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Robert Reed Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (49)  | Personal Quotes (21)

Overview (4)

Born in Highland Park, Illinois, USA
Died in Pasadena, California, USA  (colon lymphoma and complications of AIDS)
Birth NameJohn Robert Rietz Jr.
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Robert Reed was an American actor, mostly known for television roles. His most famous role was that of pater familias Michael Paul "Mike" Brady in the popular sitcom "The Brady Bunch" (1969-1979). He returned to this role in several of the sitcom's sequels and spin-offs.

Reed was born under the name "John Robert Rietz Jr. " in 1932. His birthplace was Highland Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His parents were government worker John Robert Rietz Sr. and homemaker Helen Teaverbaugh. The couple were childhood sweethearts and married each other at age 18. Reed was their only child.

Due to his father's career transfers, Reed moved often as a child. He spend part of his childhood in Navasota, Texas and Shawnee, Oklahoma. The senior Reitz eventually retired from his government positions, and started a new life as a cattle farmer in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The Reitz family moved to a farm there.

As a youth, Reed joined the 4-H agricultural club, and demonstrated calves in agricultural shows. He was already fascinated with acting and music, and started performing as a theatrical and singer before he graduated high school. He had a side career as a radio announcer for local radio stations, and also helped produce radio dramas.

Reed graduated from Muskogeee's Central High School in 1950. He soon enrolled at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied drama. His mentor was acting coach Alvina Krause (1893-1981). During his university years, Reed played the leading role in 8 different plays. Following his graduation, Reed studied abroad at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

With the completion of his studies, Reed started a career as a theatrical actor. He appeared in summer stock productions in Pennsylvania, and joined the off-Broadway theatre group "The Shakespearewrights" which (as their name suggested) specialized in Shakespearean plays. Reed had leading roles in the group's productions of "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream". He left the group to join the Chicago-based Studebaker Theatre company.

By the late 1950s, Reed remained a relatively obscure theatrical actor. He moved to Los Angeles in hope of finding higher-profile roles in film or television. In 1959, Reed made his television debut in a guest star role in the sitcom "Father Knows Best". He next had guest star roles in the science fiction series "Men into Space" (1959-1960), and the Western series "Lawman" (1958-1962). His film debut was the horror film "Bloodlust!" (1961), playing the human prey of a sadistic hunter. The film was a loose adaptation of the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" (1924) by Richard Connell (1893-1949).

Reed had his first major role in television as lawyer Kenneth Preston in the courtroom drama series "The Defenders" (1961-1965). Reed played the son and junior partner of lawyer Lawrence Preston (played by E. G. Marshall), in a series featuring a father-son legal team. The series lasted for 132 episodes, and was a ratings hit. The series earned a total of 22 Primetime Emmy Award nominations during its run.

Following the cancellation of "The Defenders", Reed was mostly reduced to supporting roles in television. He appeared in (among others) "Family Affair"," Ironside", "The Mod Squad", and "Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre". In 1968, Reed signed a contract to play a lead role in the television adaptation of the play "Barefoot in the Park" (1963) by Neil Simon. When it was decided that the television adaptation would feature a mostly African-American cast, Reed was offered a leading role in "The Brady Bunch" as a consolation prize.

"The Brady Bunch" lasted for 117 episodes, though it never was among the highest-rated shows on television. It found a larger audience in syndication after its cancellation, and has remained a cult favorite. Reed was not happy with the often silly scripts of the sitcom, and had regular arguments about suggested re-writes with the show's producer Sherwood Schwartz (1916-2011). On the other hand, Reed formed long-lasting friendships with most members of the series' main cast.

Reed refused to appear in the fifth season finale of "The Brady Bunch", because he felt its script was unacceptable. He was fired from the series, and the production team considered replacing him with a new actor for the series' sixth season. However, the fifth season turned out to be the final one, with network ABC deciding to cancel the series.

While "The Brady Bunch" was still ongoing, Reed had the recurring role of Lt. Adam Tobias in the detective series "Mannix". He played the role for 22 episodes, running from 1968 to 1975. With the series' cancellation in 1975, Reed was left with no regular roles for the first time since the late 1960s.

Reed's next notable role was that of transgender Dr. Pat Caddison in the two-part episode "The Fourth Sex" (1975) of the medical drama Medical Center". The role was critically well-received, and Reed was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, the "Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series". The award was instead won by rival actor Ed Asner (1929-).

Reed had a regular role as Teddy Boylan in the dramatic miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man" (1976), and a prominent guest appearance as Dr. William Reynolds in the miniseries "Roots" (1977). For the first role, Reed was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The Award was instead won by rival actor Anthony Zerbe (1936-). For the second role, Reed was nominated again for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. The award was instead again won by rival actor Ed Asner.

Reed reunited with his friends from the Brady Bunch in the sequel series "The Brady Bunch Hour" (1976-1977), which only lasted for 9 episodes. He next played Mike Brady in the television film "The Brady Girls Get Married" (1981), the television film "A Very Brady Christmas" (1988), and the short-lived sequel series "The Bradys" (1990). The attempts to turn the popular sitcom into a dramatic series were not met with success.

