Viewers of a certain age who just happened to flick onto the VH1 channel back in 2005 may have come across a face that looked startlingly familiar. Granted, the man in question had aged quite a bit, but the boyish good looks were still just about there. A cursory look at the show’s credits would reveal the actor to be Christopher Knight – a former child star from The Brady Bunch. Now, after years spent largely out of the public eye, he had returned to television screens in the most unlikely fashion.
Knight had risen to fame playing Peter Brady on family sitcom The Brady Bunch, which had run for five years from 1969 on the ABC Network. Peter is the second-eldest son of Mike Brady – portrayed by Robert Reed – who is father to three brunette boys. His wife, Carol Martin, who was played by Florence Henderson, also has three children of her own, but they are all blonde girls.
The Brady Bunch was the brainchild of Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz, who both came up with the show’s concept and acted as producer. The idea reportedly came to him when he learned of the high percentages of families in the United States that include children from different marriages. Apparently, Schwartz wanted to create a TV family that reflected this modern reality in America – and so The Brady Bunch was born.
The father figure of The Brady Bunch, architect Mike, is a widower. His wife, Carol, meanwhile, was reportedly intended to be divorced. But the network’s alleged unease at this idea saw the character’s marital history instead left unaddressed. Nevertheless, the series’ depiction of a non-traditional American family was somewhat removed from the perfect nuclear units seen in other TV hits of the period.
And yet despite the fictional family’s non-traditional makeup for TV at that time, The Brady Bunch offered a largely wholesome image to its viewers. The series – which follows the lives of six children, their parents and their housekeeper, all living together under one roof in suburban Los Angeles – never really addresses the burning issues of the era, such as civil rights and the Vietnam War. Instead, the show homes in on the lighter topics of dating and family friction.
Yes, The Brady Bunch is primarily about how the large blended family go about their daily lives in the confines of one house. It depicts the dynamic between the children of varying ages and the resulting conflicts and challenges. The show ran for 117 episodes in its initial incarnation, with the final episode hitting U.S. screens on August 30, 1974.
Though not overly popular with critics or the public at the time of its first run, The Brady Bunch nonetheless earned itself a devoted fan base. And while the show’s failure to achieve top ratings would see its cancellation in 1974, it would become much more popular in the years that followed due to its widespread syndication. In fact, the sitcom would end up becoming something of an American cultural icon.
And Knight’s character is one of the show’s central figures. Born Peterson Christian Edward Brady, Peter – as he is primarily called throughout the series – is the third-eldest of the Brady clan: the brown-haired boy is sandwiched in between his brothers, Greg and Bobby, and below step-sister Marcia.
Peter, who is a student at the same school as his brothers and sisters, is self-conscious and clumsy. The Brady clan’s brown-eyed boy goes from being proud of his accomplishments to mournfully questioning whether he has any personality at all. In the first season, for example, after he earns newspaper recognition for saving a young girl from being struck by a collapsing shelf, his delicate self-esteem is boosted to a staggering degree.
In this notable episode, Knight portrays Peter as being arrogant and drunk on his newfound local fame. But in the third season, by contrast, the boy becomes upset after a kid at a party describes him as boring. This causes Peter to do some soul searching. And eventually, he decides to become the class clown.
But for all of Peter’s character flaws – including his impulsivity and excitable nature – he’s shown throughout the show to be tight-knit with his brothers. And, heartwarmingly, the middle son always seems to look out for Cindy, too. In one particular episode, for instance, Peter punches a bigger boy who’s been taunting his youngest sister about her lisp, knocking the bully’s tooth loose.
Meanwhile, Knight’s character is fond of the outdoors, spending plenty of time in his treehouse – if only to get away from the crammed family home for a while. This doesn’t stop his younger brother, Bobby, from trying to join him on occasion, though. And at one point in the show, Peter also develops a curiosity for medicine, but a spell of hypochondria puts him off.
Plus, just like nearly every developing young boy, Peter craves the interest of the fairer sex. And yet things don’t always go to plan for the wannabe lothario. In one of the fourth season’s episodes, for instance, Peter falls for Jan’s new pal Kerry Hathaway. But the Brady boy’s attempts to win her over border on farce.
After finding himself hopeless in Kerry’s presence and unable to make the desired impression, Peter enlists the help of Greg to try and woo her. The love-struck boy has his older brother hide in some bushes to provide him with the right words to impress the blonde. And although she is visibly impressed with the conversation, she spots the author of them in Greg – and immediately takes a liking to him instead.
