Robert Reed, best known for his iconic role as Mike Brady in the beloved series “The Brady Bunch,” remains a household name even decades after the show’s original airing.
However, many fans of the series might not be aware of the behind-the-scenes drama that led to Reed’s surprising absence from the show’s final episode.
A Rising Star
Robert Reed’s portrayal of Mike Brady, the wise and loving patriarch of the Brady family, earned him a special place in the hearts of viewers.
His chemistry with co-star Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady, was palpable, and together they set the standard for TV parents.
Reed’s background in classical theater and his dedication to his craft were evident in his performance.
While Reed was seen as a father figure by the Brady kids, he was known to frequently challenge scripts and producers.
His commitment to realism and accuracy often led him to argue over scripts, which sometimes caused tension on set.
The Final Straw
The series finale, titled “The Hair-Brained Scheme,” revolved around a storyline where Bobby tries to sell a hair tonic, which ends up turning Greg’s hair orange right before his graduation ceremony.
Reed, who had already earned a reputation for being argumentative, was particularly unhappy with this plot.
He had his agent inform the producers that he wouldn’t be participating in the episode.
Reed’s main contention was that hair tonic couldn’t change hair color in the manner depicted.
However, the show’s executive producer, Sherwood Schwartz, had already verified that hair tonic could sometimes alter hair color.
Despite this, Reed remained unconvinced and chose not to participate in the episode.
Robert Reed’s Absence
Due to Reed’s protest and his decision not to show up on set, the producers reworked the episode to exclude him. Reed had not anticipated that he would be entirely written out.
He did, however, visit the set during filming, standing in the eye line of the actors as they worked on scenes he had refused to do.
When asked why he was present on set despite not being in the episode, Reed asserted that “The Brady Bunch” was his show, and he was interested in its proceedings.
There were discussions about having Reed physically removed from the set, but due to the impact it might have on the younger cast members who viewed Reed as a father figure, the idea was quickly dismissed.
Reed eventually left the set, not realizing he had missed out on the series’ final episode.
The End of an Era
The fifth season finale served as the unceremonious end of “The Brady Bunch.” ABC canceled the show shortly after it aired.
While the ratings had declined, the show remained popular. However, financial considerations, including the need to renegotiate contracts with the entire cast, played a significant role in the network’s decision to end the series.
Schwartz felt that the show’s quality had dipped over the years and had other projects lined up, so he was at peace with the decision to conclude the series.
Despite his absence from the final episode, Robert Reed’s contribution to “The Brady Bunch” remains significant.
The show, with its blend of humor and family values, continues to be a testament to the golden era of television, and Reed’s role in it will always be cherished.