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Little-Known Details About Florence Henderson

Many years after her death, television, film, and stage actress Florence Henderson remains an icon. Thanks to her tenure as Carol Brady on the 1969 sitcom The Brady Bunch. While everyone knows Carol Brady, there are things about the actress that fans might not be aware of. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at little-known details about Florence Henderson.

She Made a Star-Studded Television Debut

The role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch may be the role that Florence Henderson is famous for. She works in the entertainment industry for many years before taking on the part. In fact, Florence caught her break acting alongside some pretty big names in a 1954 television special. The special is the General Foods 25th Anniversary Show: A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein. Florence gets the gig by performing in a touring production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! Some of the big names that Florence appears alongside on television, include Ed Sullivan, Groucho Marx, and Jack Benny. After her appearance in the special, Florence makes notable appearances before taking the iconic role of Carol Brady in 1969.

She Had a History with NBC’s Today

In 1959, Florence Henderson began appearing as a “Today Girl” on NBC’s Today. She contributed pieces to the program relating to fashion and general living before leaving in 1960. Many decades later, Florence returned for a new iteration of the program, Later Today. Though the new iteration proved unsuccessful, it wasn’t because of Florence!

She Was a Spokesperson for Oldsmobile

Even after breaking out into stardom on The Brady Bunch, Florence Henderson never mind lending her star to various brands. Years before working on The Brady Bunch, Florence can advertise for Oldsmobile. She starts working with the company in 1958 and performs as a model for the classic car manufacturer for years. Despite the products that Florence uses in later years, none of her campaigns are iconic as she did with Oldsmobile.

She Was the First Female Host of The Tonight Show

In 1962, Florence Henderson made history by becoming the first woman ever to host The Tonight Show. The opportunity arose when former host Jack Paar left the show, and the executives were looking for a permanent replacement. Florence serves as a temporary guest host before the executives decide on the legendary Johnny Carson to become Jack’s successor. They need a temporary host to fill in for Jack. Then, the executives think of Florence because she recurs guests on the show during Jack’s hosting years. The audience already loved her, and she proved a perfect fit!

She Was Best Friends with The Partridge Family’s Shirley Jones

A year after The Brady Bunch premiers, another picture-perfect mother appears on television as Shirley Jones’ on The Partridge Family. Little did the audience know that Shirley actually offers the role of Carol Brady but decides not to take it. Florence and Shirley are best friends, Florence is grateful for the opportunity to enter once her friend rejects the part. The two had previously competed for the lead role in the 1955 film adaptation of aforementioned musical Oklahoma! Shirley Jones ended up winning the part in the film, much to her friend’s chagrin.

She Missed Out on Filming the First Episodes of The Brady Bunch Due to a Film Commitment

Once Shirley Jones rejects the role, Florence will be on The Brady Bunch pretty late in the game. By the time she is cast, Florence isn’t able to make it for the first several episodes of the show’s production due to the fact that she is busy filming a movie in Scandinavia. That movie is Song of Norway, and Florence isn’t featured in the first six episodes of The Brady Bunch film because of her role in it. Once Florence was finally able to show up to start performing her role on The Brady Bunch, she had to wear a wig due to the fact that her hair wasn’t yet right for the part.

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She Guest-Starred on The Love Boat Several Times

The Love Boat was a television series that proved the perfect vehicle for guest stars thanks to the fact that it took place on a cruise ship with rotating passengers. Florence Henderson was one of many stars that came aboard the titular boat of the series. Not only did Florence appear on The Love Boat, but she appeared a total of 11 times! The only guest star to make more appearances on the series over the course of its run is Marion Ross, who appears 14 times. While Florence securely holds the title of The Love Boat guest star to make the second-most appearances on the series, she loses to Charo. Charo appeared ten times on the series, coming in third.

She Was a Licensed Hypnotherapist

Everyone knows that Florence Henderson was a great performer, but did you know that she was a licensed hypnotherapist? Florence became interested in hypnotherapy due to having many phobias, such as stage fright and a fear of flying. Because of these phobias, she inspires to take some classes at a location by the name of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, where she went on to become a licensed hypnotherapist. Not only that, but Florence actually went on to marry the founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, who was a man by the name of Dr. John Kappas. The two remained married until John’s death in 2002, after which point Florence remained single until her own death over a decade later, in 2016. In addition to Florence’s penchant for hypnotherapy, she also had a generally holistic attitude towards healthy living. She practiced yoga and Pilates, living a long and healthy life!

She Counseled Christopher Knight

If Florence Henderson remained even-keeled after her time on The Brady Bunch, her on-screen children on the series weren’t all so fortunate. Christopher Knight, who played middle Brady boy Peter, has become tabloid fodder in his later years. After the success of his scandalous appearance on the VH1 reality series The Surreal Life, Christopher receives his own reality series. The series was titled My Fair Brady and showcased Christopher’s tumultuous romance with Adrianne Curry, whom he had met while filming The Surreal Life. During one of the couple’s spats on the series, Christopher Knight decided to turn to his old on-screen mother for some motherly advice. Florence’s advice was that the couple should slow things down, as they didn’t seem to be getting along. Sadly, they didn’t take the advice. Christopher and Adrianne ended up getting divorced in 2013, just a few years before Florence’s death.

Her Daughter Followed in Her Footsteps

Florence Henderson had a daughter named Barbara, and her daughter followed in her footsteps by becoming an actress! Barbara broke out onto the acting scene by appearing alongside her mother in several episodes of The Brady Bunch. Barbara appeared three separate times on the series, playing three separate characters. After her appearances on The Brady Bunch as a child, Barbara continued acting into her adult years. As an adult, she could be seen acting alongside Dolly Parton in the film 9 to 5. Nowadays, she does most of her work behind the camera.

She Saved Susan Olsen’s Life

Florence Henderson and the actress that played her youngest daughter on The Brady Bunch were actually close in real life. That actress is Susan Olsen, who portrayed the character of Cindy Brady. Florence often treated Susan like a mother in her own life, taking Susan out on get-togethers with her own kids. Part of the strong bond that grew between Florence and Susan came from a traumatic incident on the set of The Brady Bunch where Susan nearly drowned. While the show as filming in Hawaii, an accident during filming caused young Susan to nearly drift out to sea. Susan couldn’t swim, and Florence ended up being the one to save her. Florence then swaddled the young actress and comforted her until she was ready to resume filming. The bond between Florence and Susan was so great that Susan’s son grew to consider Florence a grandmother.

She Appeared in a Commercial Alongside Ozzy Osbourne

As we mentioned before, Florence was no stranger to lending her credibility to commercials. One of the commercials that Florence appeared in later in her life was an advertisement for a Pepsi product titled Pepsi Twist. Though the twist on the classic Pepsi formula didn’t prove too popular, it led to a fairly memorable commercial! The commercial featured Ozzy Osbourne getting surprised when Florence Henderson unexpectedly appeared as a result of him drinking the showcased Pepsi beverage. The legendary rock and roll singer was freaked out by the surprise appearance of the beloved actress, and the commercial also featured Donny and Marie Osmond. Although the product that it intended to advertise didn’t end up selling very well, the commercial ended up taking on a life of it’s own and is still fondly remembered to this day!

While most audience members will easily recognize Florence Henderson thanks to her memorable role as Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, the actress did many other interesting things during her lifetime that aren’t so commonly known! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Florence Henderson was a licensed hypnotherapist, and did you know that she was asked by Christopher Knight to help counsel his marriage shortly before her death? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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