These two were nearly cast as Mike and Carol Brady

The Brady Bunch could have had much different parents.

You have to feel for Jeffrey Hunter. The guy just missed out on playing two of the most iconic roles in classic television. Look at him in the photo above. As you can tell by the insignia sewn onto that gold pullover, he was — briefly — the captain of the Enterprise. Hunter was the first man to sit at the helm on Star Trek. He was Capt. Christopher Pike in "The Cage," the original pilot episode for Star Trek. You know, the one that failed to impress the network. The one that got scrapped and retooled to make way for Captain Kirk.

Three years later, Pike's name popped up in trade gossip. Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote in September 1968, "Paramount tested Jeff Hunter and Diane McBain for their series The Brady Bunch, based on Lucille Ball's Yours, Mine and Ours. They also tested Bob Holiday, who starred on Broadway in Superman." There's a lot of juicy info in there.

By "Superman" Skolsky meant the stage production It's a Bird…It's a Plane…It's Superman. The muscular, strong-jawed Holiday is hard to image at the head of the Brady clan. He had difficulty shedding the cape, showing up in commercials for carpet and Aqua Velva as the Man of Steel.

AP PhotoBob Holiday

That brings us to Diane McBain, the blonde beauty who was once a contract actor for Warner Bros. Going to high school in the L.A. area, she was discovered acting in a play as a senior. 

McBrain landed her breakout role in 1961's Parrish, a drama set in the world of the tobacco industry. The studio moved her over to its television productions, giving McBain a leading role in the hip crime series Surfside 6. She played a socialite on that show — and another socialite, Pinkie Pinkston, on Batman. In 1966, she also played the leading lady to Elvis Presley in his racing flick Spinout

The producers had their eye on Broadway, clearly. Holiday was known for his work there, and Florence Henderson, the true Carol Brady, was plucked from the stage.

Just a month later, a rival gossip columnist, Joyce Haber, had the true scoop:

"A pilot casting is Broadway's Florence Henderson. The musical-comedy star has been enticed to TV in an almost-sure thing. Almost-sure because she'll play Mrs. Brady (read 'Doris Day')"

Funny how Haber compared Carol to Doris Day. She compared Mike to "Brian Keith" (Family Affair) and the sitcom itself to With Six You Get Eggroll.

So the studio's flirtation with McBain and Hunter lasted mere weeks. But it's interesting to think what might have been.

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bradyguy 16 months ago
Oops...thanks for playing, gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky....The Brady Bunch was NOT "...based on Lucille Ball's Yours, Mine and Ours"
RobertM 16 months ago
Jeffrey Hunter wouldn't have lived long enough to play Mike Brady--he died in May 1969, a few months before the series premiered.
SalIanni 35 months ago
Another strong possibility for the role of Carol Brady was Shirley Jones. She turned down the role because she didn't want be in the house all the time and act like a typical sitcom housewife. So the role instead went to her good friend Florence Henderson, the same girl that Shirley beat out for the lead role in "Oklahoma". It worked out great for both of them since Shirley then became the Mom on "The Partridge Family" and two of my favorite sitcoms were born.
Whitechapel 35 months ago
Jeffrey Hunter had a sad life. He never quite made it to real stardom, career wise even tho he had a few plum roles (as Jesus in King of Kings, the Searchers). He was married multiple times and died young tragically. My favorite role is the first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Hour- "Don't Look Behind You". Those eyes of his are mesmerizing!!
Mirramanee 36 months ago
I actually think Jeffrey Hunter would have made a very good Mike Brady. Certainly he would have been a more earnest type of character and he could have easily seemed more natural with Florence Henderson (or whatever actress might have been cast). Robert Reed always seemed to have a slight level of sly levity running beneath his lines on the show, as if he didn't really take it seriously (which made sense once I began reading how much he came to dislike his role). I also don't think he had much chemistry with Florence Henderson (again, that began to make more sense to me later on when I read that he was gay). I saw him in some serious roles later on that showed how much he wanted to be considered a "serious" actor, most notably a role in Medical Center where he played a doctor who had been married for many years and had a teenaged son. He realized finally that he was really a transgender person (please don't blast me if I am using the term incorrectly--I mean no disrespect). The episode dealt with him breaking the news to his wife and son and dealing with the repercussions of his decision to transition to being a woman via surgery. Very groundbreaking stuff for the 1970's and it showed Reed's ability to do serious acting.
Randall 36 months ago
I remember hearing somewhere that the first choice for Mike Brady was Gene Hackman, can you imagine that! To me the magic of the Brady Bunch has always been the polished quality of the show. Can you imagine GENE HACKMAN taking peter out to the woodshed?
SalIanni Randall 35 months ago
You're right Randall, he would have been totally wrong for the part. If Robert Reed hated the scripts, how do you think Hackman would have felt? They might have called the show "The Brady Connection". It still wouldn't have worked.
BenSobeleone Randall 16 months ago
He would ask Peter if he ever picked his feet in Poughkeepsie!
36 months ago
I thought Joyce Bullifant and the guy that played the minidter from Poseidon Adventure were set to play Milke and Carol Brady. As a matter of fact They had already selected Joyce's wardrobe and everything.
bradyguy SheriHeffner 16 months ago
As most big BB fans know...Bulifant was "nearly set" to play Carol...until Florence Henderson auditioned...and no doubt WOWed them all...!
Pacificsun 36 months ago
Good article, thanks MeTV Staff! Had no idea about McBain. But most ST fans know most stuff about ST. No worries, a lot of viewers don't.

