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Barry Williams Biography


Home > Actors > W > Williams, Barry > Biography


Birth Name: Barry Williams
Born: 09/30/1954
Birth Place: Santa Monica, California, USA


Barry Williams began life on Sept. 30, 1954 as Barry William Blenkhorn, the son of Santa Monica residents Frank Blenkhorn and his wife, Doris May Moore. At the age of four, was so determined to get into the entertainment business that he sought advice from his neighbor and idol, actor Peter Graves, on how to go about it. The answer, of course, was to get an agent, which Williams did by the age of 11, and quickly followed up with acting classes and scene study courses. His screen debut came as the lead in an educational film, "Why Johnny Can Read," and he scored his first television role when he was just 13 in a Christmas episode of "Dragnet 1967" (NBC, 1967-1970). More juvenile roles soon followed, including his uncredited feature debut as the adolescent version of Christopher Jones' messianic rock singer in the cult favorite "Wild in the Streets" (1968). A year later, he was tapped to play eldest son Greg Brady on "The Brady Bunch," which, for better or worse, would change his life forever.

On TV producer Sherwood Schwartz's beloved program, Williams' Greg was the ostensible leader of the merged Brady brood, a stereotypically confident young man with a slightly over-inflated sense of self that grew comically larger in subsequent seasons. He was something of a ladies' man, albeit on a high school scale, and entertained dreams of being a pop star, which led to the memorable if ludicrous "Johnny Bravo" episode, in which he discovered that his voice had been electronically sweetened by unscrupulous record producers. Blessed with a healthy head of dark hair, sleepy eyes and a competent singing voice, Williams became a teen idol as the series drew to a close, and - much like the similar TV sensation "The Partridge Family" (ABC, 1970-74) - participated in the producers' attempts to market the Brady kids as a pop music act. Williams himself cut a solo single, "Sweet Sweetheart," but was encouraged to abandon his own efforts while the Brady phenomenon still had a pulse. After three albums and an animated series, "The Brady Kids" (ABC, 1972-74), Williams' initial stint as Greg Brady came to an end with the live-action series' demise in 1972, but the show remained remarkably popular in syndication. In 1976, the original cast minus Eve Plumb (Jan) was reunited for "The Brady Bunch Hour" (ABC, 1976-77), a garish, surreal variety show that hinged on the idea that the Bradys had rebranded themselves as a family musical act. It was crucified on arrival and quickly banished from the airwaves, but remained a cult favorite with Generation-Xers for decades.

Like many child actors whose rise to fame was sudden and stratospheric, Williams found it hard to escape the shadow of Greg Brady in the late 1970s. Television projects were few and far between, save for a brief turn on the daytime soap "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ) as a British con man at the show's height of popularity in the early "Luke and Laura"-era 1980s. Williams found steadier work in touring musical theater, where his pop idol past and still-capable voice made him an ideal lead in light fare like "West Side Story" and "Grease." But his "Brady Bunch" past was never far behind, and in the 1980s, he reprised the role for several reunion projects, including the TV-movie "The Brady Girls Get Married" (NBC, 1981) and the odd dramedy "The Bradys" (CBS, 1990), which found grown-up Greg working as an obstetrician.

Deciding that switching was better that fighting, Williams wholeheartedly embraced his Brady past. He penned a tell-all bio, Growing Up Brady (1992), which detailed, among other surprising, uncomfortable facts, his teen romance with co-star and onscreen sister Maureen McCormick, a date with TV mom Florence Henderson who was several years his junior, and other decidedly un-"Brady" details. The best-selling book was later turned into a TV movie (NBC, 2000), which Williams promoted relentlessly on television and at live performances. An album, The Return of Johnny Bravo, was released in 1999 and featured the single "The Real Greg Brady," which parodied Eminem's "Real Slim Shady" hit, among other comic numbers.

Not all of the promotional attempts were positive, as a knockout by "Partridge Family" star Danny Bonaduce on the garish "Celebrity Boxing" (Fox, 2002), proved. Williams was also the subject of an Actors' Equity Association suit that sought to penalize him for appearing in a non-union production of "The Sound of Music" in 2001. Williams attempted to counter with a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, which stated that he had resigned from the union, but the case was eventually found in Actors' Equity's favor, and Williams was forced to pay a staggering $52,000 fine. He was later reinstated in 2004 after unionizing a non-equity production of "A Christmas Carol."

Williams continued to mine Greg Brady for gold in the years that followed, including a stint as host of a pop culture quiz on Sirius Satellite Radio and appearances with fellow former "Brady" co-stars on talk shows and at autograph events. He even joined Christopher Knight, a.k.a. younger brother Peter Brady, in an episode of "That '70s Show" (Fox, 1998-2006) as a gay couple, and on various episodes of Knight's reality series, "My Fair Brady" (VH1, 2005-08). In 2007, he launched The Greg Brady Project, a website that featured conversations with his fans and other celebrities. In subsequent years, he was a featured player in the low-budget genre company Asylum's mock science fiction thrillers like "Mega Piranha" (2010), which co-starred '80s pop singer Tiffany, and "Bigfoot," which reteamed him with Bonaduce on a search for the mysterious creature.