Florence Henderson’s impressive career achievements will surely cause admiration in the hearts of every young entertainer. She may be gone, but the legacy she has left behind will ensure that she will not be forgotten for a long time. Although this may be subjective, one tends to believe that the star of the Brady Bunch has led a full life.
Henderson had a successful career that spanned a lifetime, she fell in love, and she had children; for many people, there is not much more to life than that. 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 in Dale, Indiana, where she grew up with nine older siblings. She was the last child of Elizabeth and Joseph Henderson, born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1934.
Her father was a tobacco tenant, while her mother, Elizabeth, was a songwriter and housewife. When she was only two years old, her mother – who had written about 50 songs herself – began teaching her to sing. This played a crucial role in her early start and her interest in entertainment. Between the ages of 8 and 12, “Florency”, as she was now known, performed regularly in local grocery stores.
Florence Henderson attended the St. Francis Academy in Kentucky. From there she went to New York, the theatre capital of the USA, to continue her education. She enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she was a member of the Delta Zeta Association.
How Did She Become An Actress?
Florence began her career in musicals; during this time she performed at Lincoln Center with the touring production of South Pacific and Oklahoma! In 1952 she made her Broadway debut in the musical Wish You Were Here. She then played the lead role in the musical Fanny in 1954.
In the 1950s she appeared in many productions including the television shows I Spy and The United States Steel Hour. She also played the role of Mary Jane in “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in 1957 and 1958 and the role of Meg March in the CBS musical adaptation of “Little Women”.
From 1958 to 1961 Florence Henderson was involved in commercials for Oldsmobile on the Patti Page Show. In 1961 she made history when she became the first woman to host the Tonight Show. In 1963 she became part of another Broadway production, The Girl Who Came to Supper. She also signed with RCA Victor (now RCA Records) and began releasing her albums there.
The efforts of this singer and actress spanned the entire entertainment industry. In addition to acting and singing, she was everything else, from presenter to contestant and even jury member on various competition and reality TV shows. Florence Henderson undoubtedly built an admirable career that spanned 6 decades.
Here’s How She Became Famous
With a career like hers, Florence Henderson found success at a very early age; she made her Broadway debut in 1952 and began playing in the critically acclaimed Fanny in 1954. However, she only achieved her claim to international fame and recognition when she began playing the role of Carol Brady in the massively successful series The Brady Bunch.
Interestingly, Florence only got the role after her best friend, Shirley Jones, turned her down just to accept a similar role in The Partridge Family. The successful sitcom ran from 1969 to 1974 and was the biggest performance of her career. The show later brought her numerous opportunities.
Henderson is known to have her handprints in the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park in front of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater.
How And When Did She Die?
Florence Henderson died on November 24, 2016, and left a legacy worthy of imitation.
According to reports, Henderson died of heart failure at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving Day 2016. 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 buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, Henderson is not the only cast of The Brady Bunch that has passed away. Robert Reed, who played her husband Mike Brady on the screen, and Ann B. Davis, who played Alice the housekeeper, died in 1992 and 2014 respectively.
Where Are Her Children Now?
Florence Henderson had all four of her children – Barbara, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Robert – with her first husband, Ira Bernstein, whom she married in 1956. Her daughters tried to follow in her mother’s footsteps; Barbara, who is an actress and producer, appeared several times in The Brady Bunch. Her last known role was in 1980 in Comedy 9 to 5, while Elizabeth is only known as an actress in 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.