‘Brady Bunch’ producer Lloyd Schwartz addresses biggest rumor from beloved sitcom: ‘Smoke and mirrors’

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Here’s the story of a young producer who developed a lasting friendship with one of America’s most beloved TV families.

Lloyd Schwartz is the son of Sherwood Schwartz, who created both “The Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan’s Island”. The celebrated screenwriter passed away in 2011 at the age of 94, but the late star’s classic TV shows live on with the younger Schwartz, 75, as keeper of the flame. Most recently, the writer has been busy working on his latest comedy titled “Classic Couples Counseling,” which opens April 1 at Hollywood’s Theater West.

As Schwartz looked to the future of his comedy, he doesn’t think twice about his days working with his late father on “The Brady Bunch,” which aired from 1969 to 1974. Schwartz spoke to Fox News Digital about what it was like bringing the sitcom to life, what castmate he bonded with and what rumor he’d like to put to rest.

Brady Bunch producer and writer Lloyd Schwartz (L) and former cast member Susan Olsen, who played Cindy Brady.
(Getty images)

Fox news: Your father made ‘The Brady Bunch’. What was it like working on such a show?
Lloyd Schwartz: I started that from the beginning, including all TV movies and feature films. It just keeps going. I’ve done a lot for television, but this is what has connected us all, including the audience.


Fox news: What was your first impression of the “Brady Bunch” cast?
black: I was called in as a dialogue coach for the six children. I saw myself as an uncle to them because I wasn’t that different in age from them. I was 22 and Barry [Williams] was 14 or 15. I really loved Florence [Henderson], and I really liked Carol Brady – they were two completely different women. Florence’s mother side was a lot like Mrs. Brady, but she also had a really funny, bawdy side that was just wonderful.

Robert [Reed] was an interesting man. He really wanted to be a leading man and then suddenly he was cast as the father to these six children. He took the role very seriously. Most TV dads up until then were either idiots, churchgoers, or jerks, usually married to really hot women. But he wanted to be a strong father figure. I think he did very well there. Ann B. Davis was very much like Alice. She brought comedy to the role and, of course, reacted the same way Alice would have reacted, which the audience loved.

From left to right: Barry Williams, Eve Plumb, Maureen McCormack, Christopher Knight, Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland.

From left to right: Barry Williams, Eve Plumb, Maureen McCormack, Christopher Knight, Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland.
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Fox news: Who do you have the most contact with?
black: Ann and I became very close. When she left, she basically left the company and moved out of town. But we remained very good friends. Her birthday was on May 3. Mine is on May 2. So she always called me on my birthday, and we had these long conversations. Then I’d call her on her birthday, and we didn’t have much to say. So I started calling her on May 1. She figured it out and started calling me on April 30th. It just became a game. But that was Anne. Very funny and sweet. She was the real deal.

I am still close to all the children. I most identified with Christopher Knight because there were three boys in my family, and I too was the middle one. So it was nice to have someone to identify with on television. But over the years we have all remained very close.


Fox news: Was there someone who might not have been difficult, but might want to do things differently from what was expected of them?
black: I know we had creative differences with Robert. He wanted the show to be more grounded. He was a serious actor, and this was a comedy, a sitcom. So he would oppose that. But I think we came to a good compromise in the end. He wanted to present himself as a strong father figure and we gave him the space to do that. And the response was very positive.

Florence Henderson as Carol Brady and Robert Reed as Mike Brady.

Florence Henderson as Carol Brady and Robert Reed as Mike Brady.
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Fox news: What is your favorite memory of the time when you brought the show to life?
black: I remember we did this one episode where there was a slumber party. It would be for the girls. And as we were making the show, we thought, “That’s a good storyline for the girls, but what are the guys going to do?” It occurred to me that the boys wanted to ruin the slumber party with pranks.

I remember going out for coffee and a family sitting in a booth next to me talking about the Brady Bunch. The boys said, “Our sister is having a party. Why don’t we screw it up?” Like the guys did on the show. And I thought, “Wow, this is a conversation going on across the country with siblings.” And I think that’s what makes the show so popular, even to this day. It has been a touchstone for generations. People can identify with it. They remember things from their childhood. It’s a good feeling to have.

Fox news: What’s a fun fact about “The Brady Bunch” that would surprise fans today?
black: That’s hard because fans seem to know everything. Are there any secrets? Well, one fact I can share is that the show didn’t start out as popular. When it originally ran, there was never really a high rating for the show. We would always wonder if the show was going to be renewed or killed. It took kids time to watch it and want to see more episodes. It wasn’t an instant hit like many people think it was.


Lloyd Schwartz said he had a close friendship with Ann B. Davis, who played Alice in

Lloyd Schwartz said he had a close friendship with Ann B. Davis, who played Alice in “The Brady Bunch.” The actress died in 2014 at the age of 88.
(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

There is an episode where Bobby had a dream, and he meets Martians from outer space. Many people thought they were children. They were Frankie and Sadie Delfino, a married bunch of little people. They both played Munchkins in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. They were with us the whole time. Children’s actors, like adult actors, need stand-ins, but they can only work a certain number of hours. They were great because they didn’t have to go to school, and they were like family. They were a fantastic husband and wife team on set.

Fox news: There have been many rumors about the cast of “The Brady Bunch”. Which one has stayed with you the most over the years? What was the reality?
black: There have always been rumors that Barry and Florence are dating or having an affair, depending on who you ask. It was all smoke and mirrors. The reality is that Barry was interested in music, Florence was married and had four children. Barry’s father drove them to see this singer. Then Father took them home and kissed him on the cheek. Such was the extent of the alleged affair between Barry and Florence.

The story resurfaced after Barry’s book came out. I remember Florence called me and said, “You know, there’s something in Barry’s book.” I said to her, “No, don’t worry Florence, nobody will think much about it.” I was very wrong.

Florence Henderson, seen here with Barry Williams (left) and Christopher Knight (right), died in 2016 at age 82.

Florence Henderson, seen here with Barry Williams (left) and Christopher Knight (right), died in 2016 at age 82.
(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)

Around the time Florence died, we were talking about maybe developing a show where Mike Brady died, and she started dating one of Greg Brady’s friends in earnest. We thought it would be very interesting to go that way. I remember calling her, and she was very excited about it. Unfortunately we never got around to it.


Fox news: How’s your relationship with the rest of the “Brady” kids.
black: Close to. Were very close. I see them about three or four times a year. We always support each other’s projects. And I still feel like an uncle to them. And whenever we come together, we immediately fall back into the understanding we had that led to this journey. They are family. I go to their weddings. I have met all their husbands and wives. The show has connected us. We are family.

Fox news: Where did you get the idea for “Classic Couples Counseling?”
black: I was in therapy because I was a little confused. But I started thinking about other characters who are confused in life. And I realized that Shakespeare’s characters are quite mixed up. And that’s where the idea came from. It’s a comedy. It’s a mess, but it’s very funny. And you don’t have to know Shakespeare backwards or forwards to tell. But for those who love Shakespeare, there are little moments that ring true – moments they’ll appreciate.

Robert Reed (center) died in 1992 at age 59.

Robert Reed (center) died in 1992 at age 59.
(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Fox news: You’re known for your television work, so why put on a play like this?
black: It’s interesting, I started in television, unlike most people who start in theater. But I’ve done a lot of plays and I really had a great time with these Shakespearean characters seen in a different light. I was able to write things down and get them out of the way. It’s a different kind of writing for me where I take characters that are very well known, people who have been researched in different ways, but not in this particular way. I think they are so deep and loose and have so much to offer. And they have their own problems.

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