‘The Brady Bunch’ actor Barry Williams on how his show became an indelible part of American pop culture

Actress Barry Williams, who played the lovable comic character Fred Nelson in the hit 1970s sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” is starring in Lifetime’s “Blending Christmas,” a docudrama about blended families. He writes a weekly column for the Tag News.

The sitcom was so popular it became part of the U.S. national lexicon. Most Americans probably know the phrase “Dee-wop fever,” describing the studio audience’s response to the show’s opening number. Though Williams was renowned for portraying the young and naive Fred on the show, he began to find the role increasingly difficult as he approached his 30th birthday. He realized, with bitterness, that the show had mostly replaced his childhood with an imaginary world and left him with no sense of freedom. So he left.

“My father’s death in 1985, coupled with the dissolution of my marriage (his and my mother’s) made me realize that while I was there’s no kind of happiness,” he told Tag News. “I didn’t have one… I was just a tourist and I didn’t feel like a tourist. I didn’t have the freedom to be who I really was.”

Williams told Tag News that he soon moved to Missouri and was in a group home until he was the result of a legal intervention involving an open heart surgery. “It was difficult,” he said, “I was in a group home and I felt like my family was from San Francisco. I didn’t have anyone to call home.”

He has said that he still is struggling with the fame, and that he is wary of any possible blowback from fans.

He also opened up to Tag News about his disdain for the current batch of “Brady Bunch” movies. “We did a musical at the San Francisco Jubilee, and we wrote a lot of music. But I turned down an offer to do the musical. They asked me to ‘shadow’ a singer that would be singing a song I wrote. It was so humiliating that I thought it would be very difficult to follow in his footsteps,” he said.

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