Marcia Brady, The Brady Bunch's eldest girl with hair of gold, has long been associated with the wholesomeness and good old-fashioned family values that her onscreen family portrayed. Much like Karen Carpenter or Susan Dey, Marcia's real-life counterpart Maureen McCormick had to endure this pristine reputation long after the show wrapped, and the outcome is shockingly sad.
In 2009, McCormick wrote a tell-all memoir called Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice and didn't hold back any details about her struggles post-Brady. Now that the actress is back in the spotlight on the reality show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, details of her difficult past are coming to light.
It turns out that behind the scenes, McCormick was coping with many Hollywood evils, from eating disorders to drug addiction, that ended up devastating her career and nearly taking her life. These are the most traumatic secrets from McCormick's sad trip from Brady to bust.
Struggles with eating disorders
Like way too many girls in Hollywood and beyond, McCormick felt intense pressure from the star-studded environment to stay as skinny as possible. As a result, she developed bulimia to attain and keep the so-called "perfect" Marcia Brady form.
For a bit of historical context, the first highly publicized case of a celebrity with an eating disorder came with Karen Carpenter in 1983, the year she died of anorexia nervosa. The media began to change the way they dealt with that sensitive issue, but before that, it was not something that people openly addressed. As a result, McCormick's illness was kept private, only increasing her demons and sense of loneliness.
Dated her TV brother
McCormick admitted to having a fling with Barry Williams, who played her step-brother Greg Brady on the show. According to her account, the two shared a "passionate kiss" during their fictional family's trip to Hawaii. In her book, she says that she was ready to lose her virginity to Williams, but her parents interrupted them. Yikes.
Interestingly enough, this relationship was the source of a joke in the nineties parody A Very Brady Sequel, which had a subplot revolving around the budding sexual relationship between Marcia and Greg. When I watched that at the time, I had no idea they were pulling inspiration from reality.
Cocaine addiction fueled by a family secret
In her memoir, McCormick reveals that she was deeply ashamed of a family secret that led her to escape with drugs. This secret was that her grandmother passed away in a mental institution as a result of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease. McCormick's mother sadly contracted the same disease in utero, and, while she sought treatment to prevent passing it down to her children, McCormick felt a deep shame about this piece of family lore.
During the last year of The Brady Bunch, an 18-year-old McCormick developed an addiction to cocaine that lasted five years. According to her memoir, she was in so deep that "if there was coke, [she] had to stay up and do every last flake." Considering the state of Hollywood in the late 70s/early 80s, cocaine was extremely easy to find.
She tells one story about meeting Steven Spielberg for a part in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but she was so high that all the famous director could do was give her an orange to make sure she ate. After this period, McCormick seriously struggled finding work in Hollywood and lost all the positive associations of her Marcia Brady character.
Traded sex for drugs with her dealer
At one point, McCormick's addiction got so bad and her level of work was so low that she had sex with her dealer in exchange for drugs. In her book, she makes it clear that there was nothing else that mattered to her besides pursuing and using cocaine.
I sought refuge in seemingly glamorous cocaine dens above Hollywood. I thought I would find answers there, while in reality I was simply running farther from myself. From there, I spiraled downward on a path of self-destruction that cost me my career and very nearly my life.
She ended up in a vicious cycle of giving up prospective work to use coke, and then not having enough money to support that habit. Thankfully, she found help for her addiction in 1985 when she met her now-husband, Michael Cummings. She lauds him as the reason her life changed for the better.
While many of these behaviors don't jive with the Marcia Brady character that persists throughout pop culture today, I've got to commend McCormick on being so open about her extremely tough experiences. Her honesty shows just how idealized a Brady Bunch life is, and that stark contrast ultimately reveals the truth of suffering that still persists throughout Hollywood for many people.
Though these secrets are shocking to many, in the end, this is really a story of triumph. Maureen McCormick may not have had the career that we expected from Marcia Brady, but she overcame her demons and began a happy life. I, for one, am really impressed by that, and I hope other struggling starlets can find some guidance in McCormick's rough road.