Barry Williams and Susan Olsen had difficulties on the Brady Bunch set
Being a kid is a tough job, just ask Charlie Brown.
While it's a rough gig even for children who aren't under constant scrutiny, being a kid is even harder when you're in the cast of one of TV's most beloved families. Child stardom and its effects on the child are pretty well-documented at this point. With few exceptions (Ron Howard), it doesn't usually result in a lot of happiness.
According to Barry Williams and Susan Olsen, the troubles of navigating Hollywood as a kid were nearly matched by the struggles they had after clocking in. As they both recall in Williams' Growing Up Brady, the hardships of fame were dwarfed by the hazards of the job.
"Unfortunately, [director Oscar Rudolph] had an annoying habit of trying to maintain absolute control over everything in his path," wrote Williams. While preparing to film a scene, he'd supervise the lighting guys, bother the cameramen, and when we were finally ready to shoot, he'd give in to his anal-retentive obsessive compulsion by trying to completely manipulate the performances of us kids."
Because they were underage, the Brady actors weren't trusted to create their own performances. They were perceived as too young to have any artistic merit, and so none of them were really able to make their own choices as actors.
To hear Susan Olsen discuss the matter, the control didn't stop when the director yelled 'cut.'
"I really resented being treated as an object," said Olsen, "and most of the adults that worked with us respected us as people who were doing a job and being professional, and they were good with us. But some people refused to acknowledge the fact that kids could be communicated with. Y'know, they'd be surprised when other crew members would speak to us in the same manner they'd speak to an adult.
"But when I was at work I was a worker. I didn't want to be talked down to. I didn't want to be treated with less respect than anybody else, and what Oscar would do if he wanted me to move somewhere on the set, instead of saying 'Okay, Susie, can you take three steps left?' or whatever, he'd just pick me up and move me. I can still remember his thumbs in my armpits. Even then I remember thinking, 'He doesn't do that to Florence [Henderson, Carol Brady].' One time, when he didn't like the shirt that wardrobe had put me in, he started taking my shirt off, just exactly like I was a little mannequin or something.'"
As if being recognized everywhere they went wasn't hard enough, the kids couldn't even catch a break on set.
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