Friday, February 20, 2009

Here's the Story by Maureen McCormick

Maureen McCormick. Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My Voice. New York: Harper Collins Books, 2008.

The author performed the role of Marcia Brady on “The Brady Bunch” initially for five consecutive years. As the author puts it, Marcia “was perfect. I was anything but that.” McCormick has battled cocaine addiction, bulimia, been through rehab, and time in a psychological ward.

McCormick began acting in commercials, her first with Mattel’s Baby Pattaburp in 1964 at age 8. Her second commercial was Mattel’s Chatty Cathy doll. Then came a play at La Jolle Playhouse. She played Tabitha in a dream sequence before the Tabitha character was born in an episode of “Bewitched”. Then came a role in a movie “The Arrangement” followed by commercials where she was the first person in appear with the Pillsbury Doughboy, poking his stomach. Numerous commercials followed.

1,200 auditioned for “The Brady Bunch”. Initially she was considered for the middle girl’s part until it was decided to make the children younger. Thus she was switched from the middle child to the oldest girl’s part. She immediately made friends with costars Eve Plumb and Susan Olsen. The children were asked to bring in some of their own belongings to help decorate the Brad household set. McCormick brought in a toy giraffe and her Miss Baby San Fernando Valley Trophy she had one. Ironically, the trophy was placed in the boys’ room.

Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland were the first Brady children to profess for love for each other and have a make-out session.

117 episodes of “The Brady Bunch” were filmed. Despite overall poor critical reviews, the show usually was in the top 30 despite appearing opposite CBS’s “Get Smart”.

McCormick’s real family life was not as nice as the Bradys. Her father had affairs and her mother drank heavily. Her mother had contracted syphilis from her mother during childbirth. McCormick lived with the belief she had also contracted syphilis at birth and for much of her life feared she was destined to become mentally ill from it.

McCormick appeared in a show “A Kid’s Eye View of Washington” where several children interviewed President Richard Nixon. She recalls one of the children asked Nixon to name the first President, to which Nixon replied “Abraham Lincoln…oh my gosh, no. It was George Washington.”

During the 4th season, McCormick started kissing and dating Barry Williams. Although they only portrayed being step siblings, part of her still felt strange as if she were kissing her brother. She states she almost lost her virginity to Williams, but they were caught and stopped beforehand.

McCormick also learned about the Hollywood nightlife. She discovered wine and cocaine. She had a car accident where she hurt her nose, ironically on the same evening an episode was broadcast showing Marcia hurting her nose. She hated filming that scene, as it required several takes involving getting hit on the nose with a Nerf football.

McCormick shoplifted with singer Susie Cowsill, who got caught while McCormick ran. McCormick denied shoplifting and her friendship with Cowsill ended, something she now regrets.

The actors playing the Brady kids started rebelling. Barry Williams smoked pot, Susan Olsen drank wine, and McCormick as well as Eve Plumb filmed episodes braless until someone noticed while watching the dailies.

Word came during the fifth season that the show would not be renewed. Bob Reed didn’t like the final script and did not appear in the final episode. McCormick descries the end of the show as a mostly unemotional event, although she believes that was because the cast believed they would always be a lifelong family.

McCormick began using pills in high school. She used pills to stay awake and then pills to lose weight. She had trouble handling reality. She gave dating advice in fan magazines yet had trouble getting dates.

McCormick found sporadic TV work following the cancellation. She went on auditions and was on a few episodes of a few shows. She was promised her own TV series from a producer until she realized he was only promising that in attempting to romance her. He never developed a TV series for her.

McCormick faced struggles in life. She used cocaine. She got pregnant and had an abortion. She once hallucinated while taking drugs and thought she was a molecule. She placed cocaine above her relationships. She was a drug addict and had a second abortion.

McCormick filmed an episode of “The Streets of San Francisco” which led to a several month relationship with the show’s star, Richard Hatch.

McCormick joined some Brady Bunch costars on an episode of the “Donny and Marie” TV show. The show’s ratings were so good that ABC decided to do a Brady Bunch variety special. The special had such good ratings that ABC filmed eight more. McCormick admits she often filmed this show while high on cocaine. Her drug use began to affect her work, causing her to claim having the flu when she should have been filming a scene. She checked herself into a psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately, after treatment, she relapsed and began doing cocaine again.

He entire Brady Bunch cast agreed to film a TV movie “The Brady Brides”. Her cocaine use slowed down production. The producers offered to get her help. She was sent to a round the clock psychiatrist she thought was crazy and she convinced the producers to fire the psychiatrist. She then decided to try and quit cold turkey.

The TV movie was converted into three series episodes. Strong ratings led to its continuation as a series. Unfortunately, McCormick relapsed and began using cocaine again. She saw and felt Jesus and took that as a sign from God. She dreamed her brother Kevin died only to learn Kevin was alive but was with John Belushi shortly before Belushi died from a drug overdose. McCormick contracted dengue fever, which she believed was a punishment from God. Religion became important to McCormick. She realized that Hollywood tended to be more accepting of drug addicts than born again Christians.

McCormick began a family with her second husband. Her acting jobs were infrequent. While filming a TV movie “Get to the Heart”, she had a panic attack that made her doubt she could still act that followed her finding new strength and rediscovering herself.

McCormick was on the TV series “Teen Angel” yet was fired after 11 episodes when executives rearranged the show due to low ratings. She was replaced by Jerry Van Dyke. She had never been fired before and felt rejected. She feels she might have committed suicide had she not already been on Prozac.

McCormick appeared on the show “Celebrity Fit Club” on MTV. She went from 154 pounds to 117 pounds. She then appeared on the reality show “Gone Country” on

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