The Brady Bunch wouldn’t have been the show we all know and love if it weren’t for the blended family’s witty and all-around lovable housekeeper, Alice Nelson. Her character’s addition to the sitcom was essential and the actress who played her, Ann B. Davis, shined in the role for all five seasons of the iconic series’ run.
Alice had a very special relationship with all six of the Brady kids. In a way, she was almost like a third parental figure. But what made her especially unforgettable was her colorful sense of humor. She had a silver tongue and was always able to put a smile on our faces even in the bleakest of circumstances – or at least as bleak as The Brady Bunch ever got.
Ever since The Brady Bunch made it’s television debut in 1969, fans of the series have associated Davis with her pastel blue housekeeping uniform. But the New York native had already made a name for herself in the world of comedy long before joining the cast of the beloved sitcom. Join Facts Verse as we take a closer look at her life and career both before and after she became a member of the Brady brood.
Sadly, Davis is no longer with us. Stay tuned to learn all about her tragic death in 2014. And some 40 years after The Brady Bunch wrapped up in 1974. Join Facts Verse to know the details about the Tragic Death of Ann B. Davis After the Brady Bunch Ended.
Ann Davis’ Early Life
Davis was born in Schenectady, New York on the third of May, 1926. She was a twin, born to Marguerite and Cassius Miles Davis. Her twin sister’s name was Harriet, and she also an older brother and sister.
At the age of three, Davis and her family relocated to Erie, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Strong Vincent High School, she enrolled at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At first, she signed up for a pre-med major. But she soon discovered that she had a greater interest in theater and decided to study drama instead.
Davis graduated with a degree in speech and drama in 1948.
One of her first television roles serving as a musical judge on the ABC talent search show Jukebox Jury from 1953 to 1954.
Her first major television success was portraying the character Charmaine ‘Schultzy’ Schultz on The Bob Cummings Show from 1955 to 1959. The only reason she auditioned for the show in the first place was because her friend’s boyfriend was the casting director. And thought that she would be perfect for the part.
For that role, Davis ended up winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. After winning her second Emmy, Davis’ twin Harriet reportedly wired her a message saying ‘one of us bound to have twins’.
Davis’ next significant TV appearance was guest-starring on The Ford Show Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford in January 1958. Two years later, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
Around this time, Davis was keenly focused on theater. In 1958, she appeared in a national touring company production of Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker. That play saw her co-starring with her Bob Cummings Show cast mate, Lyle Talbot.
In 1960, she was selected to replace Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred in the Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress.
In 1963, Davis starred in a pilot for the NBC series Get With It. The show was a spin-off of the military school comedy Mckeever and the Colonel. The show failed to get picked up. But it did end up sending Davis to the hospital during production when she sustained a strained arch while performing in prolonged marching scenes.
That same year, Davis was a member of a comedy troupe on the 1963 series The Keefe Brasselle Show. As an interesting side note, Barbara Streisand made an early appearance on the show’s premiere episode. Join Facts Verse to know the details about the Tragic Death of Ann B. Davis After the Brady Bunch Ended.
From 1965 to 1966, Davis co-starred with Dynasty’s John Forsythe and Bride of Frankestein’s Elsa Lanchester in the short-lived NBC comedy The John Forsythe Show.
Becoming Alice: The Brady Housekeeper
After spending a decade or so after her time on The Bob Cummings Show starring in TV shows, films, and plays, Davis landed the role of Alice Nelson. She’s the Brady family’s housekeeper on The Brady Bunch in 1969.
Initially, the show’s producers wanted film actress Kathleen Freeman to play Alice. But when Florence Henderson was cast as the Brady matriarch, Carol, they changed their minds and decided to give the role to Davis because they thought the two actresses balanced out each other quite nicely.
At first, the producers had no clue just how integral of a character Alice would be on the series. But thanks to her powerful performance, she quickly proved herself to be an irreplaceable asset.
Brady creator Sherwood Schwartz’s son Lloyd Schwartz would later tell the San Antonio Express-News that his father wasn’t the one that created Alice. The character ultimately was the creation of Ann B. Davis herself.
Sherwood only ever wanted a funny housekeeper, but he ended up getting a whole lot more. In turn, America got a lot more as well. Join Facts Verse to know the details about the Tragic Death of Ann B. Davis After the Brady Bunch Ended.
Davis drew upon her own life experiences when developing Alice’s backstory. Shortly after high school, Davis started doing maid work to help pay for her twin sister’s college tuition. She desperately wanted to be a doctor, but was unable to afford to go to school on her own.
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Ann B. Davis’ Post-Brady Life
ABC canceled The Brady Bunch in 1974 after running for five seasons. But the show’s cast members continued to reunite and reprise their roles over the ensuing years for Brady-related films and TV shows such as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and The Brady Brides. Davis even made a brief cameo appearance in the 1995 film The Brady Bunch Movie. Playing a truck driver named ‘Schultzy’, an obvious reference to her time on The Bob Cummings Show.
Not long after the sitcom ended, Ann moved from LA to Denver, where she joined a close-knit Episcopal community led by Bishop William C. Frey and proceeded to devote much of her time to serving the church.
In 1994, Davis published a cookbook entitled Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook. The book also included recipes provided by Brady cast members.
Also, in 1994, Davis made a cameo as Alice Nelson in the film Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.
In the early 90s, Davis made a return to theater. She performed in the play Arsenic and Old Lace as well as both the Broadway and world tour productions of Crazy for You.
She never completely retired from acting. In her later years, Davis was a spokesperson for Shake ‘N Bake and appeared in a series of commercials promoting the product. She later appeared in several ads for Swiffer.
Her final appearance was in TV Land’s The Brady Bunch 35th Anniversary Reunion Special: Still Brady After All These Years in 2004.
On April 22, 2007, The Brady Bunch was awarded- with the TV Land Pop Culture Award at the 5th Annual TV Land Awards. Davis and several of her former-Brady castmates accepted the award and received a standing ovation.
Ann B. Davis’ Death And Legacy
On the 1st of June, 2014, the news broke that Davis had suddenly passed away And shortly after having a fall in her bathroom. The fall led to her suffering from what’s known as a subdural hematoma which is bleeding in the brain caused by head trauma. The injury caused her to slip into a coma before ultimately taking her life.
The 88-year-old legendary actress died in her home in San Antonio in the company of Bishop Frey and his wife, Barbara.
Sources close to Davis say that she was in remarkably good health prior to her fall, so her death came as a complete shock.
Davis was laid to rest in the Saint Helena’s Columbarium and Memorial Gardens in Boerne, Texas.
While the world will always remember her as Alice, Davis would likely rather be remembered for her strong faith and devotion to God. She spent far more of her life in the service of her religious community than she did on the set of The Brady Bunch.
Davis never married, nor was she even linked to any romantic partners. As such, she never had any children either. But at least she found happiness and a sense of purpose in her Episcopal community.
It’s impossible to imagine what the Brady Bunch would have looked like without Ann B. Davis as Alice the housekeeper. It’s crazy to think that the role almost went to someone else!
Davis certainly shined in that role. It’s heartwarming to learn that she found her true calling in life after The Brady Bunch was canceled. Very few people ever end up finding a real sense of purpose and fulfillment in their lives. Davis likely considered herself very lucky to be someone that did.
You’ve heard me ramble on for a while. Now we’d love to hear from you! What are some of your fondest memories of Ann B. Davis in her role as Alice the housekeeper on The Brady Bunch? And did you ever get a chance to see any of the Brady reunion shows and projects that Davis appeared in? Let us know in the comments section down below.
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