This short-lived variety show tailored to kids was the brainchild of Bill Cosby, who opened the show with a monologue. That was followed by skits and blackout sketches, puppetry and visits from celebrities and sports stars. Guests who appeared included Gabe Kaplan, Cindy Williams and the rock group Chicago.
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Here's the story of a lovely lady named Carol Martin (Florence Henderson), a man named Brady -- Mike Brady (Robert Reed), to be exact -- and their respective children: Carol's daughters, Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb), and "the youngest one in curls," Cindy (Susan Olsen); and Mike's sons, Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland). Widow Carol married widower Mike, each mate adopted the other's children, and "that's the way they all became the Brady Bunch (from the theme song of the same name!). Like producer Sherwood Schwartz's earlier sitcom Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch was dissed by critics and adored by viewers; and like Gilligan, Brady was a far better performer in off-network syndication than it had ever been during its six-season run on ABC. Some have gone so far as to describe Brady Bunch as a classic; even those who don't agree with this assessment cannot deny that the series has become one of the most conspicuous icons in American pop culture. In addition to the above-mentioned cast members, the series also featured Ann B. Davis as Alice, the level-headed, warm-hearted housekeeper of the Brady clan. Also making occasional appearances was Alice's erstwhile beau Sam (Allan Melvin), and, during the final season, the Brady kids' cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist). The plots revolved around the efforts of eight highly individualized persons to live harmoniously under the same suburban Los Angeles roof, with many of the problems resolved in rather unorthodox fashion by dad Mike, who, as a self-employed architect, was able to hang around the house as much as he liked. Also good for a few laughs was the sibling rivalry between Jan Brady and her older sister "Marcia Marcia Marcia!"; the showbiz aspirations of Greg Brady; and the various and sundry efforts by youngest children Cindy and Bobby to make themselves heard amidst all the comic cacophony (which often included spontaneous musical numbers). Debuting September 26, 1969, The Brady Bunch ran on ABC until August 30, 1974, and then seemingly forever in rerun form. The series also spawned a number of spin-offs, including the live-action The Brady Brides, the animated The Brady Kids, the comedy-variety series The Brady Bunch Hour, and a pair of theatrical feature films in the mid-'90s, which hilariously lampooned the 1970s sensibilities (not to mention hair and clothing styles) of the original.