6 reasons why The Brady Kids remains an important part of cartoon history

You can thank the Bradys for both Wonder Woman and Rick Springfield.

Image: The Everett Collection

The Brady Bunch have been a big part of our pop culture since 1969. Over the past half-century, the beloved blended clan has entertained us with a sitcom, a variety show and a movie trilogy that introduced the characters to a new generation. Today, the Bradys remain as relevant as ever, as we quote "Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!" and turn "Oh, my nose!" into memes.

Overlooked in the heap of Brady products, buried beneath all those lunch boxes and albums, is The Brady Kids. This 1972–73 animated series aired as The Brady Bunch entered its fourth season, meaning children could go to bed after watching the live-action family on Friday night and wake up with the cartoon Kids on Saturday morning. What a time to be alive!

Crafted by Filmation, the company behind both Fat Albert and He-Man, The Brady Kids was certainly not high art. It replaced Mike, Carol and Alice with two pandas and a magic bird. Even poor Tiger was replaced with a pooch called Mop Top. But this series holds an important place in entertainment history for at least a few reasons. Let's take a deeper look.

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1. All six original actors voiced the Brady kids in the first season.


Cartoon adaptations back then had a surprisingly high retention rate with their original actors. The New Adventures of Gilligan, another Filmation product, featured most of the original castaways. Henry Winkler, Ron Howard and Don Most lent their voices to The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. Likewise, the "real" Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter and Bobby can be heard on The Brady Kids. Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland all worked on the first season (17 of 22 total episodes). That's better than The Brady Bunch Hour can claim.

2. The first time Wonder Woman appeared on screens was on The Brady Kids.


Before Lynda Carter spun her way into our hearts, Wonder Woman appeared for the first time — in any form — on screens here, on The Brady Kids. Believe it or not, despite entering the DC Comics pages in 1941, the Amazonian superhero would have to wait more than three decades to come to life via animation. 

Image: Filmation / Paramount

3. Superman made an appearance, too.


Wonder Woman was not the only hero of DC Comics' "Trinity" to pop up with the Bradys. Superman flew in to help the kids foil a band of robbers, who were trying to pull a heist with invisible paint. (Don't ask.) Filmation owned the rights to DC Comics characters at the time. After The Brady Kids ended, the rights jumped to Hanna-Barbera, who swiftly created Super Friends — the show that would replace The Brady Kids on the Saturday morning schedule in 1973.

Image: Filmation / Paramount

4. There was a spin-off starring Rick Springfield.


Yes, technically, the "Jessie's Girl" rocker technically exists in The Brady Bunch cinematic universe. The Australian heartthrob earned his own cartoon in 1973. Dubbed Mission: Magic, the animated series spun off from The Brady Kids via the character Miss Tickle, a chirpy teacher with a flair for magic. Springfield was drawn to look like he did on the back cover of his 1973 record Comic Book Heroes.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. The animators traced over The Archie Show.


Filmation took shortcuts. If you grew up watching The Archie Show in 1968–69, perhaps some of the Brady Kids scenes felt like déjà vu. For good reason. In many cases, animators simply recycled and drew over old Archie Show cels and segments. The dog Mop Top was a copy of Hot Dog from the Riverdale gang. 

Image: The Everett Collection

6. The pandas had the same voice as Ginger and Mary Ann.


The bulk of the other characters on the show were voiced by Larry Storch, star of F Troop, and Janet Webb, a veteran voice actor. Storch brought to life Marlon the wizard bird, as well as Mop Top and rival teens Chuck White and Fleetwood. Webb gave voices to Ping and Pong, the two panda cubs. She would go on to voice both Mary Ann and Ginger for Filmation on The New Adventures of Gilligan's Island.

