Celebrity Then And Now
Gene Hackman
Name: Gene Hackman
Birthdate: January 30, 1930
Famous Years: 1967-2004
Currently Known For: Retired Actor
Networth: $80 MillionFamous For: The French Connection, Hoosiers, Superman: The Movie
Gene Hackman
Name Gene Hackman
Birthdate January 30, 1930
Famous Years 1967-2004
Currently Known For Retired Actor
Networth $80 Million
Famous For The French Connection, Hoosiers, Superman: The Movie

Gene Hackman had one of the most celebrated careers in Hollywood in the past 50 years thanks to many memorable roles on the big screen. However, there’s one role on television that he almost got that could have sent his career down a much different path. That’s because if things had gone according to plan, Hackman would have been portraying the family patriarch Mike on the popular sitcom, “The Brady Bunch”.

When 1967 came around, not that many people knew about Hackman despite having a long career on stage. He was already well into his 30s by the time he got his big break in film, playing the role of Buck Barrow in “Bonnie and Clyde”. The role earned Hackman an Oscar nomination, and caught the attention of producers on ABC. This included Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of “The Brady Bunch”.

Schwartz had Hackman in mind to play Mike Brady, and the two sides almost came to terms. However, people that were pulling strings in both directions decided against it. ABC had said they wanted someone that had a little more name recognition, and suggested Robert Reed (who eventually did get the role) would play Mike since he had a contract already, while Hackman’s agent told the actor that he should continue to pursue his film career.

The legendary TV producer Schwartz maintained that he wished the role would have gone to Hackman, long after the show came to an end. Reed and Schwartz famously didn’t get along despite working together for more than 100 episodes, and rubbed the producer the wrong way. “He thought of himself as a major actor,” Schwartz said of Reed. “He was spoiled because he was in a Shakespeare company in England and he felt he was above TV in general, officially sitcoms.”

Schwartz continued by saying, “But he had a contract and he did a great test scene with Florence (Henderson). I didn’t known all of this background. I wanted Gene Hackman for that role, a year before ‘The French Connection,’ after that he would have never done TV again. But I thought he would be ideal for the father role, a little more rough. But Paramount had a deal with Robert Reed.”

For “The Brady Bunch”, it would have been the right time to get Hackman as he was on the verge of stardom. Schwartz was right when he said he saw something in Hackman, who was nominated for an Academy Award for a second time in 1970 for “I Never Sang for My Father”, shortly after “The Brady Bunch” debuted. In 1971, Hackman starred as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle in the previously mentioned “The French Connection” that would earn him his third Oscar nomination, this time netting a win for Best Actor.

Turning down “The Brady Bunch” might have been the best possible thing for Hackman, who spent the rest of the 1970s as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. He’d appear in films such as “The Conversation” and “Night Moves”, ending the decade with the role of Lex Luthor in the “Superman” movie series. Hackman played that role for four films, and then in the 1980s added memorable films such as “Hoosiers” and “Mississippi Burning”.

As for Reed, he held the role of Mike Brady throughout the show’s duration and reprised the character on multiple occasions. He’d be primarily a television actor for most of his career until he passed away in 1992 at the age of 59. Hackman would add two more Oscar nominations to his name following the 1970s, and won his second award for playing Little Bill Daggett in 1992’s “Unforgiven”.

Now 88 years old, Hackman was able to get his going away party, choosing to walk away from Hollywood on his own terms in the early 2000s after films such as “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Runaway Jury” and “Welcome to Mooseport”. Since 2004, his only appearances have come in military documentaries as a narrator, so in ernest his career has been over for nearly 15 years following five Oscar nominations and two wins.

Had Hackman accepted the role in “The Brady Bunch” and the network gave Schwartz the green light to cast him, it’s hard to imagine Hackman being in some of those memorable movie roles. Out of his films, he says that his favorite is “I Never Sang For My Father”, citing it as a “sensitive picture about family and relationships” and that “You’re fortunate sometimes to be able to do something in life that defines who you are and who your parents may have wanted you to be.”

At the time the sitcom came to air, Hackman was a younger actor that was about ready to accept almost any role that came around. Because his star power grew as a result of not being on “The Brady Bunch”, he got to be more selective during his career. For Hackman, he’d start getting choosy about the scripts, and eventually deciding which directors and co-stars he wanted to work with. Down the road, that would lead him to work with people such as Clint Eastwood, Will Smith and many more during his long and illustrious acting career.