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‘The Brady Bunch’ Dad Robert Reed Refused to Say This One Line

Rosemary Giles
Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/ Getty Images/ Cropped
Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/ Getty Images/ Cropped

Despite how it looked on The Brady Bunchthe actors weren’t all one big happy family. In particular, Robert Reed – who played Mike Brady – didn’t seem as dedicated to the show as others. He was reportedly quite difficult to work with on a regular basis, something that contributed to his absence in the show’s final episode. There was even one line that he flat-out refused to say while in character, no matter what the producer said.

Said to be difficult on set

From the beginning of his time on The Brady Bunch, Robert Reed was unhappy with his role as family patriarch. As someone a trained Shakespearean actor, he felt sitcom acting was silly and beneath him. He constantly tried to get the show to be more “realistic” which created a lot of tension between him, producer Sherwood Schwartz, and the other creatives on the show. Reed always seemed to get along well with the other cast members, however.

Robert Reed, Mike Lookinland, Christopher Knight, and Barry Williams stand in a row with their hands on their shoulders in house coats with towels on their shoulders.
(Left to right) Mike Lookinland, Christopher Knight, Barry Williams, and Robert Reed pose wearing bathrobes and holding toothbrushes, yawning in a group studio portrait for The Brady Bunch, c. 1972. (Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/ Getty Images)

He would frequently deliver handwritten notes to Schwartz about what he was doing wrong with the show, notes that were generally ignored. However, there were occasions where, in an effort to keep the peace, Reed would be allowed to make some changes and direct an episode. Later in life, Reed recalled, “We fought over the scripts. Always over the scripts… Schwartz had done Gilligan’s Island… Just gag lines. That would have been what The Brady Bunch would have been if I hadn’t protested.”

He wouldn’t say this

It was because of this desire for realism on the show that Reed refused to say one particular line. In the season four episode “Jan, the Only Child,” Mike was supposed to come home while Carol and the family housekeeper Alice were in the middle of making strawberry preserves. He would then declare that the house smelled like “strawberry heaven,” an absolutely unacceptable sentiment according to Reed.

Robert Reed in a t-shirt and fedora beside Florence Henderson in a collared shirt.
Robert Reed as Mike Brady, and Florence Henderson as Carol Brady, in the sitcom The Brady Bunch, c. 1970. (Photo Credit: Archive Photos/ Getty Images)

The seemingly harmless quote was actually a major issue for the actor, who had taken to fact-checking certain lines and other elements of the show with an encyclopedia. In this case, his research told him that strawberries didn’t smell when they were being cooked. Since the line was inaccurate, he refused to say it. Schwartz even went so far as to bring the actor down to the set where they were really cooking strawberries to show him that they did give off a slight smell, but that didn’t matter.

Eventually, the men agreed to a compromise with “it looks like strawberry heaven in here.” Reed actually said the over-the-top line “I do believe I’ve died and gone to strawberry heaven,” while filming.

What happened to Mike Brady?

Reed’s difficulties on set reached a breaking point when it came time to prepare for the season five finale. Although he regularly caused a fuss over his lines or complained about plot points, this time he went too far. In the final episode, Bobby sells Greg a bottle of hair tonic that turns his hair orange right before his high school graduation. Reed abhorred this plot.

Robert Reed in a grey suit stands back to back with Florence Henderson in a black and white dress.
Robert Reed and Florence Henderson attend A Salute to Sherwood Schwartz at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California, November 1, 1987. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./ Ron Galella Collection/ Getty Images)

He complained that it was an inane and antiquated cliché, and he wanted Schwartz to change it. Reed even went so far as to write a memo to the staff of Paramount outlining his complaints.

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Instead of making the change, like the producer had so many times before, Schwartz decided to simply write Reed out of the episode and then fire him from the series. However, this didn’t end up causing his desired effect as the show was later canceled anyway.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.