Davis was born in Schenectady, New York, the daughter of Marguerite (née Stott) and Cassius Miles Davis. She had an identical twin, Harriet, and an older brother, Evans. When Davis was three, she and her family moved to Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania. She graduated from Strong Vincent High School and later from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She originally enrolled as a pre-med major; however, she changed her mind and went into drama after seeing her older brother’s performance of Oklahoma! Davis graduated in 1948 with a degree in drama and speech.
In the 1953–1954 season, Davis appeared as a musical judge on ABC’s Jukebox Jury. Davis’s first television success was as Charmaine “Schultzy” Schultz in The Bob Cummings Show. She auditioned for the role because her friend’s boyfriend was a casting director and recommended her for the part. She won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series twice out of four nominations for this role. On February 9, 1960, Davis received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For a period in the 1960s and 1970s, Davis was known for her appearances in television commercials for the Ford Motor Company, particularly for the mid-sized Ford Fairlane models. She appeared on January 23, 1958, as a guest star on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. Davis was also featured in commercials for Minute Rice until the mid-1980s. In the 1965–1966 television season, Davis appeared as Miss Wilson, a physical education teacher at a private girls’ academy in John Forsythe’s single-season NBC sitcom, The John Forsythe Show. From 1969 to 1974, Davis played housekeeper Alice Nelson in The Brady Bunch television series. She later returned to take part in various Brady Bunch television movies, including The Brady Girls Get Married (1981) and A Very Brady Christmas (1988). She also reprised her role as Alice Nelson in two short-lived Brady Bunch spin-off television series: The Brady Brides (1981) and The Bradys (1990), both of which lasted only six episodes. She also made a cameo appearance as a truck driver named “Schultzy”, a reference to her days on The Bob Cummings Show, in The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995. In 1994, Davis published a cookbook, Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook, with Brady Bunch inspired recipes. The book also includes recipes from cast members. In the early 1990s, Davis focused on theater. She performed in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, and a world tour production of Crazy For You. Davis never completely retired from acting; in her later years she was the celebrity spokeswoman in several Shake ‘n Bake commercials, and later appeared in several disposable mop commercials for Swiffer. She also appeared in a number of Brady Bunch reunion projects, most recently TV Land’s The Brady Bunch 35th Anniversary Reunion Special: Still Brady After All These Years. On April 22, 2007, The Brady Bunch was awarded the TV Land Pop Culture Award on the 5th annual TV Land Awards. Davis and other cast members accepted the award, and she received a standing ovation.
In 1976, Davis sold her home in Los Angeles to move to Denver, Colorado, where she joined an Episcopal community called Trinity School for Ministry led by Bishop William C. Frey. The community later relocated to Ambridge in Beaver County in far western Pennsylvania. Davis had long been a volunteer for the Episcopal Church, working at the General Convention, attending services at churches around the country, and was not cloistered. Davis was never married nor was she romantically linked to anyone. Davis died on June 1, 2014, at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Earlier in the day, she sustained a subdural hematoma from a fall in her bathroom in the San Antonio residence, in which she resided with Bishop Frey and Frey’s wife, Barbara. Sources close to her say she was in excellent health for an 88-year-old woman, and her death was a complete shock.
- May, 05, 1926
- Schenectady, New York
- June, 01, 2014
- San Antonio, Texas
Cause of Death
- subdural hematoma
- Saint Helena's Columbarium and Memorial Gardens
- Boerne, Texas