NEW YORK• Florence Henderson, who began her career as an ingenue soprano in stage musicals in the 1950s but made a more lasting impression on television as the perky 1970s sitcom mum on The Brady Bunch, died on Thursday.
She was 82.Her death was reported by The Associated Press, citing a statement from her manager and an interview with her publicist.
Henderson was making a film in Norway in 1969 when she was asked to appear in the pilot episode of The Brady Bunch, an unapologetically upbeat comedy about a widow with three daughters who meets, marries and makes a sunny suburban California home with a widower who has three sons.
The series ran from September 1969 to March 1974, attracting viewers during a period of extreme social change and the Vietnam War, neither of which touched the Bradys' world.
The show took on new life in syndication. In the end, it spawned TV movies and reunion specials, short-lived spin-offs and eventually two feature films.
Henderson defended the original show from its detractors, who ridiculed it for its simplistic, impossibly wholesome plots and its idealised portrait of family life.
"It was really a show that was seen through the eyes of a child," she said, "and it was supposed to have a little soft glow about it."
Florence Agnes Henderson was born on Feb 14, 1934, the youngest of Joseph and Elizabeth Henderson's 10 children, in Dale, Indiana, near the Kentucky border.
Her father was a sharecropper and the family struggled financially.She married Ira Bernstein, a Broadway casting director and general manager, in 1956, when she was starring in Fanny.
They had four children but divorced in 1985.In 1987, she married Dr John Kappas, who introduced her to hypnotherapy. He died in 2002.
Henderson was asked in a 1999 Archive of American Television interview how she would like to be remembered.
She answered: "Probably as someone who survived for a long time in a very tough business and, hopefully, managed to retain a sense of humanity."