Maureen McCormick is best known for her role as Marcia Brady on the American sitcom, The Brady Bunch. The American actress, singer and author, played Brady in the show from 1969 to 1974. She also reprised the role in several of the numerous Brady Bunch spin-offs and films, including The Brady Kids, The Brady Bunch Hour, The Brady Brides, and A Very Brady Christmas.
What is most surprising about the star is that she doesn’t watch any of the iconic shows episodes, even today. She has stated that she hates watching herself on television. But there is also a darker story behind McCormick’s refusal to watch the show. Stick with us as we take a deep dive into the life of McCormick and find out what she’s struggled with that makes her so opposed to watching the classic show in which she is such a huge part.
Life on The Brady Bunch
The classic American sitcom, The Brady Bunch, follows the misadventures of a large family united when a widower and a widow marry. Mike Brady, played by Robert Reed, a widowed architect with three sons, Greg played by Barry Williams, Peter played by Christopher Knight, and Bobby played by Mike Lookinland, marries Carol Martin played by Florence Henderson.
Carol herself has three daughters: Marcia played by Maureen McCormick, Jan played by Eve Plumb, and Cindy played by Susan Olsen. The wife and daughters take the Brady surname. Created by Sherwood Schwartz and aired from September 26th, 1969, to March 8th, 1974, on ABC, the series is considered one of the last of the old-style family sitcoms.
The series aired for five seasons and though it was never a critical success or hit series during its original run, it has since become a popular staple in syndication, especially among children and teenage viewers.
The Brady Bunch’s success in syndication led to several television reunion films and spin-off series. In 1995, the series was adapted into a satirical comedy theatrical film titled The Brady Bunch Movie starring Christine Taylor and Shelley Long, followed by A Very Brady Sequel in 1996. A second sequel, The Brady Bunch in the White House, aired on Fox in November 2002 as a made-for-television film.
Maureen McCormick has been candid and open about her experiences playing Marcia Brady, the eldest of the three Brady girls in the classic sitcom. Admitting that she didn’t always love playing Marcia. She has related it to being kind of a roller coaster ride. At one point in time it was wonderful for the actress. But at others, it was awful to be her.
McCormick spent five years playing Marcia on the series, in a role that is often imitated and quoted by fans. In her memoir, McCormick expressed how her role on the show nearly caused her to lose her own sense of identity. McCormick joined the cast as a child, and being called Marcia by complete strangers had a profound impact on her mentally.
McCormick has publicly discussed the episode of the show called, “Her Sister’s Shadow.” In the episode, the middle Brady sister, Jan, complains bitterly about the attention her older sister, Marcia, is constantly getting. This led to the line, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” which according to McCormick, has never gone away.
McCormick wrote of the now famous line, “None of us had any idea that that line would take on a life of its own. Ever since that show aired, I can legitimately say, ‘All I ever hear is Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!’ I’m serious. People in airports have passed me and said, ‘Hi Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Waitresses have asked, ‘What can I get you, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia?’”
Losing a friend
Maureen McCormick has also opened up about an incident that caused her to lose her friendship with another castmate. Susan Olsen, the actress who played Cindy Brady was still a close friend with McCormick after their days on The Brady Bunch set.
McCormick spoke out about her regrets with something she did to Olsen. The incident she so regrets was an unsuspecting trip to the mall. McCormick, Olsen and a friend were browsing when they decided to shoplift. McCormick admits that it was simply for kicks. She discreetly placed a t-shirt in her purse and continued to shop as if everything was normal. The three of them then left the store.
As they left, the newly introduced electronic sensors set off the security alarm. McCormick, fueled with adrenaline, didn’t wait for her friends and took off as fast as she could. She hid in her car and waited for several hours. She was unaware that at the same time, Olsen and her friend were being dealt with by the police.
Eventually, McCormick returned home to find Olsen’s parents had already called her parents to express their outrage against McCormick’s actions. Especially considering that she was the supposed friend of their daughter. But McCormick simply denied everything.
It cost McCormick her friendship with Olsen. While the two of them didn’t see each other again, McCormick had openly regretted the entire incident and wished she had the chance to apologize to her former cast-mate and friend.
In the decade or so since McCormick published her book, the two old friends were able to reconcile. Some time around 2000, McCormick returned to the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood, where she and Olsen reminisced about past times on the show. Olsen explained that the last time she had seen McCormick was in 1995, at her wedding.
The former child stars seemed sincerely delighted to be reunited. There was no mention of the ugly incident that had taken place so many years before.
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Addiction and mental illness
The biggest adversities for Maureen McCormick would happen outside of her time on The Brady Bunch. After the shows five year run on television, McCormick’s life was nothing like Marcia’s blissful existence. Quite the opposite, it was a nightmare for the star.
At the age of twenty, McCormick developed an overwhelming addiction to cocaine. This began a downward spiral that threatened to destroy her career. After the movie The Brady Brides, which released in 1981, McCormick hit her lowest point. She battled severe drug addiction that progressed from cocaine to quaaludes. Showing her true strength of character, she fought through it and began on her road to recovery, all while overcoming clinical depression and bulimia.
McCormick released her autobiography, Here’s The Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, where she tells her personal story of dealing with mental health issues while moving through the fast-lane of cocaine dens and power centers in Hollywood. McCormick described discovering her family’s history of mental illness as a child and her own reluctance to tell her daughter about her own battles with drug addiction, bulimia and depression.
McCormick’s family history of mental illness would be frightening for anyone. From suicidal grandparents to a mentally ill mother, to brothers who are schizophrenic. McCormick has described the feelings of emotional pain and sadness that began early in her life, even before she discovered her family’s turbulent mental health history. Explaining that she felt alone and had a deep down sadness. She didn’t know what it was, but it was a pain that didn’t go away.
“Secrets are no good.” McCormick said, “I was brought up in a family where we had so many secrets. It felt so good to let the world know I was human and suffered from depression and I wasn’t that perfect person everyone thought I was.”
Maureen McCormick re-entered the television world in 2007 by appearing as a contestant on “Celebrity Fit Club,” which follows celebrities as they try to lose weight. McCormick won the contest, and talked about the link between her weight gain and depression. Realizing that she wanted to publicly address her mental health and addiction problems, led to her writing her autobiography. She is committed to fighting the stigma and silence that can surround mental illness.
Her autobiography went to number four on the New York Times Bestseller list. Her life-long struggle with addictions continues to this day as a wife in a marriage since 1985, and as the mother of an adult daughter. Through faith, family, friends and therapy, McCormick has found her center and the strength to face down everyday challenges. McCormick recognizes every day as a blessing and knows the greatest gift is in helping others face their everyday challenges.
Sober for over 30 years, McCormick has appeared on several other reality television series beyond Celebrity Fit Club, including CMT’s Gone Country, which led to a short-lived spin-off series led by McCormick, Outsiders Inn, and the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. She continues to star in roles for film and television, including 2017’s Rock, Paper, Scissors, alongside Michael Madsen and the TV comedy series, The Guest Book.
With everything McCormick has overcome in her life and continues to battle, it’s watching episodes of The Brady Bunch that would be too far for the star. Explaining that the show while it had such a positive and significant place in her life, also brings back some sad memories from her past.
Are you inspired by what Maureen McCormick has overcome in her life? Which other Hollywood stars have impressed you with the adversities they’ve endured and come back stronger from?
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