"Brady Bunch" Dad Robert Reed Refused to Say This 1 Line
The '70s TV patriarch was sometimes a difficult presence on set.
There are few families more wholesome than the Bradys. But while conflicts on the classic '70s sitcom were always resolved within half an hour, behind-the-scenes drama was more of a lasting problem. In the decades since the show aired, cast members and others who worked on The Brady Bunch have come clean about some of the fights, feuds, and general unpleasantness that lurked under the surface of the idyllic family comedy. As it turns out, star Robert Reed, who played patriarch Mike Brady, could be particularly prickly. Read on to learn what one line Reed flat-out refused to say.
Robert Reed was often difficult on the set of The Brady Bunch.
Onscreen, Mike Brady was the perfect dad. On The Brady Bunch set, it was a somewhat different story. Over the years, the cast and creators of the series have talked about Reed's distaste for some of the material he was being given. In a 2000 interview with ABC News, show creator Sherwood Schwartz explained that Reed, who had just been doing Shakespeare, didn't always embrace the broad comedy of the '70s series.
"Television, in general was beneath him," Schwartz said. "And situation comedy was beneath television, in his opinion."
Schwartz added that Reed "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." Nevertheless, Reed was a good actor, so even when he objected to a plot line or a joke, he would ultimately deliver a strong performance. "Whatever he chose to do after arguing and fussing and so forth, he would do well," Schwartz continued.
There was one line that Reed refused to say.
Generally speaking, Reed would argue and then come around—but he had his limits. In the behind-the-scenes book The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking About Today, writer Kimberly Potts details the line that Reed simply would not say. As summarized in the New York Post, the episode in question was Season 4's "Jan, the Only Child," in which mom Carol (Florence Henderson) and housekeeper Alice (Ann B. Davis) compete to make the best strawberry preserves.
Mike Brady is supposed to come home and say that the house smelled like "strawberry heaven," but Reed put his foot down. Per The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch, the actor insisted on fact-checking lines with the Encyclopedia Britannica. He found that strawberries did not smell while they were being cooked, so he felt the line was inaccurate. Schwartz got him to agree to a modified version, and the final episode features Reed uttering, "I do believe I've died and gone to strawberry heaven." No mention of a smell at all.
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Reed did not appear in the Brady Bunch series finale.
Fans of The Brady Bunch know that the series finale of the sitcom is missing one pivotal character: Mike Brady. According to Biography.com, Reed was unhappy with the plot of the final episode, which featured Greg Brady (Barry Williams) accidentally have his hair dyed orange before his high school graduation. Reed demanded that the script be changed, but Schwartz refused to acquiesce. The end result was that the character was written out of the episode entirely.
As Outsider reports, Schwartz said, "Not only was his heart not in it, he wasn't either. People have spoken to me about the episode, and no one has ever mentioned that they didn't realize Robert Reed wasn't in it."
Co-stars believed he was unhappy living a double life.
In the 2000 interview with ABC News, Florence Henderson reflected on Reed's behavior on The Brady Bunch set, saying that much of it may have stemmed from the double life he was leading as a closeted man. "Here he was, the perfect father of this wonderful little family, a perfect husband," she said. "He was an unhappy person … I think had Bob not been forced to live this double life, I think it would have dissipated a lot of that anger and frustration."
Barry Williams said that Reed's sexuality was an open secret on set, but that the actor did not want to discuss it. It was also a very different time: If Reed had come out, it could have seriously hurt him and the series. "It probably would have caused the demise of the show," Williams acknowledged. "I think it would have hurt his career tremendously."
Despite Reed's occasional on-set behavior, however, the cast ultimately embraced him. "They were a family. They became a family," Schwartz told ABC News. "They became very attached to each other … Even Bob Reed, who was a personal pain to me, loved the kids and they loved him."