Florence Henderson

Florence Henderson

Birth name: Florence Agnes Henderson
Born: February 14, 1934
Age: 90
Birthplace: Dale, Indiana, U.S.
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Florence Agnes Henderson (born February 14, 1934) is an American actress and singer with a career spanning six decades. She is best known for her starring role as matriarch Carol Brady on the ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch from 1969 to 1974. Henderson has also appeared on film as well as on stage and hosted several long-running cooking and variety shows over the years. She has appeared as a guest on many scripted and non-scripted (talk and reality shows) television programs and as a panelist on numerous game shows. She was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2010. Henderson currently hosts her own talk show, The Florence Henderson Show, and cooking show, Who's Cooking with Florence Henderson, on Retirement Living TV (RLTV).


Early life

Henderson, the youngest of ten children, was born on February 14, 1934, in Dale, Indiana, a small town in the southwestern part of the state. Henderson is a daughter of Elizabeth (née Elder), a homemaker, and Joseph Henderson, a tobacco sharecropper. She is 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 is 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 did the Oldsmobile commercials from 1958 through 1961 on The Patti Page Show 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 Starring Johnny Carson. 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.

Her most widely seen role was as Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch which aired on ABC from 1969 until 1974. Henderson's best friend, Shirley Jones, had previously turned down the role as at the time she wasn't ready to do a TV series and she needed to spend more time with her family.

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.

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 Applegate and 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 has also appeared with her TV children, as with Christopher Knight on the reality television series My Fair Brady. She is also in the sixth season of VH1's The Surreal Life.

In most years since the mid-1990s, the song "God Bless America" has been 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.

Since 2008, Henderson has been the host of her own television series, The Florence Henderson Show, which airs 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. 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.

Personal life

In the mid-1950s, Henderson was diagnosed with a bone deformation of the middle ear, and she had to have surgery to prevent deafness (later she was made an honorary member of the Delta Zeta sorority, which does work for the House Ear Institute and the hearing impaired).

Henderson married Ira Bernstein in January 1956, and the couple had four children. During the filming of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles, Henderson returned to the family's New York home each weekend to spend time with her children. In her autobiography Life Is Not A Stage, she acknowledges her occasional infidelity during her marriage to Bernstein, including an affair with then-New York City Mayor, John Lindsay, who the actress claims gave her crab lice. She divorced Bernstein in 1985 after almost 29 years of marriage. She later married John Kappas, a hypnotherapist and founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, whom she met while battling depression in the mid-1980s; Kappas died in 2002. Henderson studied hypnotherapy and is a certified hypnotherapist.

Since the 2000s, she has been a more public benefactor of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Indiana; some of the nuns were her teachers during her early education. She has appeared in a number of their promotional videos and has helped in fund-raising efforts. She has won money for the Sisters on the game show Weakest Link and on a classic-television-themed episode of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire in 2001, winning $32,000 in their name. On the show Henderson used her son Joseph as a Phone-a-Friend lifeline for the $64,000 question on a question about laser colors and answered correctly; she got the $125,000 question wrong, however, and lost $32,000. When Henderson appeared on the The Surreal Life, she made a point of showing respect for the Catholic Church and the Sisters of St. Benedict by refusing to dress in a nun's costume for a comedy skit.



