(CNN) — She was one of America’s moms, a television mother many people grew up watching. Florence Henderson died Thursday from heart failure at the age of 82.
Henderson played Carol Brady from 1969 to 1979 on “The Brady Bunch,” a show that became a huge hit in syndication.
Henderson’s life story wasn’t as ideal as the character she played.
Henderson grew up poor in Indiana, with an alcoholic father and a mother who left when she was just 12 years old, she said.
Henderson used her singing talent to entertain the family and help make ends meet.
“I don`t ever remember not singing. and i would sing and pass the hat. and i would sing for groceries,” she said.
Starring role in musical was big break
Her big break came in 1951 when she landed a starring role in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma.”
The singer-turned-actress then took her talents to television.
In 1959 she was on set as NBC’s “Today Girl” and she became the first woman to guest host the “Tonight Show” in 1962.
In 1969, Henderson became Carol Brady.
“I created the kind of mother that I wished I’d had, and I think everyone longs for,” she said.
Henderson had four children with her first husband, Ira Bernstein. They were married for 29 years.
In 1987 she married John Kappas, a hypnotherapist. He died in 2002.