Remembering Robert Reed aka Mike Brady, the Dad from 'The Brady Bunch,' Who Died From Colon Cancer (2024)

Late actor Robert Reed, known for playing logical patriarch Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch,died from colon cancer 31 years ago at 59 years old.

The TV dad of six only had one child in real life, Karen Baldwin, now 65, with his ex-wife, Marilyn Rosenberg, his college sweetheart.

Following his death, fans found out that Reed was keeping a secret throughout his entire life: that he was gay. He had also contracted HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, which weakens the immune system by destroying good cells that fight disease and infection. According to the Associated Press, who obtained a copy of Reed’s death certificate, the immediate cause of death was colon lymphoma with the HIV infection listed among ″significant conditions contributing to death,″ wrote Dr. H. Rex Greene, Reed's doctor.

Behind the Scenes

In a 2000 ABC interview, Reed’s TV wifethe adored Mrs. Carol Brady played by the late Florence Hendersonspoke out about Reed’s sexuality, saying she had known he was gay since filming the pilot episode.

"Here he was, the perfect father of this wonderful little family, a perfect husband. Off camera, he was an unhappy person I think had Bob not been forced to live this double life, I think it would have dissipated a lot of that anger and frustration,” she said. “I never asked him. I never challenged him. I had a lot of compassion for him because I knew how he was suffering with keeping this secret."

Remembering Robert Reed aka Mike Brady, the Dad from 'The Brady Bunch,' Who Died From Colon Cancer (1)

She also said that she didn't think The Brady Bunch could have existed at that time with the public knowing that Robert Reed was gay. "I just don't think they would have bought it.”

Henderson died of heart failure in 2016 at 82 years old.

The Brady Bunch first aired on Sept. 26, 1969, and concluded on Aug. 30, 1974. Although the show had been canceled, the reruns lived on for many generations to enjoy.

Remembering Beloved 'Bewitched' Star Elizabeth Montgomery Who Died from Colorectal Cancer at 62

TV and pop culture journalist Kimberly Potts, who wrote The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch told the New York Post that Reed went out of his way to be a good TV dad and off-screen parental figure for the six kids: Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen who played Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy Brady.

"He took his responsibility as the TV dad seriously," Potts said. "He famously took the kids on a trip to England because he wanted to expose them to culture and Shakespeare. He also famously gave them Super 8 cameras for Christmas. He wanted to help them the same as a father would."

Remembering Robert Reed aka Mike Brady, the Dad from 'The Brady Bunch,' Who Died From Colon Cancer (2)

Related: Colon Cancer Screening is Extremely Important; Guidelines Now Say to Start at Age 45 if There Is No Family History

Reed was nominated for three Emmy Awards; two in 1976 and one in 1977, but none for The Brady Bunch. He played a transsexual doctor on Medical Center, a playboy in the TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, and a plantation owner in Roots.

The Chicago-born actor was classically trained. He studied drama at Northwestern University, where he met his wife, and then went to the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

He took the job on The Brady Bunch to make ends meet, but he really wanted to be doing something more rich, and wound up teaching Shakespeare later in life at UCLA. He also performed in some off-Broadway Shakespeare classics like Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Learning About Colon Cancer

Since the actor was private, it is unclear the exact details of his cancer battle, treatment plan or symptoms.

Symptoms of colon cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, include:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • Blood in the stool, which might make it look dark brown or black
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Losing weight without trying

Since all of these issues can also be common symptoms for other illnesses, and sometimes aren’t always a cause for concern, it is generally best to see a doctor to be on the safe side.

Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal surgeon at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, discusses the top two myths associated with colon cancer and getting checked, and sets the facts straight with SurvivorNet.

Myth #1:Colonoscopies are the only way to detect colon cancer.

The verdict: Not true. Though colonoscopies are the best way, there are a lot of other methods like fecal occult blood tests (which look at a sample of your stool) and fecal immunochemical tests (FIT). "The [tests] have different roles and you should talk to a medical provider about what's best for you, but there are a lot of options," Dr. Yeo says.

