Most devoted fans of The Brady Bunch can name a favorite episode — from Marsha getting hit with a football to the boys battling the curse of the tiki in Hawaii. For Barry Williams, the actor who began playing eldest son Greg in 1969 when he was 14, the pilot episode will always be a sentimental favorite.
“I like the pilot for its genuine quality,” Barry exclusively tells Closer Weekly, on newsstands now. “There was an innocence about it. We were getting to know each other. It tells the story and sets the tone for the humor and everything that was to follow.”
Of course, none of the show’s actors had any idea that The Brady Bunch would become one of the most beloved family television series of all time. Even today, some 47 years after the original sitcom stopped production of new episodes, Barry, 66, enjoys a special bond with his fans who still think of him as family.
“I’m very proud to have been a part of this show,” Barry says. “I’m proud to have had a part in creating a character in a show that has had this long-lasting saturation in Americana.”
Do you ever get tired of talking about The Brady Bunch?
No! Sometimes I get tired of talking about myself though. The Brady Bunch is an integral part of my life. It’s a show that has been with me now for over 50 years, and I consider the cast members a second family. I know that there is interest and curiosity around the show, and I’m happy to oblige.
Did you ever consider a different career path, or did you always know you’d be an actor?
I’ve always had a fascination with certain aspects of law, and I think entertainment law would have been interesting. But, no, not really. Although I’m still anxious to play an entertainment lawyer on TV!
Would you have kept working in showbiz if The Brady Bunch had been a flop?
Oh, I was committed to a lifetime of show business long before The Brady Bunch. In fact, I don’t think any of us really held up high hopes that it would have this kind of endurance. Even by television standards, it’s a pretty unique series. It’s been a sitcom, a cartoon show, a variety hour, a Christmas special, a movie twice (we did my book [Growing Up Brady] as a TV movie) and A Very Brady Renovation. There have been so many things around it, more than pretty much any television series I can think of.
Who do you speak to most often among the cast?
Christopher Knight and I are very close.
Why do you think The Brady Bunch cast has gotten along so well over the years?
We have a very unique experience in common. We grew up with the show playing family members and went through all of the changes in our growth in front of the world. That created some unique and sometimes challenging circumstances, but we protected each other and took care of each other. That commonality puts us in a very small club.
In your post-Brady career, you’ve done a lot of theater. Is that something that you’re passionate about?
Almost all of my theater career has been in musical theater. I find it a wonderful combination of all the things that I like: acting, singing, comedy and live theater.
So you never felt that playing Greg on The Brady Bunch held you back?
No, I’m grateful. I’ve been able to have a successful career in virtually every aspect of show business — television, movies, cartoon shows, and as a musician, singer and recording artist. I have worked in Las Vegas. I’ve been a DJ for SiriusXM. I have produced television. I have written a best-selling book. I think being able to have that kind of diversity has been just marvelous. There’s been no boredom.
You even did a show in Branson, Missouri, for a while.
I came to Branson to do a ’70s music celebration, which was a full-scale variety show. I played, sang … we had 42 costumes and multimedia. [More recently,] I created a trio with a lead and acoustic guitar and my wife, Tina, who is a professional singer. It’s more of an intimate trio. It’s called Barry Williams and the Traveliers.
So retirement is not part of your immediate plan?
No chance. I am as passionate about what I do now as I was as a teenager. I’m so grateful that I was able to find something that was enjoyable and satisfying for me that I still have tremendous enthusiasm and ambition for. I wouldn’t think of ever retiring completely.
If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would you tell him?
I was a very, very serious child. I think if I could talk to him, I’d say to lighten up, do a good job and enjoy the ride.
You have two children. Did either of them follow you into show business?
They have not. My son is a musician, but also a full-time student, and hasn’t made any [comments] about going into that as a profession. My little girl is a natural. She’s got a big personality, but I am not sure she would choose [showbiz] as a profession, either.
Would you have any qualms if they wanted to try showbiz?
You know, I’m a dad, so I would be 100 percent supportive of whatever they chose to do.
Is there anything about your life that your fans would be surprised to find out?
Most people are surprised to learn that I live in Branson. Also that I became a private pilot and flew a small single-engine aircraft around the country.
Do you have a favorite destination to fly to?
I love the vibe of Hawaii a lot. Maui is the island I go to most.
What else do you have coming up?
There are two things. People who are interested are invited to drop by my website: barrywilliamsofficial.com. Also, cameo.com has given me a way to reach out personally and keep in touch with fans. It’s so fun. I’m enjoying that a lot.
— Reporting by Katie Bruno
For more on this story, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.