Born in February 1934 in Dale, Indiana, Florence Henderson sang and danced from early childhood, attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York from the age of 17. She had a bit-part role in Joshua Logan's Wish You Were Here (1952), which brought an offer to play the lead in the first national tour of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's Oklahoma! in 1953. After this and a brief spell in theater in Los Angeles, she returned to New York to star in Logan's Fanny (1954). In the late '50s and early '60s she appeared in leading roles in touring productions of several musical shows including The Sound of Music, receiving the Sarah Siddons Award for her performance as Maria Von Trapp. She was also in The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963). She starred in a 1965 production in Los Angeles of The King and I and was also in a Lincoln Center presentation of South Pacific in 1967. Her first film role came in Song of Norway (1970), a biopic of composer Edvard Grieg.
Although Henderson would continue to appear on stage and in films, she had now begun a very busy and successful television career. In addition to scores of guest appearances on game shows and chat shows, she took the role of Carol Brady, the mother, in the immensely popular situation comedy The Brady Bunch (1969-1974). This show spun off a reprise series in 1977, specials in 1981 and 1988, and another reprise series in 1990. In all of these she appeared as the mother, but in a 1995 film, The Brady Bunch Movie, she played the grandmother. Henderson also co-produced and hosted Country Kitchen (1985-1993), put her name to a spin-off cookery book, and also later hosted Florence Henderson's Short-Cut Cooking (1998-1999). Meanwhile, she sang on shows featuring many artists from the worlds of pop and country and filled numerous guest spots on situation comedies and drama series such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, L.A. Law, Murder, She Wrote, Roseanne, Ellen, Ally McBeal, and King of Queens. In addition to her performing, Henderson was also active as a spokesperson for the deaf and the elderly. She died of heart failure in Los Angeles in November 2016; Florence Henderson was 82.