Florence Henderson, Entertainer, dies at 82

Florence Henderson, Entertainer, dies at 82

Florence Henderson, the beloved actress best known for her role as Mrs. Brady, the matriarch of America’s most well-known blended television family, the Brady Bunch (1969 – 1974,) has died of heart failure at the age of 82. She had a long career on both screen and stage, including a 2010 stint on the wildly popular reality show “Dancing with the Stars” (at 76 she was one of the program’s oldest contestants.) In fact, she recently visited the set of Dancing with the Stars to cheer on her former Brady Bunch co-star, Maureen McCormick, who played Martia Brady on the iconic television show. She’d seemed the picture of health, and her passing has shocked and shaken her unprepared fans.

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Her role on The Brady Bunch brought a stable, loving, traditional image of motherhood to the small screen, which was updated for the times. She didn’t wear frumpy aprons and old-fashioned house dresses like the previous generation of TV moms, but rather the latest fashions, and pants, though in hindsight the show’s fashion choices, reflecting trends in the early 70s, may seem funny to people today. The series originally aired during the tumultuous 1960s and early 1970s, which was an era marked by the Vietnam War, violent student protests, increasing drug use among the young, growing social unrest, and great changes to the American family.

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Florence Henderson’s character, and the show as a whole, addressed the changing nature of motherhood and the family (the show’s premise: two adults, with children of their own, marry and raise a blended family together) and succeeded in presenting a reassuring, wholesome image that was quite soothing to the throngs of ordinary folks seeking entertainment, and reeling from the political and social excesses of the time. The show has only grown in popularity in syndication over the years. And many foreign countries air the Brady Bunch reruns. Evidently the simple, upbeat Brady Bunch formula works well for members of other cultural traditions, as well as fans in the United States.

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Shared from Youtube

Early in her career Florence Henderson was known for her singing, enjoying success as a star on Broadway, including her well-known role in the musical Oklahoma!, and for numerous guest appearances on television, including a regular gig on the Today Show, long before her iconic role on the Brady Bunch. Though her character on that popular 1970s sitcom was upbeat, wholesome, and pragmatic, Henderson’s persona in recent years, as an older woman, was often feisty and sexy, defying expectations and stereotypes.

Learn more about the life and career of Florence Henderson (Washington Post)

 

Photo: By Greg in Hollywood (Greg Hernandez)Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

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