With the initial plan a total failure, Peter soon changes tack and plots to have Greg pose as an uncaring cad to turn Kerry off. The brothers set up their sister Jan to convey the news to Kerry and talk up Peter’s qualities, but she becomes determined to tame Greg’s ways. Eventually, the older brother attempts to show his callousness to her directly with the help of one of his other sisters, Marcia, who poses as a jilted ex.
And this act appears to be working – until Peter arrives home and calls time on it. He removes Marcia’s brown wig and tells Kerry that she doesn’t deserve to be played in this way. Admiring his honesty and recognizing his genuine affection, Kerry allows Peter to walk her home. Finally, the love-struck Brady makes a breakthrough!
There’s no denying that Knight’s role as the hapless Peter earned him considerable fame and made him a recognizable figure worldwide. But how did he get there? Well, for starters, he came from an acting family. His father, Edward Knight – who passed away in October 2009 – was also in the TV business: he appeared in the shows The Wild Wild West, Hogan’s Heroes and Mission: Impossible.
When Knight was just three years old, his family relocated to L.A. in search of acting gigs for the eldest boys to finance their college tuitions. Four years later, these efforts began to bear fruit for Knight: he appeared in commercials for the likes of car giant Toyota, washing powder Tide and cereal brand Cheerios. And the young actor subsequently made appearances on the TV shows Gunsmoke and Mannix in 1967 and 1968, respectively – before, of course, starring in The Brady Bunch.
After the original Brady Bunch series came to an end, Knight found work in a variety of spin-offs of the cultural juggernaut, including The Brady Bunch Variety Hour in 1977 and The Brady Girl Gets Married four years later. The actor also appeared in shows such as The Bionic Woman and Happy Days and TV movies Valentine Magic on Love Island and Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker. But in the late 1980s Knight seemingly began to retreat from the limelight – and he found a new calling.
Yes, Knight – a self-proclaimed nerd with a long-standing curiosity for science and technology – began to focus the majority of his time and effort into the computer industry. He entered the field in 1988 at Martec Inc., working as an account sales manager. As it turned out, Knight’s years as an actor and celebrity had equipped him with the communication and people skills that are required to make a dent in the sales and marketing sector.
Indeed, within a year and a half of working at Martec, Knight had landed the business its first million-dollar sale. This astronomical success – and his overall performance in the role – would lead to him swiftly becoming the corporation’s best performer. And Martec made this official by crowning Knight its staff member of the year.
At the end of the 1980s Knight moved on from Martec and was appointed a Vice President at New Image Industry. While being employed by the corporation, he helped facilitate its shift into 3D rendering technologies. And Knight even found time to reprise his role as Peter, too, in the five-episode spin-off series The Bradys. Airing in early 1990, the show followed the lives of the now-grown-up children.
Then, in 1991, Knight and other staff members took some of New Image Industry’s employees and technology to form a new private corporation, which they called Visual Software. The actor’s expertise saw him lead the way in the consumer 3D graphics market. And the company achieved massive growth, with its annual sales snowballing by $200,000 in a ten-month period – before it was purchased by Micrografx.
Yes, Knight was truly on a roll. In 1995 he started up yet another company, which provided fun learning tools for youngsters. Then, a few years later, the restless creative began working for computer keyboard maker Adesso. And 1997 saw him become Vice President of Marketing at TV software corporation IXmicro. Incredibly, Knight increased its annual sales by an eye-watering $61 million within two years.
Next, however, Knight found his way back to the television industry. In 2003 the former child star became an executive within a casting company. He also hosted the Travel Channel series TV Road Trip before getting involved with a celebrity edition of Body Challenge in 2004. But it was the following year that he made a bigger – and more surprising – return to the spotlight.
Yes, in 2005 Knight reemerged on the small screen in a big way: he took part in the fourth season of The Surreal Life. The reality show, which was broadcast on VH1, sees a group of disparate celebrities with declining levels of fame sharing Glen Campbell’s old Hollywood mansion and having to complete a series of challenges. And all of the stars’ actions are caught on camera – from bitter fallings-out to growing friendships.
On the show, Knight is the second star to arrive at the mansion after Joanie Laurer – the now-deceased female wrestler, who played Chyna in the WWE. And before entering the house, the former child actor muses on camera, “Celebrity is not at all what it’s cracked up to be, because it’s tough to live constantly in the scrutiny of a public that doesn’t want you to truly be human.” But he was likely unaware at this point just how much the show would change his life.
