Today is the 97th birthday of the actress Ann B. Davis, Alice from The Brady Bunch. She so encapsulated her role that it wasn’t until much later when I was watching an interview with her and she mentioned that every year that she was on the show, she would buy herself a new Porsche 914. That didn’t track with all that I new about her and I realized that she was a real person outside of the role she played. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Ann B. Davis
DATE OF BIRTH: 5-May-1926
PLACE OF BIRTH: Schenectady, NY
DATE OF DEATH: 1-Jun-2014
PLACE OF DEATH: San Antonio, TX
CAUSE OF DEATH: Accident – Fall
EMMY twice, The Bob Cummings Show
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 7048 Hollywood Blvd (television)
BEST KNOWN FOR: Ann B. Davis was an American actress. She achieved prominence for her role in the NBC situation comedy The Bob Cummings Show, for which she twice won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, but she was best known for playing the part of Alice Nelson, the housekeeper in ABC’s The Brady Bunch.
Davis was born in Schenectady, New York, the daughter of Marguerite and Cassius Miles Davis. She had an identical twin, Harriet, and an older sister and brother, Elizabeth and Evans. When she was three, she and her family moved to Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania. She graduated from Strong Vincent High School and later from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She originally enrolled as a pre-medical major; however, she changed her mind and went into drama after seeing her older brother’s performance of Oklahoma! Davis graduated in 1948 with a degree in drama and speech.
In the 1953–1954 season, Davis appeared as a musical judge on ABC’s Jukebox Jury.
Davis’s first television success was as Charmaine “Schultzy” Schultz in The Bob Cummings Show, 1955-1959. She auditioned for the role because her friend’s boyfriend was a casting director and recommended her for the part. She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series twice out of four nominations for this role.
She appeared on January 23, 1958, as a guest star on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. On February 9, 1960, Davis received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In this period, Davis also focused on theater. As early as 1958 she appeared in a national touring company of the Thornton Wilder play The Matchmaker, costarring her Bob Cummings Show castmate, Lyle Talbot, who played Bob’s Air Force buddy, and in about 1960 she replaced Carol Burnett in the starring role of Princess Winnifred in the Broadway production of the musical Once Upon a Mattress.
In the 1965–1966 television season, Davis appeared as Miss Wilson, a physical education teacher at a private girls’ academy in John Forsythe’s single-season NBC sitcom, The John Forsythe Show.
For a period in the 1960s and 1970s, Davis was known for her appearances in television commercials for the Ford Motor Company, particularly for the mid-sized Ford Fairlane models. Davis was also featured in commercials for Minute Rice in Canada until the mid-1980s.
From 1969 to 1974, Davis played housekeeper Alice Nelson in The Brady Bunch television series. She later returned to take part in various Brady Bunch television movies, including The Brady Girls Get Married (1981) and A Very Brady Christmas (1988). She also reprised her role as Alice Nelson in two short-lived Brady Bunch spin-off television series: The Brady Brides (1981) and The Bradys (1990), both of which lasted only six episodes. She also made a cameo appearance as a truck driver named “Schultzy”, a reference to her days on The Bob Cummings Show, in The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995. In 1994, Davis published a cookbook, Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook, with Brady Bunch inspired recipes. The book also includes recipes from cast members.
In the early 1990s, Davis returned to theater. She performed in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, and both the Broadway production and a world tour of Crazy for You.
Davis never completely retired from acting; in her later years she was the celebrity spokeswoman in several Shake ‘n Bake commercials, and later appeared in several disposable mop commercials for Swiffer. She also appeared in a number of Brady Bunch reunion projects, most recently TV Land’s The Brady Bunch 35th Anniversary Reunion Special: Still Brady After All These Years. On April 22, 2007, The Brady Bunch was awarded the TV Land Pop Culture Award on the 5th annual TV Land Awards. Davis and other cast members accepted the award, and she received a standing ovation.
In 1976, Davis sold her home in Los Angeles to move to Denver, Colorado, where she joined an Episcopal community led by Bishop William C. Frey. The community later relocated to Ambridge in Beaver County in far western Pennsylvania after Frey became dean of the seminary Trinity School for Ministry. Davis had long been a volunteer for the Episcopal Church, working at the General Convention, attending services at churches around the country.
Davis never married nor was she publicly known to have been romantically linked to anyone.
Davis died at the age of 88 on June 1, 2014, at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Earlier in the day, she had sustained a subdural hematoma from a fall in her bathroom in her San Antonio residence, in which she lived with Bishop Frey and his wife, Barbara. Sources close to her say she was in excellent health for a woman her age, and her death was a complete shock. She is interred in the Saint Helena’s Columbarium and Memorial Gardens in Boerne, Texas.
The Bob Cummings Show Charmaine Schultz (1955-59)
The John Forsythe Show Miss Wilson
The Brady Bunch Alice (housekeeper)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Brady Bunch Movie (17-Feb-1995) · Trucker
The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (18-Mar-1994) · Herself
A Very Brady Christmas (18-Dec-1988)
The Brady Girls Get Married (6-Feb-1981)
Lover Come Back (20-Dec-1961) · Millie
All Hands on Deck (30-Mar-1961) · Nobby
Pepe (21-Dec-1960) · Herself