Robert Reed Fact-Checking Scripts Led To A Fight About This Line

Of all the things for an actor to get miffed about, Robert Reed let a line about strawberries lead to an argument with producers. The incident occurred during a season four episode of "The Brady Bunch" that featured stay-at-home mom Carol Brady and the family's live-in-housekeeper, Alice, holding a competition to see who could make the best strawberry preserves. The finished products would be showcased at the Brady family "hoedown," held in their suburban backyard.

Both women were skilled in the kitchen and were cooking preserves from old family recipes. The two women were preparing their creations when Mike Brady (played by Robert Reed) waltzed into the kitchen and exclaimed, "I do believe I've died and gone to strawberry heaven." Quite the seemingly innocuous line, to be sure. But those who worked behind the scenes were aware that, as silly as it might seem, that line Reed delivered was a comprise. When Reed read the original script, he became angry about the dialogue he was supposed to deliver. What would have made him angry about a discussion about strawberries?

The New York Post reports that Reed had some peculiar quirks regarding the series. The script initially had Reed exclaim that the house smelled like "strawberry heaven." The outlet tells us that Reed would go so far as to fact-check every script, often using the Encyclopedia Britannica as a reference. Strawberries, Reed concluded after doing his research, did not give off a smell when being cooked. As far as the actor was concerned, the script contained false information, and he wouldn't say the line.

Do strawberries give off an odor while they are cooking?

To settle the dispute, show creator and producer Sherwood Schwartz sat down with the irritated actor. Schwartz went so far as to have Reed present when strawberries on the set were being cooked just to show him that the fruit did emit an odor while being heated. But Reed held fast to what he had studied in the Britannica. He absolutely refused to say the line (via the New York Post).

A compromise was finally reached about Reed's dialogue and the scene was filmed with Reed remarking about the kitchen being strawberry heaven. With all the frustration about whether or not strawberries smell while they are cooking being front and center, you'd almost forget that the crux of the entire episode was centered around middle daughter Jan being upset that she is often overlooked and wishes that she were an only child. Spoiler Alert: Jan finds her own way back with the other Brady kids at the end of the episode and joins them in the Brady family hoedown.

Reed's behavior on the set wasn't anything new to the cast and crew of "The Brady Bunch." Brady lore is ripe with tales of how Reed would demand changes to scripts, often acting as a thorn in the side of the show's producer and director.

Reed was problematic on the set

Schwartz stated in a 2000 interview with ABC News that Reed was unhappy with the role he had on "The Brady Bunch" and felt that "television, in general, was beneath him" (ABC News, per Yahoo News). "He wound up on a show that he didn't want to do in the first place, and it became more and more difficult for him," Schwartz continued. Reed was so angry at one point that he refused to be a part of the filming of the show's final episode.

In Kimberly Potts' book, "The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking About Today," she discusses how Reed would often drink during his lunch breaks from the set and arrive in the afternoon drunk, and sometimes angry. At times, he was too intoxicated to continue working, resulting in the afternoon sessions being canceled (per the New York Post).

Other scenes that drew Reed's ire included his TV son Bobby's selling of hair tonic (Reed said it wasn't FDA-approved), his disbelief that his character could slip on a broken egg on the floor, and an entire scene that involved fake ink spilled on Alice the housekeeper's dress.

Despite the frustrations caused by Reed, "The Brady Bunch" lasted for five seasons and 117 episodes before it was canceled in 1974 (via IMDb). A spin-off show, several made-for-tv movie specials, and two feature films became part of the Brady universe and helped keep the blended, wholesome family on the air for several generations.