Monday, June 23, 2014

Alice Blue Gown

Till it wilted, I wore it; I'll always adore it
My sweet little Alice blue gown.—Harry Tierney (Irene, the musical)

May 5, 1926 – June 1, 2014

For five seasons, Ann B. Davis' onscreen alter ego "Alice Nelson" ran the chaotic Brady household with a happy heart. She was cook, cleaner, babysitter, seamstress, therapist, entertainer and guide for 6 kids, 2 adults and a dog named Tiger living in 1970s California. Every child who watched The Brady Bunch got Alice. She was that mixture of loyalty, goofiness, security and compassion rarely found in adult sitcom characters who inhabit the world of children. A child could trust Alice. What kid watching didn't want to run down that long Brady staircase, past the dining room into Alice's kitchen to discover the delights or adventures that awaited? For latchkey kids, Alice was a beacon of comfort. Her uniform with the hue (ironically) of Alice Blue became a personification of the character. She was the first line of defense, a protector. She was a comedian and cheerleader as much as she was a romantic. Ms. Nelson knew how to hook up with and dispense of old flames (Mark Millard) and she certainly knew her way around the local butcher's (Sam Franklin) heart. Warding off ghosts, dancing the Charleston, bowling, attending the Meat Cutter's Ball...Alice happily lived in the moment. A simple and charming domestic character became so much more owing to the talents of Ann B. Davis. Her career spanned decades of work in television (she earned two Emmy Awards for portraying Schultzy on The Bob Cummings Show, 1955-1959), in films and on Broadway. She will forever be synonymous however with the beloved Brady housekeeper, Alice Nelson—blue gown and all.

Ann B. Davis sadly died at the age of 88 on June 1, 2014 in a San Antonio, Texas, hospital after a fall in her bathtub. She leaves a whopping hole in hearts she helped raise decades over. We're all grown up now but how could we ever forget our beloved Alice and the woman who breathed life into her? RIP Ann B. Davis.

“glue that held 'The Brady Brunch' together. . ."I was reflecting throughout the day yesterday about one of the first times I met her. She was already a big star when she joined 'The Brady Bunch,' won a couple of Emmys with 'The Bob Cummings Show,' and I knew that this was someone I wanted to pay attention to but she had a wicked sense of humor. I remember watching from behind the camera when she was rehearsing one of the scenes for 'The Brady Bunch' and I was laughing along with her timing and stuff. Well, apparently, I was messing up her timing so she turned around and said, ‘Barry, comedy is not funny.’ I was crushed. I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’ve upset her. A little later I went over and said, ‘Excuse me. What did you mean when you said that comedy was not funny?’ and she said, ‘Oh, I was just kidding with you.’"—Barry Williams.

"I am so shocked and sad to learn that my dear friend and colleague, Ann B Davis, died today. I spoke with her a couple of months ago and she was doing great!"—Florence Henderson.

"[Davis] made me a better person. How blessed I am to have had her in my life. She will be forever missed."—Maureen McCormick (AP).

"She was great to work with and I have wonderful memories of our scenes together on 'The Brady Bunch.' She was kind and generous to all of us on set."—Eve Plumb
"I was waiting for it to reach the news before saying anything. Yes, it's true, our beloved Ann B. passed away this morning. I loved her work even before I knew and loved her. When I was five, I got the Hong Kong flue. I missed a lot of school and stayed in bed watching TV. I loved the Bob Cummings Show because I enjoyed Ann B. in the role of his secretary "Schultzy". I was overjoyed when I learned that I would be working with her on Brady Bunch. Already a fan, it was only icing on the cake to get to know her. She always treated us kids with respect and we knew we were working with greatness. I'm happy to know that she never lost her beautiful mind and razor sharp wit. She will be dearly missed by the many who knew her and the many more who felt like they did. I'm sure there is now a bright red sports car tearing up the clouds in heaven."Susan Olsen
"It is with sadness that I hear of the passing of Ann B. Davis. At the same time, it is with fondness that she will be remembered. As with perhaps all of America, I smile when I think of Alice. Ann B. Davis was used by all of us Brady’s (adults and kids) as the benchmark of professionalism and we are all better for having shared time working together. I will always remember Ann B as a much more complex and serious person than what her comedic roles would project. She was kind and caring but above all, she was an intensely private and contemplative person who balanced her self-respect with the respect she showed all those whom she came in contact with. She will both be missed and loved forever."—Christopher Knight (via BradyWorld)

Occasionally, Alice wore other colours.


  1. A nice tribute, Chelly, and I loved the quotes from the kids. So sad to see our childhood friends passing.

    1. Thank you Tom. I wasn't able to find a quote from Mike Lookinland. Whenever I manage to track down his comments, I'll add it to the list above. It hurts to see all these lovely people passing. We watched them on TV but indeed they were our childhood friends. The Brady Bunch was my favorite show as a kid.


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