For over 30 years, U.S. television staple The Tonight Show remained immensely popular. And while the talk show is still going strong with Jimmy Fallon at the helm, there will never be another Johnny Carson. From 1962 to 1992, the seasoned presenter entertained audiences with his sharp wit, suave persona and a who’s who of celebrity guests. However, not everything was aired during Carson’s run – like the following 40 secrets, for instance…
40. Carson had a strange on-air habit
Keen watchers of The Tonight Show may have noticed that Carson just loved to play with pencils. But these were some mighty strange writing implements, as they had erasers on both ends. And this was in order to stop the TV host from stabbing himself – or someone else for that matter – as lead poisoning is no joke.
39. A guest was mauled by a leopard
Back in Carson’s day, it actually wasn’t all that unusual to have live wild animals on The Tonight Show. But, of course, that’s a very dangerous thing to do. And, unfortunately, the worst nearly happened during rehearsals for one 1987 episode, when guest Juliet Prowse was attacked by a performing leopard. Following the mauling, Prowse ended up needing part of her left ear reattached.
38. Carson was caught driving while drunk
In 1982 Carson had to face the consequences of driving under the influence. Not only did he receive three years’ probation and a fine of $603, but he also earned a shedload of bad publicity. And, naturally, the host ended up addressing the matter with his Tonight Show audience, saying, “I regret the incident. And I’ll tell you one thing: you will never see me do that again.”
37. Profanities were quickly erased
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, you really weren’t supposed to swear on television. If you were on The Tonight Show, then, and said a bad word – no matter how mild – it would be bleeped out or dubbed over. But it seems that Carson himself had a rather liberal attitude to cursing. Apparently, he once said, “Never use a big word when a little filthy one will do.”
36. Carson gave the press short shrift
Even though he was a TV star, Carson hated being famous. And, in fact, he was so determined to lead a private life that in 1978 he released a set of stock phrases that the press could use whenever they had a question for him. These ranged from “Not a bit of truth in that rumor” to, rather bizarrely, “Toads and tarantulas.”
35. Mister Rogers had some complaints
Mister Rogers was just one of the people whom Carson parodied on his show, but the kind-hearted children’s host once took exception. In 1983 he told The New York Times, “I’ve told Johnny that I like humor as much as anybody. But what concerns me is the takeoffs that make me seem so wimpy! I hope it doesn’t communicate that Mister Rogers is just somebody to be made fun of.”
34. Carson and his son had a very public fight
By his own account, Carson wasn’t a very good father. And according to his lawyer Henry Bushkin, one night the TV star and his adult son Rick almost had a physical altercation. Apparently, the pair were at a boat party for The Tonight Show’s 25th anniversary – with Rick allegedly a little the worse for wear – when the screaming started. Bushkin even claimed that Carson nearly punched his own child in front of everyone.
33. Carson smoked on the show
Carson happily smoked while presenting the early days of The Tonight Show. Years later in 1979, however, he confessed to 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace that he felt guilty about doing so and wanted to quit. And, unfortunately, the habit may have taken its toll on the host’s health. When Carson died in 2005, it was of emphysema – a disease linked to smoking.
32. The show had a streaker
In 1974 comedian Pat McCormick decided to do something never before seen on The Tonight Show: run naked onto the stage. It was a true water-cooler moment – going viral before the internet was a thing. Yet even though McCormick technically upstaged Carson then, the two men were actually friends behind the scenes.
31. Many episodes of the show are lost
If you want to watch earlier episodes of The Tonight Show, you’re out of luck. As there was no such thing as digital storage back then, tapes were recorded over or simply lost. In fact, the archives didn’t start being saved until Carson himself intervened. And should you ever stumble across a lost Tonight Show performance, there may even be a reward in it for you.
30. Cybill Shepherd got risqué on the show
Cybill Shepherd played up her sexiness when she appeared on The Tonight Show, and Carson was seemingly happy to help in that regard. In her 2000 autobiography Cybill Disobedience, Shepherd remembered, “On one occasion, [Carson] put on a pair of horns, got down on his hands and knees and let me lasso him.” On another occasion, the host slopped coffee on his famous desk, to which Shepherd quipped, “If you’d spilled it in your lap, I could have cleaned it up.”
29. Carson had a strained relationship with his TV rival
After The Today Show aired on NBC, it was followed by the aptly named The Tomorrow Show, hosted by Tom Snyder. And rumor had it that Carson loathed his fellow TV personality. Snyder suggested that there was no real bad blood, however, telling The Washington Post in 1979 that the pair didn’t “hate each other.” Nevertheless, he added, “Are we good personal friends? Of course we’re not.”
