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Robert Reed's Death Was Initially Attributed Only to Cancer but Actor Was Hiding Another Diagnosis and His True Sexuality for Years

Esther NJeri
Sep 01, 2021
12:20 A.M.
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In 1992, Robert Reed from The Brady Bunch passed from cancer, but soon after his death, it was discovered that he might have died from an entirely different diagnosis. He had also hidden his sexuality for years.

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Robert Reed caught many a heart when he starred in the loved-by-all '60s show, The Brady Bunch, and he was adored by both fans and his costars for his quintessential character.

While his secret was kept from the rest of the world, most of his costars knew he was gay, but none of them had been courageous enough to bring it up with him.

Richard Reed and Florence Henderson on the set of "The Brady Bunch" | Source: Getty Images

Richard Reed and Florence Henderson on the set of "The Brady Bunch" | Source: Getty Images

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Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady, Mike Brady's TV wife, remembers Reed being an unhappy soul, adding that living a double life was taking a toll on him.

Seeing as this was the '60s when homosexuality was highly frowned upon, Reed must have felt that coming out with his secret could have caused a flop in his career. Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady notes:

“It probably would have caused the demise of the show. I think it would have hurt his career tremendously.”

The Brady family, from the television series, 'The Brady Bunch'. Top row (left to right) Maureen McCormick, Florence Henderson, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight; bottom row: Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, Robert Reed and Susan Olsen.| Source: Getty Images

The Brady family, from the television series, 'The Brady Bunch'. Top row (left to right) Maureen McCormick, Florence Henderson, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight; bottom row: Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland, Robert Reed and Susan Olsen.| Source: Getty Images

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And even though the show went on to become a huge success, Reed died never having been proud of the show. The show came to an end in 1974, and Reed took to teaching acting at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He loved teaching and even admitted it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, which didn't last much longer. In 1992, Reed was diagnosed with colon cancer after the doctors discovered a tumor.

He underwent surgery then sessions of chemotherapy. In May, he checked into Huntington Memorial Hospital, and he refused visits from anyone except a close friend, Anne Haney, and his daughter, Karen Baldwin.

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American actors Robert Reed (1932 - 1992), as Mike Brady, and Florence Henderson as Carol Brady, in the US TV sitcom 'The Brady Bunch', circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

American actors Robert Reed (1932 - 1992), as Mike Brady, and Florence Henderson as Carol Brady, in the US TV sitcom 'The Brady Bunch', circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

The love he received from The Brady Bunch family was incomparable. And he loved them in return.

The cause of death was attributed to cancer. However, soon after his death, another secret was revealed. The information on his death certificate indicated that the star had been suffering from HIV.

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Even though his costars refuse to speculate where he could have possibly gotten the virus, they are quick to remind the public that if it happened to "The Brady Bunch" patriarch, it could happen to anyone.

A portrait of Robert Reed from "The Brady Bunch" | Source: Getty Images

A portrait of Robert Reed from "The Brady Bunch" | Source: Getty Images

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Just like his sexuality, Reed chose to keep his status a secret from the public, and only a few of his costars knew he had had AIDS. Henderson says:

"I never discussed it with anyone except Barry Williams. The others, even if they had known, would have protected his privacy.”

Robert Reed as Mike Brady in THE BRADY BUNCH episode, "Pass The Tabu." Original air date September 29, 1972. Image is a screen grab.| Source: Getty Images

Robert Reed as Mike Brady in THE BRADY BUNCH episode, "Pass The Tabu." Original air date September 29, 1972. Image is a screen grab.| Source: Getty Images

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During his last appearance on the show in 1990, Reed looked sickly, and when it was his time to go, he called upon Henderson to convey the news to his TV children. The love he received from "The Brady Bunch" family was incomparable. And he loved them in return.

They all remember him fondly because even in acting, he gave his love freely to the Brady family. His youngest daughter, Cindy, played by Susan Olsen, says Reed showed unconditional fatherly love for his kids.

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