Reed had another lead role in television as Dr. Adam Rose on the medical drama "Nurse" (1981-1982). The series only lasted for 25 episodes. Otherwise, Reed was reduced to mostly playing guest star roles again. His last guest star role appeared in 1992 episode of the crime drama "Jake and the Fatman".

In November 1991, Reed was diagnosed with colon cancer. As his health deteriorated, Reed increasingly isolated himself. He only allowed visits from his daughter Karen Rietz and close friend Anne Haney (1934-2001). In May 1992, he died at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California. He was 59-years-old. He was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, Illinois.

Following his death, his death certificate revealed that Reed was HIV positive. While he was not suffering from AIDS, doctors were unable to determine whether HIV contributed to the deterioration of his health and his eventual death. How and when Reed contracted HIV remains unknown. Reed had managed to avoid having information about his personal life leaking to the press during his career, and also avoided sharing details about it even with his friends.

Reed is still fondly remembered for his television work, while his theatrical career has largely faded from memory.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I

Family (2)

Spouse Marilyn Rosenberger (14 July 1954 - 10 July 1959)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Parents John Robert Rietz, Sr.
Helen Teaverbaugh

Trade Mark (2)

His Shakespearean personality
Best known as patriarch Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch (1969)

Trivia (49)

Attended Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois).
Transferred to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, UK.
In one of his last interviews, he revealed that he actually detested The Brady Bunch (1969) and that his role as Mike Brady embarrassed him.
He kept his illness from the rest of the The Brady Bunch (1969) cast for years. He finally contacted Florence Henderson days before his death and requested that she inform the rest of the cast of his condition.
Only cast member of The Brady Bunch (1969) to miss two episodes. The first was The Brady Bunch: Goodbye, Alice, Hello (1972). He was written out of the second one, The Brady Bunch: The Hair-Brained Scheme (1974), because he strongly disapproved of the script, which had Greg's hair turning orange because of a cheap hair tonic.
Became something of a surrogate father to the children of The Brady Bunch (1969), taking them on trips on weekends and during the series' summer hiatus. For their part, the now-adult actors continue to speak of Reed affectionately.
Frequently walked off the set of The Brady Bunch (1969), due to arguments with series creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz. In addition, he sent voluminous memos to Schwartz, detailing his unhappiness with the writing and directing on the show. Schwartz put up with this only because Reed's instincts usually turned out to be right. (Reed would eventually direct a handful of episodes himself.)
His Shakespearean background included roles in "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as part of an off-Broadway company called "The Shakespearewrights." Toward the end of his life he taught a course in Shakespearean acting at UCLA.
Lived outside of the Beverly Hills scene in Pasadena.
An only child, he attended high school in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where, at age 17, he wrote and produced for local radio stations and sometimes worked as an announcer.
Met wife Marilyn Rosenberg while both were college students and drama majors at Northwestern University.The marriage lasted only 5 years, producing a daughter, Karen Rietz.
Replaced Robert Redford on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park."
Member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.
Mike Brady, Reed's character on The Brady Bunch (1969), was ranked #14 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
When he became ill, the fact that he'd had a stage name allowed him some privacy in his treatment. Prescriptions were filled under his real name Rietz, and the media never took notice.
Close friend of Anne Haney.
In 1985 he sold the house on South Arroyo St. in Pasadena, California, and bought a Spanish-style house on Stoneridge Ave.
He grew up with his parents on a farm where they raised cattle and turkeys.
Was very happy when The Brady Bunch (1969) was canceled because of low ratings.
His father, John Rietz Sr., died on February 9, 1975.
His The Brady Bunch (1969) co-star Susan Olsen became friends with his real-life daughter, Karen Rietz, who made a guest appearance on one episode, when she was in the 9th grade. Despite her friendship with Reed's daughter, there was no father and daughter connection until Karen became an adult.
During hiatus, his The Brady Bunch (1969) co-star, Barry Williams, was introduced by Reed's teacher, Lee Strasberg, for poetry at London's Royal Academy.
Graduated from Central High School in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1950.
He was the producers' second choice for the role of Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch (1969), after Gene Hackman was rejected.
Always said yes to a reunion movie or special for The Brady Bunch (1969).
A year before his death, he was a college teacher.
Confided in Florence Henderson about his feud with his own mother, just several months before his death.
Purchased a home in Pasadena, California, after the cancellation of The Brady Bunch (1969) in 1974. He moved his parents under his wing when they left Oklahoma.
Was a Shakespearean, Broadway actor.
Was invited to join the group of fellow students from East Pennsylvania, where it was under the direction of Alvina Krause, who was his acting coach.
Moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma, with his family when he was 14.
His father, John Sr., was a government worker and his mother Helen was a housewife.
His mother and daughter both refused to attend his memorial.
He had 9 hobbies: animals, fishing, photography, traveling, Shakespearean poetry, swimming, collecting clothes, dining and gardening.
Remained good friends with Barry Williams and Susan Olsen, among other cast members, during and after The Brady Bunch (1969).
The epitaph on his tombstone reads: "Good Night, Sweet Prince." This is taken from the final line of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet".
His The Brady Bunch (1969) co-star Maureen McCormick, who played his daughter Marcia, once confessed in an interview that she had a crush on him in real-life.
Attended fifth and sixth grades at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Shawnee, Oklahoma, in 1942 and 1943.
His mother, Helen Rietz, died on December 4, 2002 at the age of 89.
Father of Karen Rietz, born October 1, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois.
Acting mentor and friends of Susan Olsen and Barry Williams.
Acting mentor was E.G. Marshall.
Frequently complained about the difficulty of the scripts of The Brady Bunch (1969).
He was known to be a very private person.
He played the same character (Mike Brady) in five different series: The Brady Bunch (1969), The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976), The Love Boat (1977), Day by Day (1988) and The Bradys (1990).
His maternal uncle William Teaverbaugh died on May 28, 1992, only 16 days after his death.
Despite being open in his dislike of The Brady Bunch (1969), he liked his child co-stars immensely.
He appeared in four of the eight episodes of Roots (1977), more than any other actor.

