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.

AP PhotoBob Holiday

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.


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SalIanni 3 months ago
Another strong possibility for the role of Carol Brady was Shirley Jones. She turned down the role because she didn't want be in the house all the time and act like a typical sitcom housewife. So the role instead went to her good friend Florence Henderson, the same girl that Shirley beat out for the lead role in "Oklahoma". It worked out great for both of them since Shirley then became the Mom on "The Partridge Family" and two of my favorite sitcoms were born.
Whitechapel 3 months ago
Jeffrey Hunter had a sad life. He never quite made it to real stardom, career wise even tho he had a few plum roles (as Jesus in King of Kings, the Searchers). He was married multiple times and died young tragically. My favorite role is the first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Hour- "Don't Look Behind You". Those eyes of his are mesmerizing!!
Mirramanee 3 months ago
I actually think Jeffrey Hunter would have made a very good Mike Brady. Certainly he would have been a more earnest type of character and he could have easily seemed more natural with Florence Henderson (or whatever actress might have been cast). Robert Reed always seemed to have a slight level of sly levity running beneath his lines on the show, as if he didn't really take it seriously (which made sense once I began reading how much he came to dislike his role). I also don't think he had much chemistry with Florence Henderson (again, that began to make more sense to me later on when I read that he was gay). I saw him in some serious roles later on that showed how much he wanted to be considered a "serious" actor, most notably a role in Medical Center where he played a doctor who had been married for many years and had a teenaged son. He realized finally that he was really a transgender person (please don't blast me if I am using the term incorrectly--I mean no disrespect). The episode dealt with him breaking the news to his wife and son and dealing with the repercussions of his decision to transition to being a woman via surgery. Very groundbreaking stuff for the 1970's and it showed Reed's ability to do serious acting.
Randall 3 months ago
I remember hearing somewhere that the first choice for Mike Brady was Gene Hackman, can you imagine that! To me the magic of the Brady Bunch has always been the polished quality of the show. Can you imagine GENE HACKMAN taking peter out to the woodshed?
SalIanni Randall 3 months ago
You're right Randall, he would have been totally wrong for the part. If Robert Reed hated the scripts, how do you think Hackman would have felt? They might have called the show "The Brady Connection". It still wouldn't have worked.
SheriHeffner 3 months ago
I thought Joyce Bullifant and the guy that played the minidter from Poseidon Adventure were set to play Milke and Carol Brady. As a matter of fact They had already selected Joyce's wardrobe and everything.
Pacificsun 3 months ago
Good article, thanks MeTV Staff! Had no idea about McBain. But most ST fans know most stuff about ST. No worries, a lot of viewers don't.

The "what ifs" are always interesting. Most often it's not just about the lead role. Hunter probably would've been good in a traditional action/adventure role. But Science Fiction (the way they intended ST to appeal to the masses) needed a special personality. And more than that, the personality had to have chemistry with two others himself. I've often said that the ST Trio represented 3 sides of a personality. Spock, intellect, Bones, humanity and Kirk, emotion.

Hunter came across as (technically) a good actor, but he was cold and one dimensional. From "anger" to "hostile" but not much authentic warmth towards Susan Oliver, for example (who was a very dynamic actress).

It wasn't that ST would've been very different with Hunter, I don't think it would've been very long, either.
Whitechapel Pacificsun 3 months ago
Three seasons isn't very long. I personally loved Hunter as Pike.
Pacificsun Whitechapel 3 months ago
Interesting and fair enough!

Three seasons WAS a long time, in the day! Especially because that series was on the verge of being cancelled all the time. Viewer popularity helped give it some attention, just not enough. Watching classic TV now, we get used to the longevity of so many shows. Like Westers for example, and TAGs which got very lucky. But that was not the norm at all.

