The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

19 Feb
Barry Williams

On the Highway to Heaven

written by Barry Williams in barry | 5 comments

A couple of days ago I received a residual check for a two part episode of Highway to Heaven I appeared in. The shows were filmed in 1985, the second season of the series.

This got me thinking about how much fun I had playing in Michael Landon’s celebrity tennis tournaments held annually in Phoenix, AZ. I competed in four of them and took home the top prize in two. Although we were practically neighbors in Malibu, it was at these tournaments I first met and got to know Michael Landon. Part of the weekend events included a Charity dinner/auction/show in which I was an invited performer. I brought my charts for Hooked On A Feeling, Treat Her Like A Lady and She Believes In Me and along with 4 or 5 others we “put on a show.”

On one of these Saturday night events, Michael was watching from the audience and doing some casting for his series. He had a two part episode of Highway to Heaven coming up that he was directing and which had a character of an arrogant, selfish, pop star who was a dad to a boy with cancer. After watching me perform at his tournament show, Michael decided I was perfect for the part.

Working with Michael on his show is one of the most profound experiences of my career. He was a truly gifted artist, writer, director, and also benevolent. I noticed how efficiently the crew worked with him. They seemed to anticipate his next move and saved him a great deal of time on set ups. I inquired about them to learn that these were the same set of crew members that had been with him since the Bonanza days decades earlier. He was putting their kids through college now. That type of loyalty is rare in Hollywood. Although it first went on the air in 1959, Bonanza was still in production next door to us on the Paramount lot for the first three years I was filming The Brady Bunch. Occasionally I would “sneak” onto their set and watch them film. At any rate, I was a big fan and thrilled to be working with him on Highway.

Michael directed this two-part episode of Highway to Heaven called A SONG FOR JASON. In the script Jason was my son, played by Joshua Miller, son of Jason Miller – Father Karras of Exorcist fame and author of THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON.

One of the big issues that has plagued my career has been the lack of credibility for my singing. I understand this because most people are familiar with the Brady Bunch Kids attempts as well as a questionable Variety show we Brady’s did in the late seventies. Well, Michael Landon was now giving me a chance to perform on his series and sing a song of my selection. I chose an original hard driving pop song called YOU’VE GOT EVERYTHING I NEED.

When it came time to shoot the song for the show, Michael rented a theatre in Hollywood for the performance. He had four cameras set up to cover all of the angles and just before he rolled film he came to me and said Barry, we are probably only going to shoot this once so give “everything I need”, everything you’ve got. I did and he got it.

I knew even though he filmed the whole 2 1/2 minute song he would most likely use only about 20 seconds of it for the show. After we had filmed it I asked him if he would mind giving me the raw footage so I could use it for promotional purposes. He said he would try. I knew that time in the editing bay putting something together that would not be used on the air still cost plenty of money.

Six weeks later, something pretty remarkable arrived in my mail. Complete fully edited versions of YOU’VE GOT EVERYTHING I NEED in three different formats, VHS, Beta and professional 3/4″. This is the kind of man Michael Landon was. Generous, thoughtful, caring and helpful. I will always appreciate what he did and I used that footage to land several concert appearances over the years. I hope when the day comes I get onto my own “Highway” I’ll meet up with him. He is just the kind of guy you’d want to hang out with.

BTW those two residual checks I received from the Screen Actors Guild totaled $6.24.

 

5 Comments

    Alan G
    on Feb. 19th, 2008

    I stumbled upon your blog and I’m greeted with a picture of Michael Landon and Victor French… cool. Michael’s shows were a staple of my family’s television time together. Bonanza, Little House, Father Murphy and Highway to Heaven are the type of shows that are hard to find these days… shows the whole family can watch and get something good out of. Michael reminded me a lot of my father and I miss them both.

    Nice blog you have here and I’ll be it adding it to my newsreader. I grew up with your show as well. :)

    Andy
    on Feb. 20th, 2008

    Great post! Michael Landon must have been quite a character to work with.

    Had to visit your site after seeing your recent interview on Mahalo Daily, Mr. Williams– thanks so much for appearing on the show and sharing your project with others.

    Suzanne
    on Dec. 23rd, 2008

    Ahh loved Michael Landon and the show Little House on the Prairie, also Highway to Heaven. I watched reruns of Bonanza as a young girl just because he was on the show. lol
    What an amazing actor. Thanks for writing about this and wow $6. 24? Who knew?

    Ki mberly Budd
    on Oct. 29th, 2009

    What other famous actors appeared on Highway to heaven?

    Brian
    on Jun. 9th, 2010

    Barry, one correction, Michael Landon’s tennis events took place in Tucson, not Phoenix. Mr. Landon had a fondness for Tucson, many episodes of LHP were filmed there.

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