Monday, November 9, 2009

The Unsinkable Molly Webber (wait, that’s not her real name)

Can I share something silly here?  Haha!  I know, I know--when has that ever stopped me.  Okay, here's the deal; yesterday morning I am sitting on my sofa, eating a plate of microwave pancakes & waiting for the tape in my vcr to finish rewinding so I can watch last night's episode of Medium.   Meanwhile, I'm flipping thru the channels for anything good that may be on.

I click on TV Land, and see they're airing an episode of The Brady Bunch.   Aw no--I admit to once being a hardcore Brady fan, but I've seen every one of these things at least 400 times and I'm pretty sure I cannot sit through another one again. 

I'm about to switch the channel when I realize this is the "Molly" episode, one of my top ten favorites--and strangely enough, the one I've probably seen the least.

For those Brady fans out there, you know the one I'm talking about--Season 3's "My Fair Opponent".   The girls in Marcia's class elect Molly Webber (a shy, homely girl) as a nominee for 'Banquet Night' as a cruel prank--and dammit, Marcia is going to make things right!

“Molly, try not to slouch so much; don’t you want to be noticed?”

In the days that follow, an amazing transformation takes place; Molly learns to walk with a book on her head, trades in her potato sack dresses for some groovy miniskirts and gets a cool shag haircut.

(I always used to wonder who this girls parents were...) 

Unfortunately, Marcia discovers she's ALSO one of Banquet Night's nominees, but when she tells Molly she's going to drop out of the race, Molly tells her not to bother--she's a hottie now, and she's not worried.  Aghast, Marcia reminds her how she got there...

“It doesn’t make a difference how I got here Marcia; the point is, I’ve arrived!”

Marcia’s created a monster!  But being the Brady Bunch, Molly comes to her senses, goes to the principal & tells him everything. 

She then gets Banquet Night's guest of honor (Colonel Whitfield, the astronaut) to tag along with her to the Brady home to apologize to Marcia and let her know they BOTH won. 

As they’re both so special, the banquet’s now going to have co-hostesses.  Smile

For some reason, this particular episode always fascinated me as a kid; I remember being amazed at her 'transformation', yet oddly attracted to BOTH versions of Molly.  Seeing this again...I suddenly felt inspired to find out just who this Molly Webber was (then & now). 

A search on the internet turned up her name (Debi Storm), birthdate (March 1958) and her acting biography.  I was surprised to see she had guest-starred in a variety of early '70s tv: shows like Bonanza, Marcus Welby, Emergency & of course, The Brady Bunch.  In the late seventies, she did commercials for Coke & McDonalds.

Did You Know Debi Storm was actually the first girl cast as Jan Brady—until the producers decided to go with natural blond daughters “like their mother…” 

Remarkably, she was also the original choice for 'The Exorcist', but turned down the role!  Well, that covered her acting career--but what about now?  And that's when I found her on Facebook.  

Her account was set to private, but what the heck, I sent her a brief message anyway.  I introduced myself & said that I'd seen her Brady episode earlier today & how much I've always enjoyed it.  

And believe it or not, in less than 2 hours she wrote me back!

Debi Storm & her mom, 2009

She just couldn't have been any nicer.  She lives & works in Lakeland, Florida where she's both a realtor and mom to 4 kids.  She's very proud of her early acting career and credits her mom for keeping her grounded.   She thanked me for the letter & also told me that she's always been amazed at how many people remember her for that one guest appearance on the Brady Bunch. 

(Did you know that for her “transformation”, the producers instructed her mom to take her to a beauty shop & get a shag haircut.  Her mom couldn’t bear to have her daughter’s hair cut, so they went to a wig shop instead—and didn’t let on what they did!)
Well, this is one person I won't be forgetting anytime soon either.  Thanks for letting me share this little story here (and Debi, thanks for sharing your story with me).