Maureen McCormick, the actress who played good-girl Marcia Brady on the ’70s sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” was not the wholesome girl next door off the set. In her new memoir, “Here’s the Story,” McCormick writes about the many battles she faced, from drug addiction to depression, sex, the collapse of her marriage and more. Here, she talks to TODAYshow.com about the many demons she’s faced and how she’s finally come to terms with “Marcia Brady.”
Q:You get very personal in the book — writing about your cocaine addiction, eating disorder, depression and love life. What inspired you to write so candidly?
A: At the age of 50, I did “Celebrity Fit Club” and I had to get on a scale and be weighed in front of everyone. I felt like I was naked and for the first time, there was nowhere to hide. I felt like I could finally be myself. It was really cathartic, and I realized I could share my mistakes. I could tell my story and not be ashamed, and show others with these same problems that they aren’t alone.
Q:In the book you mention being at a point in your career when you felt Marcia Brady may have been holding you back. What did you mean by that? Do you still feel that way?
A: Playing Marcia was a double-edged sword; it always will be whenever you play a character like that. You will be known as that character forever. So much good came from being on the show, so much fun that I had. At the same time, it was weird because I felt like I had to show to the public that I was Marcia — perfect, with no problems. I didn’t think I could be my imperfect self. I pretended I was Marcia, so I was always playing this role. I became her, but yet I wasn’t. It’s strange.
Q:Do people still call you “Marcia” instead of “Maureen”? How do you handle it?
A: I get it all the time; I just have to laugh and enjoy it. People enjoy it so much, coming up to me saying “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” If people are having fun, I’m having fun. It used to bother me a lot right after the show. I was battling depression, went through a really hard time in my marriage, and I used to cry myself to sleep. I went through years and years of pain and suffering, and finally got help. I feel so much better now, feel like a new person, so now I can be happy about it.
Q:Can you give us a rundown of some of the off-screen romances that were happening between the Brady crew?
‘Brady’ star on sex, drugs
Oct. 14: Maureen McCormick talks to TODAY’s Al Roker and answers viewer questions on her new tell-all book.
Q:What happened between you and Eve Plumb [Jan Brady]? There have been many rumors about your relationship.
A: There have been so many jokes, about sex and relationships on the “Brady Bunch” set. For some reason, tabloids picked up on this Eve thing. I was on a late-night show and I said, “Oh, yeah, I’ve kissed her.” I have kissed all the girls I worked with! I’m just a very affectionate person, I love to hug and kiss people I care about. It was taken the wrong way in tabloids, and people insinuated all kinds of things. I called her to tell her what happened, but unfortunately, this was one of the things that stopped our relationship. There were also other things, but this was a big factor. It’s sad, because she was my best friend. We went through a lot together.
Q:You write that “Life after Marcia Brady was a whirlwind of experimentation and searching that evolved into a grim spiral of avoidance, denial, and self-destruction.” What were some of the challenges you faced?
A: I hit rock bottom when I was doing “The Brady Brides.” I was supposed to be at the studio, screen testing to pick the guy that would play my husband. At this time, I had been up for three days doing coke and was playing solitaire in my closet. My agent had to go to the sixth floor, climb into my place, tear off my clothes and get me in the shower. He said, “You have to get to Paramount right now, and you have a problem.” I couldn’t hide anymore. Everyone knew — the producers knew, everyone at Paramount knew, the guys testing to play my husband knew. It was the first time I had to face that I really had a problem.
Q:Do you remember the first time you took a hit?
A: Yes. It burnt my nose. I didn’t feel anything for the first snort. After a couple more, I had this feeling that everything was perfect and great. I was on top of the world and I could do anything. I had an extremely addictive personality, and drugs just took over my life — 24 hours a day I was thinking about where I was going to get the next bit of cocaine. I had been addicted to coke since I was 20 years old. It was part of my everyday life; it was all-encompassing. It helped me hide a lot of my problems, numbed me out, and was a way of not dealing with things.
Q:You were the Season 5 winner of “Celebrity Fit Club.” How did that feel?
A: It was the start of me opening up to be myself for first time in my life — that’s an amazing place to come to. But to win, I was overwhelmed — it felt great! I was really excited. I didn’t expect it, but I’m also really competitive. As soon as I hear the word “competition” I get serious and start doing everything that I can do.
Q:Have you kept up with staying in shape?
A: When the show ended, I was a size 4. I’m a size 6 now, and I feel great. I exercise at least five times a week, I eat well, take an appetite suppressant. I’m happy being a size 6. This thing in society that you have to be a stick will always be in my mind, but that’s just something I have to deal with.
Q:What is a life lesson that you would pass on to this generation of teen stars?
A: To be yourself and to learn from your mistakes. If you have a problem, try to get help, you can get through it if you get help. When we were on the show, there was no paparazzi, none of that. I was really lucky that I got to avoid all that. Stars now also have problems with drugs, and it can be even harder being so out in the public eye — it’s hard for them to keep their sanity and normal self present, but they can do it.
Q:Do you have any upcoming projects?
A: Right now I’m focused on the book and the tour. I’ll be gone for two and half weeks, and will be in a different place each day. I’m excited about the future. I can’t wait to act again, and I have a great family — a great husband and daughter.