28. One producer was banned from the set
Carson may not have been on great terms with his son, but he was still understandably devastated when Rick died in a car accident in 1991. The host even paid an emotional tribute to his child on The Tonight Show. During that touching moment, though, producer Fred de Cordova was giving Carson the “wrap it up” sign behind the camera. And, unsurprisingly, the star was furious afterward, telling de Cordova to never come back on set.
27. Carson only felt comfortable in front of an audience
In 1979 Carson said on 60 Minutes, “If I pulled out my old high school annual book and read some of the things, people might say, ‘Oh, he’s conceited, he’s aloof.’ Actually, that was more shy. See, when I’m in front of an audience, you see, it’s a different thing. If I’m in front of an audience, I can feel comfortable.” Asked why, he simply replied, “I’m in control.”
26. The last cigarette ad aired on The Tonight Show
On April 1, 1970, President Nixon banned cigarette ads from appearing on TV in the interest of public health. But actual enforcement of this law wasn’t to begin until midnight on January 2 the following year. As such, the final cigarette commercial in America was shown during a break in The Tonight Show in the very last minute of 1970.
25. Henry Bushkin had some things to say about Carson
As fans may remember, Carson’s attorney Henry Bushkin often got namechecked on the show. He was a friend of the host, too – right up until Carson fired him in 1988. And that may have been a bad move, as in 2013 Bushkin published a tell-all book about the TV star that depicted him as a bitter womanizer warped by a bad relationship with his mom.
24. The show inspired a very famous movie line
The “Heeeere’s Johnny!” line in The Shining came directly from The Tonight Show and its famous catchphrase. Jack Nicholson ad-libbed during the axe scene, in fact, although director Stanley Kubrick may have been left puzzled by the phrase. Kubrick had been living in Britain, you see, where The Tonight Show didn’t air. But, of course, he didn’t end up cutting the words out.
23. The show’s archives were stored in an odd place
After the tapes for the first ten years of The Tonight Show were lost, Carson decided to take a pretty drastic step to ensure that such a situation never happened again. For the next couple of decades, he had every recording stored in a safe environment: 650 feet underground in a temperature-controlled disused Kansas salt mine. And, eventually, these archives were rediscovered and digitized.
22. Raymond Burr hated what was said about him
Carson could never resist making fun of Raymond Burr’s weight – much to the actor’s dismay. In 1990 Burr told Us Weekly, “If I went on [The Tonight Show] I’d have some things to say – not just about the bad jokes [Carson]’s done about me, but bad jokes he does about everybody who can’t fight back because they aren’t there.”
21. Carson’s last show didn’t feature any guests
During Carson’s last time presenting The Tonight Show, it was just him and the audience. And as a farewell of sorts, he delivered a touching and serious speech, saying, “I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you… I bid you a very heartfelt good night.”
20. Guests weren’t interviewed in order of importance
We’ve become accustomed these days to chat shows basing their guest billings around A-list celebrities. However, The Tonight Show didn’t follow that formula. You were just as likely, then, to see a relatively unknown performer appear at the top of the show as you were to see them cap things off.
19. Carson wasn’t a fan of one interviewee in particular
Despite having appeared numerous times on the popular talk show throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Bob Hope was allegedly Carson’s least favorite guest on the show. In fact, producer Peter Lassally has even been quoted as saying that Carson “was not a great admirer of [Hope’s] work.” It’s another example of the host’s dedication, and it only highlights his ability to put aside his own personal feelings for the good of the show.
18. Nobody pronounced Ed McMahon’s name right
As Carson’s sidekick on The Tonight Show, Ed McMahon was a vital component on the program. And so you would think that they would at least get his name right. Not so. Celebrities – and even Carson himself – would pronounce it “Mc-Man,” despite the fact that it’s actually “Mc-Mah-yon.” Understandably, the error irritated the energetic announcer – so much so that he would noticeably rectify the uninitiated.
17. …Although McMahon was compensated in other ways
Yes, despite having his name frequently mispronounced, McMahon ultimately benefited from the input of one of the show’s associate producers. His “Hi-yo!” catchphrase was taken from said crew member, in fact – a savvy move, as that response went on to become iconic.
16. Carson threatened to quit the show in 1979
Boy, how different would the show’s ’80s run have been if Carson had quit in 1979? The host’s threat to leave The Tonight Show had studio execs in a panic – and that ultimately worked in Carson’s favor. To wit, the star of the show was rewarded with an increase in his yearly salary that bumped his annual fee up to $5 million. On top of that, his work schedule was reduced – which meant that the show was cut from 90 minutes to 60 minutes.
