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“BRADY BUNCH” star Ann B. Davis played lovable housekeeper Alice Nelson on the popular ’70s sitcom – but in real life she would have flunked Housekeeping 101!
That’s one of the endearing stories her close friend, retired Bishop William C. Frey, shared in an exclusive interview with The ENQUIRER after the 88-year-old actress died at a San Antonio hospital on June 1 following a fall at her home. Frey and his wife had lived with Ann for nearly four decades.
“She was an astounding woman with a great sense of humor, and the character she played on ‘The Brady Bunch’ was very much like who she is,” Frey said, “except she didn’t exactly get on with children and she couldn’t cook.
“She may have been America’s favorite maid, but in real life, we all shared cooking responsibilities here at the house – and when it was her night to cook, we often had to go out to a restaurant.”
Frey told The ENQUIRER that he discovered a stricken Ann in a bathroom of their home on May 31.
“In fact, that Saturday morning she had a standing appointment to get her hair done at a little beauty shop near our house,” he said. “Her hairdresser called about 8:15 a.m. and said she hadn’t shown up for her appointment and wanted to know if she was all right.
“So I went to check and didn’t get an answer at the door. I opened the door and called her name and heard a little bit of a moan, so I went in and found her on the floor.
“She had fallen and apparently hit her head on the vanity or maybe the bathtub. We called EMS and they rushed her to the hospital, and she remained comatose until she died the following morning.” en cook
Frey told The ENQUIRER that Ann, who had been retired from showbiz for about five years, had been in relatively good health until the accident.
“She had crippled knees, vision problems, powerful hearing aids and limited movement of her arms,” he said. “But she was still able to care for herself and was still pretty self-sufficient.”
Frey and Ann met 39 years ago when he served as the Episcopal bishop in Colorado.
“Ann wanted to see what it was like living in a Christian community and so she came in January of 1976 to visit, and she stayed,” he recalled. “She never complained about not being married. My wife and I had five kids and nine grandkids. And she said, ‘Living with you has given me the family I never had.’
“But of course, she had a special place in her heart for her ‘Brady Bunch’ family and was close to Florence Henderson most of all.”
But housekeeping just wasn’t her calling, he says.
“She didn’t do well with small children and she couldn’t cook worth a darn. Ann had one of her biggest laughs 20 years ago when the ‘Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook’ was published.
“She said, ‘That’s a put-up job. I don’t cook.’ And she really didn’t.”
Before her iconic role as Alice, Ann was the tart-tongued secretary “Schultzy” on “The Bob Cummings Show,” which earned her two Emmys in the 1950s. But she’ll always be remembered for being the glue that kept the blended Brady family together on the beloved ABC sitcom.
After “The Brady Bunch” ended its run in 1974, Ann reprised her role in a few reunion series and specials. And now her “Brady” family is mourning her passing.
Christopher Knight, 56, who played middle son Peter, told The ENQUIRER after her death: “It’s terribly sad. Most of my experience with her was, unfortunately, during my youth…not when I was an adult, when I could have appreciated her more.
“The last time I saw her was probably seven or eight years ago. But she will live on in all of our hearts as Alice, that person we all wished we knew and had in our homes!”