Feb. 14th, 1934
Dale, Indiana, USA
Florence Henderson's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1998 - Holy Man
1995 - The Brady Bunch Movie
1994 - Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
Guest TV Roles
Herself - Hostess
Patti Sue Diamond
Mallory Mastermind (Voiced)
Herself - Panelist
As a child growing up during the Depression, Florence Henderson's own family was larger than the Brady clan: She was the last of ten children born to a sharecropper and his wife. Henderson's mother taught her to sing, and at age two she had a repertoire of 50 songs. At 8, Henderson was working in her father's fields, and by 12 she was singing at the local store for groceries. With financial assistance from a schoolmate's parents she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. At age 18 she made her Broadway debut, and two years later she was the original Fanny on stage. In 1969 Henderson took the role of Carol, the mother on The Brady Bunch. She wanted to make Carol a bit more realistic, begging the studio to let the character have a job, but her request was refused. The actor who played her stepson Greg, Barry Williams, had a crush on her (reportedly the flames were liberally fanned with marijuana) and they went on a "date". As a married Catholic, Henderson of course did not consider the event to be a romantic one. Following the end of The Brady Bunch and its many sequels and subsequent Brady series, Henderson worked as a cabaret singer and supplemented her income with commercials for Wesson Oil. She began to experience stage fright as her first marriage ended in the mid-1980's, and turned to hypnosis to conquer her fears. She soon fell in love with her therapist, John Kappas, married him, and studied hypnotherapy, even becoming a hypnotherapist herself. During the 50s, after experiencing pain following dancing, she was diagnosed as having deformed vertebrae, which was treated by exercise. She later suffered loss of hearing caused by otosclerosis, which was repaired with surgery. She also suffers from osteoporosis, and has said she endured a bout of crabs after a brief fling with New York City Mayor John Lindsay in the 1960s.
Florence Henderson, in her memoir Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond (2010). See also Rich Shapiro, "Brady Bunch Mom Florence Henderson Admits Ex-Mayor John Lindsay Gave Her Crabs in One-Night-Stand", New York Daily News, 26 June 2011, the story based on pre-publication copies of Henderson's memoir. Father: (sharecropper)
Husband: Ira Bernstein (Broadway backstage figure, m. 9-Jan-1956, div. 1985, four children)
Son: Joseph (b. 1950)
Daughter: Barbara (b. 1956)
Son: Robert (b. 1963)
Daughter: Elizabeth ("Lizzie", b. 1966, with Bernstein)
Slept with: New York Mayor
John Lindsay (one-night stand in the late 1960s, according to her)
Husband: John Kappas (hypnotist, m. 4-Aug-1987, d. 26-Sep-2002 cancer)
- Youngest of 10 children born to an Indiana sharecropper named Joseph Henderson and his homemaker wife named Elizabeth Henderson.
- Was the first woman to host _"The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962)_ (qv).
- Could sing 50 songs by heart by the age of 2.
- In a 2006 TV Guide /Bravo poll, her Carol Brady character was named the TV mom that most shaped viewers perceptions of a housewife with 45% of the vote. She topped both June Cleaver and Shirley Partridge for the honor.
- In the mid-1950s, she was diagnosed with a bone deformation of the inner ear, and she had to have surgery to prevent deafness.
- She flew to New York City every weekend during the run of _"The Brady Bunch" (1969)_ (qv) (which filmed in LA) in order to be with her family.
- Was a _"Today" (1952)_ (qv) girl from 1959-1960, and later went on to co-host the short lived spinoff series _"Later Today" (1999)_ (qv) from 1999-2000.
- Children with 'Ira Bernstein' (qv): 'Barbara Bernstein (I)' (qv), Joseph, Robert and Elizabeth.