Personal Quotes (21)

[on his professional name, which was chosen for him] I can't stand the name "Reed". It always reminds me of vanilla or tapioca pudding.
The Brady Bunch (1969) will remain popular until it's an anachronism. Then it'll fall into Our Gang status.
I was young, brash, so-called classically trained and well educated.
Every television actor says the same thing when you ask him why he's doing theater: to work up the juices. But the basic reason is the script. In television, the scripts aren't very good.
[In 1986] You have to have a fairly healthy sense of humor. You can't just go out on stage and be funny. You have to work at it.
[on his feelings about The Brady Bunch (1969)] It was just as inconsequential as can be, to the degree that it serves as a baby-sitter, I'm glad we did it. But I do not want it on my tombstone.
[In 1992] So many of us on these shows, create ersatz families, and it's very difficult to do, not so much for the adults because we're grown actors. But for the kids, that's another story and to make an ensemble group of kids and adults, and make it seem as they live together. And if we accomplish that, we're very pleased.
[In 1992] I knew when I saw it [the script for The Brady Bunch (1969)] we were off to Gilligan's Island (1964).
[Just before his death] In children's theater, you show the ideal. The very idea is to aspire to it.
[In 1988, about accepting the role as Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch (1969)] Sherwood [producer Sherwood Schwartz] gave me the plot that sounded wonderful. He put together statistics of broken families, so I said, "It was going to be comedic, but not, no it's going to be life-like". But then, I got the script of it, and it was one gag after another, and I thought, "I don't think this has much of a chance, but they tell me, you can either do this or Mission: Impossible (1966)." Anyway, I did this.
Before I was reading science fiction, I read [Ernest Hemingway]. "A Farewell to Arms" was my first adult novel that said not everything ends well. It was one of those times where reading has meant a great deal to me, in terms of my development.
[about his dates who wound up fixing meals] I don't myself cook for two reasons. I don't know how, and I have no intention of learning.
[In 1971] Any actor who changes wardrobes all day long as part of his job is on an ego trip if he enjoys getting dressed up on his own time. That's why you find me in jeans and sneakers.
[In 1981] If I had my druthers, I don't know that I'd do a whole lot more TV. But one does not always have one's choice.
[Why he didn't complain about working on television] It takes a better actor. In movies, you have the best producers, best directors, lot of time . . . in TV, it's six or seven shows and no help at all to make drivel look good.
I'm not an expert in this field - anymore than I was a slave owner in Roots (1977) or the father of six children in The Brady Bunch (1969). But despite my lack of expertise in the area, I find it an intriguing social phenomenon and one worthy of study. Did you know there were 2 million runaways last year?
[In 1978] We're dealing with a social problem of enormous dimensions, not little kids who say, "All right, if you won't let me do such-and-such, I'll run away".
[In 1983] The networks are run by very bright people in most cases, but people who are totally outside the realm of theatre. They come from business and advertising and banking, and even lumber.
[on why older, more familiar actors are not getting much work] The latest at home [in the United States] is for the networks to go for new faces. Most known actors are getting too expensive.
That was what got me The Defenders (1961) job. There were literally hundreds of young actors around, and the reason the producers looked at that particular film was because they were looking for a young lawyer, and they knew that there was a young actor playing a lawyer in it. Obviously, they couldn't see everyone. So that was my lucky break.
[Regarding the fights he had on The Brady Bunch (1969) about better scripts] We fought over the scripts. Always over the scripts. The producer, Sherwood Schwartz, had done Gilligan's Island (1964) . . . Just gag lines. That was what "The Brady Bunch" would have been if I hadn't protested.

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