In ST's day, there were only 3 networks, and the survival of a series meant it needed to be in the top 20 (for at least one season). Because networks figured it got noticed. Then, as they would see the show decline in numbers, it gave the networks a good excuse to replace it with the next bright idea. It was STRICTLY a numbers game! Because each "point" represented thousands of viewers!
Jon 3 months ago
I thought this would be about Joyce Bulifant (who nearly was cast as Carol) and Gene Hackman (whom Sherwood S. wanted, but the network/studio didn't want because of his low 'Q' score. It would've been interesting seeing these two as Carol & Mike, but maybe not as good.
Pacificsun Jon 3 months ago
Makes you wonder if the casting director even thought the Brady Bunch was supposed to be a comedy. Yikes, Gene Hackman???
Wiseguy Pacificsun 3 months ago
I believe I read once that Robert Reed had thought the series would be a more serious look at a blended family and was disappointed it was mostly just for laughs. Perhaps when Gene Hackman was considered for the role it was going to be more serious.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 3 months ago
Good point! That explains why RR was so disgruntled throughout the series.

Remember how Tina Louise got hired for GI too. Thought she was going to be the "Star."
vinman63 3 months ago
Robert Reed had enough of Mike Brady. He quit before the series finale.
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Pacificsun vinman63 3 months ago
Not at all, with all due respect to your "opinion."

Example:
Robert Reed of The Brady Bunch fame had a recurring role on Mannix as Lt. Adam Tobias from 1969 to 1975.

Does anyone watch early morning hour shows on MeTV?


For one, he played a serious
vinman63 Pacificsun 3 months ago
Non taken next time I’ll check out Imdb.
Wiseguy Pacificsun 3 months ago
Robert Reed did not appear in the final season of Mannix (1974-75) possibly because of his refusal not to appear in the final episode of The Brady Bunch the previous season. Both series were Paramount productions and Mannix often used the Brady Bunch house set.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 3 months ago
Again, very true. Hadn't thought about that, because I didn't know the inside scoop.

I watch Mannix almost every night. It's fun to watch how they rearrange the same furnishings over and over, particularly when they're using the Spanish motif decor (his office, the staircase etc.). You can tell by the doors. But when they use the BB set, straight up, it's so obvious!
Andybandit 3 months ago
Those two people in the story about playing Mike and Carol would have been cool. Even though I never heard of them. I never heard of a man perming his hair, until Mike did. I really never liked the Brady Bunch. I am sorry about that.
cinamac Andybandit 3 months ago
I was always under the impression that Robert Reed and Christopher Knight had naturally curly hair that they kept short in order to keep it under control. However, as the series continued and afros were becoming popular, they decided to just let nature take its course!
Pacificsun Andybandit 3 months ago
He had naturally curly hair, and it was straightened.
CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
"Three years later, Pike's name popped up in trade gossip."

I think you mean 'Hunter's name'.
Moody CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
I wonder who they were going to trade him for. Maybe it was Kirk (Shatner).
CaptainDunsel Moody 3 months ago
Good one! [chuckle] Almost didn't get it.
RedjacArbez 3 months ago
The Braids on the sleeve tell the rank. The insignia tells what department (Science, Engineering...)
CaptainDunsel RedjacArbez 3 months ago
Quite right. And Hunter didn't sit at the helm. Majel Barrett and Peter Duryea were at the helm.
cperrynaples 3 months ago
2 shortfalls in this article: [1] Hunter died in 1969 [on this date, I believe], so he would have been recast anyway! [2]Just how did Robert Reed become Mike Brady when he never did comedy before? Anyway, here's the bonus question: Who were the second choices for Mike and Carol? Hint: He won an Oscar a few years later and she actually had costume fittings before Henderson became available! Both are still alive!
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Pacificsun cperrynaples 3 months ago

Fascinating article!!

Thank you for motivating me to find it.

No spoiler alert, so others can enjoy it too! 😉
Pacificsun Pacificsun 3 months ago
Link:
https://ew.com/books/2019/12/02/brady-bunch-mike-casting-robert-reed-book-excerpt/
Pacificsun Mac2Nite 3 months ago
Check out the article from EW, link down below.
Wiseguy vinman63 3 months ago
"If it was his time something else would have done him in."
Yeah, like old age.
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