Greetings 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!