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The Brady Bunch wouldn’t have been complete without the family’s witty housekeeper and beloved friend, Alice Nelson.
Portrayed by actress Ann B. Davis, Alice earned a spot in the hearts of the six Brady Bunch kids, often seen as a third parental figure, but it was her sense of humor that made her truly unforgettable.
Take a closer look at her career and life.
The Brady Bunch wouldn’t have been complete without the family’s witty housekeeper and beloved friend, Alice Nelson, an essential character throughout the five seasons of the ’70s show. Portrayed by actress Ann B. Davis, Alice earned a spot in the hearts of the six Brady Bunch kids, often seen as a third parental figure, but it was her sense of humor that made her truly unforgettable.
Since airing its last episode in 1974, new generations have watched the family sitcom and frequently associate Ann with her blue housekeeping uniform, but the native New Yorker had actually made a name for herself in the comedic world long before joining the Brady gang. Take a closer look at her career and life di lei after saying goodbye to the show’s iconic green-and-orange kitchen.
Ann’s Early Career
Ann Bradford Davis was born in Schenectady, New York on May 3, 1926, with her twin sister, Harriet. At the age of 3, her family di lei moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, and Ann had plans of becoming a doctor when she began studying at the University of Michigan. But when she saw her older brother di lei performing in the national company of “Oklahoma!” Ann scratched her medical plan altogether and instead graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater in 1948.
Six years passed before Ann was discovered while performing for free at a cabaret-coffeehouse that doubled as a small stage for plays and concerts. A casting agent saw the then 28-year-old actress and suggested she try out for The Bob Cummings Show. Ann would be cast as Charmaine Schultz aka Schultzy — a lovesick secretary for a playboy photographer in Hollywood — from 1955 to 1959. In its four-year run, Ann won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
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Becoming The Brady Bunch‘s Beloved Housekeeper, Alice
In the decade after The Bob Cummings ShowAnn starred in several TV shows and movies, and in 1969, she was cast as Alice Nelson, but The Brady Bunch producers had no idea what an integral part of the family the character would become, thanks to the actress’s interpretation.
“Dad didn’t create ‘Alice.’ She was Ann B’s own creation, ”said Lloyd Schwartz, TV producer and writer, about his father di lui and the show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz, to the San Antonio Express-News. “He just wanted a funny housekeeper. But he got a whole lot more. America got a whole lot more. I got a lot more. I got a lifetime friend.”
Years later, Ann shared the backstory she had created for Alice, drawing inspiration from her own life. “I decided that my twin sister was going to be a doctor who couldn’t afford school, so I started doing maid’s work so she could afford to go to college,” she told the Archive of American Television in 2004.
Given that Ann had a twin sister and she did have early aspirations of becoming a doctor, this backstory makes sense, but she never revealed it to any of her cast members, only looping in Lloyd. Although Ann didn’t create a more expansive backstory for Alice, it was enough for her character di lei to stay loyal to the Brady family.
“I cared very much about this family. It was my family… I would’ve died for any single one of them,” she explained.
Life After The Brady Bunch
In 1974, ABC canceled The Brady Bunch after its fifth season, but all nine cast members continued to reunite throughout the years for Brady-related movies and TV projects, like The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and The Brady Girls Get Married. Ann even made a cameo appearance in the 1995, The Brady Bunch Movie.
Shortly after the family sitcom wrapped up, Ann moved from Los Angeles to Denver, where she joined an Episcopal community and devoted much of her time to it.
On June 1, 2014, news broke that the legendary actress had suddenly passed away after falling in her bathroom and suffering a subdural hematoma that caused her to slip into a coma. The 88-year-old actress died in San Antonio, in the company of her di lei home parish di lei, St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Boerne, Texas, and was remembered for her strong faith di lei.
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