R.I.P. Alice! The Brady Bunch Won’t Be the Same Without You

Ann B. Davis, best known for her role as Alice Nelson, the quirky housekeeper on The Brady Bunch, died this morning in the religious commune in San Antonio where she lived.

The 88-year-old star was said to be in good health when she struck her head in an unexpected bathroom fall.  According to her close friend, Episcopal Bishop William Frey, the bump caused a subdural hematoma.  She never regained consciousness.

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 Davis was a familiar face on television in the ’60s and ’70s.  Following her first role in 1955 on The Eddie Cantor Show, Davis had played Schultzy on The Bob Cummings Show. 

In the late ’60s, Ann went on the road as part of a USO tour of military bases in Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.  

And then, from 1969 through 1974, Davis played what became her signature role:  Alice, the quirky and kindly maid who was part of the family on ABC’s The Brady Bunch.

But in 1976, Ann walked away from her successful Hollywood career for something better:  She wanted God.  In search of a deeper relationship with her Lord, Davis sold her California house and  joined a religious commune.

An August 1977 article in People Magazine explains Davis’ motivation for the change:

 “I was tired of show business—tired of running around with my head cut off,” she says. Born an Episcopalian, Davis practiced her faith but “with little understanding of it.” She often found herself alone with a drink after a hard day of rehearsing or during layoffs between series. 

In 1974 when she was playing summer stock in Denver she met Episcopal Bishop William C. Frey and his family, who were planning to bring together several families under one Christian roof. “I decided to sell my house in L.A. and yield control to the Lord,” the unmarried Davis says. She and 19 others, aged 3 months to 69 years, now occupy a remodeled Victorian home. 

Most of her belongings—except a 914 Porsche—are being used by a second household in her religious community. The two Emmys for Schultzy and an embossed director’s chair are kept in her house as reminders of stardom. She flies to California to tape occasional Brady Bunch specials and Miracle White commercials, but no longer appears onstage. In Denver she helps pay expenses and does her share of chores—cleaning the library this month. 

After joining the commune, Ann gave a series of talks to women’s groups and others in California, explaining her rebirth into a vibrant faith.  Then she grew silent.  “The Lord wanted me to keep my mouth shut for a while,” she explained.

Ann B. Davis, gone to her eternal reward at 88.  May God welcome her into His kingdom.

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