Book Review: Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice

cover2Greetings friends!  In today’s Weekend Special, we review a book instead of an episode.  Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, as the title suggests, is an autobiography written by Maureen McCormick.  The book was first published in October 2008 and found itself at number four on the New York Times Bestseller list.  So, I was almost decade late getting around to reading the book. However, I am sure I am just one among many fans who had not ever read it.  This review will offer a few facts about The Brady Bunch and Maureen McCormick.  I am certainly no book reviewer though!  If you have an interest in learning more about the lady who played Marcia Brady, I would encourage you to read Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice.

As more devout fans of The Brady Bunch know, several books have been written about the series.  Barry Williams’ Growing Up Brady: I Was A Teenage Greg serves as part autobiography and part Brady Bunch trivia.  Maureen’s book gives some Brady Bunch trivia and history, but is mostly about her life post Brady Bunch.  She concludes her story about being on the show by the end of chapter nine.  The book has twenty-nine chapters.  It has been debated whether or not The Brady Bunch was an attempt to bring the feature film “Your’s, Mine and Ours” to the small screen.  Per Maureen’s book, Sherwood Schwartz had written his original pilot two years before the movie came out and it was turned down by the networks.  It was the movie’s success that finally got the network’s attention and a green light to do the series.

The original plan had Maureen playing Jan, the middle child, with an older girl playing Marcia Brady.  The story was changed up to use younger children and Maureen was moved to the role of the oldest sister.  She states that the children were asked to bring a couple of personal items from their home to decorate the set.  Maureen’s contribution was the large stuffed giraffe.  She also brought a trophy she’d won in a baby contest, but that was placed in the boy’s room.  She states the show generally opened with poor reviews and she was slightly embarrassed.  At the time, she wished she were cast on a hipper show.  It is funny to think how many kids who loved the show would have imagined being thrilled to be a part of it or even on a TV show at all, while the one they admired so wished she were on a hipper show.

Maureen couples the happy memories of being on the Brady set with her own troubled home life.  She was one of four children to parents who fought a lot.  To add to the challenges of home life, she had a mentally disabled brother.  Her mother was a hoarder that did not cook or clean.  She was however an astute businesswoman who oversaw Maureen’s earnings and invested Maureen’s father’s income in real estate.

The happier side of Maureen’s life leads her to share these Brady memories.  Recalling Robert Reed’s ire of the show she states, “Poor Bob.  He wanted to make Shakespeare.  He used to go outside and smoke through his frustrations.  During our last season, he would take extended trips to a tiny bar just beyond the studio gates.”  She recalls Florence Henderson being quite the opposite.  She writes, “Florence had a different attitude.  She was there for a good time – and a good living.  She was a free spirit.”  Sherwood Schwartz expressed the same sentiment on the commentary for the season one DVD.  He recalled he could always count on Florence to deliver a joke or gag.

Remembering the talent of Ann B. Davis, Maureen remembers her as a “master of comedic timing” and shares, “No one in the cast hit their mark as often.”  Barry Williams wrote in his book how Ann did not work well with children.  Maureen writes, “It was rumored she didn’t like working with kids.  I never thought that was true; she couldn’t have been kinder to me.  She was just quiet.  Between scenes she sat in a chair off to the side, working on a needlepoint project, happy as a lark.”  Sometimes, one bad experience can cast a lasting image or impression.  Perhaps Ann one day complained about a specifically burdensome day with the kids and this forever cast her as one who did not like working with kids.  It happens.  Also, she never had children of her own, so her way of relating to them may have also given a false impression of not liking to work with them.  I know actors need a paycheck, but one would have to wonder why one who didn’t like kids would take a role on series that had more child actors than adult ones.

Another Hollywood rumor I have heard often is that Maureen McCormick and Eve Plumb did not/do not get along.  The book makes no mention of a feud or bad blood between the two.  She does write that Susan Olsen later told her that Eve Plumb was jealous of the attention Maureen got on the show and felt like she was in her shadow.  Maureen states, “If that were true, I had no idea.  Eve was my best friend.  We spent hours in the dressing room discussing fashion, music, and our favorite Beatle…”  

The book offers other backstage Brady antics and details about Maureen’s relationship with Barry Williams.  Fans of the show would likely enjoy chapters three to nine very much.  The rest of the book takes on a much darker turn.  The remainder of the 1970s and into the 1980s saw her always looking for work as an actress while being addicted to cocaine.  It is sad to think of such a beautiful young woman engaging in such a destructive habit.  However, she did and she did it often.  There is no mention of her ever considering pursuing some other line of work.  She touches on the post Brady Bunch shows like the variety hour and The Brady Brides.  At the time of the book, her most recent appearances on television had been on the reality series Celebrity Fit Club and Gone Country.

