"Brady Bunch" Star Susan Olsen Reveals the Truth About Rumored Co-Star Affair
The former child star just addressed the flirtation between Barry Williams and Florence Henderson.
The family sitcom The Brady Bunch ran for five seasons in the late '60s and early '70s. And though it was known for being so sincere it was almost corny, what went on behind the scenes wasn't always as wholesome as what went on among its characters. One of the most persistent rumors to come out of the show is that Barry Williams and Florence Henderson, who played oldest son Greg and mom Carol, had an affair when the show was filming. But, despite the gossip surfacing and resurfacing over the years, it's apparently an exaggeration of what really happened between them.
Susan Olsen, who played youngest daughter Cindy on The Brady Bunch, recently opened up about the rumor and explained why she "disliked" hearing it. Henderson and Williams have also both explained what was actually going on between them when they worked together all those years ago. Read on to find out more.
Olsen said that Williams had a crush on his TV mom.
Olsen recently told Fox News Digital that she didn't enjoy hearing speculation about her co-stars.
"I disliked the rumors that Florence Henderson and Barry Williams had an affair," the 61-year-old said.
When the show began in 1969, Henderson was 35 years old and married to Ira Bernstein, with whom she welcomed four children. Williams was 15 when the first season aired.
"Barry had a crush on her," Olsen said, setting the record straight. "She was very kind to him. She let him take her out for her birthday. So I don't like the implication that's been out there, that something was going on with them. There wasn't anything going on with them except for mutual respect and love."
Williams said he was "flattered" by the attention she paid him.
In 1992, Williams' memoir, Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg, was published. In the book, he reflected on his crush on his TV mom and the time he took her out for dinner. At the time, he was 15 and she was 36.
"When those little things called hormones start kicking in, you get excited by even inanimate objects," he wrote (via People). "It wasn't that I sought to bed her. I just wanted to spend time with her." He added, "It was flattering that she gave me any attention at all."
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Henderson remembered Williams being "very sweet."
In a 1991 interview with People, Henderson talked about Williams taking her out and the way it had to be planned since he was only a teenager.
"He had a crush on me, and he asked me out for a date, which I'll never forget," Henderson said. "He was too young to drive, so his older brother brought him to my hotel, and then I drove us to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where we saw a singer. It was so sweet because Barry made sure we had a good table. After the show, his brother picked him up and took him home. The crush was a very serious thing for him, so I was never condescending. I certainly liked him too, but I wasn't exactly the Cher of the TV mom set."
Henderson, who died at age 82 in 2016, also shared about the so-called date in her 2011 book Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond.
"I didn't give it all that much thought, since I would gladly have done the same for any of the older children if asked," she wrote of going to listen to music with Williams (via the New York Post). "After the concert, Barry was very sweet. We fetched his brother and he gave me a goodnight kiss at my hotel. So from his book, our playful but coy interviews … that followed, an urban legend was born."
Williams actually did have a fling with another co-star.
Williams and Maureen McCormick, who played oldest Brady sister Marcia, were a much more age-appropriate match with only two years between them. And the two did end up having an on-and-off romance
"It was hard not to notice how pretty she was and how attracted I was to her," Williams, now 68, wrote in his book. "That feeling was shared by hundreds of thousands of young men. And I was there." He said that they made out in his trailer. Williams added, "There were stretches of time when our relationship was professional, and other times we'd find ourselves amorous."
In her own book, 2008's Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, McCormick said that she and Williams had their first kiss when they were filming in Hawaii for Season 4. "We couldn't hold back any longer," she wrote (via CBS News). "It was our first kiss, and it was long, passionate and deep. It was wonderful, too, though as we continued to kiss and press against each other so closely that we could feel each other's body heat, a part of me—a tiny part, admittedly—said to myself, 'Oh my God! I'm kissing my brother. What am I doing?'"
Olsen said there were other cast hookups.
In a previous interview, Olsen said that she thought it was only natural that the actors who played siblings on the show would get together in real life. And it wasn't just McCormick and Williams who got physical.
"We led a sheltered life for part of the year so if there was anybody to get a crush on or try to date, it would be our counterparts," she told News.com.au in 2015. So I had Mike Lookinland [who played Bobby] and we used to make out in the doghouse when we were nine. Eve [Plumb, who played Jan] always had a crush on Chris [Christopher Knight, who played Peter], they did kind of hook up later on."
She added, "And of course there was Maureen and Barry, but Barry really wanted to hook up with Florence, but Florence kept that very platonic."