TV URBAN LEGEND: “The Brady Bunch’s” dog was replaced mid-episode because the original dog was killed.
Actors are written off of television shows for all sorts of odd reasons (like Jay Thomas’ off-air insults of Rhea Perlman leading to his firing from “Cheers”), but a stranger phenomenon is when characters simply disappear without any explanation, like Richie and Joanie’s older brother Chuck on “Happy Days” or the youngest Winslow sibling on “Family Matters” (whose abrupt departure ultimately led to her doing adult films to make ends meet).
An example of this phenomenon is BOTH household pets from the pilot episode of “The Brady Bunch,” but the most tragic departure is that of Tiger, the Bradys’ beloved dog. Read on to learn why Tiger was written off the show, and why they kept his doghouse.
The first episode of the beloved family sitcom “The Brady Bunch” aired in 1969, introducing viewers to the show’s premise through the famous theme song, about a man with three boys marrying a woman with three girls. In the pilot, “The Honeymoon,” there’s a conflict between the girls’ cat Fluffy and the boys’ dog Tiger, which is resolved by the children (and their pets) tagging along on their parents’ honeymoon after a wedding marred by the animals fighting. Fluffy never appeared after the pilot.
Tiger, however, was prominently featured in early episodes, and was even prominently displayed when the show was spotlighted during its first season on the cover of “TV Guide.” In the fifth episode, “Katchoo,” Jan appears to be allergic to Tiger. After trying a number of solutions, the Bradys are set to send the dog to live with their grandmother, only to discover that Jan is actually allergic to Tiger’s new flea powder. However, the dog that stayed at the end of “Katchoo” was NOT the dog that began the episode!
The great Sherwood Schwartz, who created the series, wrote about the episode in his book “Brady, Brady, Brady: The Complete Story of ‘The Brady Bunch’ as Told by the Father/Son Team Who Really Know” (written with his son, Lloyd Schwartz):
There is a heartfelt sequence that has each of the boys saying good-bye to Tiger. The dog was placed in the boys’ bedroom set, and I retrieved Mike Lookinland from the schoolroom. Bobby Brady was ready. The dog was ready (so I thought) and the camera rolled. The director said, “Action!” And the dog promptly ran off the set.
Dogs aren’t people. They are entitled to an aberration. The trainer put the dog back on the set. Same scenario. After the dog ran off again, I went to the trainer. “What’s with the dog?” The trainer then said words that you never want anyone to say in any situation, especially not when the lights are on and you’re filming an expensive network TV show.
“I was afraid of this,” he said.
“That’s not Tiger. Tiger was home, and he got out. He was hit by a car and killed.”
I was taken aback. “That’s terrible. I’m really sorry.”
“Me too. He was a good dog.”
Then I realized that if this dog wasn’t Tiger, who was it?
I asked, “Then what dog is this?”
He confessed, “I didn’t know what to do, so on the way in I stopped off at the pound and…”
“You put an untrained dog in the center of a set and we’re filming?”
“I was hoping it would work.”
They ended up up nailing the dog’s collar to the ground to get the dog to stay in scenes where the boys say goodbye.
The show then replaced the original Tiger with a lookalike, but the new dog wasn’t nearly as trained as the original, and thus they eventually just stopped using the new dog midway through the second season (all told, the original Tiger appeared in three episodes, the fill-in finished up that third episode, and the replacement was in seven). So there was no Tiger from midway through the second season until the end of the series after Season 5.
That then leads to the question, “Why was there a doghouse throughout the series?”
All the way through the series, Tiger’s doghouse remained. According to star Barry Williams (who played oldest son Greg Brady), it was because of an accident on set. You see, the grass on the set was clearly artificial, and one day, a studio light fell and burned a hole in the turf. Rather than replace the entire lawn, they decided to just use the doghouse prop to cover up the hole, and it remained there from that point forward (Susan Olsen, who played youngest daughter Cindy, later revealed that she and Lookinland would sometimes hide in the doghouse and kiss when they were nine).
The legend is…
Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of television.
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