Biography

Florence Henderson: Here's the Story (11 May 2001)

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Florence Agnes Henderson Perpetuates Effervescence
9 June 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode spotlights the life and career of stage, screen and television star Florence Henderson, born in rural southern Indiana, the tenth child of Elizabeth Elder and Joseph Henderson, a struggling sharecropper, who could not afford to provide an education to promote young Florence's talents for singing, which family and friends realize from her infancy.

With the help of a friend, Florence enrolls in Saint Francis Academy, in Owensboro, Kentucky, across the Ohio River, at which school uniforms conceal her inability to keep up with her classmates in terms of dress.

Upon graduating from the Academy, the uncle of a classmate assists Florence in enrolling in American Academy of Dramatic Arts, in New York City, at which she is cast in Musicals, to receive favorable reviews, enabling the promising newcomer an opportunity on Broadway.

After making her mark in chorus roles, Florence auditions for a part in "Guys and Dolls" with Casting Director Ira Bernstein. She doesn't win the part, but Ira takes notice, and the two become inseparable until their separate careers divide their time together after they marry.

Florence proves herself one of the Entertainment Industry's busiest performers for decades to follow, often juggling three demanding careers simultaneously, while working in television by day, the nightclub circuit by evening, and traveling across the country to join her family on her days open from filming.

For all of Florence's many outstanding achievements in a variety of media, it is television by far which makes her the most famous, as it conveys the delightful, wholesome and energetic persona which accompanies Florence Henderson wherever she may travel.

Florence's marriages are with Ira Bernstein (1956-85) and John Kappas (whom she weds in 1987). With Ira, she welcomes four children: Barbara, Joseph, Robert, and Elizabeth.

Florence's Stage productions are discussed here, which include "Wish You Were Here" (1952-53), "Oklahoma!" (1953), "Fanny" (1954-56), "The Girl Who Came to Supper" (1963-64) (all on Broadway), plus several off-Broadway productions, as "South Pacific" and "Annie Get Your Gun," in addition to her many nightclub acts along the way.

Interview Guests for this episode include Barbara Chase (Daughter), Elizabeth Russell (sp?) (Daughter), Joseph Bernstein (Son), Robert Bernstein (Son), John Kappas (Husband), Sister M. Gemma Gettelfinger, OSB (Teacher), Ruth Helen Wright (Friend), Christine Johnson (Vocal Coach), Actresses Ann B. Davis, Shirley Jones and Susan Olsen, Actors Bill Hayes, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland, Sherwood Schwartz (Producer), Lloyd Schwartz (Producer) and Al Yankovic (Entertainer).

Archive footage includes scenes with Florence Henderson, Gordon MacRae, Jack Paar, Robert Morley, Harry Secombe, Robert Reed, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Donny Osmond, Darrell Waltrip, Jodi Applegate and Asha Blake.

Television and Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Florence through the years, in scenes from "Oklahoma!" (Stage production, 1953), "General Foods 25th Anniversary Show: A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein" (1954), "The Jack Paar Show" (1958–62), "Oldsmobile Music Theatre" (1959), "The Today Show" (1959–60), "Song of Norway" (1970), "The Brady Bunch" (1969–74), "The Brady Bunch: The Grass Is Always Greener" (1970), "The Brady Bunch: Tell It Like It Is" (1971), "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour" (1976–77), "Country Kitchen" (1985–93), "The Bradys" (1990), "Amish Paradise" (Video, 1996), "Ally McBeal: Two's a Crowd" (Beind-the-scenes, 2000), and "Later Today" (1999–2000), plus commercials advertising automobiles and, of course, vegetable oil.


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