Henderson at the 1989 Emmy Awards
|Born||Florence Agnes Henderson
February 14, 1934 
Dale, Indiana, U.S.
|Known for||The Brady Bunch|
|Spouse(s)||Ira Bernstein (m. 1956; div. 1985)
John Kappas (m. 1987; his death 2002)
Florence Agnes Henderson (born February 14, 1934) is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her role as Carol Brady on the ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch from 1969 to 1974. Henderson also has been a frequent presence on television since the 1950s and has hosted several long-running cooking and variety shows over the years. Henderson also has appeared as a guest on many scripted and non-scripted (talk and reality shows) over the years. She may also be known for being 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).
Henderson, the youngest of ten children, was born in Dale, Indiana, a small town in the southwest region of the state. Henderson is a daughter of Elizabeth (née Elder), a homemaker, and Joseph Henderson, a tobacco sharecropper. She is Irish Catholic. 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.
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.
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 voted off the show.
In February 2013, Henderson began hosting her own cooking show, Who's Cooking with Florence Henderson, on RLTV.
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 a lot of work for the House Ear Institute and the hearing impaired).
Henderson married Ira Bernstein in January 1956, and the couple had four children, Barbara, Joseph, Robert, and Elizabeth. 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.
|1952||Wish You Were Here|
|1953||The Great Waltz||Resi|
|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|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Florence Henderson.|
- Official website
- Florence Henderson at the Internet Movie Database
- Florence Henderson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Florence Henderson at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Florence Henderson interview video at the Archive of American Television