America’s mom, Florence Henderson, just passed away at the end of 2016 at the age of eighty-two. The beloved actress, of course, gained the affectionate title of America’s mom after starring on the hit 1970’s sitcom The Brady Bunch.
Florence went on to continue acting in a variety of roles but in later years most of her appearances were as herself. Oddly, she almost didn’t have the role she became most famous for, the endearing Carol Brady. The role was originally offered to actress Shirley Jones, who also happened to be Florence’s best friend. Shirley, of course, went on to star in a show where she also played the mother to a lot of children – The Partridge Family. It’s hard to imagine any other actress in the role of Carol Brady.
Before and after her most famous role Florence appeared in numerous ads and commercials for various products over the years. Some of her first roles in showbiz were in commercials, sometimes she appeared and other times she provided voiceovers. In the late 1950s through the early ’60s she promoted Oldsmobile. She would appear sitting on top of cars in a beautiful 1950’s style dress. Florence always appeared beautiful but in a remarkably wholesome way which is probably what led her to become America’s mother.
In the 1970s she began appearing in ads for the instant orange drink Tang. The ads touted that half of the children in the United States weren’t getting enough Vitamin C. The ads utilized Mrs. Brady to remind kids and parents that a great way to up their vitamin intake was to drink the tasty beverage, Tang. These commercials and magazine ads appeared after her role as Carol Brady so the brand was definitely capitalizing on her appeal and popularity.
One of Florence’s most longstanding advertisements was with Wesson Cooking Oil. She was the face of the company from 1974 to 1996. She would sing about “Wessonality” in the commercials and touted the vegetable oil as the secret to getting the perfect chicken.
In her later years, she went on to advertise the denture product Polident although she allegedly never wore them herself. On her own website, she claims that many family members loved the product so she felt comfortable to advertise it.
In the 2000s she starred in a Pepsi commercial alongside rocker Ozzy Osbourne. The two poked fun at Ozzy’s legendary wildness and Florence’s legendary wholesomeness. In the commercial, Ozzy is having a dream where his children are the equally wholesome Donny and Marie Osmond and his wife is Florence Henderson. This was around the time that Ozzy and his real family, including wife Sharon, and kids Jack and Kelly were seen in the MTV reality series The Osbournes, which featured the entire family’s crazy antics.
Florence has certainly become a legend in her own right and will always be remembered for her iconic role as the mother Carol Brady. Family was always at the center focus for Florence, both her onscreen and off-screen family. Three days before she suddenly passed away Florence was in the audience of Dancing With The Stars, cheering on her on-screen daughter Maureen McCormick, who played Marsha on The Brady Bunch. The world mourned her passing and there is no doubt that people around the world will also remember her for all the many advertisements she had part in, many of which offer a sense of nostalgia for their own childhood.