Image: Filmation / Paramount

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JoeSHill 34 months ago
"THE BRADY KIDS" made their official ABC debut on "THE ABC SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE" on September 9, 1972, as a one-hour animated film before its regular half-hour run during the following week, where it ran on ABC Saturday Mornings until March 1974. Lane Scheimer, son of Filmation founder and executive producer Lou Scheimer had later replaced the voice of Barry Williams in the show's second season (1973-1974), and Paramount Records had also capitalized on the musical success of The Brady Bunch kids, which was almost similar to Filmation's history with Music Supervisor, Don Kirshner and vocalist Ron Dante', who did all the Archie music that resulted in "Sugar, Sugar" in 1969, and some five LPs that Kirshner's Calendar Records released following the successful first four years of Filmation's Archie series on CBS, while Filmation had also attempted to do the same thing with ABC's "THE HARDY BOYS" in Fall 1969 that resulted in an RCA LP release that same year-the Bubble Gum sound from The Hardy Boys wasn't bad, but commercial-wise, they were no match for The Archies and their Bubble Gum sound! Filmation also repeated this with "THE GROOVY GOOLIES" (debuting on September 12, 1970, as "SABRINA AND THE GROOVY GOOLIES" on CBS) which also resulted in an RCA LP release in Fall 1970, so the whole thing with "THE BRADY KIDS" was something of a new wrinkle in the tie-in with animation and bubble gum music, which ultimately became among the many things of "The Bradyverse", as the Filmation produced cartoon series became the very first official spinoff of The Sherwood Schwartz/Paramount/CBS franchise. and, in 1996, Paramount Pictures' "A VERY BRADY SEQUEL", a not so successful follow-up to 1995's amazingly popular "THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE" (that former "HILL STREET BLUES" actress Betty Thomas directed) had used crude, animated versions of the Filmation style animation in one scene from the Arlene Sanford-directed movie, And, while "THE BRADY KIDS" also brought back some of The DC superheroes like Superman ("Cindy's Super Friend") and Wonder Woman ("It's All Greek To Me"), CBS's "THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES" also brought back "Batman & Robin" as Hanna-Barbera took over animating the DC hero, one year before the debut of ABC's "SUPER FRIENDS" in Fall 1973.
BusterGeneration86 34 months ago
Regarding #5, this was because of what Filmation did to save money on animation because even then, new animation was very expensive to produce, so it was Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) who came up with the idea of using stock animation in which an actor would be filmed doing specific movements (walking, running, flying, etc.), and then it would be rotoscoped before it was used in the animation process. As for #6, Larry Storch didn't just work on The Brady Kids as Chuck White, Fleetwood, and Marlon the Magical Mynah Bird. He had a slew of other voice work for other studios on shows such as Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (as Mr. Whoopee), Cool Cat (a Warner Bros. cartoon), The Inspector (as the Commissioner), and especially at FIlmation, he worked on Groovie Goolies (as Drac, Ghoulihand, and Batzo), The Ghost Busters (1975 live action version as Spenser), and on the Adventures of Batman (1968 as an uncredited Joker, which he later did on two episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies for Hanna-Barbera in 1972-73).
Regarding Larry Storch as the voice of "The Joker" from CBS's "THE BATMAN-SUPERMAN HOUR" in Fall 1968, that is totally false to fact! It was Ted Knight, who narrated and voiced all the main villains and "Commissioner Gordon", not Larry Storch. Filmation may have recorded Storch's voice as The Joker, but likely was never used over the version that Ted Knight had performed in 1968, and also in the "THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES" in Fall 1972 that Hanna-Barbera Productions did, Ted Knight's "Joker and Penguin"'s voices were done, although differently from his 1968 voiceovers, while Larry Storch had provided Filmation voices in both "THE GROOVY GOOLIES" and "THE BRADY KIDS", he did not perform the voice of The Joker. a long chat with Hal Sutherland's son Keith Sutherland also verifies this truth because Ted Knight's voice work is highly synonymous to his Filmation cartoon history, while Larry Storch did other animated voices in his career!
HerbF 34 months ago
As noted, Let's not forget that the season season of 5 episodes (so the show could have 22 episodes total for syndication - which it did play into the early 1980's) That Barry Williams, Chris Knight, and Maureen McCormack wouldn't sign and the produces used their own kids to do the voices.

Lane Scheimer as Greg, Erika Scheimer as Marsha, and Keith Sutherland (Stage Name: David E.Smith) as Peter (The last two were VERY good choices, while Lane sounded nothing like Barry Williams!) who had previously done voices on "Lassies Rescue Rangers" and would go on to work on other Filmation projects (Both voices and behind-the-scenes) till the company closed in 1989 Barry Williams and Chris Knight sued for unauthorized use of his likeness - and won! (One of several lawsuits Filmation had to deal with in the 1970's!)
BusterGeneration86 HerbF 34 months ago
Well the reason why Erika, Lane and Keith worked on the show was because their dads, Lou Scheimer (1928-2013) and Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) were the co-founders of Filmation Asssociates. In fact, it was at the insistence of Lou's wife, Jay that he should use their children in place of Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick.
ScarlettKaiju 42 months ago
On item #6, the actress is Jane Webb, sometime billed as Joanne Louise or Jane Edwards. She was essentially Filmation's equivalent of June Foray and Bea Benaderet. On most of their non-licensed properties (MISSION: MAGIC!, which you referenced above, being one of the notable exceptions), she would do every single female voice, i.e. in the ARCHIE cartoons, she was Betty, Veronica, Big Ethel, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Aunt Hilda, Aunt Zelda and Miss Grundy, as well as other female and/or child characters that wander in, which understandably taxed her abilities and led to some unintentionally awful readings in an effort to make each performance different. But when the producers had realistic expectations, she was a dependable player.
RedSamRackham 60 months ago
Silliest theme song lyric ~> Our sister Jan is really groovy! ☺
I felt sorry for three of the kids. While opining on Jan's alledged groove, Marcia's "sparkling blue eyes" and Greg's (somewhat questionable, based on the finished product) leadership skills, the remaining kids are introduced as "There's another boy by the name of Peter/The youngest one is Bob." The youngest rounds out the roster as "And sister Cindy too."
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