The Story of a “Lovely Lady”

Sometimes, when a celebrity passes away, we sigh and say RIP and whatever. But sometimes when a celebrity dies, we go to a place of disbelief with a resounding “Oh, NO!!!” That’s what happened when we heard that Florence Henderson (February 14, 1934 – November 24, 2016) had died.

We all knew her as Carol Brady, mother of that bunch of annoying kids, but Florence Henderson was so much more.  She was the original Broadway Fanny, Maria in The Sound of Music, the lead in The Girl Who Came to Supper, Noel Coward’s last show on Broadway, Nellie Forbush to sell-out crowds in the Lincoln Center production of South Pacific and as Mrs. Anna, opposite Ricardo Montalban in The King & I. She was the “Today Girl” on NBC’s “Today Show” and the first woman to host “The Tonight Show.”

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I got to know her during the many Cerebral Palsy telethons I worked on. She had replaced Jane Pickens Langley as Dennis James’ partner for the marathon fund-raiser and, although she had big shoes to fill, did it with grace and a smile as big as her native Indiana. I was in awe of her, this Broadway star, this TV icon known to everyone who owned a set. Much to my surprise – and I don’t know why – she couldn’t have been lovelier. She hosted the telethon for many years in New York, while Henry Winkler and John Ritter hosted in Los Angeles and embraced the kids who benefitted from the millions raised. Everyone who knew her loved her.

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Norman Lear and Florence Henderson

Florence hosted “Country Kitchen” on Nashville Network, which was a combination of food and comedy and although she appeared on TV many times since the demise of “The Brady Bunch,” which by the way, has never been off the air since it started in 1969, it was her stint on “Dancing with the Stars” that brought a whole new generation of fans who saw a different side of her, beyond “America’s Favorite Mom.” At the tender age of 76, Henderson joined the reality program to show off her dancing chops. Oddly enough, her final public appearance was at the 2016 final for the show, just a few days before she unexpectedly died.

We will miss this “Lovely Lady,” this warm and funny part of our TV history. Sleep with the angels, my friend.

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Nancy Lee Grahn

This Week on the Tube… You all know my addiction to “General Hospital” and my love for Nancy Lee Grahn’s Alexis Davis. Well, following her disbarment, her nosedive into an alcoholic stupor rendering her Port Chuck’s resident hot mess, she got behind the wheel of her car drunk and ran over her ex-husband, Julian Jerome. This week should be a doozie for Alexis and Grahn’s acting has been Emmy-worthy throughout the entire debacle. Stay tuned!

Don’t get me started…For the record, I didn’t give a crap about “Gilmore Girls” on the first run-around and I could care even less about the re-boot. Send your hate mail now!

About Penny Landau 1 Article
“The TV Junkie” was preceded in her family by a large mahogany cabinet that housed a small screen with a large speaker below. Thus began her love affair with the older sibling in the living room. Theirs was a tenuous relationship, prone to mishaps (forgetting to use the special “screen” for “Winky Dink”), joyous events (“Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall”), sad moments (Clarabelle saying goodbye to the Peanut Gallery) and a wide range of emotions (the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the Inauguration of Barack Obama). From “Captain Video” to “Star Trek” to “Lost;” from “A Brighter Day” to “The Edge of Night” to “General Hospital;” from “Peyton Place” to “Dynasty” to “Desperate Housewives;” there has never been a greater love, than that of The TVJ and the best friend a girl could ever have. Follow “The TV Junkie” on Facebook: