The Secret Life Of Robert Reed

Robert Reed made a name for himself as an actor, however, there are many more things to discover about him. From the best-kept secrets to behind-the-scenes drama, we will dive deep into the secret life that Reed was living and what he was hiding from the public eye.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer | Robert Reed.


For those who are not familiar with the name, you may remember Robert Reed as Mike Brady from the immortal television series “The Brady Bunch”. Having started his career in Broadway, he quickly rose to fame due to this impeccable talent and charisma, however, he also left many things hidden.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Cast members of "The Brady Bunch".

After leaving “The Brady Bunch” behind, Robert Reed kept impressing the audiences and critics with his amazing performance in the series “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “Roots”. Throughout his career, Reed appeared in over 100 productions, from acting to directing, he was a man of many talents and many secrets.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.


Originally from Illinois, Robert Reed was born on October 19th, 1932, and throughout his childhood, he dreamed of being a famous actor. As such, he went on to study acting at Northwestern University, where developed his trade and artistry in what would end up being his line of work.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.

Robert Reed decided at a young age to relocate to London, where he attended one of the most renowned acting schools, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He remained in London for a period of two years, having discovered his passion for Shakespeare and his works. After returning to his home country, Reed decided to focus on theater. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.


Following his love for Shakespeare, Reed joined a theatrical group where he further developed his acting abilities, having appeared in popular plays, such as “Romeo & Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Reed was quickly noticed by the industry and was invited to join a Broadway production.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.

In 1964, Reed took his first steps on a Broadway stage, where he played the leading role in the play “Barefoot in the Park”, written and produced by Neil Simon. While he was an incredible theater actor, Reed’s success would arise from his work on a different type of platform: television.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.


With his first television appearance happening before the Broadway success, in 1961 with the show “The Defenders”, Reed would keep a recurring role in this production for four years. Alongside this work, Reed was taking some other roles in shows such as “Dr. Kildare” and “Ironsides”. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / CBS | Robert Reed.

His biggest role would, however, arrive in 1969, when he was cast for the role of Mike Brady on the drama television series “The Brady Bunch”. The show quickly became a household favorite and is now remembered as a cult series from the ‘70s. Airing for five years, this was one of the most successful shows on American television. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / CBS | Robert Reed.


Taking the leading role for five years, people often assume that Robert Reed was as happy as one can be on this show, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Arguments often arose between Reed and Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, mostly about the content being depicted on the episodes.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | The cast members of "The Brady Bunch".

The actor himself was not shy about his feelings and admitted in interviews that he would have frequent arguments with Schwartz about the scripts and the “gag lines” that would be part of the content. In fact, Reed has asked himself what type of show “The Brady Bunch” would have been if he hadn’t requested changes over the years. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Silver Screen Collection | Promotional shot from "The Brady Bunch".


While Reed didn’t always get along with the show’s creator, the same can’t be said about his relationship with his co-stars, with whom he developed a family-like bond. Over the years, Reed and his colleagues became close friends, some of which remained close to him until the time of his death.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Hulton Archive | Cast members from "The Brady Bunch".

The most impressive friendship he built during the filming of the show was with his television wife, Florence Henderson. The actors playing his children on the show also became close friends with Reed, especially Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen, who he treated as children of his own.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.


Revelations made in the book “The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch” shared more than Reed was probably expecting. While it was no secret that the actor had some fights during the filming of the scenes, the book brought light to his drinking problem, stating that Reed would often be intoxicated while filming.

Image Credits: Getty Images / CBS Photo Archive | Robert Reed.

This condition would lead him to have anger issues and cause arguments without any reason other than he was frustrated or upset. From arguing that strawberries have no scent to disagreeing with some of the props used, there was no lack of arguments on set, most of which caused by Reed himself.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.


His cast-members grew accustomed to dealing with his anger outbursts and still looked at him like a father figure, however, Reed had a real-life family outside “The Brady Bunch”. Robert Reed met his wife, Marilyn Rosenberger, while both were still at school, and the pair got married in 1954.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.

Their marriage lasted five years, and during that period they welcomed a child, a girl named Karen. Reed’s daughter would be quite close to her father, and eventually became friends with the cast members of the show, especially Susan Olsen. In fact, Karen took part in one of season 2’s episodes.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed and his daughter Karen (top let) on the set of "The Brady Bunch".


Being catapulted to stardom with his role in the television series, Reed was no stranger to fame and went on to work on several types of productions in the ‘80s, most of which were for television. In 1990, Reed took once again his old role in the series “The Bradys”. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection | Robert Reed.

Unfortunately, the show would fail in its attempt to follow the successful footsteps of its predecessor. Trying to find other career opportunities, Reed decided to ignore his decreasing acting roles and developed a new path where he became a drama teacher at the University of California. Sadly, this new job would not last for a very long time.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter / DMI / The LIFE Picture Collection | Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.


On May 12th, 1992, Robert Reed passed away at the age of 59. His death was originally attributed to colon cancer, however, later it would be revealed that his illness was accelerated due to him suffering from AIDS. It was only after his passing that the truth about his sexual orientation was released to the public.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection | Robert Reed and Anne Haney.

Living in a period when being homosexual was not easily accepted, Robert Reed was forced to live a secret second life. According to his co-star Florence Henderson, Reed was leaving a miserable life pretending to be someone he was not, which according to her, was one of the main reasons for his anger-management issues.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection | Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.


After his passing, many of his closest friends opened up about their opinions about him, and one of them was his television-wife, Florence Henderson. The actress shared that he was an incredible friend, who showed her what a good father he could be for their television-children.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.

The actress has admitted that she was not the only one who knew about Reed’s secret life and that while it was not a taboo for them, no one dared to bring it up to Reed himself. According to Florence, people were very understanding of the struggles he was facing and were very compassionate towards him.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.


Another actor from the series, Barry Williams, stated that while Reed’s closest friends were open to his sexuality, Reed would never bring up that conversation. This is very understandable, especially considering that “The Brady Bunch” was originally aired in the ‘60s, a time when being gay was not acceptable.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Hulton Archive | Shot from "The Brady Bunch".

The Network executives were afraid that having an openly gay person on the cast would have prejudiced the show’s ratings and audiences, especially when the viewers were mostly tuning in to watch the perfect traditional family. According to Williams, had Reed opened up about this, his career would have suffered horribly.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.


While Robert Reed was unable to show his true colors and be who he was, that didn’t stop him from sharing his fatherly love with his TV-children. In fact, many of the actors that worked with him on “The Brady Bunch” have spoken up about the different activities they would do as a family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection | Robert Reed.

Two of the actors, Susan Olsen and Michael Knight, had said incredible things about Reed’s role as a father figure, stating that on certain occasions they would turn to Robert quicker than they would to their own biological fathers. We can only imagine how their relationships would have been if he was able to live true to himself.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Walt Disney Television | Robert Reed.

Living at an age where being part of the LGBTQ+ community is more accepted than in the past decades, we couldn’t help but wonder what Robert Reed’s life would have been if he was born a few years later. What do you think about this story? Let us know in the comments below and make sure you share this article with your friends! 

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