Saturday, January 18, 2020

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Ann Bradford Davis was born on May 3, 1926 in Schenectady, New York.  Growing up, she had always planned on a career in medicine.  However, after seeing her older brother appear on stage in a production of Oklahoma!, Davis was immediately hooked.  She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Drama and Speech.

Hollywood was calling, and Davis soon found herself accepting minor roles on television.  She appeared as a musical judge on the talent series Jukebox JuryHere's the theme song.  Her first taste of fame however, was on the sit-com The Bob Cummings Show, wherein she played the title character's lovelorn secretary, Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz.  Davis won two primetime Emmy Awards for the role, as best Supporting Actress in a Sit-Com.  Here's an episode in its entirety.

Throughout the 1960s, Davis did a series of commercials for the Ford Motor Company and their Ford Fairlane automobile.  Here's one such commercial.  Parental guidance is suggested.

In 1968, Davis was cast in the role that would forever cement her place in pop culture history, that of housekeeper Alice Nelson (yes, she had a last name) on The Brady Bunch.  Ironically, Davis was a last-minute substitution by series creator Sherwood Schwartz, who had just recast the role of Carol Brady with actress Florence Henderson, replacing comedic actress Joyce Bulifant.  As Henderson did not have a comedic resume, Schwartz opted to make the housekeeper the more lighthearted character, and immediately cast Davis.

The show ran until 1974, at which time Davis left Hollywood, although never officially retiring from acting.  She sold her Los Angeles home and move to Denver, Colorado.  A deeply spiritual woman, Davis joined an Episcopal community and devoted her life to Christ.  The community later relocated to Pennsylvania, where Davis continued to be an active member within the church.

Schultzy, The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).
Throughout the 1970s until her death, Davis would occasionally take acting roles, usually in the various Brady Bunch spin-offs and related projects.  She reprised the role of Alice in a number of projects, including The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976), A Very Brady Christmas (1988) and The Bradys (1990).  ironically, she also reprised the role of Schultzy in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).

By 2014, Davis was living in San Antonio, Texas.  Still active in the church, she attended services at St. Helena's in nearby Boerne.  She shared a home with the pastor and his wife, who found her unresponsive on the morning of June 1.  Paramedics were called, but Davis was already gone.  Her death was attributed to a subdermal hematoma after having taken a fall in her bathroom.  Davis was cremated, and her ashes interred at St. Helena's Columbarium and Memorial Gardens.

Davis's marker can be found on this columbarium.

The author pays his respects.

  • Ann had a twin sister named Harriett.  Ironically, Davis would later play her identical twin cousin in the Brady episode "Sargent Emma."

  • During her run on The Brady Bunch, Davis appeared as herself on an episode of The Dating Game.  Watch her segment here.  Ironically, she never married nor was she ever romantically linked to anyone.

  • During the 1980s, Davis did a series of commercials for Shake 'N Bake.  Here's one, ironically filmed in a butcher shop.

  • Davis released a cookbook in 1994 entitled "Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook."  Pick up a copy here.

  • Entertainment Tonight reported on her passing with this tribute.

  • Wanna hear the 911 call when Ann's roommate found her unconscious?  Here it is.

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