“The Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams was inspired by TV mom Florence Henderson to go on “Dancing With the Stars,” he told TheWrap in an interview last week.
Henderson, who played mom Carol Brady on the ’70s sitcom, competed in Season 11 of the ABC competition. “She was my inspiration,” he said. When asked if he thinks of the actress, who died on Nov. 24, 2016, whenever he hits the dance floor, he answered, “Yes. Every week.”
Williams visited the set in 2010 to watch Henderson rehearse and perform. “I was really taken with it,” he said. “She had always mentored me in one way or another. She knew that I had been active theatrically in a lot of musicals, and she thought this would be a great fit for me. I got the bug, and she made me promise to go for it.”
So far, his dances have gotten mid-range scores from the judges, which have landed him in the bottom two more than once. Devoted fans of the 69-year-old performer have been voting in high enough numbers to have kept him through Week 7 of the ABC competition.
“The outpouring of support that I’ve gotten as a result of this, I never even anticipated. Fans and votes have gotten me through a couple of close calls for maybe going home. So I’m really appreciative of that,” said Williams.
TheWrap: What’s been your favorite dance so far?
Barry Williams: I really liked the Viennese Waltz. It’s fast, but it’s ballroom and it has what we call a frame and you’re holding your partner. It’s what really attracted me to the ballroom dance, which is gliding across the floor and being smooth and light of foot.
What’s been your favorite costume?
I would have to say the Paso Doble matador [from Week 5’s “Most Memorable Year” night.] I got to channel [cartoon character] Johnny Bravo.
It’s getting more exciting as we go. It does shift as there are fewer couples to fill the show, the workload increases and the competition gets more formidable.
One week, you shared an anecdote that you were handpicked by Bob Fosse to be in the musical “Pippin.“
Yes, for the first national Broadway tour. That was something Florence had alerted me to. She knew that I wanted music to be a part of my career. I flew to New York and met the producer there, Stuart Ostrow. Bob Fosse was there for the audition, so we ran through one of the songs and he came down to the stage and gave me a tip, kind of a direction. “Try something a little differently, go again.” And I did and it worked.
How long were you on tour with that?
We did eight cities, six months, seven months and then I was invited to come into the Broadway production. And I ended up staying a short time because I then ended up going back to California from New York to do “The Brady Variety Hour.”
People have made a lot of fun of that show, which brought most of the cast back together in 1976. There’s even a “Simpsons” episode where the characters go on “The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.” But it sounds like you had a great time doing it.
Absolutely. Look at our fantastic guests: Everyone from Tina Turner, Paul Williams, Farrah Fawcett and Vincent Price to Rich Little and Milton Berle. It was absolutely head-spinning. That was the era of the variety show. I understand why people make fun of it. Not everybody gets the Marty Croft sense of humor, and it’s easy to pick apart if you want, but boy, being a part of it was an absolute thrill.
At this point in the competition, you’re having to learn more than one dance per night. How tough is that?
What you think is demanding, all of a sudden it’s twice as demanding. Instead of learning one song, we’re learning two. This machine does not stop. We give it all on Tuesday night live. And we’re up and back in the rehearsal hall at nine o’clock working toward the next Tuesday night. And then rehearsal is only part of the workload. We have our costume fittings and rehearsals. We have television promotions that we’re doing and things that are required by the production.
When I spoke to Jason Mraz, he said he cleared his schedule to be in L.A. for the show. Is that the case with you as well since you’re based in Branson, Missouri?
I’m staying at the same place as Jason. I took everything off to do this. I’m very glad that I did because there’s virtually no room for anything else. My TV brother Christopher Knight and I do a weekly podcast called “The Real Brady Bros.” It’s an episodic recap where he and I both watch an episode and take notes and share and dissect our memories. I’ve had to put it on hold. I said, “Chris, I can’t.” I tried for the first three, four weeks but then we were moving into double songs and there really is no time for me to put these hours in.
What’s been the best thing about the competition so far?
I can’t imagine a better experience someone could have than gliding across a ballroom dance floor with a professional dancer. It’s the best party in town.
For Week 8, he’ll be dancing a Salsa and a Rumba set to the songs of Whitney Houston.
“Dancing With the Stars” airs live on Tuesdays on ABC and streams on Disney+ in local time zones and the next day on Hulu.