15. There was no silver lining for Uri Geller’s spoon trick
When illusionist Uri Geller turned up on The Tonight Show in 1973, few could have predicted just how cringe-worthy the appearance would ultimately turn out to be. Why? Well, while facing skeptics in both Carson and The Amazing Randi, Geller struggled and ultimately failed to re-enact his famous spoon-bending trick. Plus, he also refused to attempt other feats of magic, claiming that he wasn’t “feeling strong enough.” Geller’s 20-minute segment is consequently up there with some of the most hard-to-watch television ever aired.
14. A portable toilet company wanted to call themselves “Here’s Johnny”
Have you ever thought that “Here’s Johnny” would be a perfect name for a range of portable toilets? Well, the company Braxton once did. Carson believed otherwise, however, and so sued the firm in 1977 on the grounds of right of publicity. But while the star was successful in the legal battle, the dispute nevertheless raged on for a decade, with Braxton belligerent about the idea being flushed away so flippantly.
13. There was also misguided toilet humor
Weirdly enough, the Braxton debacle wasn’t the only time in which the show was involved in a toilet-related incident. Specifically, in a 1973 episode Carson fired off a joke about a shortage of toilet roll. No big deal, right? Well, yes, actually, considering that it caused many panicked viewers to go on a shopping spree for the item. In fact, thanks to the actions of Carson and those naive spectators, a real shortage of toilet roll actually occurred. Oh, the irony.
12. The show was a no-go zone for certain celebrities
Even though The Tonight Show was watched by millions, several big-name celebrities refused to appear on the set during Carson’s time. Among the most glaring omissions during that period are the likes of Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, Paul Newman and Woody Allen. But as Carson certainly rubbed some people up the wrong way, that may explain those stars’ absences.
11. Heeeeeere’s… Bob?
Did you know that Carson wasn’t actually the first choice for the position of Tonight Show host? Yes, that accolade goes to television and radio presenter Bob Crane instead. In 1962 the charismatic funnyman was offered the job that once belonged to Jack Paar, but he subsequently turned it down to focus his attention on acting. Crane met a tragic end, however, as he was murdered in his own home in 1978; the case is still unsolved.
10. Morrissey caused a ruckus with his 1991 appearance
Whimsical performer Morrissey made waves in the U.S. with his Kill Uncle promotional tour in 1991. However, the former Smiths singer’s fan base was so vocal during his appearance on The Tonight Show that it practically threw the whole production into disarray. Bill Cosby’s interview bombed, Carson lost his train of thought, and the crowd jeered at anything that wasn’t Morrissey-related. The phrase “tough crowd” was practically invented for audiences like that rabid bunch.
9. Carson sold one former colleague down the river
Carson and Joan Rivers started off on good terms – that is, until Rivers landed her own chat show, which aired at the same time as The Tonight Show. The comedienne later claimed that Carson had cut off contact with her because he had felt betrayed.
8. Many segments were literally no laughing matter
Poor Carson. Jokes were never really his strong suit, but the incredibly polished talk-show hosts of today have us longing for his rough-around-the-edges style. His opening comedy monologues are the stuff of legend, with many of them falling flat. However, he had a knack for bringing the audience back through his cool and calm demeanor.
7. Wayne Newton was enraged by Carson’s jokes
One celebrity who wasn’t a fan of Carson, however, was Wayne Newton. The singer slated the Tonight Show host several times throughout the years – most notably calling him “a mean-spirited human being” on Larry King Live. Newton even barged into Carson’s office and threatened to punch the other man if he didn’t cease making jokes at his expense. Unsurprisingly, the host’s teasing of Newton subsequently came to an abrupt halt.
6. The tragic life of Carol Wayne
As Carson’s voluptuous sidekick, Carol Wayne appeared to have a bright future ahead of her. Sadly, though, Wayne had a hard time when her character was removed from the show. She struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, allegedly resorted to escorting and eventually passed away under very mysterious circumstances. Her body was found washed up on a Mexican bay, with many believing foul play to be the cause of her death.
5. Was Carson jaywalked out of a job?
Jay Leno was originally brought in as a guest host on the show, but he clearly had aspirations for landing a permanent position. And the retirement of Carson in 1992 was the perfect opportunity for Leno to swoop in and claim the role as his own – except Carson hadn’t actually announced that he would be leaving. In fact, it was Leno’s management that released statements insinuating that Carson was about to retire; this has therefore led many to believe that Leno pushed Carson out to earn the Tonight Show gig.
4. Carson was scared to turn down Ol’ Blue Eyes
When Carson was asked to host President Reagan’s inaugural gala in 1981, he didn’t exactly jump at the thought. However, since the request came from none other than Frank Sinatra, the star reluctantly accepted. He was in a foul mood all night, but turning down the alleged Mafia-affiliated crooner wasn’t an idea he wanted to entertain.
