There is an old saying that things often are not as they appear. Look no further than the behind-the-scenes life of actress Maureen McCormick, known to millions as Marcia Brady on the classic sitcom “The Brady Bunch” (ABC, 1969-1974).
While visiting a new outlet mall in Glendale, AZ, I perused the biography section and noticed a familiar face. There was McCormick on the cover of her 2008 book “Here’s The Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice.”
Being a huge fan of classic TV, I began to thumb through the book. No need to convince me. I went to the register and paid. My mother was still shopping in a nearby store so I opened the book again and began to read. And boy did I read!
The book references the infamous “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” line perfectly delivered by Jan Brady, as played by Eve Plumb, during Jan’s jealousy of her sister. Yet while reading this book, I actually wanted to shake my head, take a Tylenol and mutter slightly different words: “Maureen. Maureen. Maureen.” The character of Marcia and her portrayer are very different!
McCormick touches on all aspects of her life from birth to present day. (At the time of the book being published she was 53-years-old). She mentions her crush on Barry Williams, who played her brother Greg. Very openly she discusses her intense drug abuse, bulimia, two abortions, a miscarriage, and the various acting jobs she nearly lost due to her cocaine abuse. She speaks of an encounter with Christ. She carries the reader through her multiple returns to Brady specials, including one in particular that almost did not happen because of her drug use. Even years after the show originally ended, creators Sherwood and Lloyd Schwartz helped McCormick with rehab. It’s a very candid journey of her life from child star to mother and author. And as a reader it was fantastic to see how the Brady actors, creators and others tied to the show served as her second family.
In the book, McCormick delivers an easy read that is hard to put down. She writes with such clarity that it feels like one could hear McCormick reading the words in her familiar Marcia Brady voice. The book leaves strong imprints of truth and honesty; both themes of McCormick’s own inner struggles on a variety of issues. The writing makes one not only understand her, but also invokes compassion for all she has gone through.
While reading the book, the most difficult thing for me was being reminded, yet again, that Hollywood and reality are two different things. The show was filmed in an era where many people believed life was simple; much like the characters on the show itself. This woman’s story proves just the opposite. It shows that stardom and choices can lead to a lifetime of challenge; especially if you don’t quite get a fair start in life. It also shows that the grass is not always greener. McCormick had fame and quite a following. But she did not seem to have the safe home life or simple upbringing that so many of us took for granted.
There are some amusing aspects to the book, too. It was a surprise that many of the Brady kids loved cigarettes. This wasn’t a surprise in the sense that the teen actors liked to smoke, but moreso because these were not the perfect Brady kids that have been ingrained in our minds for over 40 years. They were real people, not just a sitcom family.
For any Brady fan or classic TV fan, this book is a must read. You will finish the book applauding McCormick’s courage for writing it and be in awe that she came so far. She had a story to tell and did it quite well. I was left with the impression her soul found peace, yet she continues to be a work-in-progress. She is no different than the rest of us. She just happens to be immortalized as one of six kids in a family millions idolized.
Categories: Recommended Reading!