The Brady Bunch was a beloved TV hit from 1969 to 1974 and even today fans still recall lines from the iconic series. Those same fans are no doubt among those mourning the passing of Ann B. Davis whose role as the quirky but lovable housekeeper Alice Nelson was a staple in the Brady household. Davis died on Sunday at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where she was undergoing treatment for a subdural hematoma she received in a recent fall. She never regained consciousness following the fall. The actress was 88 years old.
Known for wearing her trademark light blue maid’s uniform, Alice was in the middle of everything The Brady Bunch did, infusing each storyline with her quick wit and big smile. It was during an interview with the Archive of American Television–back in 2004–that Ann B. Davis talked about how she created the character known as Alice.
“I made up a background story. I did have a twin sister, so I used that as a basis. … I cared very much about this family. It was my family. It was as close to my family as Alice would ever get. I would have died for any single one of them at any point,” she said. “You know, they wrote me such gorgeous things to do, as the intermediary between the kids and the adults, and between the boys and the girls. And they gave me funny things to do.”
Davis once admitted that she really didn’t do many of the things in real life that she did on The Brady Bunch, however.
“I basically don’t do that well with children, although my sister says I’m a great aunt,” she said. “When it’s my turn in the house we just eat out.”
Florence Henderson played the role of the Brady matriarch–Carol Brady–on The Brady Bunch. She was crushed to learn that Ann B. Davis had passed away. She shared her sadness in a Facebook post.
Actress Christina Applegate took to Twitter to express her sadness over ‘Alice’s’ passing.
Ann B Davis. How many mornings I have spent with you. " oh Alice". RIP
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) June 2, 2014
Davis had planned to study medicine, but had a brother who was a dancer and she ‘caught the acting bug’ from him. She won two Emmy Awards and received two additional nominations, plus earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 for her role in The Bob Cummings Show.
Few people knew that about Ann B. Davis, however. To most people she was simply Alice on The Brady Bunch.
Bishop William Frey was a close friend of Davis’s. He said fans often told her they felt like she had raised them.
“What you see on The Brady Bunch was who she was,” Frey said. “She was a very faithful Christian person.”
Ann B. Davis retired in the late 1970s and settled in an Episcopalian community.
“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,” she said during an interview with PEOPLE magazine several years ago.
Davis joined many of The Brady Bunch cast members on the big screen in 1995 for The Brady Bunch Movie in which she played a truck driver trying to talk Jan Brady, who had run away (Jan was played by actress Eve Plumb in the TV series) to go back home. Of course that truck driver was Alice.
The TV world has indeed lost an icon. Ann B. Davis will long be remembered for her role as Alice Nelson in The Brady Bunch. Many of the lessons learned by Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy Brady from their faithful housekeeper were also learned by viewers at home, too.
Image via Wikimedia Commons