Widely known to millions as Carol Brady, actress Florence Henderson died Thursday night in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center surrounded by family and friends. She was 82. In a statement released to the Associated Press by her manager Kayla Pressman, Henderson was hospitalized the day before Thanksgiving due to heart failure.

Prior to being cast as the family matriarch in the 1969 sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” Henderson began her career as a Broadway star. She appeared on stage in hit plays such as: “Wish You Were Here” in 1952, “Fanny” in 1954 and “The Girl Who Came to Supper” in 1963. But it was her role as the loving, groovy, hip-dressed mom Carol Brady that boosted her into international stardom.

In 1962, Henderson became the first woman to host “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.”

The wild popularity of 'The Brady Bunch'

Due to the family comedy series’ popularity, there had been several spin offs over the years, not to mention endless parodies. Henderson appeared in each episode of all five seasons including “The Brady Girls Get Married,” “The Brady Brides” and “The Bradys” TV movies. She also starred in “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.” After the sitcom’s run ended, Henderson said in a 1999 interview that “The Brady Bunch” was an innocent and sweet show representing what people always wanted – a loving family. Henderson served as host on Retirement Living TV’s “The Florence Henderson Show” from 2008 until her recent death.

One of the last of television’s favorite moms

Born Florence Agnes Henderson to sharecroppers in Dale, Indiana on February 14, 1934, Henderson was the youngest of ten children. She married Ira Bernstein in January 1956, whom she shared four children with. The couple divorced in 1985 and Henderson married Dr.

John George Kappas in 1987. The pair remained married up until his death in 2002. Henderson’s last public appearance was on November 21st where she was seen in the audience supporting her TV daughter Maureen McCormick.

McCormick was competing in this season’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Florence Henderson is survived by her children – Barbara, Joseph, Bob and Elizabeth along with their respective spouses and five grandchildren.

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