Florence Henderson

Active - 1958 - 2016  |   Born - Feb 14, 1934 in Dale, Indiana, United States  |   Died - Nov 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Comedy

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Ever since the '50s, each generation has had its definitive sitcom mom, the one woman who symbolizes the attitudes and ideals of the American household (at least according to the major networks). In the late '50s, it was Barbara Billingsley; Donna Reed ruled the '60s; Roseanne repped the '80s; and Florence Henderson was queen of the '70s. As Carol Brady, she was the polyester-clad personification of the "have a nice day" mentality on the Brady Bunch (1969-1974). Prior to becoming Mrs. Brady, Henderson had worked on television during the '50s, getting her start as the "Today Girl" on Today (1952) and as a regular on Sing Along (1958). She also made frequent appearances on the Tonight Show through the early '60s. Henderson was a successful star of Broadway musicals and in 1970, she starred in the musical feature-film biography of Scandinavian composer Edvard Grieg, Song of Norway (1970).

Since the end of the Brady Bunch series, Henderson has basically made her living portraying and sometimes spoofing Carol Brady. There was a blessedly short-lived variety show sequel to the program, The Brady Bunch Hour (1977), and Brady Bunch reunion TV movies, such as The Brady Girls Get Married (1981) and A Very Brady Christmas (1988). The show that wouldn't die also spawned two more sequel series, The Brady Brides (1981) and the downbeat drama The Bradys (1990). In 1995, Henderson played a feisty grandmother, the antithesis of Carol, in the feature-film spoof The Brady Bunch Movie. She continued to appear on TV and in movies such as Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and the documentary Get Bruce!. In 2006 she was cast in season 6 of The Surreal Life, and in 2010 she returned to the small screen yet again to compete in the eleventh season of Dancing With the Stars. Henderson died in 2016, at age 82.

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Factsheet

  • Was the youngest of 10 children born to a Midwestern sharecropper and his wife, who taught her to sing; by age 2 she had a repertoire of 50 songs.
  • Made her Broadway debut at 18 in Wish You Were Here and was soon headlining the touring company of Oklahoma!
  • Her extensive theater credits include leading roles in the Broadway productions of Fanny (1954) and The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963-64).
  • Appeared on NBC's Today from 1959-60 as a "Today Girl."
  • Was the first woman to guest host NBC's The Tonight Show.
  • Followed in the footsteps of her second husband and became a certified hypnotherapist.
  • Inducted into the Smithsonian Institute's first permanent Entertainment History Exhibit in 2008 as one of pop culture's greatest TV icons.
  • Appeared on Dancing With the Stars in 2010.