The "what ifs" are always interesting. Most often it's not just about the lead role. Hunter probably would've been good in a traditional action/adventure role. But Science Fiction (the way they intended ST to appeal to the masses) needed a special personality. And more than that, the personality had to have chemistry with two others himself. I've often said that the ST Trio represented 3 sides of a personality. Spock, intellect, Bones, humanity and Kirk, emotion.

Hunter came across as (technically) a good actor, but he was cold and one dimensional. From "anger" to "hostile" but not much authentic warmth towards Susan Oliver, for example (who was a very dynamic actress).

It wasn't that ST would've been very different with Hunter, I don't think it would've been very long, either.
Whitechapel Pacificsun 35 months ago
Three seasons isn't very long. I personally loved Hunter as Pike.
Pacificsun Whitechapel 35 months ago
Interesting and fair enough!

Three seasons WAS a long time, in the day! Especially because that series was on the verge of being cancelled all the time. Viewer popularity helped give it some attention, just not enough. Watching classic TV now, we get used to the longevity of so many shows. Like Westers for example, and TAGs which got very lucky. But that was not the norm at all.

In ST's day, there were only 3 networks, and the survival of a series meant it needed to be in the top 20 (for at least one season). Because networks figured it got noticed. Then, as they would see the show decline in numbers, it gave the networks a good excuse to replace it with the next bright idea. It was STRICTLY a numbers game! Because each "point" represented thousands of viewers!
Jon 36 months ago
I thought this would be about Joyce Bulifant (who nearly was cast as Carol) and Gene Hackman (whom Sherwood S. wanted, but the network/studio didn't want because of his low 'Q' score. It would've been interesting seeing these two as Carol & Mike, but maybe not as good.
Pacificsun Jon 36 months ago
Makes you wonder if the casting director even thought the Brady Bunch was supposed to be a comedy. Yikes, Gene Hackman???
Wiseguy Pacificsun 36 months ago
I believe I read once that Robert Reed had thought the series would be a more serious look at a blended family and was disappointed it was mostly just for laughs. Perhaps when Gene Hackman was considered for the role it was going to be more serious.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 36 months ago
Good point! That explains why RR was so disgruntled throughout the series.

