Like millions of other children of the 1970’s, I loved the Brady Bunch. My brother and I had our biggest fights over the TV when Brady reruns were pitted against repeats of Star Trek. So my Mom made us trade afternoons. Therefore I am as well acquainted with tribbles as I am with Tiger. Captain Kirk may have commanded some of my attention but Greg Brady had my heart.
Girls my age wanted to be Marcia Brady. She had shiny straight hair, an adorable smile and even though she was as squeaky clean and a girl next door, she still mooned over college boys and worried about zits. She wasn’t so perfect that she had no worries, not the least of which were her competitive and envious younger sisters.
In her autobiography (not ghost written, I notice) Marcia’s alter ego, actress Maureen McCormick, tells of her troubled life and her struggles to live up to the image of Marcia Brady. McCormick came from a deeply troubled family. Her Mom was mentally ill and her Dad came home one day an evangelical, born-again Christian, which changed the family forever. She had one developmentally challenged younger brother, an older brother who felt ignored and ostracized and another who failed to find a focus beyond sponging off their parents and doing drugs. This middle kid eventually dissolved into paranoia and delusion, taking their father along with him. By the end of the book, Maureen is still trying to get access to her Dad after this brother siphoned off his money and convinced him she is evil and wants to do him harm. It’s rather sad.
Despite appearning in loads of TV movies and getting bit parts in several hit series McCormick never got on track after the Bradys went off the air. In her frustration, she turned to drugs and partying and blew off what opportunities she had. Steven Spielberg asked for a meeting while he was casting Raiders of the Lost Ark and McCormick showed up blitzed and nearly incoherent. She refused to attend mandatory post-production sessions for a Brady movie and essentially lost interest in anything but cocaine.
And then she found God.
If born-again Christianity put her back on track and saved her life, well, that’s terrific. She’s lucky. But it’s boring. Still, the book moves along at a quick enough clip to keep enough interest alive to get to the end of it.
McCormick’s family secrets are unusual and surprising. Her lust for her on-screen brother, Barry Williams, went on longer and was more intense than we may need to even know. But it’s really just another tale of a Hollywood star who can’t repeat their early success, turning to a form of self-medication before finding their saviour. We’ve read it all before.