Florence Henderson, the actress best known for playing matriarch Carol Brady on '70s sitcom The Brady Bunch, passed away on Thursday in Los Angeles from heart failure. She was 82.

Henderson was mostly a stage actress and television personality until she landed the part on The Brady Bunch in 1969. The series ran on ABC from 1969 to 1974, and offered viewers a light, escapist sitcom during a tumultuous time in America. It thrived in syndication, and spawned numerous TV movies and reunion specials, spin-offs and two feature films. Henderson played the perpetually chipper mother of Marcia, Jan and Cindy who married Mike Brady and blended their six children together.

She began her career as a stage actress in the 1950s, starring in Fanny and The Girl Who Came to Supper, Noël Coward's last original Broadway musical, on Broadway.

She started appearing on TV in the '50s, and was a memorable panelist on game shows like Match Game and Password. She appeared many times on The Tonight Show with both Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, and even hosted the show once in 1962 when the show was between hosts. She was also a contributor to Today in 1959 and 1960.

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After The Brady Bunch, she guest-starred on shows including Ally McBeal, 30 Rock andreality shows like The Surreal Life. In 2010, Henderson competed on Dancing With the Stars (coming back to sit in the audience just three days before her death) and in 2013, she'd begun hosting a cooking show, Who's Cooking with Florence Henderson, on RLTV.

Henderson was born on Feb. 14, 1934, the youngest of 10 children, in Dale, Ind., near the Kentucky border. Her family was very poor, and she began working at age 8. After high school she moved to New York and began studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, which led to her first New York stage role in Wish You Were Here in 1952.

She was married to Ira Bernstein, a Broadway casting director and general manager, from 1956 to 1985. They had four children together. In 1987, she married Dr. John Kappas, to whom she was married until his death in 2002.

She's survived by two daughters, two sons, and five grandchildren.