Robert Reed (John Robert Rietz, Jr)

Robert Reed

Robert Reed

Robert Reed is best remembered as playing the role of ‘Kenneth Preston’ on the television drama “The Defenders,” that aired from 1961 to 1965 as well as the character ‘Mike Brady’ on the ABC television sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” which aired from 1969 to 1974. Born John Robert Rietz, Jr. in Highland Park, Illinois, his father worked for the government and his mother was a homemaker. The family later moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma and later to Navasota, Texas where his father raised turkeys. As his youth Reed joined the 4-H agricultural club and showed calves, but was more interested in acting and music and participated in both activities while attending Muskogee Central High School in Muskogee. After graduated from high school in 1950 he enrolled at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois to study drama and studied for one term at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Are in London, England. He also appeared in summer stock in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. Robert Reed performed in over eight plays in college, all with leading roles, and mastered Shakespeare as well. In 1954 he married Northwestern student Marilyn Rosenberger and divorced in 1959. Robert Reed first guest-starring television appearance was in an episode of “Father Knows Best” in 1959, which lead to guest roles on “Men into Space” and “Lawman,” as well as his first credited film appearance in “Bloodlust!,” and in 1961 he obtained the lead in a new television series, “The Defenders.” For the remainder to the 1960s he primarily appeared in guest television roles, including “Family Affair,” “Ironside,” “The Mod Squad,” and “Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre,” as well as the 1968 film “Star!” The same year he signed on with Paramount Studios and ABC and was cast in the television sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” featured a widowed man with three sons from a previous marriage, marrying a divorcee with three daughters, also from a previous marriage. Despite not being a Top 30 show during its five season run, it remained an audience favorite of the 1970s, until it was canceled in 1974. From the very beginning of “The Brady Bunch” he was not content with his role of Mike Brady, convinced that acting in the often silly sitcom was beneath his serious Shakespearean training. Despite his discontent with the show, he genuinely liked his co-stars and was a beloved father figure to the younger cast members. In his efforts to bring more realism to the show, he would often disagree with the show’s creator and executive producer, Sherwood Schwartz. Refusing to appear in the show’s series finale, “The Hair-Brained Scheme,” he was fired, but the show ended up being cancelled shortly thereafter. During the show’s run he also had a recurring role as Lieutenant Adam Tobias on “Mannix” from 1967 to 1975. Despite his dislike of “The Brady Bunch,” he continued to appear in the “Brady Bunch” spin-offs and sequels for the remainder of his career, reprising his role as ‘Mike Brady’. After “The Brady Bunch” he acted on the stage and made guest star appearances on other television shows and television movies, including “Pray for the Wildcats” and “SST: Death Flight.” He won critical acclaim for his portrayal of a doctor who wants to undergo a sex change operation in a two-part episode of “Medical Center” in 1975, earning him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. He made many appearances in television films, including “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” (1976), the 1976 television miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man,” and the 1977 television miniseries “Roots,” and was again nominated for an Emmy for his work in these miniseries. During this time he also guest-starred on the television shows “Wonder Woman,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Galactica 1980,” and “Vega$.” In 1981 he won the role of Dr. Adam Rose on the medical drama “Nurse.” Despite being critically acclaimed, the series was canceled the following year. In 1986, he played the role of Lloyd Kendall on the daytime soap opera ,””Search for Tomorrow.” During the 1980s he also made multiple appearances on “Hotel,” “Hunter,” and “The Love Boat.” While he was homosexual, he kept it private in fear that it might possibly damage his career. He later contracted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and died in Pasadena, California after a six-month battle with colon cancer.

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  • October, 19, 1932
  • Highland Park, Illinois


  • May, 12, 1992
  • Pasadena, California

Cause of Death

  • Colon Cancer complications due to HIV


  • Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematorium
  • Skokie, Illinois

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