You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ann B. Davis: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About the ‘Brady Bunch’ Star

The show only lasted five seasons in its original run, yet “The Brady Bunch’s” endless life in syndication was enough to make Ann B. Davis a TV icon.

But Davis, who died Sunday at age 88, was active in TV, film and stage for more than 15 years before she donned the blue uniform to become housekeeper Alice Nelson on the enduring ABC sitcom. When “Brady Bunch” began, Davis received equal billing with stars Florence Henderson and Robert Reed.

Davis, after all, had earned two supporting comedy actress Emmys for her role as “Shultzy” in the 1960s rom-com “The Bob Cummings Show” (aka “Love That Bob”). She played the devoted assistant with a deep crush on her boss, a professional photographer and ladies’ man.

Here are a few things most “Brady Bunch” fans probably don’t know about Davis’ career, gleaned from the pages of Variety.

  • Always a cut up: Davis hosted the ninth annual American Cinema Editors awards fete at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1959.
  • In 1960 she made her Broadway debut, replacing Carol Burnett as the star of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
  • Davis was elected to the Screen Actors Guild board of governors in 1958. She was active on the board during the lengthy 1960 actors’ strike.
  • After she won her second consecutive Emmy in 1959, Davis’ twin sister Harriet wired her the message: “One of us was bound to have twins.”
  • In 1963, she starred in a pilot, “Get With It,” that was a spinoff of the NBC military-school comedy “McKeever & the Colonel.” The “wacky WACS” project, as Variety dubbed it, didn’t get picked up but it did send Davis to the hospital during filming for a strained arch due to “prolonged marching scenes,” as she told Army Archerd.
  • Davis was part of the comedy troupe on 1963’s “The Keefe Brasselle Show,” a summer replacement series on CBS that featured a young Barbra Streisand on its premiere episode.
  • She did an awful lot of regional theater, night club dates and summer stock in the 1960s. Milwaukee; Palm Beach; Indianapolis; Chicago; Porterville, Calif.; San Diego; Traverse City, Mich.; Harrison, Maine; Erie, Pa. — Davis was all over the map.
  • She opened a stint in “Arsenic and Old Lace” at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater on the same day her father died in 1964.
  • She co-starred with John Forsythe, later of “Dynasty” fame, and Elsa Lanchester, aka “Bride of Frankenstein,” in the short-lived 1965-66 NBC comedy “The John Forsythe Show,” about an Air Force major who inherits a girls’ school.
  • In 1969 she co-starred with Louis Gossett Jr., William Windom and Bill Bixby in a “Hollywood Television Theater” one-shot production of the Hugh Wheeler play “Big Fish, Little Fish” for L.A. pubcaster KCET.
  • Davis was very active in the USO and served on showbiz’s USO Council in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1967, she spent the Christmas holiday period touring Vietnam, and led a 35-day trip to South Korea the following year. In 1970, a USO auditions session in Hollywood that Davis was overseeing was disrupted by a bomb threat allegedly from the Students for a Democratic Society org. “It’s too bad SDS doesn’t recognize that the USO is not a military organization,” she told Variety.
  • The Brady Bunch” was originally titled “The Brady Brood.” The first report of Davis joining the cast ran in the Oct. 3, 1968, edition of Daily Variety, which misspelled Robert Reed’s surname as “Reid.”

And one bonus item:

  •  In the spring of 1969, a few months before “Brady Bunch” premiered, Davis co-starred in the edgy satire “The Chronicles of Hell,” by avant-garde playwright Michel de Ghelderode, for L.A. Repertory Theater.

More TV

  • CNN Anchors Get Frenzied, Freaky on

    Inside CNN's Formal, Frenzied and Sometimes Freaky New Year's Eve

    New Year’s Eve is the night on which most CNN anchors let their hair down. Well, except for Anderson Cooper. Cooper has been CNN’s on-air host for New Year’s Eve since 2002, and his most memorable moments from the stint typically surface as he tries to rein in others who appear with him – hoping [...]

  • Halo Head Bonnie Ross Named 2019

    Halo Head Bonnie Ross Named 2019 AIAS Hall of Fame Inductee

    “I don’t think I would still be at Microsoft or in technology if I hadn’t found gaming.” Bonnie Ross, Microsoft Corporate vice president and head of 343 Industries, will be inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in February 2019 for her work in video games, in helping to expand [...]

  • Ariana Grande and the Roots Perform

    Ariana Grande and the Roots Bring Out the Soul in ‘Imagine’ on ‘Fallon’ (Watch)

    The Roots are one of the most versatile bands on the planet, and when Ariana Grande brought her new single “Imagine” to “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Tuesday night, they brought out the song’s inherent soulfulness in inimitable fashion. Toward the end of the track, Grande shows off her range with some sky-scraping, Mariah-esque [...]

  • Dom Delport

    Vice Swings to Profit in the U.K., Eyes International Partnerships

    After a tumultuous period involving harassment scandals, job losses and restructuring, Vice has registered a small profit in the U.K., according to the company’s latest results. The uptick is welcome news for Vice as its new international boss, Dominique Delport, scopes out new production and partnership possibilities for the company’s content business. The U.K. was [...]

  • Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert Mocks Former CBS Chief Leslie Moonves on 'Late Show'

    Leslie Moonves was known to take an active dislike of David Letterman making fun of him during that host’s tenure on CBS’ “The Late Show.” He probably isn’t enjoying being mentioned by Stephen Colbert either. Colbert used his monologue on Tuesday’s broadcast to poke fun at the former CBS Corp. CEO, who yesterday learned that [...]

  • Ruth Wilson and Idris Elba'Luther Series

    'Luther' Creator Neil Cross Working on Show's Movie Version, Idris Elba Says

    A movie version of crime series “Luther” is moving forward, with writer-creator Neil Cross working on the script, the show’s star Idris Elba confirmed at the launch of Season 5 in London. “We are really advancing on getting a movie version [of the show] up on the screen,” Elba said. “Neil is beavering away on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content