Year Title Role Notes
1954 General Foods 25th Anniversary Show: A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein Laurey TV Movie
1956 I Spy Nymph Episode: "The Abbe and the Nymph"
1957-58 The U.S. Steel Hour Episodes: "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1957) and "A Family Alliance" (1958)
1958-59 Sing Along
1958 Little Women Meg March
1958-62 Tonight Starring Jack Paar Herself Regular guest
1959 Oldsmobile Music Theatre Canceled after a few months
1959 The Bell Telephone Hour
1959-60 The Today Show Herself Today Girl
1962-67 Password Herself Contestant
1963 Discovery '63
1968 The Dean Martin Show Guest appearance
1969-74 The Brady Bunch Carol Ann Brady 117 episodes
1970 A World Of Love - Celebrating UNICEF CBS Special Broadcast
1976 The Love Boat pilot for series
1976 The Muppet Show Herself Episode: "Florence Henderson"
1976 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special Herself
1976-77 The Brady Bunch Hour Carol Ann Brady 9 episodes
1981 The Brady Girls Get Married Carol Ann Brady TV reunion movie
1981 The Love Boat Annabelle Folker Episode: "Country Cousin Blues"
1981 The Brady Brides Carol Ann Brady TV series; canceled after 10 episodes
1982 Police Squad! Shot woman Episode: "Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood)"
1982-85 The $25,000 Pyramid Herself Contestant
1983 Alice Sarah James Episode: "It Had to Be Mel"
1985-86 The $100,000 Pyramid Herself Contestant
1985-93 Country Kitchen Herself Host
1986, 1990 Murder, She Wrote Maria Morgana / Patti Sue Diamond 2 episodes
1986 L.A. Law Margaret Flanagan
1987 It's Garry Shandling's Show Guest appearance
1987 Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS Story Ellen Casio After school special
1988 A Very Brady Christmas Carol Ann Brady TV movie
1990 The Bradys Carol Ann Brady TV series; canceled after six episodes. Also sang third version of theme song
1993-95 Dave's World Maggie Occasional; Beth's mother
1994 Roseanne Flo Anderson Episode: "Suck Up or Shut Up"
1995 Fudge Muriel Episode: "Fudge-a-mania"
1995-96 Our Generation Herself Co-host
1996 Ellen Madeline Episode: "Joe's Kept Secret"
1998-2000 Short-cut Cooking Herself Host
1999-2000 Later Today Herself Presenter
2000 The King of Queens Lily Carrie Heffernan's stepmother
Episode: "Dark Meet"
2001 Legend of the Candy Cane Thelma Voice role
2001 Weakest Link Herself Contestant
Episode: "The Brady Bunch Episode"
2001 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Herself Contestant
2002 Mom's on Strike Betty TV movie
2002 Speaking of Women's Health Herself Guest, discussing her battle with osteoporosis
2002 Whose Line Is It Anyway? Herself Guest appearance
2003 Mrs. America Herself Host
2003 Intimate Portrait: Florence Henderson Herself Interviewee
2003 The 26th Annual Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts Herself Special appearance
2006 The Surreal Life Herself Cast member
2007 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Herself Guest appearance
2007 Living Live Herself Co-host with Meshach Taylor
2006 Loonatics Unleashed Mallory "Mastermind" Casey 2 episodes
2008 Ladies of the House Rose Olmstead TV movie
2008-present The Florence Henderson Show Herself Host
2009 Samantha Who Loretta Guest appearance
2010 WWE Raw Herself Guest host
2010 Dancing with the Stars Herself Contestant
2012 The Cleveland Show Nanny Barbara Episode: "The Men in Me"
2012 The Living Room Guest appearances
2012 Handy Manny Aunt Ginny Episode: "Handy Manny and the Seven Tools"
2012 Matchmaker Santa Peggy TV Movie
2012 Happily Divorced Elizabeth Episode: "Meet the Parents"
2012 30 Rock Herself Episode: "My Whole Life Is Thunder"
2013-present Who's Cooking with Florence Henderson Herself Host


Year Title Role Notes
1970 Song of Norway Nina Grieg
1992 Shakes the Clown The Unknown Woman
1994 Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult Cameo
1995 The Brady Bunch Movie Grandma (Carol's mother) Cameo
1996 For Goodness Sake II Video store customer
1998 Holy Man Cameo
1999 Get Bruce Herself Documentary
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Herself
2008 For Heaven's Sake Sarah Miller
2010 The Christmas Bunny Betsy Ross
Venus & Vegas Carmen
2011 The Family Group
2013 Young One
2016 Fifty Shades of Black Mrs. Robinson


Year Title Role Notes
1949 Carousel Carrie Pepperidge
1952 Wish You Were Here The New Girl
1952 Oklahoma! Laurey
1953 The Great Waltz Resi
1954 Fanny Fanny
1961-62, 1968, 1978 The Sound of Music Maria Rainer
1963-64 The Girl Who Came to Supper Mary Morgan
1965 The King and I Anna
1966 Jerome Kern's Theatre
1967 South Pacific Nellie Forbush
1974, 1981 Annie Get Your Gun Annie Oakley
1978 Bells Are Ringing
1989 Alone Together


  • 2008: Gracie Awards
  • 2012: Gracie Awards

Florence Henderson supports the following charitable causes: Children, Hearing Impairment.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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