While The Brady Bunch prided itself on being a family-friendly series whose audience could always count on it’s beloved characters to stay out of harm’s way, this attitude wasn’t reflected behind the scenes. It seems that there were numerous occasions where the stars of the series were put in some decidedly sketchy situations that could’ve proved disastrous, specifically during a fifth season episode filmed at the Kings Park amusement park in Ohio. It seems it was only by a stroke of luck that the cast made it through filming of the episode in one piece, and stars Florence Henderson and Susan Olsen had experienced similar dangers during the filming of the show’s memorable fourth season episodes set in Hawaii. Join Facts Verse as we explore the episode that nearly killed The Brady Bunch cast.
During the planning of The Brady Bunch’s fifth and final season, it was decided that the titular family was going to take a trip to the brand new Kings Park amusement park, located just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. Kings Island had only been open for a year at that point, but had already been featured in a similar context in an episode of The Partridge Family. Many people in the television audience didn’t know it at the time, but both The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family were owned by the company of Paramount, who also happened to be one of the major stockholders of the company that had recently purchased Kings Island. Because of this, the episodes of those beloved series set at the park were both clever commercials meant to help entice families to come visit the new amusement park.
The episode of The Brady Bunch that took place at Kings Park was called “The Cincinnati Kids”, and revolved around the plot of Mike Brady bringing his family out to Cincinnati so that he could pitch some potential expansions to the heads of Kings Park. The main part of Mike’s pitch is a blueprint that daughter Jan happens to mistake for her own poster of the character Yogi Bear, causing the main conflict of the episode. Yogi Bear is another property owned by Paramount and factors prominently into Kings Park’s branding. The episode premiered in November of 1973, and it was the series’ 106th episode overall. The episode came towards the backend of the series, and the negative experiences that the cast had during filming likely meant that they weren’t too saddened to say goodbye to the show come the end.
The Partridge Family had only filmed at Kings Park for a couple of days, while The Brady Bunch decided to film there for a whole week. The park proved incredibly busy during the filming of the episode, though most of the park’s attendees were likely there in large part just to get a glimpse of The Brady Bunch actors. Those who didn’t realize that an episode of The Brady Bunch was being filmed were likely annoyed, as filming of the episode interrupted a lot of the day-to-day operations of the park. The cast of the show was set up at the Kings Island Inn, which functions as the amusement park’s official lodging quarters just across the street. Apparently, while staying at the Kings Island Inn, the cast of the show was subject to a never-ending onslaught of gawkers, some of which even supposedly crossed the line into peeping-tom territory. However, after five years of performing in their iconic roles, the majority of the cast had become used to being the center of attention in public.
Despite the fact that “The Cincinnati Kids” was meant to essentially be a subtle commercial for the Kings Park amusement park, the park is never actually mentioned in the episode by name. Instead, verbal mentions of the park’s name are sidestepped. However, the park’s name can be seen multiple times, whether written on the sign out front or on the bus that pulls up into the Kings Island Inn. It remains uncertain why no verbal mention of the park’s name is ever made, though audience certainly understood what they were seeing. The episode proved a great commercial for the Ohio amusement park, which is still around today! However, filming of the episode wasn’t an entirely pleasant experience for the show’s cast. In fact, it could have been deadly!
One innocuous scene during “The Cincinnati Kids” features the family riding on a wooden rollercoaster. Although the scene is only a small part of the episode, it proved fairly difficult to film. Not only that, but something went wrong during filming that could’ve nearly killed the cast! That is, with the exception of Robert Reed and Susan Olsen, as they both refused to participate. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
During the filming of the episode of The Brady Bunch known as “The Cincinnati Kids”, the cast was preparing to film a scene on a wooden rollercoaster at the Kings Park amusement park in Ohio when star Robert Reed noticed that there was something odd about the camera set-up. In order to film the scene, a camera had been secured to the front car of the rollercoaster, and Robert felt that the camera wasn’t secured steadily enough for the scene to be safe. Heeding Robert’s warning, series creator Sherwood Schwartz had the rollercoaster do a test run, during which the camera did, in fact, fall off of it’s mount. If the cast had been riding on the rollercoaster during the run, the dislodged camera would’ve most certainly hit them. Given the weight of the equipment and the speed of the coaster, this impact could’ve been fatal.
Realizing his mistake, Sherwood Schwartz improvised a new idea for filming the rollercoaster scene. Instead of mounting the camera on the front car of the rollercoaster, he would have a cameraman sitting in the front of the car holding the camera and point it back at the actors. The cameraman claimed he could do it, but Robert Reed wasn’t convinced. Robert Reed decided to opt out of filming the scene. Meanwhile, child actress Susan Olsen, who played youngest Brady daughter Cindy, opted out of filming simply because she didn’t want to ride the rollercoaster. Because of this, a stand-in was used for the young actress.
As it turns out, Robert Reed was right yet again in his insistence not to take part in the filming of the rollercoaster scene. During the official run of the rollercoaster, the cameraman lost control of his camera and it ended up hitting him in the head, causing him to bleed profusely. The scene ended up being filmed and made it into the episode, though fans of The Brady Bunch may be surprised to learn that the man holding the camera during it’s filming was bleeding.
For the most part, the cast of The Brady Bunch enjoyed it when episodes of the show allowed them to travel outside of the Paramount Studios lot. However, “The Cincinnati Kids” wasn’t the first vacation episode of the series that could’ve proved disastrous for the cast during filming. The show’s prior season, which was it’s fourth, had started out with a series of three episodes set and filmed on location in Hawaii. During the filming of this episode, a similarly deadly event almost occurred, this time involving actresses Florence Henderson and Susan Olsen. Thankfully, Florence Henderson managed to save little Susan’s life!
During the filming of the episode, the cast and crew sailed out into the ocean by boat so that they could get footage of the Brady family riding a wave. When they got out on the waters, they realized that the waves were a great deal bigger than they’d anticipated. However, they decided that they were going to go through with filming the scene anyways. Not many preparations had been made, and it seems that the cast weren’t even given life jackets to film the scene. This decision was made all the more egregious based on the fact that Susan Olsen barely even knew how to swim.
While the family was out in the water, Florence Henderson was treading alongside Susan Olsen when she noticed that a decidedly large wave was sending the nearby boat that the crew was filming from out of control. Seeing that the boat was heading towards them, Florence grabbed ahold of Susan and did her best to swim out of the way. The two were sent spiraling underwater. If it hadn’t been for Florence’s steady grip, then Susan would’ve likely drowned. The incident proved a bonding experience for the two, but they both certainly lost a lot of respect for the show’s crew. According to Florence, she was shocked that the crew could be so flippant when it came to making preparations for the scene. If the aforementioned story of what happened at Kings Island a year later is any indication, this near-death experience in Hawaii wasn’t much of a learning experience.
Despite the fact that Florence Henderson and Susan Olsen could’ve died, the filming of The Brady Bunch’s Hawaii episodes wasn’t an entirely negative experience for the cast. According to star Maureen McCormick, she and costar Barry Williams shared their first kiss in Hawaii after years of romantic tension on the set of the show. The two never truly became romantically involved afterwards, but it was a memorable experience for the both of them. Nowadays, the two are still lifelong friends, just not lovers.
Despite the seemingly family-friendly nature of The Brady Bunch, there were multiple times during the show’s production when the cast seems to have been put in fatal danger. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that members of The Brady Bunch’s cast could’ve almost died during filming multiple times, and that stars Maureen McCormick and Barry Williams shared their first kiss during the filming of the show’s Hawaii episodes? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!