Cousin Oliver was just the beginning.
1969 marked the end of a decade of political turmoil, civil unrest, and cultural change, all capped off by the Moon landing, the Vietnam War, and Woodstock. In the year’s wake, the Hippie generation rebelled by embracing music, marijuana, and making love. But on the other end of the cultural spectrum, ’69 also saw the premiere of one of the most wholesome, straightlaced TV shows ever created: The Brady Bunch.
As with many family sitcoms, the child actors playing the half-dozen Brady children — Greg, Marcia, Jan, Peter, Bobby, and Cindy — grew up before viewers’ eyes. But lest the series lose its saccharine schmaltz and family-friendly appeal as the kids became teenagers, the producers opted to bring in fresh faces to keep the show young. The most well-known, of course, is the infamous Cousin Oliver, but he wasn’t the only attempt made by the producers to up the show’s cute quotient.
As we look back fondly on the sitcom 50 years later, here’s a list of every so-called “adorable” kid tacked onto The Brady Bunch.
Carol reveals to the Bradys that her eight-year-old nephew is coming to live with the family as her brother Jack and his wife are going on an archaeological expedition to South America. With the wire-rimmed glasses and bowl-shaped haircut of John Denver and yet none of the appeal, Cousin Oliver was a hamfisted attempt to artificially amp up the adorability factor. Oliver’s antics were utterly reviled by fans and, according to rumors, the rest of the cast as well. His reign of precociousness ended with the cancellation of the series.
Carol’s daughter from her secret second family, Ruthie
Carol reveals to the Bradys that she actually splits her life between the Brady household and her secret second family in Pomona, the Humes. When her other husband, Chester Hume, is called away on an indefinitely-long business trip to Japan, eight-year-old Ruthie Hume comes to stay with the Brady family. Unfortunately, ABC censors didn’t like the idea of two men “putting applesauce on Carol’s pork chops.” Chester’s business trip was “suddenly cut short” and Ruthie returned to her father’s home. The Humes never appeared on the show again…