On November 24, 2016, American television lost one of its most beloved icons. It was on this date that Florence Henderson, the upbeat mother from the long-running hit series, The Brady Bunch, passed away. Today we’ll discuss everything we know about her death.
Who is Florence Henderson?
Born on Valentine’s Day (February 14th) in 1934, Henderson was an American actress and singer. Born into a large family as the youngest of 10 children, she was the daughter of Elizabeth Henderson and Joseph Henderson, who was a tobacco sharecropper. Her mother started teaching her to sing as a toddler, and by the time she was 12, she was singing at her local grocery stores, eager to make her move towards stardom.
As a teenager, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and shortly after went on to start her career on Broadway. Henderson starred in several musicals including “Wish you were here” and “Fanny”.
The Beginning of Her Career
And though she originally started her career as a young woman on Broadway, Henderson was most well known for her starring role as Carol Brady on ABC’s hit series, The Brady Bunch. With that being said, her career spanned well over 6 decades with roles on dozens of television shows and movies, including her own talk show “The Florence Henderson Show”.
Her Personal Life
In her personal life, Florence had two marriages. Her first marriage was to a man named Ira Bernstein in 1956. The couple had four children together but eventually divorced in 1985. She married her second husband, John George Kappas in 1987 and remained married to him until he died in 2002.
Where and When did Florence Henderson Die?
Florence Henderson died on November 24, 2016, at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California. She was 82 years old. Reports say that she was hospitalized the day before her death and that she was surrounded by beloved family members upon her passing. She was survived by her four children and five grandchildren.
Why was Her Death Such a Surprise?
The death of Henderson came as a surprise to many, considering how healthy she looked and seemed at the time of her death. Just days before her hospitalization, Florence made an appearance in the audience of Dancing with the Stars, looking healthy as ever. She was there in support of her Brady Bunch daughter, Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady), as she competed on the show.
In the warm-up introduction of Dancing with the Stars, on November 21, 2016, the host introduced her as “America’s favorite mom”. At the time, no one could have possibly guessed what the next few days would hold for the beloved Brady Bunch mother. There were no signs that anything was amiss.
What Happened to Henderson?
As reported by her manager, Florence Henderson passed away of heart failure. According to reports, the beloved mom of the Brady Bunch had suffered from heart disease for over 10 years before she passed away. She was also diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in the years before her death.
Following her death, the family had Florence cremated and she now sits in her final resting place at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
A Message from the Grave
Earlier in the year of her death in 2016, Henderson recorded a video for the American Heart Association’s campaign to raise awareness for heart disease and stroke amongst women. The campaign was called Go Red for Women.
In the video, Henderson spoke up about the long and ongoing battle that she herself faced with heart disease. She speaks that even as a young child, she knew she had a heart murmur. From there, she goes on to talk about how she ended up in the emergency room with arrhythmia.
She states, “my mitral valve was leaking so badly, so I had surgery.” She also goes on to state, “I was fortunate enough that I had a repair. They repaired my valve instead of replacing it” and “that’s why I urge women to go to the cardiologist.”
She ended with, “If I can help one person and save one person’s life, then I’m thrilled.”
Florence Henderson’s passing was an emotional experience for all of her family, friends, and many fans that loved her so. “If you needed anything, she was immediately there for you”, said Lloyd Swartz who worked with his father on several Brady Bunch Projects.
Her character was beloved on television, and she was just as loved in person. Many feel that her birthday is representative of who she was – kind and loving with a beautiful soul. She will long be remembered this way.