Alice died, and I feel as if I’ve lost a family member.
Her real name, of course, was Ann B. Davis, but she played the role of the wisecracking housekeeper on “The Brady Bunch” so well that it seems hard to believe that she ever aged, that she was 88 and that she died after a fall Sunday.
The show was so thoroughly ingrained in my childhood psyche that for years I would say in a funny voice, “Pork chops and applesauce,” without realizing where I picked up the phrase.
Then one day my husband was channel-surfing, and there was Peter mimicking Humphrey Bogart: “Pork chops and applesauce.” We burst out laughing.
It’s scary in a way. I feel like a piece of my childhood has crumbled.
In January we lost actor Russell Johnson, the Professor in the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” who died at age 89. Again, in my mind, the Professor never aged. He’s that benign middle-aged guy who, like Alice, seemed to be the only “real” person in their respective casts.
“The Brady Bunch” was so outrageously wholesome that my brother, sister and I mocked its characters mercilessly. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” we’d whine, though I secretly coveted her perfect blond hair and popularity. We seized with laughter at Greg’s dorky attempts to be hip; meanwhile, I harbored a secret crush on Peter.
Despite our public insistence that “The Brady Bunch” was the lamest show ever, we turned on the TV to watch it day after day. When I asked my brother what he remembered of the show, he responded:
“All I can think of is the ‘dancing’ Bradys dressed in bad psychedelic costumes singing: ‘Gotta keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on, movin’.”
And then he cursed me for planting the song in his head.