Florence Henderson of The Brady Bunch dead at 82
Beloved TV mom Florence Henderson, who portrayed Carol Brady on the blended family sitcom The Brady Bunch, has died at 82.
Henderson died Thursday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, after being hospitalized the day before, said her publicist, David Brokaw. Henderson had suffered heart failure, her manager Kayla Pressman said in a statement.
Family and friends had surrounded Henderson’s hospital bedside, Pressman said.
The Brady Bunch ran between 1969 and 1974 on ABC and, with most or all of the original cast, spawned made-for- television movies, a variety show, a weekend morning cartoon series and a musical side project. The show was a constant presence on TV dials for several years after its cancellation through syndication reruns.
An attempt to reboot the franchise for a new generation of television viewers in 1990, The Bradys, was short-lived.
Henderson played the grandmother when a new cast was assembled for The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995, with Shelley Long portraying the mother in the motion picture.
In the original show, Henderson and her three daughters “with hair of gold, like their mother” move in with architect Mike Brady and his three brown-haired boys, a second marriage for both parents.
The pilot began with man and wife trying to get away on their honeymoon, but through a series of misadventures and hijinks, they end up taking the children and the dog along. A New York Times reviewer deemed the pilot “family situation comedy carried to the apex of ludicrousness,” but viewers ate it up.
“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.
While the show was upbeat and often saccharine, the subject of second marriages was relatively new ground for television at the time. The sitcom was created by Sherwood Schwartz, who had previously hit with Gilligan’s Island.
Maureen McCormick, who played her oldest daughter Marcia, was among the earliest to pay tribute to Henderson on social media early Friday.
After the show’s main run ended, Henderson was a frequent guest on game shows and acted in guest appearances on shows such as The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, Ellen, Ally McBeal and 30 Rock.
She also appeared on stage and in musical theatre, which harkened to the beginning of her career, which included performances on Broadway and in touring shows in productions such as Fanny, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and Girl Who Came to Supper.
In recent years she appeared on reality shows The Surreal Life and Dancing With the Stars and for several seasons hosted Country Kitchen on The Nashville Network.
Florence Agnes Henderson was born Feb. 14, 1934, in the small town of Dale in southern Indiana. She was the 10th child of a tobacco sharecropper of Irish descent.
In grade school, she joined the choir at a Catholic church in Rockport, Ind.
After high school she moved to New York, where she enrolled in a two-year program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, her studies financed by a theatrical couple who had been impressed by her singing when they saw her perform in high school.
Henderson married theater executive Ira Bernstein and the couple had four children before the union ended in divorce after 29 years.
Her second husband, John Kappas, died in 2002.
Pressman said she is survived by her children; Barbara, Joseph, Robert and Lizzie, their respective spouses, and five grandchildren.
Robert Reed, who portrayed Mike Brady on the sitcom, died in 1992, while Ann B. Davis — the family’s wisecracking housekeeper — passed away in 2014.
Schwartz died in 2011.