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Florence Henderson dies at 82

Florence Henderson dies at 82.
Photo credit:
The Brady Bunch

One of television’s greatest sitcom mothers, Florence Henderson has died of heart failure at the age of 82.

Henderson starred on “The Brady Bunch” from 1969 to 1974, becoming one of the most recognized matrons of situation comedy in television history.

As Carol Brady on that show, the actress oversaw a family of six children, three boys and three girls.

Her husband Mike Brady (Robert Reed) was an architect and their housekeeper Alice (Ann B. Davis) tried to keep the small horde organized.

During her time on 'The Brady Bunch,' Henderson recalls that her TV husband Robert Reed, who was gay,  was having trouble with the love scenes, and in her book Life is Not a Stage, she explains what she did to help her co-star get through it:

“'Excuse me for a moment,' I said to Bob [Reed]. I had suddenly realized the source of the problem. I left him and walked out of camera range and took [the director] off to the side.

“'Just back off,' I told the director. 'Don’t say anything or make a big deal out of this, but Bob’s gay. He’s nervous about this scene.'

"I told him I knew how to handle it. I went back on the set and we started up again.

"I don’t remember what I said specifically to Bob, but I took extra care with him to make sure he felt comfortable. In that moment, I tried to love him as hard as I could and make him feel great.

"I wanted him to feel romantic and sexy as all get out. And perhaps, if he knew I was comfortable about him and his sexuality, he didn’t have to feel bad about playing that role. I don’t think the crew caught on to this in the beginning as I had, but most did as the show went on.

"Every time we’d do a romantic scene, the same nervousness would come up. We’d laugh as he came on to the set in his pajamas. I think on those days he would frequently self-medicate by drinking more than usual at lunchtime."

Henderson wasn’t always a sitcom star though. She was a successful Broadway actress and singer, staring in “Oklahoma!” and “South Pacific.”  

She was also the voice of Wesson oil from 1976 to 1996.

Her career never stopped through the decades, Henderson would make special guest appearances on other sitcoms and television shows throughout her life, from “The Love Boat,” to “Fantasy Island” in the 70’s and 80’s and “The King of Queens” and “Roseanne” in the 90’s.

Her final television appearance was on “Dancing with the Stars” just three days before her death.

Her manager, Kayla Pressman said Henderson did not appear to be ill the day before she was hospitalized and that her death was a shock.