3. The talk-show host went out on a ratings high
Carson departed from The Tonight Show in 1992 – nearly 30 years after making his debut. And his final episode was not only an emotional one but also a ratings juggernaut. Indeed, Nielsen has said that Carson’s swansong had in the region of 50 million viewers – which is an astonishing feat for any television show.
2. Carson didn’t look back
Carson was never one to mince his words – right up until his sad death in 2015. And according to filmmaker Peter Jones, the star was quite pessimistic about where he thought modern television was going. Jones has quoted Carson as saying that “he was sickened by what was going on and was glad he got out when he did.”
1. Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki’s marriage sent the viewership soaring
Parody singer and comedian Tiny Tim set a new ratings high when his marriage to Miss Vicki was broadcast live on The Tonight Show. In fact, the unique 1969 episode drew a whopping 45 million viewers, meaning it was only beaten in the ratings during the ’60s by the moon landing. Now that’s worth toasting to!
During The Tonight Show’s run, though, another series ruled the airwaves. Yes, ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch was one of the defining family-friendly TV shows of the early 1970s. But behind its feel-good plots and wholesome, clean-cut characters, the comedy hid a whole host of dark and unusual secrets – and even a few scandals that could’ve ended the show altogether. Here’s a look at 40 of the juiciest – involving everything from hook-ups and hair problems to casting choices and counseling sessions.
60. The show was inspired by a news story
When The Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz was reading the Los Angeles Times one day, a short article caught his eye. This feature revealed that the rate of marriages between partners who already had kids had risen notably. And Schwartz subsequently had a light bulb moment – with the rest being sitcom history.
59. A vital cast member missed the filming of its first six episodes
Although Florence Henderson appears in The Brady Bunch’s first six episodes, her scenes as Carol were actually filmed separately from the rest of the cast. You see, the actress was in Europe working on a movie when she learned that the sitcom had been given the green light and was immediately going into production. As a result, then, Henderson had to play catch-up after she returned to the United States.
58. Reed was a father figure to several cast members
This fact about The Brady Bunch may well warm the cockles of your heart. Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen, who played Bobby and Cindy, respectively, have both revealed that Robert Reed was a better paternal figure to them than their own dads had been. Reed even once took the pair – along with the rest of the Brady kids – on a vacation to the city of London.
57. A future Oscar winner nearly played Cindy
While appearing with many of her former co-stars on Watch What Happens Live in 2019, Olsen divulged a surprising fact about the show’s casting process. Apparently, while a future Oscar winner had been in the frame to play Cindy Brady, Olsen had impressively managed to beat a then-unknown Jodie Foster to the role.
56. The sliding glass doors had no glass
The Bradys’ abode may have looked like your average family home, but not everything about its interior was as it seemed. For instance, those sliding doors that opened up at the rear of the property didn’t actually contain any glass. This was to ensure that the cameras didn’t pick up any reflected glare during shoots.
55. One episode is often censored
During a scene in “Goodbye, Alice, Hello,” Cindy and Bobby beg Alice to be allowed to attend a gathering where skinny-dipping is involved. However, the housekeeper tells the pair that she isn’t prepared for any Brady kid to head to an “X-rated party in their birthday suit.” And while this may seem rather innocent today, the conversation is still cut during syndication airings.
54. The Brady kids pleaded for better wardrobes
Schwartz seemingly wasn’t interested in The Brady Bunch being the height of fashion. In fact, the show creator regularly turned down pleas from the younger cast members to wear more up-to-date styles. Why? Well, Schwartz believed that if he gave into such demands, then the series would quickly appear outmoded upon syndication.
53. Its creator was threatened with a lawsuit
Interestingly, though, The Brady Bunch very nearly ended up in court over claims that Schwartz had stolen the idea for the show from a feature film. Specifically, the executives behind 1968 comedy Yours, Mine and Ours alleged that he had plagiarized their similar concept about a blended family. Thankfully for the accused, he was able to clear his name through material he’d penned prior to the movie in question even entering production.
52. The Brady house was renovated by HGTV
In 2018 the 1,200-square foot house used for the exterior of The Brady Bunch was put on the market for nearly $2 million. The dwelling was soon snapped up by network HGTV, which decided to remodel the home. Then, a year later, all the Brady kids – now grown, of course – showed up in the reality series A Very Brady Renovation.
51. Jeffrey Hunter wanted to play Mike Brady
Best known for his roles in King of Kings and The Searchers, Jeffrey Hunter was desperate to play the part of Mike Brady as casting began. However, executives at ABC turned him down for a very flattering reason: they believed that Hunter was simply too good-looking to portray the father figure.
