Honestly? This is one of those people where I have no idea why I decided to put them on the schedule. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Ann B. Davis. It’s that . . . I’m not sure I have anything original or interesting to say. I’ve already moved her back once, waiting to see if the reason occurred to me. I wanted to have more to say than “she was Alice,” especially as I do not in fact like The Brady Bunch. But it also feels as though there should be much more to say about a decades-long career than that.
When she started college at the University of Michigan, it was in pre-med. However, her older brother Evans was a lead dancer in Oklahoma! Ann got the stage bug and switched to drama. She did little stuff for six years. Summer stock. Touring companies. That sort of thing. It’s something that happens with a lot of the people we discuss here; being a star right out of the gate is much more rare than people realize, I think, and people already know it’s not terribly common.
Her first TV appearance was on The Bob Cummings Show. She played Charmaine “Schultzy” Schultz, secretary to Robert Cummings as Bob Collins. He was a womanizing photographer; she was his secretary, who apparently had a thing for him. I haven’t seen the show. I suspect that, these days, not that many people have. Davis was always perfectly comfortable with being plain, and I suspect part of why she dealt with it so well was that it seems to have been what gave her that break.
For the next decade or so, she puttered around Hollywood. Her Lux Video Theatre episode was during her time on The Bob Cummings Show, but she went on to do 29 episodes of The John Forsythe Show. She did a Cantinflas movie called Pepe that specifically referenced the show; her character was called Schultzy. (Fellow ’70s TV icon Shirley Jones was in it, too!) She was in the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie Lover Come Back and the Pat Boone vehicle All Hands on Deck (with ’60s TV icon Barbara Eden).
And, okay, then there was the part people remember. She said everyone needed an Alice; she needed one herself. She lived alone most of her life; she was never romantically paired with anyone, so far as anyone seems to know. But she formed close friendships with her most notable costars, going so far as to regret that Eve Plumb, who she said was the best actress of the kids, didn’t have a more successful adult career. Still, she was in all the specials and even on my beloved Hi, Honey, I’m Home. Where she was Alice.