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Sunday, May 26

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Airbags

Robert Reed, who played the benevolent patriarch Mike Brady on the "Brady Bunch" television series, was born in north suburban Highland Park in 1932. When Reed, whose real name was John Robert Rietz, was six years old, his family moved to Oklahoma. However, Reed later came back to the Chicago area to attend Northwestern University as a drama student.

He finished school at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, performed in New York as a member of an off-Broadway Shakespeare company, and then returned to Chicago to join the Studebaker Theater, later the Fine Arts movie theater, at 410 S. Michigan Avenue.

After his stint at the Studebaker Theater, Reed moved west to California to try his luck in Hollywood, thus beginning a long and extensive career in television. He had roles on shows such as the Emmy award winning series "The Defender" and "Dr. Kildare" before being cast as Mike Brady on the "Brady Bunch" in 1969.

Although it is probably common knowledge now that Robert Reed never liked his "Brady Bunch" character, Mike Brady is easily Reed's best-known and most enduring role.

The "Brady Bunch" series originally ran from 1969 to 1974, and while it was never especially popular when it first aired, the show quickly gained iconic status in syndication, inspiring spin-offs ("The Brady Bunch Variety Hour," "Brady Brides") and specials ("A Very Brady Christmas"). It is also said that since the show's cancellation in 1974, it has never left the airwaves. The Brady Bunch has been running somewhere in the world for the last 30 years.

Robert Reed died in 1992 in Pasadena, California, but he is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in suburban Skokie. The cemetery is located at 9900 Gross Point Road.

Resources

Brady World.
Includes history of the show, information about the cast, episode guides and much more. Probably the most complete of the Brady Bunch fan sites on the Web.

Moran, Elizabeth. Bradymania: Everything You Always Wanted to Know -- and a Few Things You Probably Didn't. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 1994.

Williams, Barry. Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg. Burbank, CA: Good Guy Entertainment, 2000.

Chicago Authors: First Lines

"When I was fourteen, my family left Los Angeles, where we'd lived for five or six years, and moved back to Chicago. Naturally, I was glad to leave L.A., but I was miserable and lonely in Chicago.

"I didn't know anybody. The high school I transferred to was a hotbed of early Elvis-worshippers and thugs. My parents rented an ugly apartment in a brand-new, shoddily built high-rise -- a place I hated from the first day. And I was entering the state of adolescent crisis that lasted until I was thirty-two years old."
-- Daniel Pinkwater, from "Where is the Grease of Yesteryear?" in Fish Whistle: Commentaries, Uncommentaries, and Vulgar Excesses.

Daniel Pinkwater was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but grew up in Chicago. Although originally trained as an artist, today Pinkwater is the author of more than 50 books -- most of them for children. His children's books include titles such as The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, and I Was a Second-Grade Werewolf. Since 1987 Daniel Pinkwater has also been a regular commentator for NPR's All Things Considered. Fish Whistle: Commentaries, Uncommentaries, and Vulgar Excesses, from which this week's quote was taken, is a collection of his radio essays. It was published in 1990.

You can find out more about Daniel Pinkwater at The P-Zone.

Have a topic you would like to see in "Ask the Librarian"? Send your suggestions to librarian@gapersblock and it may be featured in a future column.

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