50. Only three actors appeared in every single episode
Barry Williams, Ann B. Davis and Florence Henderson – a.k.a. Greg, Carol and Alice – are the sole cast members to be seen in every one of the 117 episodes of The Brady Bunch. Their co-stars very nearly achieved the same feat, though. For instance, Reed only missed one episode – the finale – owing to a behind-the-scenes dispute. The rest of the Brady kids were also left out of part of season two due to budget constraints.
49. The Brady kids launched a pop career
Following in the footsteps of The Partridge Family, the younger members of The Brady Bunch also launched music careers during their TV show’s run. The Brady Kids released several albums in the early 1970s and took their brand of sunshine pop out on the road. They even joined forces with the Jackson 5 on a cover of Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze.”
48. The creator’s daughter made four appearances
Schwartz’s daughter Hope Juber certainly benefitted from her family connections, as she appeared in The Brady Bunch on no fewer than four occasions. She showed up first as Marcia’s fellow pupil Jenny in “The Slumber Caper” before playing Greg’s romantic interest Rachel in two episodes. Juber then assumed another character, Gretchen, in “The Hair-Brained Scheme.”
47. Vince Vaughn was involved in a planned reboot
In 2012 news emerged that big-screen funnyman Vince Vaughn was executive producing a reboot of The Brady Bunch for CBS. The planned sitcom would center on youngest son Bobby as a divorcee who begins a new life with his own blended family. Sadly, though, the project never got off the ground.
46. The Brady house interior was used for several other shows
If you were watching the best that action TV had to offer in the 1960s, chances are that you may have spotted the inside of the Bradys’ house on several other series. Yes, Mannix, Mission: Impossible and Hawaii Five-O all cut costs by using the same set as the classic sitcom. In 1975 sci-fi horror Bug also featured the interior familiar to millions.
45. Reed saved the cast from certain death
The Brady Bunch cast have Reed to thank for rescuing them all from an untimely demise. In what appeared to be a Final Destination-esque premonition, the actor wasn’t convinced about the safety of the roller coaster in which the family were due to ride for “The Cincinnati Kids.” And, alarmingly, Reed’s hunch was right. During a try-out that he had demanded, the camera on the cart became detached and hurtled off in what would have been the stars’ direction.
44. A real-life accident inspired an episode
Ever wondered how the story of “The Subject Was Noses” came about? Well, in 1973 Maureen McCormick, a.k.a. Marcia Brady, was involved in a car accident in which her nose was damaged. Then, after hearing about the collision, The Brady Bunch’s writers decided to incorporate McCormick’s agony into the show.
43. The Brady Bunch wasn’t the series’ original name
It’s hard to imagine The Brady Bunch being called anything else. At first, though, the classic sitcom had several other names before producers decided upon its final moniker. “Yours and Mine,” which sounds reminiscent of the similarly themed 1968 comedy, was one such idea, as was “The Bradley Brood.”
42. Three cast members popped up on That ’70s Show
In an example of meta-casting, throwback sitcom That ’70s Show nabbed three actors from a very real ’70s show. Eve Plumb, a.k.a. Jan Brady, appeared in the series as Jackie’s mother, while Barry Williams and Chris Knight – better known as Greg and Peter Brady, respectively – showed up as the Forman family’s gay neighbors.
41. Christopher Beaumont portrayed four different characters
While Christopher Beaumont starred in four episodes of The Brady Bunch in the space of two years, he portrayed a different character each time. Yes, as avid fans may know, the actor played The Boy in “Our Son, the Man,” Eddie in “The Wheeler-Dealer,” Hank in “A Room at the Top” and Jerry in “Quarterback Sneak.” And the roles may not have been a stretch for Beaumont, as they all required him to play an unpleasant idiot.
40. The original Tiger was run over
Ever wondered why Tiger rarely shows up past the midway point of The Brady Bunch’s first season? Well, tragically, the real pooch was knocked down by a car during the show’s early filming. And while the dog’s trainer tried to replace him with a lookalike he picked up at a nearby pound, unsurprisingly the substitute wasn’t able to follow commands in quite the same way as the original canine actor. Producers eventually decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle to retrain the animal, then, and only featured Tiger on screen when absolutely necessary.
39. Jan and Peter were once busted by the police
With so many adolescent hormones flying around on set, it was perhaps inevitable that several of The Brady Bunch’s stars would hook up in real life. Eve Plumb and Christopher Knight – a.k.a. Jan and Peter – were one such pairing. And, scandalously, the on-screen siblings were once caught by the authorities while making out in Knight’s vehicle.
