Maureen McCormick was 18 years old when “The Brady Bunch” ended its five-year run as America’s favorite family, and at the time, she would have been delighted never to be referred to as “Marcia Brady” again.
“When I was 18, 19, 20, it was, ‘No, no, no, no!’ ” whenever someone yelled “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” at her or asked her about the show, she told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer on Wednesday in New York.
Unknown to most people at the time, she was battling bulimia and a cocaine addiction; McCormick said her feeling back then was “Let’s get away from that.”
Today, though, the 51-year-old McCormick couldn’t be happier still being recognized as Marcia Brady. It’s a part of her, and part of her life, she came to realize.
“I think you grow up and learn what’s important and how to make the most out of life,” she told Lauer. “I learned how to do that.”
She called her years on the iconic show “a huge, valuable part of my experience. Now, it’s just a wonderful thing to be a part of.”
Married to Michael Cummings since 1985, McCormick has an 18-year-old daughter, Natalie, and lives in Southern California. She’s done some more acting over the years, and her biography, “Here’s the Story,” is scheduled to be released in October.
But she was visiting the TODAY Show to talk about her latest venture, as an aspiring country singer on the Country Music Television Friday night reality show, “Gone Country.”
“I’ve always loved singing, and it’s always been a dream of mine to have a song on the radio,” the effusive McCormick told Lauer. So, when the show’s producers called her and asked if she wanted to compete with Bobby Brown, Carnie Wilson, Dee Snider, Diana DeGarmo, Julio Iglesias Jr. and Sisqó for a country music recording contract, “I was like, ‘Yes!’ It sounded like so much fun,” she said.
John Rich of the duo Big & Rich has the job of teaching the eclectic group how to sing and live the country and western style. The show isn’t all guitars and nasal drawls, though. As with any good reality show, the group lived together and had to compete in challenges built around the country lifestyle. Lauer asked exactly what that meant.
“It means getting in horse stalls and shoveling — cleaning them out,” she said. “It means learning how to ride ATVs — getting in a whole bunch of mud. I love all that stuff. I was a tomboy growing up — loved it.”
McCormick actually recorded a country album called “When You Get a Little Lonely” in 1995, and she recently played country singer Brad Paisley’s girlfriend in a music video called “Online.” She said she’s a big fan of Paisley as well as Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood.
Asked which star she most resembles stylistically, she said, “Loretta Lynn.”
Despite her experience in show business, McCormick said she wasn’t ready to perform live on the show. Unlike the other participants, who have sung in big arenas in front of thousands of people, she had done her work in front of a television camera or in a studio.
“The first time we all had to get up and sing, I totally couldn’t do it. I lost it. I was freaking out, I was so nervous,” she said. “The last performance, thank god, I finally got up and was able to do it.”
Perhaps the most unlikely thing to come out of the show was the friendship she formed with Bobby Brown, the notorious R&B singer and former husband of Whitney Houston.
“I never ever in a million years thought I would be in a house with Bobby Brown,” she told Lauer. Going into the show, she thought they had nothing in common, but somehow, the two just hit it off.
“We really just had a real bond,” she said. “I think we’ve both been through a lot. He grew up watching ‘The Brady Bunch.’ He really loved it. We just really connected.”