When Florence Henderson was in Sydney recently, Rebecca Varidel had the opportunity to chat about more than The Brady Bunch:
You’re born on the 14th February. Would you say you’re a bit of a romantic?
(Laughs) Very much a romantic… And a sweetheart.
(And an angel, according to one of the many twitter responses I got when I mentioned I was meeting her.)
After meeting her, and chatting with her, I’d have to agree on all three counts. We shared some relationship secrets and our interview finished with her good wishes for me finding that bloke. And during our chat Florence Henderson shared with me that the years of her second marriage were the happiest days of her life.
You started out in musicals. I love musicals. What were you favourites?
I loved The Sound of Music. And Noel Coward’s last play: The Girl Who Came To Supper – which became a musical with Marilyn Monroe. I was the showgi
Do you have favourite songs?
Oh my gosh … Richard Rodgers wrote such great music. I opened the LA Music Center with Anna and The King of Siam…
I Have Dreamed
We Kiss in a Shadow
I Whistle a Happy Tune
And of course from The Sound of Music: Climb Every Mountain.
And there’s Carousel: You’ll Never Walk Alone.
(She’d listed some of my favourite showtunes) They’re all very happy songs. You’re a happy person.
I hope I bring some happiness to peoples’ lives. Music is very important; it gets you through hardship and trials. Music is very uplifting.
And cooking: is that uplifting too?
I hear you’re a good cook (she said to me.)
I don’t get to cook much anymore – I have to eat out a lot.
I do too (eat out a lot.) I live alone. (Me too.)
(We agreed it’s not much fun cooking for just yourself.)
When I do cook, I look for a lot of shortcuts.
So is that how you got involved with Ardmona? What tomato dishes do you like to cook?
I love marinara sauces. In (Ardmona DUO) the paste and tomatoes are together. I don’t have to go through all the steps. It’s all in one can. I just add maybe some garlic, the pasta, parmesan and I love finely chopped fresh red chillies.
And when you’re eating out, do you have some tips on restaurants for us?
I live on the west coast in LA. Do you like Italian? (she asked me.)
My favourite restaurant is in Santa Monica: Vito – a wonderful restaurant, a family restaurant. I’ve been eating there for over 20 years. They cook whatever I like.
And I like Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago, though it’s a little bit more expensive. We just ate there. There were eight of us. My son loves to have his birthday there.
I suppose we have to talk about The Brady Bunch. So many people have seen it, so much has already been written about it. So just one question: do you have a favourite episode?
I really loved it when we got out of the studio. We went to work in the dark and we came home in the dark. So I loved it when we got to film outdoors: The Grand Canyon and Hawaii.
I loved those episodes.
Filming with Vincent Price and Jim Bacchus – greats in the industry.
We talked about putting your hands in food but what was it like putting your hands in concrete?
It was very cold, and then you have to wash them. There’s a bowl of water ready. Great fun.
It was easier getting a star in the Hollywood Hall of Fame.
We love you Miss Henderson.
While I’m writing this I’m sitting on my laptop at my local. The guy at the table next to me is telling me that yesterday he watched four episodes of The Brady Bunch with his six year old son, Alex. Three generations (or more) around the world love you. And meeting you I understand why even moreso. It was a privilege!
And for 30 clever kitchen techniques check out Florence Henderson’s – Ardmona book of better ways