Florence Henderson was a well-known nightclub entertainer playing out a series of shows in Texas when she was asked to audition for the role that would change her life, that of perfect mother Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch."
Hoping to jet into Los Angeles, have a screen test for creator Sherwood Schwartz and then get back
to Texas in time for the evening's shows, Henderson was stymied by L.A. traffic and rushed onto the Paramount lot two hours late, frantically looking for a makeup artist to get her ready for the test. Finally, she found someone with a few spare minutes — on the set of "Star Trek."
"I was sitting in a makeup chair between William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and like six or eight space monsters. None of them had any idea who I was or made any attempt to be friendly, which really bugged me," she recalled in TV son Barry Williams' 1992 memoir, "Growing Up Brady."
Bothered by what she believed to be a shoddy makeup job, Henderson joked through the screen test about how bad she looked, and Schwartz, impressed with her comic timing, gave her the role. "Maybe I should thank that terrible makeup man, because in a way, his botch job helped me get the part," she said in the book.
Henderson's work as Carol on the series, which ran from 1969 to 1974, created a sort of idealized mother figure for Generation X-ers who watched reruns of the show obsessively every afternoon, and her slyly sexy chemistry with co-star Robert Reed made the show thrive.
Henderson began her show business career at 17, when she attended New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She made her Broadway debut in 1952 in the musical "Wish You Were Here." She went on to many more roles in musical theater as well as the movie “The Song of Norway.”
After her years on “The Brady Bunch,” Henderson became a commercial spokeswoman and co-produced “Country Kitchen,” a Nashville Network series.
Henderson died Nov. 24, 2016, of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 82.