If there’s any emotion that Henderson’s achievements would stir up, it’s fear. Yes, Florence Henderson garnered a repertoire in her lifetime that will strike terror in the hearts of any young actor/actress. Florence who is most known for her role as Carol Brady in the terribly successful series The Brady Bunch, kicked off her career singing with her parents while standing on crates. By her adolescent years, she was already earning money for her local performances.
This singer and actress’s endeavours spanned the entire entertainment industry. Besides acting and singing, she was everything else from show host, to the contestant to judge on different shows and reality TV series. Her career spread over six decades and she died in 2016 leaving behind a legacy worth emulating.
Florence Bio, Wiki
Florence comes from a large family. She was born and raised in Dale, Indiana amongst 9 siblings, all of who came before her. Henderson was the last child born to Joseph and Elizabeth Henderson on the Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 1934.
Her father was a tobacco sharecropper while her mom, Elizabeth, was a homemaker. When she was just two years old, her mother – who had herself written about 50 songs – began to teach her to sing. This played a pivotal role in her early start. From the age of 8 to 12, ‘Florency’ as she had come to be known, was a regular, performing at local grocery stores.
Henderson attended St. Francis Academy in the city of Owensboro in Kentucky. From there she would make her way to New York, the theatre capital of the US, to continue her education. She enrolled in The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she belonged to the Delta Zeta sorority.
Professional Music and Acting Career
Florence started her professional career in musicals at which time she performed at the Lincoln center with the touring production of South Pacific and Oklahoma!. In 1952 she debuted on Broadway in the musical Wish You Were Here. She followed that up with the lead role in the musical Fanny in 1954.
The 1950s saw her appear in many productions including an episode in the TV series I Spy, two episodes of The United States Steel Hour. She also played the role of Mary Jane in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and as Meg March in the CBS musical adaptation of Little Women in 1957 and 1958 respectively.
From 1958 to 1961 she was involved in commercials for Oldsmobile on The Patti Page Show. In 1962 she received the honor of the Sarah Siddons Award in recognition of her contributions in the Chicago theatre. She also made history in the same year by being the first woman to host The Tonight Show. She succeeded Jack Paar as the show’s host but gave way for Johnny Carson in October of the same year.
In 1963 she was part of yet another Broadway production The Girl Who Came to Supper. in the same year, she also signed to RCA Victor (now RCA Records) and started to put out her albums.
The 1970s were the most successful years of her career as an all-around entertainer. She played Carol Brady in the ABC’s classic sitcom, The Brady Bunch from 1969 to 1974. She had gotten the role ahead of her best friend, Shirley Jones, who had refused the role only to accept a similar role in The Partridge Family which also ended in 1974.
The success of this show got Florence a position on the No.54 spot of the 100 Greatest TV icons as ranked by Entertainment Weekly and TV Land.
When it comes to game-shows, Florence Henderson was a genuine fan. She served as a panellist on the original Hollywood Squares, and a contestant on The $25,000 Pyramid, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and much more.
Henderson also aired her own cooking show titled Country Kitchen on The Nashville Network. She was in adverts for Prange’s a then-department store chain in Wisconsin. She was also the spokesperson for Wesson Cooking Oil from 1974 to 1996 and Polident in the 2000s.
Florence Henderson also did spin-offs of her hit series The Brady Bunch at different times throughout her career. They included: The Brady Bunch Hour, The Brady Girls Get Married, The Brady Brides, The Bradys and My Fair Brady.
The last years of her career saw her appear in various shows such as The Surreal Life, Ellen DeGeneres Show, WWE Raw, Dancing with the Stars etc. She also revived and hosted her self-titled show, The Florence Henderson Show from 2007 to 2009.
Henderson famously has her handprints on the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park in front of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. She also severally hosted the beauty pageants Mrs America and Mrs World.
Florence Henderson’s Children, Affair, Cause of Death
Florence Henderson got married to her first husband, Ira Bernstein in 1956. They were married for about 30 years and had four children but eventually got divorced in 1985. Her second husband Dr John George Kappas took her to the alter two years later in 1987. They were married until his death in 2002
Henderson reportedly died of a heart failure on the eve of Thanksgiving in 2016 in Los Angeles at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was 82 years old at the time of her death.
She had not been ill prior to her death which her manager, Kayla Pressman said was a shock. She was cremated and laid to rest at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetry in Los Angeles.
Florence Henderson in her lifetime did enough movies, musicals, TV shows and commercials to earn her a sweet net worth. As at the time of her death she was valued at $10 million.