‘The Brady Bunch’: Florence Henderson’s First Job on TV Was Being ‘The Today Girl’ for NBC

by Joe Rutland

Before Florence Henderson nabbed her signature role on “The Brady Bunch,” she appeared on TV screens in a different show.

Henderson, who established herself as a stage and nightclub performer, actually got her first job on television as being “The Today Girl” for NBC.

She would do light-hearted interview segments, showoff products, and give weather reports as part of the NBC morning program “Today.”

Henderson Deals With Real Monkeys On ‘Today’

She stayed in that role from 1959-60. One of the more humorous moments Henderson recalled from her “Today Girl” days happened between host Dave Garroway and some monkeys. Real monkeys.

“He (Garroway) took the top off the barrel, and all the monkeys went bananas,” she said in an IndyStar interview. “They were up in the (lighting) grids, they were doing naughty things all over us and the table. … It was fun, but it was also scary. A picture taken at the time shows me on top of the desk, terrified.”

Needless to say, Henderson’s career continued on an upward trend after her time on “Today.”

‘The Brady Bunch’ Star Performed At Indy 500 Race

One of Henderson’s great gifts was her singing voice. She loved her home state of Indiana and represented it at the Indianapolis 500, a Formula One staple.

What did Henderson do 23 times at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? She sang. From 1991 to 2015, Florence Henderson either sang the national anthem, “God Bless America,” or “America the Beautiful.” She performed before thousands of fans.

Henderson died on Nov. 24, 2016, from heart failure.

There was a time in her life, though, that Henderson probably never thought she’d attend the great race. She grew up in a rather poor family, but found her way beyond that start in life to success from the stage to television screens.

Getting the role of Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch” was first pitched to Shirley Jones, yet she turned it down for “The Partridge Family.” Henderson cemented that role into the consciousness of TV viewers around the world, making the little girl from Indiana into a worldwide star.

That’s a pretty rad story.