It was “the story of a lovely lady” and now, that lovely lady’s story has come to a close. Actress Florence Henderson, best known to millions of television viewers as Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, has died at the age of 82.
Henderson began acting at age 17 and she entered New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts (thanks to financial assistance from a schoolmate’s parents). By age 18, she’d made her Broadway debut and later attracted the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein. She was cast as the female lead in the national touring company of Oklahoma!.
Henderson continued to have an impressive career on stage and became one of “The Today Girls” on NBC’s Today Show where she reported on the weather and lighter news stories of the day.
But, of course, audiences worldwide came to know Henderson for her work on The Brady Bunch TV show. A comedy about a blended family of two adults, six kids and a lovable housekeeper, the classic series aired for five seasons (1969-1974) on ABC. It then went directly into syndication where new generations have been finding it ever since. Henderson returned to the role for the many reunion shows and revivals that followed.
She went on to appear in dozens and dozens of other television shows. She also hosted and produced a cooking series called Country Kitchen for The Nashville Network. She did that for nine seasons which led her to author a cookbook. It was one of many books that she wrote or co-authored about cooking, her life, Bible stories, and women’s health.
Henderson remained very active in her later years and made many appearances each year at private events, on stage, and on TV shows. Earlier this week, she was in the audience of Dancing with the Stars (she competed on the series in 2010), cheering on her TV daughter, Maureen McCormick.
Henderson married Broadway casting director Ira Bernstein in 1956 and they had four children together. She and Bernstein divorced in 1985. Henderson married Doctor John Kappas in 1987 after he introduced her to the study of hypnotherapy. She eventually becoming a hypnotherapist herself. Kappas died in 2002, from cancer.
When asked in a 1999 Archive of American Television interview how she would like to be remembered, Henderson said, “Probably as someone who survived for a long time in a very tough business. And, hopefully, who managed to retain a sense of humanity.”
Henderson was hospitalised on Wednesday and died on Thanksgiving, November 24th, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was surrounded by friends and family members. The cause was heart failure. Her manager, Kayla Pressman, said that her passing was unexpected as she had been in good health.
Henderson is survived by two sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren — and millions of television viewers around the world. Thank goodness for reruns.
Florence Henderson was a dear friend for so very many years & in my <3 forever. Love & hugs to her family. I'll miss u dearly #RIPFlorence
— Maureen McCormick (@MoMcCormick7) November 25, 2016
— Eve Plumb (@Therealeveplumb) November 25, 2016
Deeply saddened. Florence was one of the most gracious people I have ever known, Proud to call her Mom and life long friend. #RIPFlorence
— Barry Williams (@MrBarryWilliams) November 25, 2016
Of course we are all devastated by the loss of our TV Mom, but four magnificent human beings are proof that… https://t.co/BKDe1lK13e
— Susan Olsen (@Thesusanolsen) November 25, 2016
I grieve for the passing of my dear friend, Florence. Privileged to have known her and the kindness of her heart. She will be missed. RIP pic.twitter.com/Wu1ujaycHW
— Christopher Knight (@ChrisKnightHome) November 25, 2016
Over the years, I spent so much time w/ Florence Henderson, you would think she was a member of my family. #RIPFlorenceHenderson Real talent
— Danny Bonaduce (@TheDoochMan) November 25, 2016
Florence Henderson, thanks for your light and love. You were America's mom, and we shall miss you dearly.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 25, 2016
A gorgeous actress who sang like an angel and danced like a Rockette. You will be missed very much, our dear friend Florence Henderson. RIP
— RUTH BUZZI (@Ruth_A_Buzzi) November 25, 2016
Sad to read about the passing of Florence Henderson, one of the lovliest, most loveable and beloved people in our business
— carl reiner (@carlreiner) November 25, 2016
Broken hearted. She was like a mom to is all. I'm grateful I had the chance to get to know you these past few years. RIP #FlorenceHenderson
— Carrie Ann Inaba (@carrieanninaba) November 25, 2016
So sad to hear of the passing of the lovely Florence Henderson. Look up, there's one more star in heaven
— Len Goodman (@GrumpyLGoodman) November 25, 2016
Florence Henderson was a doll and a dame and funny as hell. RIP
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) November 25, 2016
Florence Henderson-Warm Talented & kind passed away today.Thank you Florence for being such a kind generous friend to Alexis.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) November 25, 2016
Florence Henderson. That hurts. But she leaves an indelible mark on the history of entertainment. We love you, Mrs. Brady.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) November 25, 2016
I am missing my friend, Florence Henderson. pic.twitter.com/Kg0vLJ1W6J
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) November 25, 2016
RIP Florence Henderson.
— Robbie Rist (@trash24713) November 25, 2016
Was gonna write something flowery about my teevee aunt but…I got nothing left, 2016. I got nothing left.
— Robbie Rist (@trash24713) November 25, 2016
What do you think? How will you remember Florence Henderson? As “classic” Carol Brady or some other role or appearance? Please share your thoughts below.