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The Real Cast of the Brady Bunch Led Extremely Tragic Lives Behind The Scenes

Updated September 23, 2021 6.1m views14 items

The Brady Bunch cast won the hearts of America with their poignant family relationships, '70s style, and timeless life lessons. Has there ever been a show as wholesome, as precious, and as widely loved?

The Brady family certainly may be timeless – we've all caught the reruns on TV Land nearly 50 years after the fact – but it turns out, the real-life Bradys aren't so wholesome at all. In fact, their real lives are somewhat tragic (unless you're Peter Brady, and in that case, thank your lucky stars for VH1).

Behind the scenes of The Brady Bunch, Brady brothers and sisters found themselves embroiled in high school love triangles and addiction, the father was forced to hide his sexuality, and some struggled with alcoholism. Some of the kids reported adolescences so challenging that it's a wonder the show even lasted five seasons. Not everyone's personal lives held so much sadness, but the behind-the-scenes stories paint quite a different portrait than the wholesome happy family you remember.

  • Photo: ABC

    In Real Life, Marcia Suffered From Choices Stemming From Her Addiction

    Maureen McCormick's constant drug use lead to risky behavior. As a result, the actress had had three abortions by age 21, something still pretty dangerous and taboo given the time period. "I was 18, 19 and 20 when I had each abortion," she wrote in her memoir. "It shows how careless I was. It shows what drugs did to me and how far I went."

    Hollywood pressures didn't just leave the eldest Brady daughter with a drug problem. She developed bulimia in an attempt to keep the perfect figure for which her character was lauded in the press. McCormick's struggle was silenced and kept behind closed doors. Eating disorders were largely taboo before Karen Carpenter's 1983 death put the illness in headlines, and McCormick suffered in silence.

  • Photo: ABC

    Peter And Jan Were Caught On A Date By The Cops

    It wasn't just Marcia and Greg who had a "scandalous" relationship on The Brady Bunch. The two younger siblings had an equally wild almost-affair.

    Peter (Christopher Knight) was absolutely enamored with his on-screen younger sister Cindy (Susan Olsen), at least until Jan (Eve Plumb) started blossoming as an adolescent. Olsen even joked in an on-screen interview that Plumb stole Knight away from her.

    Things eventually came to a head when Knight took Plumb out in his pickup truck and just happened to have candles, a six pack, and blankets in the flatbed. Knight parked under the stars, and the pair settled in for a romantic night. Unfortunately for them, they were soon interrupted by the police, who promptly put an end to their little pickup truck rendezvous.

  • Greg Was A Teenage Smoker

    Video: YouTube

    Greg Brady was known for his squeaky-clean image on screen – he was the kind of kid who eventually succumbed to peer pressure and smoked a single, scandalous cigarette. This was nothing like the Greg Brady off-screen. In real life, Barry Williams had been smoking since he was 12 years old - and not just tobacco. The eldest Brady boy definitely dabbled in the devil's lettuce like most 1970s teens (much to the dismay of producers).

    Williams only went to set high once, but it was disruptive enough that the episode had to be rewritten to reduce his participation. The episode in question was "Law and Disorder," and Williams thought he had the day off from filming but was called into the Paramount lot at the last minute. The 17-year-old actor showed up high, glassy-eyed and smiling. If you look close enough at the footage, you can see him holding in stoned laughter.

  • Photo: ABC

    Mike Hid His Sexuality

    Robert Reed (Mike Brady) remained in the closet for most of his life and struggled with his identity as a gay man. According to Susan Olsen, who played his on-screen daughter Cindy, having to hide a part of himself was detrimental to his health.

    "I can also say that being gay killed him," she wrote in a social media post.

    Because it was so taboo, he could never make peace with himself. He never allowed himself to have a genuine love. He was forever taunted by his own disdain for the natural inclinations that he was BORN WITH. Bob was a family man. Had he been allowed to form a relationship with another man, he would have been the best husband ever and might still be alive.

    In 1992, an HIV positive Reed died from cancer. He was 59 years old.