Friday, November 25, 2016

Florence Henderson

I still get so much fan mail addressed to Carol Brady,
and I think a lot of it's through the Net.
And I always answer it,
if it's legible. 
- Florence Henderson
Florence Agnes Henderson
February 14, 1934 – November 24, 2016
Florence Henderson died on yesterday of heart failure, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends.  

Henderson, the youngest of ten children, in Dale, Indiana, a small town in the southwestern part of the state. Henderson was a daughter of Elizabeth (née Elder), a homemaker, and Joseph Henderson, a tobacco sharecropper. She was of Irish Catholic ancestry. During the Great Depression, she was taught to sing at the age of two by her mother, who had a repertoire of fifty songs. By the time she was eight, her family called her "Florency", and by age twelve, she was singing at local grocery stores. Henderson graduated from St. Francis Academy in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1951 shortly thereafter, she went to New York City, enrolling in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She was an Alumna Initiate of the Alpha Chi chapter of Delta Zeta sorority.



Henderson started her career on the stage, performing in musicals, such as the touring production of Oklahoma! and South Pacific at Lincoln Center. She debuted on Broadway in the musical Wish You Were Here in 1952, and later starred on Broadway in the long-running 1954 musical, Fanny (888 performances) in which she originated the title role. Henderson, along with Bill Hayes, appeared in the Oldsmobile commercials from 1958 through 1961 on The Patti Page Show for which Oldsmobile was the sponsor. Henderson also appeared on Broadway in The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963). In 1962, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre, and the same year became the first woman to guest host The Tonight Show in the period after Jack Paar left as the show's host, and before Johnny Carson began his 30 years as the show's longest serving host in October of 1962. She also joined the ranks of what was then called "The Today Girl" on NBC's long running morning show, doing weather and light news, a position also once held by Barbara Walters.

Primarily owing to her role in The Brady Bunch, Henderson was ranked by TV Land and Entertainment Weekly as No. 54 on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Icons. Her most widely recognized role was as Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch which aired on ABC from 1969 until 1974. Henderson's best friend, Shirley Jones, had turned down the role, but the following year accepted the similar role of a mother with five children, named Shirley Partridge in The Partridge Family. (The Partridge Family aired from 1970 - 1974).

Henderson was a frequent panelist on the original version of the television game show Hollywood Squares and made occasional appearances on The $25,000 Pyramid.

Henderson was the spokeswoman for Wesson cooking oil from 1976 to 1996. During that time, she hosted a cooking show on TNN called Country Kitchen, and also did ads for Prange's, a former Wisconsin department store chain. Henderson co-hosted the talk show Later Today on NBC (1999–2000) with co-hosts Jodi Applegateand Asha Blake. In the 2000s, she was the spokeswoman for Polident denture cleanser. In 2003, Henderson seemed to poke fun at her wholesome image by appearing in a Pepsi Twist television commercial with Ozzy Osbourne.
Henderson also appeared with her TV children, as she did with Christopher Knight on the reality television series My Fair Brady. She was also in the sixth season of VH1's The Surreal Life.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the song "God Bless America" was performed by Henderson at the Indianapolis 500 accompanied by the Purdue All-American Marching Band, at the request of the Hulman-George family, the owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and friends of Henderson's.

She appeared in the "Weird Al" Yankovic video for "Amish Paradise" and co-hosted the daily talk show Living Live with former Designing Women star Meshach Taylor on Retirement Living TV. The show was reworked to focus on her and was renamed The Florence Henderson Show. In 2002, she made a memorable guest appearance on improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, participating in on-screen kisses with Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie.
From 2007-2009, Henderson was the host of her own television series, The Florence Henderson Show on RLTV (Retirement Living TV). The show was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2010. In May 2010, Henderson did a series of promotional radio ads for Fox. On the July 12, 2010 edition of WWE Raw, Henderson appeared as the night's guest host.
Henderson was one of twelve celebrities competing on the eleventh season of Dancing with the Stars which premiered on September 20, 2010. Her professional partner was Corky Ballas, father of two-time champion, Mark Ballas. On October 19, 2010, she was eliminated from the show after receiving the lowest combined total of judges' scores and viewer votes.


Henderson made a special appearance on May 11, 2012 in a special Mother's Day episode on The Price Is Right with Drew Carey, displaying prizes as well as one of the showcases.

In February 2013, Henderson began hosting her own cooking show, Who's Cooking with Florence Henderson, on RLTV.
Henderson appeared on Dancing with the Stars just three days before her death, which would be her final television appearance.

Good Night Mrs. Brady
I promise not to play ball in the house.

Stay Tuned
Tony Figueroa


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