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Table of Contents


Copyright Page

To my children, who inspire me and teach me about love every day

To my grandchildren, who fill my life with light and joy

And to my sister Emily, who has walked every step of the way with me


As I will mention in the introduction to this book, there were many reasons why the idea of writing a memoir was a daunting task that I had avoided for years. But just as it has often happened throughout the course of my life, the support and help I needed to move forward seemed to manifest once I truly committed. Here are some of those special people to whom I am so grateful:

Joel Brokaw put a lot of miles on his tires over many months to work with me to put my thoughts and words on the page. His sensitivity, dedication, and patience made the process far easier and more enjoyable than I could have envisioned.

David Brokaw and Rick Hersh came forward to suggest the idea that the time was right and found a publishing home for it.

My friend Ruth Helen truly understands and taught me the meaning of the word “friend.”

Kayla Pressman was there as always with her steadfast hand and keen oversight. She has been a cornerstone of friendship and professionalism in my life for almost forty years.

My brothers and sisters have loved me and supported me unconditionally.

Christina Boys brought her loving red pen to the process. Every author should have such an enthusiastic, supportive, and adroit editor. Rolf Zettersten, the publisher of Center Street, believed in the potential for the book and made it all happen.

The Orland family—Paul and Malcolm—manage my business affairs as they have for over half a century.

Cheryl O’Neil, my hypnotherapist and friend who was trained by my husband John, has helped me over many a rough spot.

Araceli (Shelley) Loza and Angela Burton are my indispensable and loving in-house support team. They run a tight ship.

It would take many pages to express my gratitude and appreciation for all the friends who have blessed my life. Many of these relationships have lasted almost my entire lifetime while some are more recent. Their loyalty, acceptance, love, and kindness have been a constant in both good and more challenging times.

Teachers continue to inspire and excite me about how much more there is to learn and discover. Whether it was during my school years, professional training, or in unexpected forms in my everyday encounters today, I have been so thankful for the many ways teachers have turned up in my life and continue to share important lessons.

Lastly, special thanks go to the fans, some of whom have been part of my life since the beginning of my career. To the newer and younger ones who have recently discovered me on the tube and think I’m still thirty-five years old, you don’t know how good you make me feel.

INTRODUCTIONIt Will Never Be Noticed on a Galloping Horse

Meet me at Route 2 and Darby Lane by the blue mailbox. I can’t be with my family anymore. I’ll be there waiting for you. Please take me away with you.”

So reads a recent letter from a young girl that is not unlike hundreds of others I’ve received over the last four decades. Between 1969 and 1974, I played the role of Carol Brady on a television show called The Brady Bunch that hit a deep chord with millions of people around the world across all cultures. Astoundingly, it has never been off the airwaves over the past forty years. That is why the letters and e-mails such as this one keep coming.

I have taken each and every one of these letters to heart, deep in my soul. You see, what I have kept private for all these years is that I too was one of those children waiting at the crossroads. My real family, although similarly large in size, was the polar opposite of the Bradys. Truth be told, Carol Brady came alive in my portrayal because she too was the mother that both I and the young girl who wrote me the letter so desperately wished we had.

Throughout the years I resisted offers and simply sidestepped the whole topic of writing an autobiography. Most accepted my excuse that I was too busy to sit down and write a book, since my hectic schedule spoke for itself. I had followed my mother’s advice all too well, words I first remember hearing when I was a little girl no more than six years old.

“I can’t wear this to school, Mother,” I cried, referring to a dress that was made out of feed sacks. In the 1930s, bags of flour, seeds, and oatmeal came in colorful muslin patterns as a sales incentive because many Depression-era families could not afford to buy new cloth or ready-made dresses. The fabric was bright although mismatched, but worst was how the bottom ruffle was partially missing. It left a gaping hole in the front and made the dress stick out like a sore thumb. “Please don’t make me wear it! Everybody at school will make fun of me.”

“Of course you’re going to wear it. That’s all you have. Think nothing of it. It will never be noticed on a galloping horse.”

Those words grew to have enormous meaning in my life. In fact, they were so pervasive, I almost used them as the title of this book. They were a way to deal with adversity and a standard operating procedure for a good part of my life. When terrible things happened, they dictated that no matter what, you picked yourself up and put yourself back in the saddle. You got busy and you stayed busy. But as the stories in this book will testify, that is only a temporary solution.

Not writing this book was also symbolic of an avoidance of a larger issue that I hadn’t been prepared to deal with nor had summoned sufficient courage to heal. It

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