Ann B. Davis was the Emmy-winning actress best remembered as the nutty housekeeper on television’s “The Brady Bunch.”
Davis played the wisecracking assistant on “The Bob Cummings Show” in the 1950s, but it is her “Brady Bunch” character that brought her the greatest fame. As housekeeper Alice Nelson, she provided a dizzy comic presence amid the busy Brady household, solving disputes and offering advice through 117 half-hour episodes.
The family sitcom lasted from 1969 to 1974 on ABC and despite the withering views of critics went on to become one of the most successful programs in syndication, spawning reunions of the cast in several television movies and spinoff series during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
“Every once in a while I’ll come across an episode, just flipping around the dial,” Davis told an interviewer in the ’90s, “and I’ll sit down and watch it ’cause I don’t remember how it came out. And that makes it kind of fun. Some I recognize right away, some I literally don’t remember having shot. It’s amazing to me that it’s lasted 20 years.”
In 1955, she landed the role of Charmaine “Shultzy” Schultz on “The Bob Cummings Show,” playing the devoted assistant to Cummings’ playboy photographer until the series ended in 1959. It was later retitled “Love That Bob” in syndication.
“It depends on how old you are whether you remember ‘The Cummings Show,’” Davis told the San Antonio News Express in 1998. “For most people, I’m just Alice. But I don’t mind. Now, if I were Alice the ax murderer, then I’d hate it.”
During TV hiatuses, she headlined regional theater productions of “Auntie Mame,” “Blithe Spirit,” “Funny Girl,” “Once Upon a Mattress” and many others. With the USO, she toured southeast Asia. In the mid-1990s she appeared on Broadway in the Gershwin-themed musical comedy “Crazy for You” after touring extensively with the road show.
On the big screen, Davis appeared with Rock Hudson and Doris Day in the 1961 romantic comedy “Lover Come Back.” Her other movies included “A Man Called Peter,” “Pepe” and “All Hands on Deck.” She made cameo appearances as herself in “The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” in 1994 and as a truck driver in 1995’s “The Brady Bunch Movie.”
Davis’ other television credits included: “The Keefe Brasselle Show,” “The John Forsythe Show” and guest appearances on such series as “Wagon Train,” “The Dating Game,” “Love, American Style,” “The Love Boat,” “Day by Day” and “Hi, Honey, I’m Home.”
In 1976, she joined an Episcopal community in Denver, and she continued to appear occasionally on television and the stage. The community is now settled in the Texas hill country near San Antonio.
Davis died June 1, 2014, at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. She was 88.
— Los Angeles Times