That’s because Knight would unexpectedly find love on The Surreal Life. You see, one of the actor-turned-businessman’s housemates was Adrianne Curry, who shot to fame at the age of 20, when she took home the crown on the first season of America’s Next Top Model. And despite their sizeable age difference, the model and the real-life Peter Brady would soon become enamored with each other.
In The Surreal Life’s fourth episode, Curry declares her fondness of Knight to rapper Da Brat – not that the Brady Bunch star would believe it at first. He admits to the camera, “I have no idea what Adrianne’s motives are.” In fact, he was seemingly flabbergasted that a young model would be interested in him romantically. But Curry confesses, “I can’t change my feelings; he’s stealing my heart.”
Then, in the following episode, all seven housemates are tasked with inventing their own ideas for TV programs, with one of them winning the chance to develop it. Curry proposes a show called Beauty and The Brady, in which she has two weeks to try and get Knight to propose to her. But while the model’s idea didn’t win, it would be eerily prophetic of what was to come.
However, Knight still seemingly had trouble believing that Curry was being genuine. In one episode he describes her professed feelings as “bull****” and tells her to “drop it.” But nonetheless, when later put on the spot by Da Brat, Knight admits that he thinks the Illinois woman is “an incredibly beautiful, fine woman.” So, perhaps the tide was turning for the determined Curry to finally land her man.
Yes, in the series’ final episode, Knight finally gives in to Curry’s advances. “I do my best to run from her, but she’s an athlete,” he says. “She hunts me down, [and] I’m a willing participant.” Indeed, the unlikely pair would become an official couple – and their burgeoning relationship would ultimately take them to the small screen once more.
That’s because after The Surreal Life, Knight and Curry would land their own TV show: My Fair Brady. The premise of the reality series was centered around Curry’s wish that Knight either propose to her or face the end of their relationship. My Fair Brady aired on VH1 in 2005 – around a year after the pair had hooked up – and follows them as they try to overcome challenges in their personal and professional lives.
Over the course of My Fair Brady’s first season, Knight and Curry get up to plenty of mischief to keep their TV audience entertained. For instance, the former child actor forgets to get his girlfriend a Valentine’s Day gift, while the America’s Next Top Model winner lets loose with her best friend while he is away. The couple also head to Joliet, Illinois, to meet Curry’s parents, but The Brady Bunch alum doesn’t feel that the trip goes particularly well.
The season ends with the couple on vacation in Puerto Rico, where Knight finally pops the question. Yes, despite the 24-year age gap and the apparent issues in their relationship that were documented by the series, the pair were going to walk down the aisle. And the second season for the most part covers the build up to the big day – including bachelor and bachelorette parties in Las Vegas, their families meeting and a fall-out over Knight’s proposed vasectomy. The wedding episode was broadcast on July 23, 2006, and the nuptials were attended by several of Knight’s Brady Bunch co-stars.
My Fair Brady ran for one more season, with its last seven episodes featuring a nude photo fiasco, a nerve-racking operation and a second honeymoon in Hawaii. The couple’s differences of opinion on the question of having kids also surface throughout. Then, after the series finale aired in March 2008, Knight and Curry were able to enjoy married life without the prying eyes of a TV audience.
However, Knight and Curry’s marriage, it seems, wasn’t destined to last. In May 2011 – just over three years on from the broadcasting of the final episode of My Fair Brady – the couple revealed that they were having a trial separation. Three months later, though, the reality TV romance was over for good, as Knight filed for divorce due to “irreconcilable differences.” The couple had been married for just five years.
But while the split was said to have been amicable, subsequent interviews suggested that it may not have been as friendly as first alleged. Regardless, the thrice-divorced Knight quickly moved on with his life. And he undertook yet another new business venture in 2012: The Christopher Knight Home brand, which aimed to “reinvent the way people shop for home furnishings.”
What’s more, Knight went on to find love again – this time with sales specialist Cara Kokenes. And in 2016 the pair tied the knot on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan. Exactly when and how the couple met is seemingly unclear, but Curry implied in a 2018 interview with Huff Post that it was shortly after she and Knight had broken up.
What is certain, though, is that Knight has lived quite the life. With childhood stardom, four marriages, business success and a bizarre flirtation with reality TV, the New Yorker he has packed an awful lot into his 62 years. And yet to many of us, he’ll likely always be the youthful middle child of TV’s most famous blended family.