These two were nearly cast as Mike and Carol Brady
The Brady Bunch could have had much different parents.
Read to Me
You have to feel for Jeffrey Hunter. The guy just missed out on playing two of the most iconic roles in classic television. Look at him in the photo above. As you can tell by the insignia sewn onto that gold pullover, he was — briefly — the captain of the Enterprise. Hunter was the first man to sit at the helm on Star Trek. He was Capt. Christopher Pike in "The Cage," the original pilot episode for Star Trek. You know, the one that failed to impress the network. The one that got scrapped and retooled to make way for Captain Kirk.
Three years later, Pike's name popped up in trade gossip. Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote in September 1968, "Paramount tested Jeff Hunter and Diane McBain for their series The Brady Bunch, based on Lucille Ball's Yours, Mine and Ours. They also tested Bob Holiday, who starred on Broadway in Superman." There's a lot of juicy info in there.
By "Superman" Skolsky meant the stage production It's a Bird…It's a Plane…It's Superman. The muscular, strong-jawed Holiday is hard to image at the head of the Brady clan. He had difficulty shedding the cape, showing up in commercials for carpet and Aqua Velva as the Man of Steel.
That brings us to Diane McBain, the blonde beauty who was once a contract actor for Warner Bros. Going to high school in the L.A. area, she was discovered acting in a play as a senior.
McBrain landed her breakout role in 1961's Parrish, a drama set in the world of the tobacco industry. The studio moved her over to its television productions, giving McBain a leading role in the hip crime series Surfside 6. She played a socialite on that show — and another socialite, Pinkie Pinkston, on Batman. In 1966, she also played the leading lady to Elvis Presley in his racing flick Spinout.
The producers had their eye on Broadway, clearly. Holiday was known for his work there, and Florence Henderson, the true Carol Brady, was plucked from the stage.
Just a month later, a rival gossip columnist, Joyce Haber, had the true scoop:
"A pilot casting is Broadway's Florence Henderson. The musical-comedy star has been enticed to TV in an almost-sure thing. Almost-sure because she'll play Mrs. Brady (read 'Doris Day')"
Funny how Haber compared Carol to Doris Day. She compared Mike to "Brian Keith" (Family Affair) and the sitcom itself to With Six You Get Eggroll.
So the studio's flirtation with McBain and Hunter lasted mere weeks. But it's interesting to think what might have been.