Barry Williams reminisces about 'A Very Brady Christmas' and that Greg Brady mustache
The Greg Brady star chats about getting the family back together and that mustache.
After The Brady Bunch sitcom came to end, the Bradys did not just disappear. The Brady Kids released records and toured as a musical act. In 1976, the clan returned to television for The Brady Bunch Hour, a variety show that delivered music, comedy, synchronized swimming and a substitute Jan. But in the 1980s, the Bradys faded somewhat from the public consciousness.
That all changed in 1988 with the airing of A Very Brady Christmas. The reunion TV movie brought back the whole family. [Well, character-wise. Cast-wise, Susan Olsen opted out of the special for her honeymoon. Jennifer Runyon replaced her in the role of Cindy.] The holiday movie was a ratings smash — and it reignited a love for the Brady Bunch that continues to this day.
Recently, we talked with Barry Williams, the actor behind elder brother Greg Brady. We took some time to chat about A Very Brady Christmas, the renovation of the Brady house and more.
Let's talk about A Very Brady Christmas. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that Christmas special?
It was the first time we had gotten together in quite a while. We were all grown up… I was wearing a mustache in that, wasn’t I?
Yes, you were.
You won’t see me wearing that anymore! [Laughs] I was going for that Tom Selleck look.
What did you think about the movie itself?
Think of it this way. The Brady Bunch was like a family. I always appreciated getting together, like a family reunion, regardless of what exactly the plot points were. In some ways, it was more for our nostalgia than… than, you know, saving dad by singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful."
Right, Mike was trapped in the collapsed construction site.
I’ll tell you what was memorable to us in television terms — it was the second-highest-rated TV movie of 1988 across all three networks. I think Roots [ABC's holiday movie Roots: The Gift — ed.] was number one that year. That edged us out. For a stand-alone special, A Very Brady Christmas was the most-watched television show in America. So that was impressive. It gave us some legs and legitimized us somewhat. That led to that short-lived television series The Bradys — that, maybe, should not have been done. But that almost directly led to the [1990s reboot] movies.
Susan Olsen was on her honeymoon and did not appear in A Very Brady Christmas. But she joined up with you guys immediately after the filming. She still took part in the reunion behind the scenes, after the wrap. Was it weird to be without her?
All the girls bailed in one way or another, at some point. Maureen [McCormick] was out of The Bradys; Eve [Plumb] was out of the variety show, and Susan missed A Very Brady Christmas.
Have you been keeping up with the sale of the Brady house?
Maureen was recently on a red carpet and mentioned that she considered buying the house. Did any such thoughts ever cross your mind?
[Laughs] No. Although, you know, maybe if I was on a red carpet. I am very pleased that HGTV has it. I talked to the production team over there. They have a very reverent approach to what they’re going to do. They’re going to remodel the house — for the first time ever, recreate it to how it actually appeared on the series. I think that’s very cool.
Speaking of the interior, did you have input into decorating the boys' room?
Not too much. They had a clown painting there. I never really understood that. Although I did write that song, [sings] Clowns never laughed before, starships never flew. As an actor, I was more involved with the scenes and the believability. They gave me clothes to wear; I wore them. We had a set designer who designed the set for us. I went in and acted. I didn’t take in a lot of ideas. But that groovy wardrobe? That vest with the fringe on it? That was mine. The moccasins were mine. I contributed to that part. Because I led a groovy life.
Do you ever have dreams of being on the Brady set?
It was a workplace. It didn’t look or feel like a home. Everything's open. Nothing is even functional or practical. Even the plumbing didn’t work unless they hooked up a five-gallon tank, or if they had a stove thing, they had to bring in a propane tank. It never really felt like a home. Except for that backyard. I often really believed that astroturf was real grass. At least as an actor, I hope it came off, it appeared that I believed.
Were we supposed to believe that it was real grass?
Aww, man, you’re killing me! Daaaah, you’re killing me! [Laughs]
As a kid, I always thought it was a '70s thing — that’s just what they did back then. You know, some people had astroturf for backyards.
[Sighs] If you took that away from it, that’s okay.
I believed that you believed it was grass. I’ll say that.