Maureen McCormick has finally made peace with her alter ego, Marcia Brady. But she still hasn’t made peace with her stage sister and one-time good friend Eve Plumb, who played the middle sister, Jan, in the iconic television series “The Brady Bunch.”
“I keep in touch with everyone but Eve,” McCormick revealed to TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Tuesday in New York. “We were best friends. I really find it sad we don’t see each other anymore. I miss her very much.”
The former child star visited TODAY to talk about her book, “Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice,” which hit stores Tuesday. The book is a painfully frank account of a lifelong battle with a litany of demons: sex, drugs, depression, bulimia, paranoia.
But it is also a story of hope, because in the past two years, McCormick said, she has finally come to grips with those demons and found peace.
The final bridge to be repaired is the one with Plumb. McCormick told Vieira that her co-star stopped speaking to her years ago after McCormick appeared on a late-night talk show and got carried away during a conversation about the “The Brady Brides,” a reunion TV-movie that marked the first time the entire cast had been back together since “The Brady Bunch” ended its five-year run in 1974.
“It was all this sex with the Brady Bunch,” she said of the rumors at the time that set the tenor of the talk-show segment. “So I was on this talk show and I said I fell in love with everybody,” McCormick went on, naming her fellow cast members: Robert Reed, her TV father, and her TV brothers, Barry Williams [Greg Brady] and Chris Knight [Peter Brady].
She actually did have a crush on Reed, and she almost lost her virginity when she was 16 to Williams. (His parents came in his room and caught them in a passionate clinch and circling the bases, but not yet arrived at home plate.) In the spirit of fun, she told Vieira, McCormick added on the talk show that she was also in love with Florence Henderson, her TV mom, and Plumb, whom she said she kissed.
“I was having fun, something I was joking with, and she didn’t take it that way,” McCormick told Vieira.
In a second segment on TODAY with Al Roker, a viewer asked McCormick in an e-mail if there is any chance that she and Plumb will get back together.
“I’ve reached out to her,” McCormick said. “I called her for years and would never get a phone call back. Finally, after doing that for so long, I thought, she’ll call me when she wants to, and hopefully she will.”
Now 52, McCormick reveals all about a colorful but frequently troubled life: her romance with Williams, her dates with Michael Jackson and Steve Martin, cocaine binges and parties at the Playboy Mansion and the home of Sammy Davis Jr., two abortions, and trading sex for drugs.
“That was one of the lowest parts of my life,” she told Roker of the depths of her addiction. “It came toward the end of my doing cocaine … All I cared about was having sex and doing the drugs. I had sex to get the drugs.”
McCormick was 14 when "The Brady Bunch" debuted on ABC, running from 1969 to 1974. Despite her role as a sunny Miss Perfect, she struggled privately with anxiety and insecurity, the youngest of four children born to a mercurial father who abused and cheated on their mother.
That was just part of it, she told Vieira.
“My grandmother died in a mental hospital from syphilis, going insane. Her husband committed suicide a week later,” McCormick said. “My mother contracted syphilis. And I thought that I had syphilis growing up my whole life. I thought that I would also go insane and end up in a mental institution. It was awful. I was battling depression for a long, long time.”
“As a teenager, I had no idea that few people are everything they present to the outside world,” she writes in the book, published by William Morrow. “Yet there I was, hiding the reality of my life behind the unreal perfection of Marcia Brady ... No one suspected the fear that gnawed at me even as I lent my voice to the chorus of Bradys singing ‘It's a Sunshine Day.’ ”
When “The Brady Bunch” ended, she took up a hard-partying lifestyle in Hollywood, using drugs that included cocaine and Quaaludes. She struggled to regain her earlier success, landing some TV and movie roles, but developed a reputation for unreliability due to her addiction, even botching an interview with Steven Spielberg because she was high.
She missed an audition for “The Brady Brides” because she was up for three days doing cocaine. When her agent came to her home to find out what had happened, he had to climb a ladder to her bedroom to drag her out of the closet where she was hiding. “He tore my clothes off, threw me in the shower and told me we’re going to Paramount” for the audition, she told Vieira.
That, she said was rock bottom.
After interventions, stints in rehab and experimental therapies, McCormick began getting sober in 1985 when she married actor Michael Cummings, with whom she has a daughter, Natalie. She continued to fight depression through therapy, medication and the help of "Brady" castmates.
McCormick, who is also a singer, starred on the Country Music Television reality series “Gone Country” and “Outsider's Inn.” She also confronted her weight issues several years ago as the winning contestant on the VH1 reality show “Celebrity Fit Club.”
As for her iconic role, “I’ll always be struck by how much a part of people's lives Marcia is and always will be. But now I’m not bothered by the connection. It took most of my life, countless mistakes and decades of pain and suffering to reach this point of equanimity and acceptance.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.