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‘Brady Bunch’ mother Florence Henderson dies at 82

Actress Florence Henderson died Thursday surrounded by friends and family.

Actress Florence Henderson died Thursday surrounded by friends and family.

(DANNY MOLOSHOK/REUTERS)

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Friday, November 25, 2016, 4:47 AM

Florence Henderson, the actress known for her portrayal as the cheerful matriarch Carol Brady on the ABC sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” has died of heart failure. She was 82.

Henderson passed away surrounded by family and friends on Thanksgiving at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her manager said late Thursday.

The wholesome sitcom centered on a single mom with three daughters who married Robert Reed’s Mike Brady, a single father with three sons. Together, they formed a family of eight with actress Ann B. Davis as their quirky housekeeper in the Los Angeles suburbs.

“It represents what people always wanted: a loving family. It’s such a gentle, innocent, sweet show, and I guess it proved there’s always an audience for that,” Henderson said of the series in 1999.

The show ran premiered in 1969, racking up five seasons before its cancellation in 1974.

Henderson had a cameo role in the satiric “Brady Bunch Movie” as Carol Brady’s mother.

Florence Henderson starred in the "The Brady Bunch" for five seasons and later returned in TV specials as Carol Brady.

Florence Henderson starred in the “The Brady Bunch” for five seasons and later returned in TV specials as Carol Brady.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Former “Brady” cast member Maureen McCormick, who portrayed one of Carol Brady’s three daughters, Marcia, paid tribute to her longtime TV mom.

“Florence Henderson was a dear friend for so very many years & in my (heart) forever,” McCormick tweeted. “Love & hugs to her family. I’ll miss u dearly.”

Henderson came from a big family of her own — born the youngest of 10 children on Feb. 14, 1934, in the small town of Dale, Indiana.

She left her childhood home of Kentucky for New York, to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, dropping out after one year.

The young singer with a soaring soprano voice got her big show biz break in 1954 with the title role in musical “Fanny.”

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Florence Henderson was in the audience for “Dancing with the Stars” during Monday’s taping. 

(Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)

At the time, the Associated Press said Henderson was “the luckiest girl on Broadway.”

She was just 20 years old and had already had two acclaimed chorus gigs in “Wish You Were Here” and “Oklahoma!”

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were so impressed with Henderson, they made her the female lead in the 1952 road tour of “Oklahoma!” When the show returned to Broadway for a revival in 1954, she continued in the role and won rave reviews.

“She is the real thing, right of a butter churn somewhere,” wrote Walter Kerr of the New York Herald Tribune.

Her television career on the “Brady Bunch” made Henderson a household name. She was the first woman to take over for vacationing Johnny Carson as “The Tonight Show” host.

Henderson returned to the stage to sing and dance for fundraisers and even for fun.

She was a “Dancing With The Stars” contender in 2010, a show she continued to love even up until her death. She was in the audience and appeared to be in good health for the show’s taping on Monday.

She was hospitalized on Wednesday.

Henderson is survived by her four children, Barbara, Joseph, Robert and Lizzie, and five grandchildren.

With News Wire Services 

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