American actress Ann B Davis, best known for her role as wisecracking housekeeper Alice Nelson in the TV comedy series The Brady Bunch, has died at the age of 88.

Davis received an Emmy Award for the role in the long-running sitcom, which ran for five years from 1969.

Bishop William Frey, a close friend of Davis, told CNN the actress died at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where she was treated after hitting her head in a fall.

Her character helped keep a large, blended family functioning on The Brady Bunch by offering advice and wise cracks to busy parents and frantic kids, or simply by making meat loaf for eight.

She was known for her light blue housekeeper's uniform with a white apron. Behind the scenes, Davis was said to have provided a model of acting professionalism to the show's six child actors.

She had a small part as a trucker named Shultzy in The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995.

The Brady Bunch was among the first US television shows to focus on a non-traditional family.

Robert Reed's character, architect Mike Brady, was a widowed father of three boys. Florence Henderson's character Carol Brady was a single mother - the show was vague as to why - who had three daughters.

They got married in the first episode in September 1969. The series made its debut amid cultural tumult in the United States but remained invariably cheery and avoided controversy during its five seasons on the ABC network.