Florence Henderson, iconic Brady Bunch actress, dies at 82

by | Nov 25, 2016 | Arts, News

By: David Tuchman

Acclaimed actress Florence Henderson, who become one of America’s most beloved TV moms for her role as Carol Brady in the late 1960s sitcom The Brady bunch died late Thursday night at the age of 82.

Henderson had been hospitalized the day before, according to her publicist David Brokaw.

Her manager Kayla Pressman said in a statement that Henderson’s heart failed.

The Brady Bunch, which aired between 1969 and 1974 on ABC, went on to control television dials everywhere and influence pop culture.

“It was a warm bowl of oatmeal, TV comfort food, a place you felt would never change,” CBC arts and entertainment reporter Eli Glasner told Humber News on Friday.

“It was a place to escape to.”

When the show first went on “it was some of the most tumultuous time in America,” Glasner said. Then, as the years progressed, things moved into the “tumultuous 1970s,” he said.

The Brady Bunch “provided a reassuring constant” and showed that some part of the U.S. hadn’t changed, he said.

“There were certain kind of basic family values that if you want to believe them, you can,” he said.

Henderson echoed this 17 years ago in 1999 as she looked back on the hit show.

“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,” she said.

When the news broke, Henderson’s former cast mates and colleagues expressed their reactions on social media.

Henderson, who was born Feb. 14, 1934 in the small town of Dale in southern Indiana, got her big break in 1952 when she starred in the Broadway musical Wish You Were Here, and she later starred on Broadway in the long-running 1954 musical Fanny. 

In 1962, she became the first woman to guest host The Tonight Show before Johnny Carson began his epic 30 years as the show’s host in October of 1962.

After The Brady Bunch‘s first run ended, Henderson became a recurring guest on game shows and also acted in cameos on shows such as The Love Boat; Murder, She WroteEllen; Ally McBeal and 30 Rock.

Most recently, she was the host of Country Kitchen on The Nashville Network, and made appearances on Dancing with the Stars and Surreal Life.

Robert Reed, who played Henderson’s TV husband Mike Brady on the show, died in 1992, while Ann B. Davis — the wisecracking housekeeper in the show — passed away in 2014.

Henderson is survived by her children Barbara, Joseph, Robert and Lizzie.