Myth #2:Only people with a family history can get colon cancer.

The verdict: Not true. "In fact, the majority of people who get colon cancer have no family history," Dr. Yeo says. "The reason I do the specialty is because if we screen patients early, cancers can be prevented. We can have really good survival outcomes and so I tell that to a lot of my patients. It's important to have a positive outlook for that."

Colon Cancer Introduction to Prevention and Screening

Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.

Remembering Robert Reed aka Mike Brady, the Dad from 'The Brady Bunch,' Who Died From Colon Cancer (2024)


What happened to the dad on The Brady Bunch? ›

But the man who played Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, Robert Reed, had a real life that was not as picture perfect. Reed kept it a secret that he was gay until he died in 1992. While the cause of his death was cancer, his death certificate indicated that he was also infected with HIV.

What is the name of the father on Brady Bunch? ›

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.

Is Robert Reed of The Brady Bunch still alive? ›

Robert Reed (born John Robert Rietz Jr.; October 19, 1932 – May 12, 1992) was an American actor.

What happened to The Brady Bunch biological parents? ›

We learn in the first episode that Mike's wife passed away. However, the absence of Carol's first husband remains a mystery. Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the show, wanted her to be divorced. The network wanted her to be a widow, thought being divorced was too risque for the times.

What happened to the boys mother on The Brady Bunch? ›

Florence Henderson, who began her career as an ingénue soprano in stage musicals in the 1950s but made a more lasting impression on television as the perky 1970s sitcom mom on “The Brady Bunch,” died on Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 82.

Were The Brady Bunch divorced? ›

While Mike Brady is depicted as being a widower, Schwartz originally wanted the character of Carol Brady to have been a divorcée, but the network objected to this. A compromise was reached whereby Carol's marital status (whether she was divorced or widowed) was never directly revealed.

Who is the richest Brady bunch? ›

What is the net worth of the cast members from "The Brady Bunch"? Christopher Knight has the highest net worth at $10 million, followed by Barry Williams with $6 million, Eve Plumb with $5 million, Maureen McCormick with $4 million, Mike Lookinland with $2 million, and Susan Olsen with $2 million.

Why did Brady Bunch end? ›

Ratings began to dip in season five, and in order to boost viewership of its much-needed younger audience, Schwartz introduced a new character: the Bradys' cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist) late in the season. Schwartz's plan failed, and the series was canceled before the start of the 1974 fall season.

Are any of the Brady kids still alive? ›

Though all of the Brady kids are still with us, the older members of "The Brady Bunch" cast have sadly passed on.

Did Greg and Marcia date in real life? ›

Williams and McCormick dated while playing brother and sister. Williams had more luck with onscreen sister Marcia. In her 2008 memoir, Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, McCormick wrote of dating Williams during filming, noting that at the time she said to herself, “Oh my God!

What was The Brady Bunch scandal? ›

The reality is Barry was interested in music, Florence was married with four kids,” he explained. “Barry's dad drove them to see this singer. After that, dad drove them home, and she kissed him on the cheek. “That was the extent of the so-called affair between Barry and Florence,” he concluded.

Did The Brady Bunch get along? ›

Although they played siblings on "The Brady Bunch," they did not have a romantic relationship off-screen. The actors said they did not have a romantic relationship but did have a professional and friendly working relationship while the show was on the air from 1969 to 1974.

Why was the dad not on the last episode of The Brady Bunch? ›

However, absent from the episode is Brady family patriarch Mike Brady, played by Robert Reed. Well, in Barry Williams's autobiography, Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg, it was revealed that it was Reed's choice not to be featured in the episode wasn't very good.

Why was cousin Oliver hated? ›

Oliver was an accident-prone kid who often caused mishaps to happen to the other Bradys.

Has Florence Henderson passed away? ›

What happened to Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch? ›

Greg went on to become an obstetrician. He married Nora, a nurse at the hospital where they are both employed, and they have a son named Kevin Brady.

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