The Brady Bunch’s Florence Henderson has died from heart failure late on Thanksgiving
Florence Henderson dies aged 82: Beloved actress and TV icon who was The Brady Bunch’s mom passes away on Thanksgiving. The Brady Bunch’s Florence Henderson has died from heart failure late on Thanksgiving Day aged 82. Henderson, who spent decades in the iconic role as Carol Brady, died surrounded by family and friends at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her manager Kayla Pressman said. TV’s favorite sitcom mom, the actress was best known for The Brady Bunch which first aired in 1969 and continued in one form or another right up to the 1990’s. ‘It represents what people always wanted: a loving family. It’s such a gentle, innocent, sweet show, and I guess it proved there’s always an audience for that,’ Henderson said in 1999. Premiering in 1969, it also was among the first shows to introduce to television the blended family. As its theme song reminded viewers each week, Henderson’s Carol was a single mother raising three daughters when she met her TV husband, Robert Reed’s Mike Brady, a single father who was raising three boys. The eight of them became ‘The Brady Bunch,’ with a quirky housekeeper, played by Ann B. Davis, thrown into the mix. The blonde, ever-smiling Henderson was already a Broadway star when the show began, having originated the title role in the musical ‘Fanny.’ But after ‘The Brady Bunch,’ she would always be known to fans as Carol Brady. ‘We had to have security guards with us. Fans were hanging on our doors. We couldn’t go out by ourselves. We were like the Beatles!’ she said of the attention the show brought the cast. Like the Beatles, there was even a Saturday morning cartoon version called ‘Brady Kids,’ although Henderson was not in that show. She and Reed did return, however, for ‘The Brady Bunch Hour, ‘The Brady Brides’ and ‘The Bradys.’ So did most of the original cast. She was also back again in 1995 when a new cast was assembled for ‘The Brady Bunch Movie,’ a playful spoof of the original show. This time she was Grandma Brady opposite Shelly Long’s Carol. Numerous memoirs also kept interest in the show alive, as cast members revealed they were more than just siblings off camera. Barry Williams, who played eldest son Greg Brady, would confess to having a crush on his TV stepmom. Henderson, in her own book, denied having any relationship with Williams, but did acknowledge a fling with former New York City mayor John Lindsay. Henderson was a 19-year-old drama student in New York when she landed a one-line role in the play ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were so impressed they made her the female lead in a 1952 road tour of ‘Oklahoma!’ When the show returned to Broadway for a revival in 1954, she continued in the role and won rave reviews. ‘She is the real thing, right of of a butter churn somewhere,’ wrote Walter Kerr of the New York Herald Tribune. To broaden her career, Henderson took acting, dancing, singing and guitar lessons, even studying French and Italian.
Florence Henderson, TV’s Carol Brady, dies at 82
By Steve Almasy and AJ Willingham, CNN
(CNN)She was one of America’s moms, a television icon that endured through generations. Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” died Thursday from heart failure at the age of 82.
Her death was unexpected. Henderson had not been sick, her manager, Kayla Pressman, said. Just this week, Henderson attended a taping of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” to cheer on Maureen McCormick, who played her TV daughter Marcia Brady.
Henderson had made some TV and movie appearances this year.
“We are all in a state of shock,” said Pressman, who spoke with the actress Wednesday night. Henderson died in a Los Angeles hospital, surrounded by family and friends.
Henderson was 82.
A TV icon
Henderson played Carol Brady from 1969 to 1974 on “The Brady Bunch,” a show that became a huge hit in syndication. “The Brady Bunch” was a story about a lovely lady and a man named Brady, a widow and widower with three children each. Even 40 years later, parts of the show are still staples of pop culture: The upbeat theme song and Rubik’s cube-style opening, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” the football moment and of course, Henderson herself — with her big blue eyes and signature blonde coiffure. Her former castmates expressed their shock and grief at her passing. “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,” tweeted Maureen McCormick, whom Henderson had seen just days before her death.
From the beginning, to Broadway, to Brady
Henderson’s life story wasn’t as ideal as the one she was a part of on TV. She grew up poor in Indiana, with an alcoholic father and a mother who left when she was 12 years old. She was a talented singer, and would use her voice to entertain the family and help make ends meet. “I don’t ever remember not singing. And I would sing and pass the hat, and I would sing for groceries,” she told the Archive of American Television in 1999. Her big break came in 1951 when she was offered a starring role in the musical “Oklahoma!” Her voice carried her to a successful Broadway career, and eventually she began landing high-profile television gigs. In 1959, she was on set as an NBC “Today Girl,” and in 1962, she became the first woman to guest host the “Tonight Show.”
Henderson became Carol Brady in 1969.
“I created the kind of mother that I wished I’d had, and I think everyone longs for,” she said. Our favorite TV moms
Our favorite TV moms
Henderson married her first husband, Ira Bernstein, in 1955, and had her first child, Barbara, in 1956. The fact that she was a young wife and mother helped her bring the role of Carol Brady to life. “I understood kids. I was close to them,” she said in the 1999 AAT interview. “I was the only one on the set who was married.” Henderson had four children with Bernstein. They were married for 29 years. In 1987, she married John Kappas, a hypnotherapist. He died in 2002. An enduring figure When “The Brady Bunch” ended, Henderson continued to be a figure on screen and on the stage. She stuck with her musical career for a while, reviving her role as Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1981. And, of course, she brought back Carol Brady for numerous “Brady Bunch” spinoffs and specials.
As the decades passed, she continued to be a presence through cameos and guest appearances. She showed up on “Murder She Wrote,” “Ellen,” “Roseanne,” “30 Rock,” and curiously, as a guest host on “WWE Raw” in 2010. She dabbled in movies, appearing in “The Brady Bunch Movie” and most recently, “50 Shades of Black.” She also had a fondness for game show appearances, delighting audiences on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “The $100,000 Pyramid” and “Dancing with the Stars.”
Remembering America’s mom
Stars from all genres paused their Thanksgiving festivities to honor their colleague and friend.
“It was a true honor to have known and worked with her,” wrote Al Yankovic.
“[She] was a doll and a dame and funny as hell,” wrote actor Michael McKean. McKean was a contemporary of Henderson’s, starring in the 1970’s sitcom “Laverne and Shirley.”
“Heartbroken,” wrote “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron. “I’ll miss you, my friend.”