The Brady Bunch was a classic American sitcom that ran for five seasons from 1969 to 1974. Created by legendary producer Sherwood Schwartz, The Brady Bunch was, oddly enough, never much of a hit or a critical darling while it aired. But it took on a life of its own in syndication, airing on various stations as reruns starting in 1975.
But regardless of when people watched and enjoyed the show, a huge part of the appeal the talented cast. Because of the premise of the show, actors of many age ranges featured, from the young child stars playing the youngest Brady’s, to the adult actors playing Mike and Carol Brady. (And don’t forget Alice, who was just as much a part of the family as anyone.) Stick around, as Facts Verse presents: These famous actors almost cast in the Brady Bunch family!
Fans of the Brady Bunch have likely watched and rewatched many an episode over the years. And because of that, they likely see the actors and the characters they played as being one and the same. It’s hard to imagine any other actor playing a part that you love and that you’ve seen over and over. Yet, did you know that the actors on the Brady Bunch almost didn’t end up playing their respective characters? Like every Hollywood production, there many people considered for each role. And also like many other productions, there people who initially were strongly considered before the producers went with the cast we all know and love. But who were some of the actors that were nearly on the show? Stick around, as Facts Verse presents: These famous actors almost cast in the Brady Bunch family!
Mike and Carol Brady
While everyone knows that Robert Reed and Florence Henderson played the roles of the Brady parents, Mike and Carol, there a couple of other prominent actors strongly considered for those roles first. Jeffrey Hunter was a handsome actor in the 1960’s who nearly starred in not one, but two legendary characters. Sadly, neither worked out. Hunter’s first near miss came when he cast as the commander of the Starship Enterprise on the pilot episode of Star Trek. His character named Captain Christopher Pike.
Unfortunately for Hunter and the rest of the people who worked on that pilot, the network unimpressed by the final product. They ended up scrapping the whole show and starting again from scratch. Of course, as we all know, the pilot recast with William Shatner as Captain Kirk, and the rest is history. Stick around, as Facts Verse presents: These famous actors almost cast in the Brady Bunch family!
Hunter also was nearly Mike Brady. Or at least, he tested for the network. A column by Hollywood journalist Sidney Skolsky at the time revealed that Jeffrey Hunter had given a serious look by the network brass, but ultimately they passed on him. Another name that given in the article as having tested for the show was Bob Holiday. Holiday was a hunky actor who had just finished playing Superman on Broadway in a show called It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. But the producers and the network decided Holiday not the right fit for the role of Mike Brady either. And obviously they ended up going with Robert Reed.
Diane McBain was a beautiful blond actress who considered for the role of Carol Brady. McBain at one point had a contract with Warner Bros after having discovered acting in a high school play. She was in the movie Parrish in 1961, which was a drama about the tobacco industry. Diane McBain then acted in a slew of TV offerings, including Surfside 6 and Batman. She even played opposite Elvis in his 1966 film, Spinout. But, as with Hunter and Holiday, McBain tested for the role in front of the network, and wasn’t chosen. Ultimately they went with Florence Henderson, who had been making a name for herself at that point on Broadway. Stick around, as Facts Verse presents: These famous actors almost cast in the Brady Bunch family!
Susan Olsen is known for playing Cindy Brady, the youngest of the Brady daughters. She was known for her adorable demeanor, as well as her propensity to wear her hair in braids or curls for the first few seasons. Susan played the part brilliantly, and she made audiences fall in love with her darling character over and over each week. And yet, she almost lost out on the part to a VERY prominent actress. Or at least, she’s very prominent now.
On the Bravo show, ‘Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen” several of the former Brady Bunch actors asked about behind the scenes aspects of the show. This included Maureen McCormick, Barry Williams, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland. The actors were there to promote a crossover special between the Food Network and HGTV called A Very Brady Renovation: Holiday Edition. This where the old Brady abode was renovated to modernize it. During the promotional interview, Susan Olsen revealed a very juicy tidbit about her role. She nearly lost it to Oscar winner and acting/directing legend Jodie Foster. Reportedly a young Foster was in the running for the role of Cindy, but ultimately the producers and the network went with Susan. But clearly Foster’s career went JUST fine after being rejected from this particular role.
Before we tell you about the Brady Bunch cast, be sure to give this video a like. And subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already!
The Grueling Casting Process
The casting process for a major TV show can be intense. There are always several rounds of auditions. Actors have to first prove their chops for casting assistants, then for casting directors, then for producers. And eventually for the studio and the network. And in the later parts of the process, they have to act opposite other potential candidates. This is known as doing ‘chemistry reads,’ where the top brass can see how well their potential stars match with each other in both acting style and visually. It’s an exhausting process for actors, and an emotional roller coaster to boot.
But Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz knew that even with all of that careful vetting, it can be extremely tricky to cast children. He knew that, for starters, the roles of the Brady kids would fairly intense for whatever kid actors they picked. And he also knew that the success of the show would rely heavily on how well the child actors did in their lead parts.
One strategy Schwartz used, with great success, was to try to replicate a little of the experience on set. He knew that life on a set can be incredibly distracting, sometimes boring, and overall not very easy. So during the auditions with the child actors, he intentionally left toys on his desk. These were there precisely to distract the actors as they auditioned. And basically, when any of the kids were able to either look at the toys but not play with them. Or even not look at them at all, he would write that info down.
This played a big part in choosing which kids could handle being on set. He knew that if they could manage to not be distracted during the audition by fun toys. They’d able to handle the rigors of life on a sitcom set. And Schwartz clearly didn’t take the casting of the Brady kids lightly.
According to the Internet Movie Database, he and the casting team auditioned 464 boys and girls in total. He later said that he also wanted to make sure he got the kids parts nailed down before casting their parents. But of chief importance was making sure that the kids looked like their parents. Of course, this was tricky since he didn’t yet know what the parents would look like.
Though clearly he had a sense already that he wanted to cast a white couple, and that their hair would either be dark or blond. Because as a safeguard, Schwartz originally cast 12 kids. He cast 6 kids with blond hair, in case the parents ended up with blond hair too. And he cast 6 kids with dark hair, in case the parents ended up with dark hair too. Ultimately, after casting Florence Henderson, he had to let go of the girl actors with dark hair, so Carol Brady’s daughters would look like her.
And after casting Robert Reed as Mike, he had to let the blond boys go. As they didn’t match the hair of their dad. Certainly a tough break for those 6 kids who were NEARLY cast on The Brady Bunch, but their hair color help them back. Stick around, as Facts Verse presents: These famous actors almost cast in the Brady Bunch family!
The Brady Bunch still holds a place in American pop culture, and fans of the show continue to watch reruns on TV and online. Clearly the series hit on something that resonated with Americans both in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and even today. Of course, it’s hard to imagine the show with any other cast other than the one’s we all know and love. But it’s also fun to imagine what it would have been like. Can you picture Jodie Foster playing Cindy? It’s a fun thing to think about.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Can you imagine any of the Brady parts going to other actors? Do you think the show would have been basically the same, or would it have completely changed the dynamic of the show? Let us know in the comments section below. And before you go, make sure you give this video a like, and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content!