Florence Henderson, The Brady Bunch Matriarch, Dies at 82
Henderson died surrounded by friends and family at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering heart failure, the actress’ manager Kayla Pressman said in a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday. She was hospitalized just a day prior.
Born in Dale, Indiana, to farmer Joseph Henderson and his wife Elizabeth, Henderson was the youngest of 10 children.
After graduating from Indiana’s St. Frances School in 1951, Henderson went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
In January 1956, she married Ira Bernstein, whom she shared four children with —Barbara, Joseph, Bob and Elizabeth — but later divorced in 1985.
Prior to scoring her leading role on the 1969 sitcom The Brady Bunch, which propelled her to international stardom, Henderson starred on the Broadway stage — Wish You Were Here (1952), Fanny (1954), The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963) and South Pacific (1967) — and appeared in guest roles on multiple TV series and films. She was also the first woman to guest-host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during a transitional period in 1962.
Henderson became a frequent presence on morning show Today, appearing for a year as one of its Today Girls, from 1959-1960. In her role, Henderson covered fashion stories and human-interest pieces.
Henderson starred in every episode of all five seasons of The Brady Bunch and later appeared as Carol Brady in spin-offs The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, The Brady Girls Get Married, The Brady Brides, The Bradys and The Brady Bunch Movie.
In the decades that followed, Henderson made a slew of guest appearances on a variety of popular series, including Ally McBeal and 30 Rock.
In 1987, Henderson wed Dr. John George Kappas, whom she remained married to up until his death in September 2002.
Other notable roles include The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, season 11 of Dancing with the Stars, and her hosting duties on Retirement Living TV’s The Florence Henderson Show from 2008 until her death. She earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1996.
She also hosted a TNN cooking show, called the Country Kitchen, which profiled well-known Southern chefs across the country. Later, reality TV came calling and Henderson had a turn on VH1’s The Surreal Life.
Just days before her death, Henderson attended the first night of the DWTS finale to support Maureen McCormick, her former onscreen daughter.
The actress is survived by her four children and five grandchildren.