Florence Henderson, the “lovely lady” of The Brady Bunch, died on Thanksgiving night at the age of 82. Her publicist Mark Brokaw tells The New York Times that, according to the family, the cause of death was heart failure. “She was quite active until she started not feeling well several days ago,” he said. “It was felt that she would just bounce back from it.”
Henderson had a vast career that took her from theater to the TV news business, but she was best known as The Brady Bunch’s Carol Brady, the woman who raised three blonde-haired girls, and then married a man named Mike, who had three boys of his own. The two then watched over their clan as they got into hijinks and eventually formed a band: The Silver Platters. The Brady Bunch only ran from 1969 to 1974, but its long life in syndication meant that many grew up with Henderson in mind as the ideal sitcom mother. She would continue to revisit Carol with the variety series The Brady Bunch Hour, the specials The Brady Girls Get Married and A Very Brady Christmas, and the short-lived series The Brady Brides and The Bradys. More recently, she skewered the sunny image she had cultivated with a brash turn on 30 Rock.
Two of Henderson’s TV children immediately mourned her on Twitter. Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady, wrote: “Deeply saddened. Florence was one of the most gracious people I have ever known, Proud to call her Mom and life long friend.” Meanwhile, Maureen McCormick—otherwise known as Marcia Brady—said: “Florence Henderson was a dear friend for so very many years & in my heart forever. Love & hugs to her family. I’ll miss u dearly.”