Thursday, February 21, 2008

Celebrity: Growing Up Brady - I was A Teenage Greg

(Barry Williams w/Chris Kreski, Harper Books, 1992)
Actually, I don't know what is more perverse: that this book was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over three months or that when I stumbled upon it at the Salvation Army I not only bought it, but read it as well. But truth be told, I too as a child sat in front of the tube back in the early seventies and faithfully watched the program, as I did many a program I find embarrassing nowadays. (Were I to stumble upon a book about Gilligan's Island that promised to be "packed with juicy tidbits," I would probably buy that secondhand as well — ditto with Batman, Happy Days and Hogan's Heroes.)
Williams has a rather breezy, easy-to-read and dryly humorous writing style that makes this rather thin book entertaining enough, but it is hardly "packed" at all, and nothing revealed is so surprising that the reader remembers it a day later. A few kisses and dates are told of, but if he is to be believed, no banging went on anywhere. So he smoked pot once or twice and even (shock!) got called in unexpectedly to shoot a few scenes once when he had toked... he survived his paranoia and never did it again. I mean, isn't that normal for every working teenager?What the book actually does is support the concept that the kids playing the Brady Kids were really just as nice off the set as they were on, and that no one really had any deep dark secrets at all — but seeing that they still seem to be on good terms with each other, it is doubtful Williams would get down to the real nasty nitty-gritty anyway.
He does go into the "feud" between Daddy Brady (Robert Reed) and the shows producer, but refrains from ever taking sides, which is probably why Reed was willing to write the forward. Still, Williams doesn't really have to say anything, for the few of Reed's memos of complaints that are reprinted pretty much make Reed sound like a pretentious twit — why talk about art (or reality, for that matter) when doing a TV show like The Brady Bunch?
Williams, on the other hand, seems to have had a much more down-to-earth approach to the whole thing. He was an actor and it was a job—a fun job at that. As he sees it, what doomed the show in the end was when everyone got more interested in having a bigger cut of the financial pie. If the show or its numerous follow-up spin-offs were tacky, he's the first to admit it.
The last third of the book is padded with descriptions of plots and special guest stars of every episode. Odd how few of them I can remember — I guess I've smoked pot more often than Williams.
All in all, a fun read but as fluffy as the show. Kitty Kelly this guy ain't.

(Taken from the web.)
Top: The book cover. Bottom: Greg, then and now.

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