Florence Henderson's multi-faceted career encompasses over three decades of extraordinary work on stage, screen and television, earning her the trust of millions of fans of all ages. Although she is known around the world for her role as "Carol Brady" on television's "The Brady Bunch," her performing career before and since the popular series has flourished because of her talent, professionalism and universal appeal. As an actress, singer, author and talk show host, her sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment to quality and craftsmanship has made Florence Henderson one of the most respected and well-liked performers of our time.
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Florence's penchant for performing began at the tender age of two when, as the youngest of ten children in a close-knit Midwestern family, she had already learned to sing a repertoire of 50 songs, note perfect. Her acting career began at 17, when Florence entered New York's prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She then landed a part in Joshua Logan's musical, Wish You Were Here, and although the part was small, Florence's flair and sheer talent attracted the attention of the legendary team of Rodgers & Hammerstein, who promptly stole her away to play the lead in their national tour of Oklahoma!
Florence's reputation as a bright new star preceded her to New York, where she returned after a brief stint with the Civic Light Opera of Los Angeles in The Great Waltz. Logan "reclaimed" her, leading to a starring role in Fanny, which ran for 19 months. At age 19, Florence's already-impressive resume had expanded to include her performance as "Maria" in The Sound of Music and the lead in The Girl Who Came to Supper, Noel Coward's last show on Broadway. She performed to sell-out crowds in the Lincoln Center production of South Pacific as "Nellie Forbush," and her drawing power and incredible appeal propelled her into the role of "Anna" opposite Ricardo Montalban's "King of Siam" in the production of The King and I that inaugurated the Los Angeles Music Center.
Florence's magic touch was hardly limited to the stage. Her first feature film, "The Song of Norway,"was shot over eight months on location in Europe, bringing her into the international spotlight. Back in the States, she was becoming a star on television, as well. Long before she became America's favorite "Mom,"Florence Henderson was familiar to television audiences for her frequent appearances with such variety and talk show legends as Ed Sullivan, Bing Crosby, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Steve Allen, Merv Griffin and Dick Cavett. In fact, Florence was the first woman ever to guest host "The Tonight Show." She broke new ground in television as the star of one of the medium's most beloved and longest-running situation comedies. "The Brady Bunch"aired for five seasons (1969-1974) and has been shown in 122 countries around the world. The antics of the lovable family continue to delight millions on syndication. The series lead to several television movies -- including "A Very Brady Christmas,"which was the highest rated movie-of-the-week during the 1988-89 television season -- and six one-hour episodes in 1990. In May, 1993, Florence hosted an ABC prime-time special on the phenomenal popularity of "The Brady Bunch"and its ongoing effect on pop culture. Florence co-produced nine seasons of the Nashville Network cooking, comedy and talk show, "Country Kitchen." By researching each celebrity guest herself and refusing to use cue cards, Florence made the show lively and spontaneous each week as the stars whipped up their favorite recipes. On the show Florence performed with over 300 countryand pop stars singing all kinds of music. Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, Jim Nabors, Barbara Mandrell, and Tammy Wynette were just a few of her guests during the nine seasons. The anecdotes and experiences from "Country Kitchen"inspired her cookbook, "A Little Cooking, A Little Talking and A Whole Lot of Fun."Demand for the book has been so great that she's recently been asked to share her short-cuts in the kitchen, thus the new cookbook and 26 part Public Television series called "Florence Henderson's Short-Cut Cooking." Florence tapped into her ability to be a television mom again. As the mother of Harry Anderson's wife on CBS's hit comedy "Dave's World," Florence once again captured the attention of her audience with charm, humor and on-screen charisma. Florence's television credits also include guest appearances on such hit series as "Caroline in the City," "Ellen," "Roseanne," "Burke's Law,""Murder, She Wrote,""The Love Boat,""Fantasy Island,""It's Garry Shandling's Show"and a critically-acclaimed performance in the ABC Afterschool Special, "Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS Story." Florence was Rosie O'Donnell's special guest on the talk show queen's successful two week run in Los Angeles. With over six appearances which included skits, on location segments and duets with Rosie, people were renaming it "The Ro and Flo Show." She is a frequent guest on both "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Politically Incorrect" with Bill Mahrer. She has also appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman." Always willing to blaze new trails, Florence hosted the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences second annual live Primetime EmmyCast on the World Wide Web. Internet audiences everywhere were able to interact with Florence as she took them behind-the-scenes, answered questions and conducted interviews with the 1996 Emmy award winners and guests. Florence also remains recognizable to television viewers as spokesperson for Wesson Oil, as well as other nationallyl recognized products. The Wall Street Journal named her among television's top five endorsers, based on consumer appeal. She is also in demand as a motivational speaker, where she takes the audience on a musical journey of her life. Florence Henderson's story goes beyond show business. She began to notice a loss of hearing that developed during her run in "The King and I."The situation progressed almost to the point of deafness before a hereditary condition called otosclerosis was discovered to be the cause and was corrected through surgery. Her recovery has lead to a long association with the House Ear Institute.Other of Florence's many humanitarian activities include 20 years as a national co-host of the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon and fundraising for the City of Hope, among others. Florence's interests are not limited to her entertainment career and charity involvements. Her husband, John Kappas, is a hypnotherapist and Florence has been a longtime proponent of the benefits of hypnotherapy since it freed her from stage fright and a fear of flying so severe it almost ended her career. Her enthusiasm has lead Florence to become a certified hypnotherapist herself. The Kappas' live on a 87 foot yacht which they dock in Marina Del Rey, California, when they aren't sailing the Pacific Ocean. In short, Florence Henderson has indeed earned the trust of audiences everywhere. Whether on stage, screen, television or the printed page, her many devoted fans can count on her to continue sharing the many talents she possesses and the warmth and exhuberance with which she does so.
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