38. Mike Lookinland became an alcoholic
Sadly, the youngest member of The Brady Bunch found it difficult to cope with the pressures of childhood fame, and in adulthood he turned to the bottle for comfort. But Mike Lookinland finally got clean before it was too late. He told Oprah Winfrey, “When it became clear that the choice wasn’t between sobering up or drinking, but the choice was actually between living or dying, then it became a simple choice for me.”
37. Barry Williams once went on a date with his on-screen mom
In his 1992 autobiography, Barry Williams admitted that as a teen, he had become infatuated with his on-screen mom. He even managed to persuade Florence Henderson – who was 20 years his senior – to go out to dinner with him. Williams explained in his book, “When those little things called hormones start kicking in, you get excited by even inanimate objects. It wasn’t that I sought to bed [Henderson]. I just wanted to spend time with her.”
36. Susan Olsen was forced to dye her hair
During her stint as Cindy, Susan Olsen was made to repeatedly bleach her hair. Why? Well, it was simply to maintain the distinct aesthetic of the Brady kids, as all three boys had to be dark-haired and all three girls had to be blonde. After having been subjected to such treatment since the age of eight, however, Olsen eventually started to lose her hair in large clumps.
35. Maureen McCormick was once a shoplifter
According to one of her on-screen sisters, Maureen McCormick – a.k.a. Marcia – was very much a teenage troublemaker. Yes, Olsen has claimed that her former co-star would often shoplift as a means of passing the time between filming scenes. Rather sneakily, the actress would also allegedly point the finger at the unsuspecting friend she had brought along if she ever got caught in the act.
34. Christopher Knight felt exploited by his mom
Knight once told Oprah that he felt betrayed by how his mother had thrust him into the spotlight at such a young age. The actor – who played Peter Brady in the sitcom – said, “I [was] feeling totally prostituted at that point by my mom. I think in a way, I totally was. And by her own admission it was [prostitution of a sort], [but] she was sorry about it.”
33. Ann B. Davis passed away in a freak accident
In 2014 one of The Brady Bunch’s most beloved cast members lost her life in a tragic accident. Ann B. Davis – who portrayed family housekeeper Alice – suffered a subdural hematoma following a fall in which her head struck a bathtub. The 88-year-old – who picked up multiple Emmy nominations during her career – sadly failed to regain consciousness after the incident.
32. McCormick and Williams hooked up
Williams and McCormick may have played siblings on screen, but that didn’t stop them from getting hot and heavy away from the cameras. Yes, apparently the pair first hooked up on a moonlit beach walk when The Brady Bunch went to Hawaii. McCormick later revealed in her memoir, “It was our first kiss, and it was long, passionate and deep.”
31. Cindy’s lisp was real
If you thought that Cindy’s lisp was fabricated just to make the character more endearing, think again, as the actress who portrayed the youngest Brady did indeed have a very real speech impediment. In fact, Olsen regularly saw a therapist for the problem up until her late teens, after which she decided to treat it with a surgical procedure.
30. Florence Henderson wasn’t the first choice to play Carol Brady
It’s hard to imagine anyone else other than Henderson playing The Brady Bunch’s matriarch Carol. In fact, you may be surprised to hear that Joyce Bulifant was actually first pick for the iconic role owing to her skillful comic timing. But, of course, this wasn’t to be. When the equally hilarious Ann B. Davis was signed up to the sitcom, you see, the producers realized that Carol didn’t need to be so wacky. Ultimately, then, the bigwigs made the character a much more homely figure instead.
29. Shirley Jones turned down the role of Carol
Henderson faced plenty of stiff competition when it came to the role that launched her to fame. Initially, the part of Carol was even offered to – and then turned down by – her best friend Shirley Jones. And as fans likely know, Jones went on to make her name in another classic family-friendly sitcom: The Partridge Family.
28. Gene Hackman nearly played Mike
Producer Sherwood Schwartz once revealed that Gene Hackman had been in the running to play The Brady Bunch’s dad Mike. Apparently, the future Hollywood legend only lost out on the role because he simply wasn’t familiar enough to TV audiences at the time. Yet Hackman had the last laugh; just a year after the sitcom premiered, he delivered an ultimately Oscar-winning performance in iconic thriller The French Connection.
27. Knight couldn’t sing
Famously, the Brady family would often burst into song during episodes of the show. But while McCormick, Lookinland and Williams would all belt out tunes in their own voices, tone-deaf Knight had to lip-sync. The youngster later admitted to The Improper Bostonian that he had been left traumatized by the sitcom’s musical moments.
26. Several bloopers made it into the final cut
In order to finish episodes of The Brady Bunch on time, editors would often leave in little mistakes that they hoped no viewer would ever notice. But since the sitcom’s syndication, audiences have had plenty of opportunities to spot such bloopers. The errors in question include the family returning home from an errand in a completely different vehicle to the one in which they had left. During one memorable scene, Jan’s haircut also seems to inadvertently change altogether.
