The two actors were among ABC’s most popular stars of family-friendly sitcoms in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Bonaduce as precocious Danny on “The Partridge Family” and Williams as earnest Greg on “The Brady Bunch.” Their paths crossed memorably in the 2002 premiere of FOX’s short-lived (as in, two episodes) “Celebrity Boxing,” with Bonaduce pretty much ruling their bout.
On Saturday (June 30), they’re back together in “Bigfoot,” a new Syfy movie that makes them opponents again, this time in pursuit of the title creature. Other notables are involved — Howard Hesseman (“WKRP in Cincinnati”) and rock icon Alice Cooper are among co-stars, and actor Bruce Davison (“X-Men”) is the director — but there’s no question the Bonaduce vs. Williams rematch is the main event.
“I felt terrible,” Bonaduce tells Zap2it of the outcome of their meeting a decade ago. “I box, and I had boxed for years. It was a good payday, but trainers and other people I knew said, ‘Hey, he’s gotten himself into a situation. You’ve got to carry him a bit.’ But boxing is kind of a dirty business, and he was going to a real gym, where champions of the world train.”
In a separate interview, Williams maintains he “got in a lick or two” during the bout but admits, “Danny dominated the fight. I’ve got to tell you, on both a personal and professional level, that was not very comfortable for me … so when they approached me about being an adversary of Danny’s in ‘Bigfoot,’ I said, ‘I’ll do it on one condition: I can kick his butt.’ And I do. And he was great about it.”
Now a Seattle radio personality, Bonaduce recalls taking a “Celebrity Boxing” punch from Williams that “made me see a little white flash, and he was as shocked that he hit me as I was. I don’t think he’d ever hit someone in his entire life. Then, I hit him so hard, it hurt my shoulder. He hit the ground, and I thought, ‘That’s that.’ Unfortunately, they just kept sending him back in, and he got knocked down a lot.
“I applaud his courage,” Bonaduce adds now, “but believe me, there were some running jokes when the fight scenes in ‘Bigfoot’ were coming up. It was like, ‘I’m getting my revenge!’ He’d keep pushing me down hills and off cliffs, and I was like, ‘Hey, Barry! Come on. Take it easy.’ But it’s fun that he does get to get his revenge.”
Not that he necessarily was lying in wait for that, but Williams — currently producing and performing in a “Brady Bunch”-themed stage show in Branson, Mo. — says he’s kept an eye on Bonaduce over the years. “I’ve followed him through some of his darker periods, including that insane reality show he did (‘Breaking Bonaduce’), which was at once repulsive and compulsive.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Williams allows in turn, “and we do get along very well. My experience of working with him on ‘Bigfoot’ was that he was a consummate professional, right on top of it. He’s still a ‘bad boy’ and he always will be, but some of the indulgences have sort of gone by the wayside. And what’s left is much more representative of who he really is.”
As much as Bonaduce appreciates his current relationship with Williams, he makes it clear where his loyalty lies in terms of their television pasts. “If there was a real rivalry in those days between who was the heartthrob, (fellow ‘Partridge’) David Cassidy or Barry Williams, the clear winner was Mr. Cassidy.
“I’ll go flat on the record, though: ‘The Brady Bunch’ is a much nicer group of people than ‘The Partridge Family.’ I mean, my feelings will be crushed if there are secret ‘Partridge Family’ barbecues that I’m not invited to … but I’m fairly confident there aren’t.”