Hollywood was blown away by the shocking death of the beloved Mrs. Brady, Florence Henderson, who died of heart failure on Thanksgiving at the age of 82. Her legacy as Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch is one that will remain forever in fans of the show past, present, and future.
Florence Agnes Henderson was born on Valentine’s Day in 1934 in Dale, Indiana. The daughter of a homemaker and tobacco sharecropper, she learned to sing (a classic trademark for years to come) at the age of two by her mother. In 1951, she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Henderson began her career on the stage, appearing in musicals such as Oklahoma! and South Pacific. A year after entering the AADA, she made her Broadway debut in Wish You Were Here and originated the title role of Fanny in 1954. She would appear in Oldsmobile commercials from 1958 to 1961 on The Patti Page Show, which had the car company as a sponsor. She would later become a Today girl on the NBC show, giving weather and lighter news during the 1960’s.
In 1969, Henderson’s career went full speed ahead when she was cast as Carol Brady in the hit television series The Brady Bunch. The series ran from 1969 to 1974 and she became both a mentor and friend to the young cast who played the Brady Kids, which stood out to this day. After the cancellation of the show, for a period of two decades, Henderson became the spokesperson for Wesson oil.
She returned in the role of Carol Brady in a 1981 spin-off series, The Brady Girls Get Married, two made-for-television movies, and a short lived 1990 series, The Bradys, which ended after the death of co-star Robert Reed in 1992. She even appeared as the grandmother in the 1995 big screen adaptation The Brady Bunch Movie in a memorable cameo.
Henderson continued with her career on and on, appearing in television, music videos, and cooking shows.
She is survived by her four children and five grandchildren.
As a final tribute to Florence Henderson, here’s a classic Wesson oil commercial from 1984, courtesy of YouTube user Jason Harder:
Rest in Peace, Florence Henderson, forever Mrs. Brady.