25. The show wasn’t as big as you may think
Given The Brady Bunch’s sizeable impact upon popular culture, you may assume that the show consistently topped the TV ratings back in the day. But that’s not the case; in fact, the sitcom failed to enter Nielsen’s Top 30 even once during its five-season run. It seems that syndication was the key, then, to making The Brady Bunch iconic.
24. McCormick really did get hit by a football
While filming one particular episode, McCormick learned that sometimes you have to suffer for your art. In “The Subject Was Noses,” Marcia was supposed to get hit by a football thrown by her brother Peter. Instead of using camera trickery or stunt doubles, though, producer Schwartz decided that the best course of action was to fling the pigskin at McCormick’s nose for real.
23. Carol was supposed to be divorced
Before joining Carol and her girls, Mike Brady had of course been married and then sadly widowed. But what about the matriarch herself? Well, although Schwartz had originally intended for Carol to be a divorcée, this would have broken one of primetime TV’s main taboos in the late 1960s. So, the show decided to avoid the subject altogether. Later, Henderson jokingly claimed that her character had actually murdered her first spouse.
22. The Brady bathroom had no toilet
Seeing a porcelain toilet bowl on screen was a strict no-no when The Brady Bunch first aired. This explains, then, why you never see a john in the bathroom that all of the six kids share. And while the show could have given viewers a glimpse of the tank section – as this wasn’t prohibited – producers decided to do without altogether to make filming easier.
21. There was very nearly a spin-off
Fans may remember an episode of The Brady Bunch’s fifth season that saw neighbors Kathy and Ken Kelly and their three adopted kids take center stage. And, initially, this new family on the block – who included the real-life sibling of Mike Lookinland – were once lined up to star in their very own sitcom after The Brady Bunch came to an end. Sadly, though, Kelly’s Kids never actually made it to air.
20. Reed was deliberately written out of the final episode
Robert Reed – a.k.a. Mike – repeatedly fought on set with Schwartz over The Brady Bunch’s scripts. And as it turns out, the actor was so unhappy about the show’s last ever episode that he issued an ultimatum: change it, or he would refuse to show up for filming. Then, when Schwartz simply called his bluff, Reed was as good as his word – explaining exactly why the man of the house doesn’t appear in the series finale.
19. Henderson liked a dirty joke
Henderson may have played a butter-wouldn’t-melt mother on screen, but behind the scenes she was renowned for having a risqué sense of humor. And yet the actress kept up the pretense any time she was approached by a fan. Schwartz’s son Lloyd once told Variety, “Whenever anybody came up to [Henderson] to say anything about the show, she was as warm as could be. I saw it a million times.”
18. Reed stayed in the closet for most of his life
Although many of The Brady Bunch’s cast and crew were aware that Reed was gay, the actor decided to keep his sexuality a secret from the public for most of his life. And Henderson believes that her co-star would have been much happier had he come out of the closet earlier. She told ABC News, “I think had Bob not been forced to live this double life… it would have dissipated a lot of that anger and frustration.”
17. Henderson wanted Carol to work
Carol may be one of TV’s quintessential housewives, but things could have been very different if Henderson had been given her way. Inspired by her own experience as a working mother, the actress pleaded with the show’s scriptwriters to give Carol another purpose in life; ultimately, though, the team refused to budge.
16. Reed believed that TV was beneath him
According to Schwartz, Reed thought that television was too tawdry for a man of his talents. The Brady Bunch’s producer and creator once told ABC, “[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.” And the Mike Brady star certainly had the skillset to do more, as he had trained as a Shakespearean actor for two years before landing his famous role.
15. The Bradys once had a cat
We wouldn’t blame you for not trusting the Bradys to look after your pet. After all, Tiger the dog wasn’t the only animal to go missing early on in the show’s run. In the pilot episode of the series, the family can be seen petting a cat by the name of Fluffy; following that moment, though, the cute feline was never seen or heard of ever again.
14. The show’s creator drew upon his own kids’ life experiences
The Brady Bunch’s creator didn’t look too far for inspiration for the hit show. Often, you see, Schwartz would draw upon his own kids’ experiences for storylines – something with which his daughter Hope wasn’t particularly enamored. She told MeTV, “I was in a unique position regarding the show, and I was going through my own teenage girl angst at the time… When things I considered private showed up on the screen, I wasn’t always happy about it.”
13. McCormick once joked about an affair with Plumb
In her 2007 memoir Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, McCormick joked about having had an affair with Plumb. Her on-screen sister didn’t see the funny side, however, and so the actress was forced to apologize in an interview with Digital Spy. McCormick said of the incident, “I made the crack to be funny – and for shock value. I’m sorry if [Plumb] took offense.”
