For someone who played Chatty Cathy as a baby, Marcia Brady as an adolescent, and a reality television star as an adult, it’s hardly shocking that Maureen McCormick has finally come out with a memoir: Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. What’s surprising is that it has taken her this long to weigh in with the rest of the has-beens trying for a last shot at fame.
The celebrity ‘memoir’ follows a familiar formula that anyone who’s seen VH1’s Behind the Music can identify: the rise to fame and fortune, the sex-drugs-and-rock’n’roll, the stint(s) in rehab, the late attempt at a comeback. It’s a predictable storyline, and one that doesn’t depend on who its subject is: Pamela Anderson, Vince Neil, Sally Jesse Rafael – just dish the dirt and someone will watch it on late night television.
I admit it. I’m one of those people willing to pay four bucks for the latest issue of OK Magazine just to read about Britney’s latest train wreck. And for some reason I’m also intrigued by the Brady Bunch, even though I grew up in the ‘80s and watched it in reruns. By that time, the Brady Bunch had lost any street cred they once had—thanks to the Brady Hour variety show and those Christmas reunion specials; (who wanted to see pigtailed Cindy preggo?) But unlike Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg, the memoir written by Barry Williams in 1990 that dropped several Brady bombshells (i.e., they were all knocking boots), Here’s the Story barely delves into life on and off the set, which, quite frankly, is what anyone reading the book wants to know.
Most Brady fans will be disappointed if they are expecting commentary on Williams’s expose: scandalous anecdotes to rival his or any possible beef she may have had with his big mouth. The only thing scandalous McCormick reveals is that she had crushes on every man she came into contact with, from little Bobby Brady to Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s ‘60-year-old producer. And while she talked about all her co-stars in a generally positive light, McCormick did have this to say about Eve Plumb/Jan Brady (who is hardly mentioned at all): “Eve paraded around the dressing room without any clothes on…she also farted all the time. When we asked her not to do either one, she tossed her hair back and said, “Oh, get over it.” Meow!
McCormick corroborates Williams’ claims that they had an off-screen romance, but even that seems forced, as though she is trying to make it sound more titillating than it really was: “I was ready to lose my virginity to Barry and it might have happened one night at his house, if not for his parents who busted in on us as we listened to music and made out in his bedroom,” and, later on revealed a deep dark secret that one can hardly believe, given the time period: “Barry smoked weed.”
By page 75 McCormick is already done with the Brady Bunch and well on her way toward C-list status, seeking “refuge in seemingly glamorous cocaine dens above Hollywood.” What this means is that there are 200 more pages for an in-depth analysis of her post-Brady Bunch, pre-Celebrity-Fit-Club existence, which turns out to be somewhat of a non-issue: “Work was always the best tonic, but not much came my way.” It would be superfluous to discuss the films she went on to star in, like Moonshine County Express, Skatetown USA or Return to Horror High because, no doubt, you’ve already seen them. And while she sowed her wild oats, she went on one date with Steve Martin, hung out with Michael Jackson a few times, and then married an unknown—all while really fucked up. So where’s the story?
The big secret is (spoiler alert!) that her mother and grandmother had syphilis and so McCormick grew up with the fear that she would one day contract the disease and end up going crazy. A far cry from getting hit in the face with a football, sure, but a little neurotic, not explained properly, and incongruent with the rest of the book’s tone. While McCormick alludes to this fear of syphilis throughout, it still seems brushed over, as stories about getting loaded and losing jobs, and later, the husband/savior take center stage.
Overall, it’s easy to understand McCormick’s frustration with being a Brady, if, like her title implies, this was her reason for writing the book. And, certainly, we are led to believe that being in the spotlight is what drove her to such self-destructive behavior. Unfortunately, she’s right. It is difficult to picture her as anyone other than Marcia Brady. It’s not surprising her film career failed to take off, considering America had watched her grow up on their television sets. And, 40 years later on the Celebrity Fit Club, she still looked like Marcia Brady, only older – and fatter.
But like many child stars before and after her, who grow up in the business with a sense of entitlement, McCormick wasn’t exactly trying to succeed. She wasn’t working on her craft, studying acting or doing theater. She was snorting coke with other wayward actors looking for hand-outs.
So while McCormick may say she’s sick and tired of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, there are probably a few things she doesn’t mind about it – like “finding her true voice” and being able to sell a book about the experience. In fact, had the book included more about Marcia Brady and less of McCormick, it might have been a better read.