Williams, who considered Reed a mentor adds, “He felt in some ways that the show was beneath his abilities.”
Before Reed died, he was doing work more along the lines of what he had envisioned himself doing: teaching Shakespeare at UCLA. “It was the happiest he ever was,” says Henderson. “He just loved it.”
A Real-Life Family
Though Reed may have been unhappy working on The Brady Bunch, he never left the show. Perhaps, speculate his former co-workers, he was too attached to his TV family to move on.
“They were a family. They became a family,” says Schwartz of the cast. “They became very attached to each other … Even Bob Reed, who was a personal pain to me, loved the kids and they loved him.”
“Essentially,” says Christopher Knight, who played the middle brother Peter, Reed “fell in love with us as a surrogate father.”
Reed’s final TV performance was in 1990. Reed was fighting cancer, and everyone agreed he looked sick.
“He was very brave, he was very courageous,” says Henderson. “And he asked me if I would call all the kids and tell them. And it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.”
After he died at the age of 59, the world finally learned the secret Reed had struggled with his whole life. While the American public may have been surprised, his TV family was not, and they remember him fondly.
“Bob remains to this day my shining example of how an adult should be with kids,” says Susan Olsen, who played the youngest daughter, Cindy. “There was this unconditional, fatherly love that he had for us that we were always aware of.”
“He was the picture of what I wanted to become as a person in his sort of strength,” says Knight.
“I think he was a very brave man, very courageous,” says Henderson. “He faced his death with such courage and dignity. We should all be able to do that.”