Although Florence Henderson’s career spanned over six decades, she got her namesake from playing the matriarch on “The Brady Bunch.” From 1969 to 1974, she played the role of Carol Brady: the on-screen mom to six children.
Even though she wasn’t their biological mother, Henderson admitted that she “felt very much at home with all of them.”
As the mother to Marcia, Jan, and Cindy, and stepmother to Greg, Peter, and Bobby, she was always there to help her clan overcome their struggles.
Although she took on the maternal role quickly, Henderson revealed that she didn’t know her on-screen children at all before they started filming.
“We had spent time together doing the pilot” During this time, Hendeson says they “got to know each other” then. She added, “I think it was just the idea that it worked in the pilot. And it worked, and we knew it worked. We liked each other.”
According to Henderson, the on-screen connection viewers saw at home didn’t happen overnight. In fact, they formed a strong bond behind the scenes.
Florence Henderson on Relationship With On-Screen Children: ‘Work in Progress
“I think professionally we respected each other and it just kind of took off,” she said of her much-younger castmates. “You know it was a work in progress for us. It was the time that we spent trying to rehearse a scene, or preparing, or having lunch together. The kids would come over to my house, or my kids would go to their house.”
That relationship with her on-camera children would continue to fourish long after the show went off the air in 1974. In the decades following “The Brady Bunch,” Henderson made sure to remain close with her former castmates. She even saved her on-screen daughter’s life at one point.
Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, confessed that when they were in Hawaii “shooting on outriggers,” Henderson saved her from a “possibly fatal ocean fall.”
The crew outrigger had knocked Olsen over, leaving her clinging for life.
However, Henderson “hooked her ankles under the seat in front of her and drew Olsen out of the sea, mothering her until she stopped shaking.”
She continued, “I didn’t have any family on that outrigger to calm me down, except for Florence.” Years later, the pair remained close until Henderson’s passed away in 2016.
“Our audience saw that Florence’s love was genuine. All of the love between the cast members was genuine and people were drawn to that,” Olsen said of Henderson.