brady Bunch that the star had zero respect for Schwartz’s previous show, or the one he had agreed to front.
“From the very beginning of filming, Bob Reed was reticent about the series,” Schwartz wrote. “He objected to just about everything.”
Schwartz knew that Reed had hoped to become an accomplished actor in the film industry and felt deep disappointment at having to “settle” for a role on a sitcom.
“I’m sure he resented me because I represented his failed feature-acting career,” Schwartz said. “Bob saved his anger and resentment for me and my son, Lloyd, who was the producer of the series. We both shared the brunt of Bob’s constant anger and resentment for as long as we worked with him.”
An embarrassing incident
Davis detailed a moment on the show’s set on an episode in which his character Mike Brady took on “mom” duties while his wife Carol Brady did the dad things around the house. The scene in question involved Mike cooking eggs, accidentally dropping one on the floor, and slipping to the floor.
The Alice actor explained that Reed frequently turned to his trusty encyclopedias to verify facts in scripts. This instance was no different.
“I remember one time, the plot was switching roles,” she said. “Carol was going to go and play ball with the boys. And Mike was going to stay in and cook with the girls. The plot called for him to drop an egg on the floor, slip on the egg, and fall down. Well, you would’ve thought he’d been asked to slit his own throat.”
Davis described Reed’s complaints: “‘Oh that’s unbelievable, that would never happen,…’ So whoever was directing finally said, ‘Bob, just try it.’
“Well, as it happened, he did drop the egg, he did step in it, and he did fall, without any prompting at all.”
The actor who portrayed Alice for all of the show’s five seasons, laughed at remembering Reed being humbled and his ability to laugh at himself. “He told me, ‘On the way down, I thought, I deserve this.'”