|Date of Birth
Florence Henderson’s impressive career achievements will definitely stir up admiration in the hearts of any young entertainer. She may be gone but the legacy she left behind will ensure she isn’t forgotten in a long time. Although this may be subjective, one is inclined to believe that The Brady Bunch star lived a full life.
Henderson had a successful career that spanned an entire lifetime, she fell in love, and she had children; to many people, there isn’t much more to life than this. Learn more about the actress including how she died and where her children are today.
Florence Henderson’s Background Before Fame
Florence Henderson was a singer and actress who came from a large family; she was born and raised in Dale, Indiana with nine older siblings. She was Elizabeth and Joseph Henderson’s last child, born on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 1934.
Her father was a tobacco sharecropper while her mom, Elizabeth, was a songwriter and homemaker. When she was just two years old, her mother—who had written about 50 songs herself—began to teach her to sing. This played a pivotal role in her early start and interest in entertainment. Between the age of 8 to 12, ‘Florency’ as she had come to be known, was a regular performer at local grocery stores.
Florence Henderson attended St. Francis Academy, Kentucky. From there, she made 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.
How Did She Become An Actress?
Florence started her career in musicals; during this 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 the TV shows I Spy and 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, Florence Henderson was involved in commercials for Oldsmobile on The Patti Page Show. She made history in 1961 by becoming the first woman to host The Tonight Show. In 1963, she became a part of yet another Broadway production The Girl Who Came to Supper. She also signed on to RCA Victor (now RCA Records) and began releasing her albums there.
This singer and actress’ endeavors cut across the entire entertainment industry. Besides acting and singing, she was everything else from show host, to the contestant and even judge on different competitive and reality TV shows. Undeniably, Florence Henderson built an admirable career that spanned over 6 decades.
Here’s How Florence Henderson Became Famous
With a career like hers, Florence Henderson found success quite early; she debuted on Broadway in 1952 and began starring in the critically acclaimed Fanny in 1954. However, her claim to international fame and recognition came when she began playing the role of Carol Brady in massively successful series – The Brady Bunch.
Interestingly, Florence only got the role after her best friend, Shirley Jones, turned it down only to accept a similar role in The Partridge Family. The successful sitcom ran from 1969 till 1974 and was the biggest gig of her career. The show would later bring numerous opportunities her way.
Henderson famously has her handprints at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park in front of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater.
How And When Did Florence Henderson Die?
Florence Henderson passed away on the 24th of November 2016, leaving behind a legacy worth emulating.
Henderson reportedly died of heart failure on Thanksgiving day in 2016 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 82 years old at the time of her death.
The actress had not been ill before her death and her manager, Kayla Pressman, described it as a shock. She was cremated and laid to rest at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, Henderson isn’t the only The Brady Bunch cast who has passed on. Robert Reed who played her on-screen husband, Mike Brady, and Ann B. Davis who portrayed Alice the Housekeeper died in 1992 and 2014 respectively.
Where Are Her Children Now?
Florence Henderson had all her 4 children — Barbara, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Robert — with her first husband, Ira Bernstein, whom she married in 1956. Her daughters attempted to follow in their mother’s footsteps; Barbara, who is an actress and producer, appeared on The Brady Bunch a few times. Her last known role was in 1980 comedy film 9 to 5 while Elizabeth’s only known acting credit is an unnamed role in Somebody’s Daughter (1992).
Her son, Robert, is a Television editor known for Win, Lose or Draw (1987), and Coming up Roses (2001). He has been nominated for several awards including 3 Primetime Emmys. However, Joseph has always been under the radar and has actively stayed away from the spotlight. Between them, the siblings have 5 children.