See the cast of The Brady Bunch in their earliest screen roles
Alice might not be an official member of the Brady family, but she does have one up on the rest of the bunch. Ann B. Davis appeared on a screen before any of the actors who played the Brady family. Her face turned up in an uncredited role in the 1955 film A Man Called Peter. Not long after that, she was earning Emmys.
Obviously, the elder Brady stars, Florence Henderson and Robert Reed, turned up in Hollywood next. Both made their debuts in the Fifties.
The six child stars who played the Brady kids had an interesting and varied early career. They were in far more than you might think.
Let's take a look at the earliest screen roles of The Brady Bunch cast — the faces featured in that iconic opening credits!
Henderson made her name on Broadway, largely thanks to her captivating turn as the title character in 1954's Fanny. That attention landed her television roles beginning in 1955 with a small role on I Spy (the forgotten Fifties series, not the Robert Culp series). That episode is rather difficult if not impossible to dig up. From there, Henderson popped up in an adaptation of the classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that aired as an installment of The United States Steel Hour. She showed off her sass as Mary Jane Wilks, see here. A year later, she appeared as another literary character in a made-for-TV movie, playing eldest daughter Meg March in Little Women.
Image: The Everett Collection
There are few better ways to kick off a Hollywood career than a serenade from Frank Sinatra. The future Mike Brady sat at a table with a date in a scene in the 1957 film Pal Joey. The movie did not credit the rookie actor, but if it had, the name Robert Rietz would have been used. Two years later, when Reed made his television debut on The Californians, he was credited as "Rietz."
Image: Columbia Pictures
Ann B. Davis
Davis began her career with a big break. In 1955, the University of Michigan drama grad landed a peachy role as Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz on The Bob Cummings Show, also known as Love That Bob. Joining the cast in the second season, Davis played Bob's assistant, a role that earned her two Emmys. Now that is starting off on the right foot!
Image: The Everett Collection
Maureen, Maureen, Maureen! The young California kid (not to mention Baby Miss San Fernando Valley beauty pageant) began her career with a smattering of commercials and small roles. She sold everything from Mattel's Chatty Cathy doll to Disney cereal that came packaged in plastic puppets. In 1964, she also had a nifty if uncredited role on Bewitched, playing Samantha's daughter Endora during a dream sequence in the episode "And Something Makes Three."
Image: Mattel / Screen Gems
Before becoming the eldest Brady boy, Barry Williams turned up in a handful of TV dramas. He earned his first-ever credit on the Ben Gazzara series Run for Your Life in 1967, seen in the close-up here. An episode of Dragnet soon followed. Keep your eyes peeled during The Invaders, too. In the episode "The Pursued," alongside Suzanne Pleshette, Williams pedals through a few scenes as a paperboy with prying eyes.
The short-lived sitcom The Smothers Brothers Show cast the sibling comedians as a businessman and a guardian angel. The supernatural series gave Eve Plumb her big break in its 1955 holiday episode "'Twas the Week Before Christmas." Billed only as "Little Girl," the blonde newcomer witnesses the angel (Tom Smothers) disappearing in wonder.
Knight showed off his smile — and a mold of a smile — in the 1967 Mannix episode "Coffin for a Clown." It's a snappy story, complete with a dune buggy, Diana Muldaur and Norman Fell.
The youngest one in curls indeed. One might easily mistake a pigtailed Olsen here for Cindy Brady, but she is in fact on a 1968 episode of Julia, "Paint Your Waggedorn," playing a grandkid. That same month, the precocious actress popped up in a Gunsmoke tale, "Abelia." A rattlesnake bites her on the leg, and Festus nurses her back to health. She reprised that character, Marianne, the following season. That same year, Olsen made an uncredited appearance in the Ironside episode "Barbara Who."
Yep, what you see here is indeed the pilot episode of The Brady Bunch. You had to figure that one of the kids was a newcomer, and the youngest boy made sense. Lookinland reportedly did some commercial work prior to landing this gig. Lookinland had simultaneously auditioned for and landed a job as the lone child on The Courtship of Eddie's Father, but his family made the decision to take the Brady role as it would surround the newcomer with kids his age.