Before she became famous for playing Mrs. Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” Florence Henderson had a successful career. She was a respected stage actress and, according to NPR, she was even the first woman to be a guest host for the famous Johnny Carson on late-night television.
Coming from a career in the theater, playing a television mother on a sitcom might not be the most logical step for an actress. However, things worked out for Henderson and she decided to join the show. But, the cast and crew on “The Brady Bunch” had to film the first six episodes without her.
She talked to NPR about joining the show and those first six episodes during 2015. Interestingly, when she was first approached about joining “The Brady Bunch,” Florence Henderson wasn’t exactly interested. In fact, she had a lot of other things going on at the time.
“Well, it was 1969, and I thought, wow. You know, I really didn’t want to do a TV series. You know, I had my own act, and I was performing in Vegas and doing all of these exciting things,” Henderson told NPR a few years agol.
Manager for Florence Henderson Encouraged Her to Pursue Role in ‘The Brady Bunch’
A member of her team at the time encouraged her to consider joining the cast of “The Brady Bunch.”
“And my manager said, well, just go down and meet them. I thought it was great, and it was fun. But I thought, well, I guess it didn’t sell,” Henderson also said.
However, the show did sell. This put Florence Henderson and the producers of “The Brady Bunch” in a conundrum. She was working on another project and they needed to film the show.
So, what did they do? According to Henderson, the producers of “The Brady Bunch” decided to film the first six episodes of the show without the actress. Then, when she became available, Henderson reportedly went to work filming her scenes for those episodes of the show.
Henderson Was Filming Movie in Norway When She Was Cast in ‘The Brady Bunch’
“And then, I get the lead in the movie ‘Song Of Norway.’ And I’m over in Norway filming, and I get a message that ‘The Brady Bunch’ sold,” Henderson told NPR. “And so they started the show without me. They did six episodes without me. And then I filled in when I got back to the states.”
For fans of “The Brady Bunch” and classic television, it’s a great thing that Florence Henderson and the powers that be behind the show were able to work things out. It’s difficult to imagine anyone but her in the role of Mrs. Carol Brady.
During her interview with NPR, Florence Henderson also talked about what it was like to raise her own family while she was playing such an iconic television mother. Interestingly, her own children wondered why she wasn’t more like Mrs. Brady in real life. Her answer is pretty great.
“… I had four children. And my youngest when we started was like, oh, gosh, 2 or a little less. And sometimes my kids would say to me, you know, how come you don’t scream at those kids on television like you do us?” Henderson told NPR.
“… I said because they’re not my real kids, and you are. And I want you to turn out to be wonderful human beings. And they have. I have four of the most incredible children, and I have five grandchildren.”