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June 2, 2014 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Ann B. Davis, known as Schultzie from the Bob Cummings Show, and even better known as Alice from The Brady Bunch, has died. TV Land Remembers Davis.
posted by Melismata (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

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posted by dirtdirt at 7:57 AM on June 2 [14 favorites]

Somewhere, Sam the Butcher is waiting.

RIP, Alice.
posted by jonmc at 7:58 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

posted by trip and a half at 7:59 AM on June 2

posted by desjardins at 8:02 AM on June 2

Heard this news last night. So sad. interviewed the cast of The Brady Bunch back in 1992. This is the section with Ann B. Davis:
ALICE doesn't live here anymore, but she still has to clean up

"All of us wish we had an Alice," says Ann B. Davis, better known as Alice Nelson, the ever chipper, ever busy Brady housekeeper. "I wish I had an Alice." Especially because these days Davis, 66 and living in Ambridge, Pa., finds herself helping out with the chores in the three-bedroom house she shares with William Frey, an Episcopal bishop, and his wife, Barbara. Davis, who met the couple in 1974, first joined them in 1976 in Denver, where Frey had formed a sort of religious group house of 26 parishioners. When Frey became dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in 1990, Davis decided to go with the family to Ambridge. The three are dedicated to prayer and Bible study.

By the end of Brady's run—and after a 40-year showbiz career that included two Emmys for playing peppery gal Friday Schultzy on The Bob Cummings Show in the '50s—Davis realized that her life lacked the fundamental contentment of, say, Alice Nelson's. "I wasn't satisfied," she says. "I thought, 'What is it I haven't got?' " She explains the answer with a memory from her childhood in Erie, Pa.: "My mother would write letters when I was away at camp and say, 'There's an Ann-shaped space around the house. Nobody fills an Ann-shaped space except an Ann.' I'm convinced we all have a God-shaped space in us, and until we fill that space with God, we'll never know what it is to be whole."

Unlike Robert Reed, though, Davis did not consider the show hell on earth. The cast "got along beautifully," she says, and adds that as an avid knitter, "I had the boys hooking rugs and the girls doing needlepoint." Surprisingly, she says, "I basically don't do that well with children, although my sister [an identical twin, Harriet Norton, a mother of three living in Leonia, N.J.] says I'm a great aunt." Also unlike Alice, Davis hates to cook: "When it's my turn in the house, we just eat out."

Davis, never married, still acts occasionally (including a Canadian production of the comedy The Cemetery Club last year) but lives comfortably on her Screen Actors Guild pension. (She recently bought a bright red Mazda Miata.) And she takes classes—aerobics in town, theology at the seminary.

"It is obvious," she says, "I am where the Lord wants me to be."
posted by zarq at 8:04 AM on June 2 [8 favorites]

RIP, Jans secret admirer

posted by dr_dank at 8:04 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]

posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:05 AM on June 2

Brady Bunch was the last show, I think, to show a regular middle-class house with a maid. Born in 1961, I never put it together that nobody I knew had a maid, and yet half the families on TV had one. (Or even a butler!) Sounds like ABD found peace in life, if not professional success post Bradys. Good for her.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:14 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]

A character so iconic she's been memorialized in song.
posted by The Gooch at 8:22 AM on June 2

Good Askme: How Common Was/Is Alice?
posted by Melismata at 8:29 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

She was actually living in San Antonio (still with the same couple?) when she died.

When I watched the show, I did catch on that it was odd to have a live-in housekeeper, even with all those kids; after all, Carol didn't work outside the home. What did she do all day?
posted by emjaybee at 8:36 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]

posted by Sheppagus at 8:54 AM on June 2

When I watched the show, I did catch on that it was odd to have a live-in housekeeper, even with all those kids; after all, Carol didn't work outside the home. What did she do all day?

The neighbor three doors down.

posted by delfin at 8:56 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]

posted by allthinky at 9:00 AM on June 2

posted by Thorzdad at 9:02 AM on June 2

Apparently Florence Henderson pushed the network execs and writers to give her character a job on The Brady Bunch but was repeatedly shot down. When The Brady Brides sequel show aired in '81 (10 episodes in total but only this one is on youtube,) Carol became a real estate agent.
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Wait a minute, wasn't Alice the housekeeper for Mr. Brady & the boys before they got married? Tht wasn't that uncommon for a single guy with kids, and they got attached to her.

(also whatever happened to Fluffy, the cat seen only in the pilot?)
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

posted by get off of my cloud at 9:37 AM on June 2

A character so iconic she's been memorialized in song.

More than one, even.

BTW she has an awesome cameo in one of the Brady Bunch movies.

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:39 AM on June 2

I was reflecting on how she fell in the bathroom and never regained consciousness, and thinking how sad it must be to not be aware in those final moments, but then I remembered my parents, who both slipped away in a haze of morphine. If nothing else, I'm sad to hear that she passed at a time when she seemed to be genuinely enjoying her place in life, and still had some years in her, had it not been for this accident.

I was never a huge Brady Bunch fan, but I enjoyed it now and then, and Ms. Davis seemed to be a bright star at its periphery. Good night, Alice.
posted by gern at 9:45 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Jazz and boxing fans take note, her father's name was "Cassius Miles Davis."
posted by rhizome at 9:51 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Somewhere, Sam the Butcher is waiting.

RIP, Jans secret admirer

God, do SPOILER ALERTs mean nothing to you people?!? Some of us aren't up to that season yet!!!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:58 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


A priest friend of mine posted a story yesterday about how she once, as a chalice bearer, gave Eucharist to Ann B. Davis. After the service, she ran into Ann and mentioned how cool it was to have served her; Ann's response was that we were all the same at the altar rail.
posted by naturalog at 10:04 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

A U-M alum! Just makes me like her more.

posted by Sheydem-tants at 10:08 AM on June 2

Many people seem to think that the only reasons The Brady Bunch was popular in syndication is because TV stations aired it constantly or because it represented some kind of missed traditional family values while attempting to show a non-traditional family, but I'd posit that the reason why it stuck with so many people is that the people making this silly little show took it seriously. (In Robert Reed's case, perhaps too seriously eventually but that's a derail.)

Ann B. Davis was a gifted comedian who put in real work making silly stuff entertain people. And I remember, as a kid, whenever it was an episode where Alice felt like she wasn't needed (either because of the new Mrs. Brady or some other misunderstanding) being genuinely upset that Alice was feeling sad.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:27 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

safe passage, Alice.

posted by dawkins_7 at 10:31 AM on June 2

She had a cameo as a truck driver who picks up Jan in the 90's bb movie.

Barry Williams describes in his memoir how members of the bb cast were on their way to an event and goofing off on the plane. The flight attendant came up to ABD and said something to the effect of "Alice, could you get them to pipe down?" "My name is NOT Alice, it is Ann B Davis....."
posted by brujita at 4:04 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

posted by brujita at 6:05 PM on June 2

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posted by zaelic at 1:04 AM on June 3

posted by Gelatin at 2:38 AM on June 3

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