12. McCormick struggled with anxiety
After leaving The Brady Bunch behind, McCormick experienced her fair share of personal problems. But life wasn’t completely rosy when she was filming the hit sitcom, either. In her autobiography, the actress wrote, “As a teenager, I had no idea that few people are everything they present to the outside world. Yet there I was, hiding the reality of my life behind the unreal perfection of Marcia Brady. No one suspected the fear that gnawed at me.”
11. Olsen hated playing Shirley Temple
In the episode titled “The Snooperstar,” Cindy is tricked by Marcia into impersonating Shirley Temple as a punishment for scanning through her diary. And Olsen has since admitted that she didn’t appreciate that particular storyline. She told Inquisitr, “That was really embarrassing. It would have been really cute when I was seven, but when I was 12, [I was] going, ‘I feel so stupid.’”
10. McCormick once dated Michael Jackson
While competing in British reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2015, McCormick claimed that she had once stepped out with a megastar. Yes, after being asked by a fellow campmate whether she liked Michael Jackson, the actress replied, “We used to date. We used to go roller skating in Woodland Hills [in California]. I used to go over to [the Jackson family’s] house all the time.” McCormick added that she and the future King of Pop had both been in their mid-teens back then.
9. Henderson initially wore a wig
Shockingly, Henderson was forced to wear a wig during the filming of the first season of The Brady Bunch. But that wasn’t because the star was losing her locks; instead, her short ’do at the time wasn’t deemed to suit the character of Carol. Naturally, then, a hairpiece was brought in as a solution.
8. Williams injured himself in a surfing stunt
In season four, the Brady family famously travel to Hawaii for a vacation, and it’s there that Greg shows off his skills on the surfboard. Unfortunately, though, this led to a real-life disaster for the man who played the eldest Brady boy. On his own blog, Williams revealed, “I was injured during the filming of the surfing episode in Hawaii. I cut my feet on some coral. You can actually see it when I fall headfirst off of my board.”
7. Henderson once counseled Knight for a VH1 show
Back in the mid-2000s, Knight landed his own reality series, entitled My Fair Brady, on VH1. During filming, the actor even graciously invited his former on-screen mom onto the show to help provide some relationship guidance. So, Henderson advised Knight to slow things down with his The Surreal Life co-star Adrianne Curry – words of wisdom that weren’t heeded, as the couple went on to wed just months later.
6. The kids were cast in a unique way
Before casting the six Brady kids, Schwartz was originally tasked with overseeing tryouts by 264 different child actors. To help whittle that number down, then, he simply placed an array of toys on his desk. How did this work? Well, any youngsters who were seen being distracted by the toys were given the boot. Schwartz believed, you see, that those kids who stayed focused on the matter in hand had the perfect temperament to work in TV.
5. The casting of Oliver created tension
It’s fair to say that Carol’s nephew Oliver – played by Robbie Rist – wasn’t exactly a fan favorite. And it seems that Rist – who showed up in the sitcom’s final season – was just as unpopular with the rest of the cast, too. On his blog, Williams revealed, “The writers were floundering, and [Rist] introduced a very different type of humor into our show. Also, we had been together a long time, and we didn’t really have time to adjust to a new ‘family member.’”
4. McCormick developed a cocaine addiction
In order to deal with her mental health battles, McCormick turned to illegal drugs – and one substance in particular. In her memoir, she wrote, “I sought refuge in seemingly glamorous cocaine dens above Hollywood. I thought I would find answers there, while in reality I was simply running farther from myself. From there, I spiraled downward on a path of self-destruction that cost me my career and very nearly my life.”
3. Williams was a pothead
Greg Brady may have been a goody-two-shoes, but the actor who played him was anything but. In his early teens, Williams started smoking pot; for one particular episode of The Brady Bunch, he even turned up on set stoned. Take a closer look at “Law and Disorder,” and you may notice that the squeaky-clean Greg looks suspiciously glassy-eyed.
2. Reed died with HIV
Reed sadly passed away in 1992, with his daughter Karen initially stating that colon cancer was the sole cause. After the star’s death certificate was made public, however, the world learned that he had an underlying condition that had also caused complications. At some point during his life, Reed had been diagnosed with HIV.
1. Sixth season storylines were planned
Although The Brady Bunch ultimately concluded at the end of its fifth season, there were actually storylines in the offing for a further run. Had more episodes been given the green light, Carol would have likely fallen pregnant with twins, for example. And owing to the ongoing dispute with Reed, the character of Mike would probably have been recast, too.