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Remembering Alice: 15 Most Memorable TV Maids, Butlers, and Nannies

alice

I have always had Alice envy. Ever since I was a kid, I watched hours of The Brady Bunch reruns. It wasn’t just to watch the kids getting into all sorts of shenanigans and hjinks that drew me in, but the life that they led. They had a super-cool, ranch-style home with that epic staircase, perfect for family photos. They had lots of siblings of similar ages to play with, while I only had one (who just happened to be 10 years older than me). And they had Alice.

Alice was there to fetch a Band-Aid for that skinned knee, she always had a snack ready, and best of all, she loved all those kids as if they were her own, even though she was just their hired housekeeper. Actress Ann B. Davis once said of her backstory: “I cared very much about this family. It was my family. It was as close to my family as Alice would ever get. I would have died for any single one of them at any point.”

Alice raised the housekeeper bar and raised it high. She cooked, she cleaned, she parented — all on top of her witty one-liners. It was like having a second mom in the house. And seriously, who wouldn’t love that? As a viewer of the The Brady Bunch, it was hard, nay impossible, to not have developed a deep fondness for the woman. So many of us who grew up with Alice on their TVs were genuinely sad to hear of the passing of Ann B. Davis at the age of 88. It wasn’t that we lost the actress who played Alice; it’s as if we actually lost Alice herself, a woman who will be forever adorned in our collective minds in a light blue dress, white apron, and gracious smile.

In honor of Alice, we have put together an ode to all those housekeepers, maids, butlers, and nannies who have helped American TV families raise their children, keep their houses clean, and get supper on the table. Who is your favorite?

Alice from The Brady Bunch 1 of 15
Played by: Ann B. Davis

Alice has got to be one of the most beloved maids, like, EVER. She wasn't just the housekeeper, she was an important member of the family.

Most remembered for: Her blue uniform, her love for the kids, and her romance with Sam the Butcher.

Photo Source: eBay
Charles from Charles in Charge 2 of 15
Played by: Scott Baio

Charles was a 19-year-old college student who worked as an au pair, exchanging his babysitting services for room and board.

Fun Fact: Scott Baio actually directed many of the Charles in Charge episodes, proving that he was indeed in charge on screen AND off.

Photo Source: eBay
Benson DuBois from Benson 3 of 15
Played by: Robert Guillaume

Benson wasn't just a butler, he was the "director of household affairs."

Fun Fact: Benson turned out to be very upwardly mobile. He goes from butler to state budget director to lieutenant governor.

Photo Source: eBay
Fran Fine from The Nanny 4 of 15
Played by: Fran Drescher

Fran starred as a cosmetics saleswoman who takes on a whole different job when she becomes a nanny to three children of a wealthy widower.

Fun Fact: The show dived into Cinderella territory when she and her boss fall for each other.

Photo Source: eBay
Jessie Prescott from Jessie 5 of 15
Played by: Debby Ryan

Jessie is a struggling actress from the country who lands a job as a nanny to four kids (and a lizard) in New York City.

Fun Fact: She becomes the nanny after the kids meet her outside their apartment, and she was hired even though she had absolutely no experience with children.

Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios
Florence Johnston from The Jeffersons 6 of 15
Played by: Marla Gibbs

The Jeffersons moved on up and got themselves a maid in the process. Florence wasn't just their household help, she was part of the family, which gave her job security (even though she could be really blunt and sharp-tongued).

Fun Fact: There was a spin-off for Florence called Checking In. She had quit working with the Jeffersons and took a job as a housekeeper at a fancy hotel. The show only lasted one season.

Photo Source: eBay
Lurch from The Addams Family 7 of 15
Played by: Ted Cassidy

There aren't many butlers like Lurch of The Addams Family. His most famous line, and one of the only ones he got, was "you rang."

Fun Fact: Ted Cassidy was a very tall man, coming in at 6 feet, 9 inches!

Photo Source: eBay
Geoffrey Butler from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 8 of 15
Played by: Joseph Marcell

It seemed to be fate that a character named Butler would become a, well, butler. Geoffrey Butler served the Banks family with a cynical yet efficient air.

Fun Fact: His character apparently had worked for Led Zepplin before serving the Banks family.

Photo Source: eBay
Edna Garrett from Diff'rent Strokes 9 of 15
Played by: Charlotte Rae

Edna Garrett was the housekeeper for the Drummond/Jackson family until she left to pursue a new career as the housemother at an all girl's boarding school in Facts of Life.

Fun Fact: The reason she got the "promotion" and her own show was that her character was just so popular on Diff'rent Strokes.

Photo Source: eBay
Tony Micelli from Who's the Boss 10 of 15
Played by: Tony Danza

What job option does a retired baseball player have? No, not coaching or commentating. In the case of Tony Micelli, it's becoming a housekeeper for a successful New York executive.

Fun Fact: The writers had wanted to have the series end with Tony and Angela (his boss who he had become romantically involved with) getting married. But instead it ended with the two breaking up and then Micelli showing up at her doorstep and applying for the job of housekeeper ... again.

Photo Source: eBay
Rosie from The Jetsons 11 of 15
Played by: Jean Vander Pyl

There is something very different about this particular housekeeper ... she isn't human, but she's just as beloved.

Fun Fact: Jean Vander Pyl was also the voice of Wilma Flintstone in The Flintstones.

Photo Source: eBay
Lynn Aloysius Belvedere from Mr. Belvedere 12 of 15
Played by: Christopher Hewett

The British Mr. Belvedere chronicled his work for the Owens family in hopes of turning it into a book, like a precursor to The Nanny Diaries.

Fun Fact: The story was originally a book, then a movie, and finally a TV show.

Photo Source: amazon
The staff from Downton Abbey 13 of 15
This ensemble cast has delighted an insane amount of fans both in Britain and in the United States. It's had four seasons and is still going strong with all of the drama, romance, and totally cool costumes of the upstairs/downstairs world of post-Edwardian era England.

Fun Fact: The show is written and was conceived by Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for writing Gosford Park. When the idea was initially brought to him, he didn't want to do another "upstairs/downstairs" drama, but took on the challenge anyways.

Photo Source: Amazon
Florida Evans from Maude 14 of 15
Played by: Esther Rolle

For a while Esther Rolle played Florida Evans, the maid on Maude, but then transitioned to a new role as Florida Evans, the homemaker and mother on Good Times.

Fun Fact: In Maude, Florida Evans was from Alabama, but in Good Times she was from Chicago.

Photo Source: eBay
Max from Hart to Hart 15 of 15
Played by: Lionel Stander

Max was the faithful servant (taking on the role of chef, valet, butler, and chauffeur) to Jonathan and Jennifer Hart (and their dog Freeway).

Most Remembered: For his VERY gravelly voice and always being there to save the day.

Photo Source: eBay
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