America’s favorite Baby Boomer TV mom is dead.
Fans and fellow actors flooded social media Friday with remembrances of Florence Henderson, who was best known for tirelessly dealing with the ups and downs of six kids as Carol Brady on the iconic TV sitcom “The Brady Bunch.”
She died on Thanksgiving Day of heart failure at 82.
“You are in my heart forever, Florence,” Brady co-star Maureen McCormick posted on Twitter.
“Dancing With the Stars” host Tom Bergeron also shared his thoughts and a photo on Twitter: “Heartbroken. I’ll miss you, my friend.”
In 2010, Henderson became the oldest celebrity to compete on the show. Her last public appearance was at the Monday, Nov. 21 “Dancing With The Stars” taping where she was in the audience to support her TV daughter McCormick, who competed this season.
Actress Holly Robinson Peete summarized what a lot of fans were saying on Twitter and elsewhere as word of Henderson’s death spread.
“I’m wrecked that Florence Henderson passed,” she wrote. “Grew up watching her like we all did and got to meet and love her dearly. My heart is punctured.”
Henderson died of heart failure at a Southland hospital surrounded by family and friends, said her manager, Kayla Pressman.
She was born in Dale, Indiana, the youngest of 10 children. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and began her career on Broadway in 1952.
Henderson toured in the national touring company of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” and appeared in several Broadway musicals including “Wish You Were Here,” “Fanny,” and “The Girl Who Came to Supper.”
She also appeared in stage productions of “The Sound of Music,” The King and I and South Pacific, among others.
Henderson was also a frequent guest on television variety and game shows. In 1962, she became the first woman to fill in as guest host of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
The role that would make her a household name and international icon came in 1969 when she was cast as a “lovely lady” with three daughters who marries a man with three sons to form a blended family dubbed “The Brady Bunch.”
It aired on ABC from 1969 to 1974, but has lived on in reruns, spinoffs such as “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour,” on the big screen and as a touchstone in pop culture.
In the eyes of many fans, she was “America’s mom.”
“I played Carol as the mother I always wished I had … as the mother a lot of people wished they had,” she once said.
The show’s success led to appearances on other TV programs including “The Love Boat,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Ally McBeal” and “30 Rock.” Henderson was also a spokesperson for products such as Wesson oil and Polident denture grip.
At the time of her death, she was the host of “Who’s Cooking with Florence Henderson” and “The Florence Henderson Show” on the Retirement Living TV cable network.
Henderson was married twice and is survived by four children and five grandchildren.
—City News Service
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