Florence Henderson, who died of heart failure at age 82 on Nov. 24, had a long career on TV and Broadway. She’s best-remembered as housewife Carol Brady on the 1970s sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” but there was much more to her than that.
Henderson was a Broadway star when NBC tapped her in 1959 as a “‘Today’ Girl,” the correspondent tapped to discuss fashion and other “light” topics. Gender roles were different then, but Henderson was in great company: Other “‘Today’ Girls” included Barbara Walters and Estelle Parsons. Henderson would later co-host “Today” in 1999-2000.
In 1962, Henderson became the first woman to guest-host NBC’s “Tonight Show,” filling in for Jack Paar (seen here with President Kennedy).
Henderson almost didn’t get her most famous role: Shirley Jones was initially offered the role of Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” but she turned it down. Jones and Henderson, as it happened, were best friends.
Henderson actually did go on a date with Barry Williams (upper right), who played her son Greg on “The Brady Bunch.” Well, it was sort of a date. The teenage Williams had a crush on his much older costar. The two went out to eat. But Williams’ brother had to drive, because the young actor didn’t have his license yet.
Real romance happened elsewhere for Henderson, and it wasn’t always happy. In her 2011 memoir, Henderson revealed that she had a one-night stand with former New York Mayor John Lindsay. She was married at the time – and that was only part of the problem. The encounter also left her with pubic lice, Henderson wrote.
Henderson and “Weird Al” Yankovic? Yes, indeed. The former Mrs. Brady had a role in the video for Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise,” a 1996 song parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
In 2010, Henderson became the oldest contestant to compete on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” And just days before her death, she appeared again at the “DWTS” season finale to cheer on Maureen McCormick, who played her daughter Marcia on “The Brady Bunch.”