A Beloved TV Icon is Finally Making It Big as a Disney Star Decades Later

walt disney ludwig von drake and mystery man in background
Credit: Disney/ABC/Canva

A beloved television star whose on-screen character name became a household name decades ago is finally making it big as a Disney star and even sharing some of his Disney wisdom with fans.

The very first television was sold in the United States in 1929, but it would be almost 24 years before the miracle and magic of color television would be available to the general public. It’s why some of the most popular television shows from the 1940s and the early 1950s, like I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and others, were broadcast in black and white.

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But color television changed everything forever–even for Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Disney broadcasts on Sunday evenings, the first colorized episode of which was broadcast on September 24, 1961.

walt disney ludwig von drake

Walt Disney with Ludwig Von Drake on Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” (1961)/Credit: Disney

A Different Kind of Family Sitcom Emerges . . . in Color

But even though color television became available in 1953, color television units didn’t outsell black-and-white/monochrome versions until the 1970s, and it could be that at least part of the reason for the uptick in sales of color TVs was due to the debut of a brand-new show on ABC on September 26, 1969. The sitcom followed the adventures, antics, tears, and joys of a family of eight living in Southern California. In fact, the sitcom was one of the first ever to feature a blended family comprised of at least one divorced spouse.

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Credit: ABC

Whether they loved it or hated it, almost anyone who watched television in the early 1970s was at least familiar with the faces of the family, if not the lyrics to the entire opening song:

Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother,
The youngest one in curls.

Here’s the story of a man named Brady,
Who was busy with three boys of his own,
They were four men living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group must somehow form a family.
That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.

The sitcom, of course, was The Brady Bunch, created by Sherwood Schwartz. The show starred Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Robert Reed, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland, Christopher Knight, and Barry Williams, who played the role of the eldest Brady named Greg.


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“The Brady Bunch” (1969-1974)/Credit: ABC

The Series’ Staying Power 

Though The Brady Bunch ended in 1974, it moved into syndication beginning in September 1975. It never was a huge success where ratings were concerned, but in syndication, the series seemed to take off, as if new life had been breathed into it. Eventually, a new generation of fans who were introduced to the series about Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy, would arise, as would several spinoff series and films, including satirical adaptations of the show.

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Credit: ABC

Beginning in 1976, The Brady Bunch cast starred in television reunion films, including a spinoff series titled The Brady Bunch Hour (1976-1977), The Brady Girls Get Married (1981), The Brady Brides (1981), A Very Brady Christmas (1988), and The Bradys (1990). Additional spinoff films would follow.

Though there were some spinoffs and other offerings inspired by the original show to which one or two of the original actors and actresses could not return to reprise their respective roles, most of the cast continued embodying the “Brady kids” throughout the years, including actor Barry Williams.

actor barry williams

Credit: Disney/ABC/Canva

But earlier this year, Williams stepped out of the familiar role of Greg Brady and into a brand-new role–that of a TV icon-turned-Disney star. Well, kind of.

A Very Brady “Dancing With the Stars”

Season 32 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars premiered on September 26, 2023, on both ABC and Disney+, marking the first time in the history of the show that each episode has aired simultaneously on both of the Disney-owned platforms.

The 32nd season is hosted by actors Alfonso Ribeiro and Julianne Hough and debuted with a diamond-studded cast of guest stars, including Mira Sorvino, Matt Walsh, Jamie Lynn Spears, Tyson Beckford, NFL’s Adrian Peterson, Xochitl Gomez, Ariana Madix, Alyson Hannigan, Harry Jowsey, and others. Season 32 also welcomed back judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough, and Bruno Tonioli.

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Among the couples featured in the show are actor Barry Williams and his professional partner, Peta Murgatroyd. The pair complement each other well and seem to have a chemistry between them that serves them well in the competition.

DANCING WITH THE STARS Sets Disney Night Performances season 32

Credit: Disney/ABC

But the 32nd season of the show isn’t the first to feature a cast member from The Brady Bunch. Though it’s Barry Williams’s first time on the Disney-owned dance floor, the actor isn’t the first of the Bradys to appear on Dancing With the Stars. Actress Florence Henderson, who played matriarch Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, was a participant in the fan-favorite show in 2010 during its 11th season, and Williams’s on-screen sister, Maureen McCormick, who played the role of Marcia Brady, competed in Season 23 in 2016.

Williams and Peta Murgatroyd

Ok, so maybe he’s not a natural-born dancer, but fans of Dancing With the Stars and The Brady Bunch have been impressed by Williams’s learned talents on the dance floor and by his efforts during practice.

Barry Williams scores 18 after 'DWTS' mishap with partner Peta Mergatroyd

Credit: Disney/ABC

Together, the Barry & Peta dancing duo have performed dances like the cha-cha-cha, and on the Disney100 Night show, Williams and Murgatroyd donned their canine best and performed to “He’s a Tramp” from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955), complete with the spaghetti scene and a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth on the table.


Credit: Disney/ABC

During the performance, Williams appeared to lose his rhythm, nearly dropping his partner during a lift, but when all was said and done, Williams had recovered well, and judge Carrie Ann Inaba told him that he “carries [himself] with such charm” and that no matter what he does, “it’s always a joy.”

Williams Admits a Little Disney Magic Keeps Him Happy at Home

Following his performance with Murgatroyd on Disney100 Night on October 17, Williams took a few minutes to talk about how Disney magic keeps his marriage to wife Tina Mahina, a singer, actress, and Polynesian dancer, thriving at home.

“I think we could just take a page right out of the Disney book,” Williams said during an interview with FOX News. “Make her your princess.”

Williams also touted the support his wife has been giving him since he began on Dancing With the Stars.

“My wife is at home practicing dance moves so that when I come back, we can book a cruise somewhere that has a ballroom floor,” Williams explained with a smile.

barry williams and partner peta murgatroyd on dancing with the stars

Credit: Disney/ABC/Canva

Williams and Murgatroyd continue to wow fans on Dancing With the Stars, and as they’ve yet to be voted off, there’s still time for viewers of all ages to catch this TV icon-turned-Disney star as he dances his way into the hearts of a new generation.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!