Despite Maureen’s troubled life and own family drama, one bright spot the book makes note of is her long marriage to Michael Cummings.  The pair have been married over 30 years!  Despite the challenges of being a mom, Maureen’s book indicates her daughter has brought her much joy.  The book ends on a positive note with Maureen saying of herself “It turned out I was perfect – perfect in my imperfections!”  From what I’ve been able to figure out, all of us are here together and we need one another.  We must celebrate one another’s differences.  Learning to ask for help is as important as learning the value of helping other people….After all is said and done, I love life.  I love people.  And I love being me…well, most of the time.  And that’s the story.”

Thank you for reviewing Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice with me.  If you have read this book and would like to share your own thoughts or have thoughts on this review to share, please do so in the comments section!

Author: bradybunchreviewed

I am a lifelong fan of the Brady Bunch. I love it for it's wholesomeness, it's absurdity and how it serves as a time capsule for a time that really never existed, but so many of us wish it did. The show was off the air by the time I was born, but I enjoyed it daily at 4:35 PM for years on Atlanta's Superstation 17, TBS. Through the years I've enjoyed the Brady Bunch spinoffs (however short lived), revivals in pop culture, books, reunions, movies and spoofs. Now, I am excited to be revisiting the show after nearly a decade's hiatus from viewing. I am a parent now, so there may be some new perspectives never before experienced. I hope my fellow fans, lovers and haters alike of the Brady Bunch will join me on this blogging adventure and share your own thoughts and observations.

21 thoughts on “Book Review: Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice”

    1. Only very briefly, around 3 paragraphs. Pages 64-65 in the hardcover edition that I own. During the time of her book release Maureen had some interviews that included her discussing “dating” Michael Jackson (dating here means more or less hanging out together). Suggest that you Google or YouTube for these interviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes, I loved her book. I especially love how she was introduced to her husband. He didn’t know or care that she was on TV he just wanted to know her. Jerry Hauser, her TV husband, Wally was instrumental in helping her get help for her addictions. I also loved hearing about her time at Florence’s house having sleepovers with her daughters. I just love this book!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Maureen is a lot more open about Michael Jackson in her interviews versus her book. She has no problem discussing details and seems to get pleasure by saying that she went on “dates” with Michael Jackson. there is nothing in her interviews that suggests that she is embarrassed about knowing Michael Jackson even after his scandals. Here are a few interviews.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve seen that 2nd interview clip with Harry Conick Jr. She is very flirtatious with him and seems to be having a great time.

      Like

  3. I bought a copy of Maureen’s book when it first went to softcover. With all the details concerning her family life and struggle with addictions, I didn’t mind it not having a checklist of her tv and film work. I’m glad she’s survived to tell her story, which was an engaging read. And to think, if things were different she could have been in Raiders of the Lost Ark!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. One of the most poignant quotes from her book was when she said that millions of girls wanted to be like Marcia Brady, including herself. She played her for Pete’s sake! Ms. McCormick’s home life was so different from the Brady’s that her statement is tragically true.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Maureen went through a lot of dark times (addiction, etc) after her Brady Bunch years. I find the fact that she found her way out of those dark times to continue her acting career, to be uplifting and redeeming.
    From what I understand she and Ross Matthews (Ross the Intern from the old Jay Leno Tonight Show) are the best of friends. Ross is one of my truly most favorite people ever. This alone makes her so endearing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Mike,
    I have this book on my Kindle and read it on plane flights. I have a few more chapters to go.
    All the misery she endured and then to see her on HGTV being exactly the way you’d envision a real life Marcia might be, is inspiring and uplifting (Eve definitely comes across as the most serious of the six on those HGTV specials).

    I wanted to ask: Will you consider reviewing Barry’s book? The reason I ask is you’ve referred to it a number of times (so I assume you already have a copy), as have several other commentators here, and when Kindle gave me a sample read between Barry and Maureen’s book, I chose hers. However, if I could read your review and comments from our other posters about it, it’d help me decide if it’s the next book to add to my Kindle.
    Thanks for your consideration.

    Like

  7. I adored the Marcia character, but I got a different take on Maureen. From the book I was very saddened by the dysfunction and pain of her family life. But what struck me was the way it appeared that she seemed to have absolutely no scruples about taking drugs. Maybe it was just poor writing, but it was portrayed that she was offered drugs and just took them. Hard to believe she hadn’t had a second thought when that era saw so many celebrities die from over dosed. Also, the trips with her brother to Hawaii to search for mushrooms—no compunction at all. Same with the abortions. They all seemed to be done without a thought—like selecting snacks. It was this depressing thread that made me toss the book. I have never read a book that seemed more devoid of conscience. I wish it weren’t so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I too found it hard to read at times. I haven’t finished it yet but will at some point.

      She conveys a demeanor which seems upbeat in a way, that is not present with Eve, yet, she went through more (albeit, much of her own making), and came out the other side of a manner you’d imagine a young lady playing Marcia would have always been.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s