Florence Henderson, the renowned actress best known as a television mom Carol Brady in "The Brady Bunch," has passed away at the age of 82.
Henderson died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Thursday night, after being admitted the day before while suffering from heart failure. She was surrounded by family and friends at the hospital bedside.
"The Brady Bunch," ran from 1969 to 1974, becoming both a cult favorite and a beloved regular for families seeking wholesome entertainment in the years after its cancellation. Henderson's performance as the upbeat and kind-hearted Carol Brady was particularly instrumental in the show's success, as she represented the type of matriarch many families considered ideal.
"It represents what people always wanted: a loving family. It's such a gentle, innocent, sweet show, and I guess it proved there's always an audience for that," Henderson said in 1999.
Before he success as a TV star, Henderson was best known for her work on Broadway, having starred as the titular character in "Fanny." Before that she had also starred as the female lead in the 1952 road tour of "Oklahoma!" and returned for the Broadway revival in 1954. She also played Maria in a road production of "The Sound of Music" and Nellie Forbush in a revival of "South Pacific."
During her "Brady Bunch" days, Henderson earned another distinction — while "The Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson was vacationing, she substituted for him, making her the first woman to host "The Tonight Show."
After "The Brady Bunch" was canceled, Henderson appeared on other shows including "Hart to Hart," "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat," "Roseanne," "Ally McBeal," and "The King of Queens."
Henderson is survived by her children; Barbara, Joseph, Robert and Lizzie, their respective spouses, and five grandchildren.
Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.