Remember how Tina Louise got hired for GI too. Thought she was going to be the "Star."
Mike Wiseguy 20 months ago
Remember, in 1968-69, Gene Hackman wasn't Gene Hackman yet - French Connection wasn't for another couple of years.
Something similar happened to Hackman's co-star Roy Scheider at that same time: he'd done a pilot called Assignment: Munich, which ABC bought for use in a 'Wheel' show called The Men.
Abc announced the show with Scheider as the star; French Connection opened, and Scheider's agents suddenly jacked up his price, and ABC brought in Bob Conrad, and the rest you can figure out ...
vinman63 36 months ago
Robert Reed had enough of Mike Brady. He quit before the series finale.
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Pacificsun vinman63 36 months ago
Not at all, with all due respect to your "opinion."

Robert Reed of The Brady Bunch fame had a recurring role on Mannix as Lt. Adam Tobias from 1969 to 1975.

Does anyone watch early morning hour shows on MeTV?

For one, he played a serious
vinman63 Pacificsun 36 months ago
Non taken next time I’ll check out Imdb.
Wiseguy Pacificsun 36 months ago
Robert Reed did not appear in the final season of Mannix (1974-75) possibly because of his refusal not to appear in the final episode of The Brady Bunch the previous season. Both series were Paramount productions and Mannix often used the Brady Bunch house set.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 36 months ago
Again, very true. Hadn't thought about that, because I didn't know the inside scoop.

I watch Mannix almost every night. It's fun to watch how they rearrange the same furnishings over and over, particularly when they're using the Spanish motif decor (his office, the staircase etc.). You can tell by the doors. But when they use the BB set, straight up, it's so obvious!
Andybandit 36 months ago
Those two people in the story about playing Mike and Carol would have been cool. Even though I never heard of them. I never heard of a man perming his hair, until Mike did. I really never liked the Brady Bunch. I am sorry about that.
cinamac Andybandit 36 months ago
I was always under the impression that Robert Reed and Christopher Knight had naturally curly hair that they kept short in order to keep it under control. However, as the series continued and afros were becoming popular, they decided to just let nature take its course!
Pacificsun Andybandit 36 months ago
He had naturally curly hair, and it was straightened.
CaptainDunsel 36 months ago
"Three years later, Pike's name popped up in trade gossip."

I think you mean 'Hunter's name'.
Moody CaptainDunsel 36 months ago
I wonder who they were going to trade him for. Maybe it was Kirk (Shatner).
CaptainDunsel Moody 36 months ago
Good one! [chuckle] Almost didn't get it.
RedjacArbez 36 months ago
The Braids on the sleeve tell the rank. The insignia tells what department (Science, Engineering...)
CaptainDunsel RedjacArbez 36 months ago
Quite right. And Hunter didn't sit at the helm. Majel Barrett and Peter Duryea were at the helm.
cperrynaples 36 months ago
2 shortfalls in this article: [1] Hunter died in 1969 [on this date, I believe], so he would have been recast anyway! [2]Just how did Robert Reed become Mike Brady when he never did comedy before? Anyway, here's the bonus question: Who were the second choices for Mike and Carol? Hint: He won an Oscar a few years later and she actually had costume fittings before Henderson became available! Both are still alive!
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Pacificsun Pacificsun 36 months ago
Pacificsun Mac2Nite 36 months ago
Check out the article from EW, link down below.
Wiseguy vinman63 36 months ago
"If it was his time something else would have done him in."
Yeah, like old age.
bradyguy cperrynaples 16 months ago
To answer your questions/comments - Reed HAD done comedy before - he had been on Broadway in Barefoot in the Park, and had done several roles in comedy shows and movies! As for your bonus question - your answer is likely Joyce Bulifant and Gene Hackman. BUT...the were not the "second" choices at all to play Mike and Carol. Hackman was actually one of creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz' FIRST choices to play Mike...but the studio didn't feel like he had enough experience (oddly, about the same as Robert Reed) or perhaps wasn't well-known enough...possible. Bulifant, on the other hand, was "nearly set" to play Carol and perhaps had already been offered/given/signed to the part. When the fabulous Florence Henderson came in to audition...Bulifant became a trivia question/answer. But still did plenty of good TV work after that..I always liked her. And she did finally get to work with/for Sherwood Schwartz in the mid 70's on Big John, Little John...along with Robbie Rist (BB's Cousin Oliver)!
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