‘The Brady Bunch’: One Star Was Saved From Potential Death on Hawaii Trip Thanks to Florence Henderson

by Matthew Wilson
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One “Brady Bunch” star almost died while filming the show in Hawaii. But they had an unlikely savior in the show’s lead actor Florence Henderson. Actor Susan Olsen went overboard and needed rescuing by her co-star before she drowned.

According to Variety, the incident happened in 1972 when the show was filming the episode “Hawaii Bound.” Production decided to mix up the “Brady Bunch” formula. And so, TV’s favorite family left their home in suburbia for a tropical paradise.

A Very Brady Rescue

But more fitting of a horror movie than a sitcom, things almost turned deadly for Olsen. The cast filmed a scene out on the water when one of the crew’s outriggers accidentally knocked into Olsen. The force was enough to send the young actor tumbling into the sea. Olsen managed to grab onto the side of the boat as she fell. But she was desperately losing her grip.

“I’m not a strong swimmer at all,” Olsen told the outlet.

Cue, Henderson to the rescue. She may have just been Olsen’s TV mom, but at that moment, she acted like her real mother. Henderson held onto the seat with her feet and leaned over the boat to grab Olsen. She managed to fish her out of the water and held her until the actor stopped shaking. Henderson consoled Olsen after her brush with death.

“I didn’t have any family on that outrigger to calm me down,” Olsen said. “Except for Florence.”

Florence Henderson and Susan Olsen

Florence Henderson and Susan Olsen were always closer than just co-stars, even after the show ended. They always acted more like mother and daughter. Olsen would often spend the night at Henderson’s house and became good friends with Henderson’s four children. She confessed that she always felt a little guilty about overshadowing them and taking time away from their mom.

“My first husband and I spent time with her sons, and he told me, ‘Her kids are terrific,’” Olsen said. “That’s how you know how good a mom she was. Two families and a career, and her kids still turned out terrific.”

Later in life, Olsen’s own son considered Henderson to be his honorary grandmother. That’s how close of a bond the two shared in real life. Olsen and Henderson maintained a close relationship and friendship until Henderson’s death in 2016. Olsen was saddened to learn that the actor has passed away.

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