6 Secrets from the Brady Vault

Here's the story of how a show started as a typical formulaic sitcom, but grew into a syndicated monster. From the time Greg Brady got high to the reason Cindy Brady started balding, here's a quick rundown of all things Brady you probably didn't know.

1. In Real Life, Jan Gave Marcia the Complex

Maureen McCormick played Marcia, the eldest Brady daughter, and the object of lust of many a teenaged boy during the tenure of The Brady Bunch. What the public didn't know, however, was that "Mo" always felt inferior to Eve Plumb, who played middle sister Jan. Eve had longer, blonder, more luxurious hair. Eve developed curves before Maureen did (and took pleasure in flaunting her blossoming physique by going braless under her tight-fitting tops in later seasons). The very slender Mo also felt that she had a bit of a tummy "pooch" and during the time the entire cast was en route to Hawaii for an exciting "on location" three-part episode, all she could think about was her horror at having to appear on camera in a bikini. Watch those Hawaii episodes when they rerun and you'll see that Maureen always manages to hold a beach towel or robe in front of her lower torso in any bathing suit scenes.

2. Barbershop of Horrors: Why Cindy Started Balding

bb3.pngWith the parents in place, the team of brown-haired boys and blonde girls made the final cut, with one exception. For the role of Bobby Brady, the youngest boy, producers favored Mike Lookinland, who had strawberry-blond hair. He was hired only after his parents agreed to let Miss Clairol do her thing on their son's locks. Savvy viewers will note how Bobby's hair color varied between dark brown and jet black before the make-up folks found just the right shade of hair dye for him. Susan Olsen had a different problem; she was a natural blonde, but producers felt the youngest Brady wasn't blonde enough. They ordered eight-year-old Olsen's hair to be bleached regularly to give her that adorable towhead look. When her hair began falling out in clumps during the second season, a tearful Susan complained to Sherwood Schwartz, who immediately ordered the staff to leave "Cindy's" hair alone.

3. Gene Hackman Almost Played the Lead

bb2.pngThe producers started testing kids to fill the roles of the six Bradley children. Since the parents hadn't yet been cast, they had to have two full sets of kids at the ready "“ one set with dark-haired boys and blonde girls, and another set with the opposite coloring. The first choice to play Ma Bradley was character actress Joyce Bulifant (who would later go on to play Murray's wife on The Mary Tyler Moore Show). However, once comedic actress Ann B. Davis was cast as Alice, the producers decided that a more "serious" actress was needed to play the mother. Florence Henderson ultimately got the job, but was forced to wear a wig during the first season because her own hair had been cropped short when she co-starred in an off-Broadway revival of South Pacific. For the role of Mike Brady (the family's surname had changed by this time), producers were debating between a then-unknown Gene Hackman and Robert Reed. They finally chose Reed because he had marquee value from his co-starring role on the popular series The Defenders.

4. Greg Brady Liked to Get High

bb5.pngIn one first season episode, Greg Brady succumbed to peer pressure and smoked a cigarette. The on-camera coughs and chokes of a novice smoker were a true acting stretch for Barry "Greg" Williams, who'd been inhaling a pack of Marlboros per day since the age of twelve. Williams' "smoking" experience was not limited to tobacco. Like many teens in the 1970s, Barry was known to occasionally share a doobie among friends. He'd been sparking up one afternoon (on one of his days off ) when he received a call from the studio that certain scenes of the "Law and Disorder" episode needed to be re-shot. Barry dutifully reported to the set, but it became obvious to all present that something was not quite right with Greg Brady. Aside from his stumbling over nothing in the driveway, there was the glazed look in his eyes and the stilted delivery of his few lines regarding Dad's purchase of a boat that tipped the producers off and caused furious re-writes to reduce Greg's part in this episode.

5. The Brady Bunch Might Never Have Made it Without Lucille Ball

Back in 1965, producer Sherwood Schwartz was browsing through the Los Angeles Times when a sidebar caught his eye; it was a "filler piece" statistic box that stated 31% percent of all marriages at that time included a child from a previous relationship. He grabbed a notepad and started scribbling ideas "“- the types of sibling rivalries that could emerge in "blended" families, the problem of a parent showing his "natural" children favoritism, etc. From his notes he developed a concept for a TV series he called Yours and Mine. He shopped his script to the three major networks and was turned down each time. Three years later, United Artists released a film called Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, which told the story of a widow with eight children who married a father of ten. The film did well at the box office, and suddenly ABC was interested in Schwartz's script (then called The Bradley Brood).

6. Robert Reed's Hard Life

bb6.pngRobert Reed's homosexuality had been an unspoken secret on the Brady Bunch set. In the early days of rehearsals, Florence Henderson commented to the producers about Bob's reticence in kissing scenes. With many years of theater on her resume, she had an intuition when it came to fellow actors and boldly asked Sherwood Schwartz at one point "Is there something wrong with me, or is Bob Reed gay?" According to close friends, Robert Reed led a tortured life and was a self-hating homosexual "“ he thought of his sexual preference as an "illness" or "disorder" and tried to suppress it. Despite his antagonism towards Sherwood Schwartz, Reed doted on his TV "family" and even treated the entire clan (at his own expense) to a trip aboard the QEII to England, so that they could see Shakespeare's birthplace. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1992 and was also HIV positive. He'd remained in close contact with Florence Henderson over the years and asked her (from his hospital bed) to break the news of his illness to the "kids." After hearing the news, each of the Brady siblings phoned Bob to chat with him one last time, and they all traveled to Skokie, Illinois, to attend his funeral.

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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Design
A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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