Even during last week’s competing news of Carmageddon and Harry Potter, Studio City Patch-er managed to post , creator of Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, who died July 12 at age 94. And the voting continues: Which is your favorite, Gilligan's Island, or The Brady Bunch?
Besides being of the generation that grew up with The Brady Bunch (although I confess I never spent much time on Gilligan's Island, even in reruns), the news struck a chord because I had interviewed the delightful Sherwood Schwartz and his son and frequent collaborator, Lloyd Schwartz, in 1990 for the Los Angeles Times. And before that, I took a course on TV production taught by Lloyd through UCLA Extension.
Though primarily a lecture course, the class “created” a drama series called The Doctors of Sinclair Bay, which, if I remember correctly, was about a big-city physician who returns to her rural hometown to go into practice with her father, the town doctor. Or maybe we changed the younger doctor to a son, I can’t recall. I do know that the fictional Sinclair Bay was located in the Northwest and the cast of characters also included an overly sensitive brother and a rather mysterious Native American office staffer. And we thought it up before Northern Exposure.
And, after moving to Studio City in 1992, after a number years in the amorphous apartment zone of West L.A., I discovered that the reason I would see tourists with cameras in front of an unassuming home on a quiet Studio City street was that it was used for exteriors of the Brady Bunch house.
On the morning of July 13, another surprise connection: Regulars in my Studio City exercise class had been hearing for a while that one of our classmates, Hope Juber, was torn between the joy of planning her daughter Nico’s November wedding and the pain of knowing that her elderly father was gravely ill. On that morning, she told us the story of being at his bedside with her mother when her father finally let go. I don’t think I was the only one who gasped when I found out that the father we’d been hearing about was Sherwood Schwartz, whom Hope proudly and tearfully observed was probably the “only 94-year-old who is trending right now on Twitter.”
Hope told me her father was never one to turn down publicity when I approached her after class and asked if she would tell me a little about growing up as Sherwood's daughter in Studio City, going to Carpenter Avenue Elementary School (now and walking to after school to the set of Gilligan’s Island. She spoke a bit to Lindsay Baguio but had more to add when I talked to her.
“I would walk down to the Radford Studios almost every day,” Hope recalled. “My best friend’s dad was doing Get Smart, so we’d say, OK, are we going to go to the island, or are we going to go to KAOS?” (KAOS is the fictional "international organization of evil" in the show).
And she’s still here: “I never changed ZIP codes, except for college dorms,” said Hope, who is married to Grammy-winning guitarist Laurence Juber.
The Juber daughters, Nico, 28, a marketing specialist for Adobe Systems and singer-songwriter Ilsey, 25 (see the attached video) also live in Studio City and attended Carpenter school and in North Hollywood.
Years later, people still joke about the rosy view of family life presented in The Brady Bunch, but Hope believes it served, and continues to serve, an important purpose for the kids who watched it during 1969-74 as well as little ones who watch reruns and don’t really process the fact that the Brady Bunch children are now adults. “My dad’s philosophy was, he was a very optimistic man. … I think that everything he did was based on that philosophy that people can work together,” Hope said. “When he was faced with the way TV was going, it was hard for him to see the negativity taking hold of things, because he just loved people and thought there was so much potential for good.”
Added Hope, “In many ways, he was my dad, but he was a father to a generation of people, some of whom would come home and they didn’t have parents who were there to answer their questions.”
I decided that Heidi—a very optimistic dog—should become part of this extended family. After all, the Bradys had a dog, Tiger. So my husband Alan and I took her for a visit to the earlier this week. Per Patch policy, I won’t include the address of the house, but it’s easy to find. Sure enough, a gaggle of visitors were shooting each other’s photos standing in front of the house. After they scattered, we took Heidi’s picture there, too.
Did the dog know what was going on? She probably didn't have much more than a hunch. But she seemed happy to be included in the extended Brady family -- which, it seems, would have been good enough for Sherwood Schwartz.