Life Is Not a Stage is the very honest story of a lovely lady. While known by an entire generation as the wife and mother in The Brady Bunch, there is so much more to this woman than Carol Brady.
Childhood and Personal Life
The book begins with Florence’s childhood, which was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fairy tale. She was the youngest of ten children and was raised a strict Catholic. Her faith was something that not only gave her strength throughout her life, but also provided plenty of guilt.
When she was very young her mother left the family and moved away. From then on, Florence rarely saw her. Life for Florence and her family was not all rosy. There were tough times and difficult relationships. But there was one thing this young girl wanted and that was to be a performer. She had talent. From a very young age Florence could sing. And that talent was what got her out of her house and to New York City where she attended school to hone her talent and start a career. As a matter of fact, she landed a job before even finishing her schooling. Was it luck or strictly talent? Perhaps a little of both.
Florence began her career on Broadway and in musical touring companies. In the book she shares her experiences and readers are able to understand this woman’s life in a way they have not had before. Besides detailing her career, Henderson also lays out some very, and I mean “very,” interesting personal details.
Henderson admits that she was concerned about putting these private aspects of her life out there for the public to know. But she says she knew that if she was going to write her story, she had to write about everything – warts (and crabs) and all.
The book gives readers an intimate look at the life and career of Florence Henderson. The mother of four, she has had an extraordinary life while enduring her share of ups and downs.
Besides appearing onstage in musicals, Florence put together her own act which she took on the road. She worked with some of the best in the entertainment world. And between personal engagements she would also appear on The Dean Martin Show and even guest hosted The Tonight Show. Did I mention she was on The Today Show before Barbara Walters? While she is probably best known (by the under-forty-five crowd) for The Brady Bunch, readers will have an eye-opening experience learning about all the incredible opportunities and experiences her career has afforded her.
For readers who want the inside scoop on The Brady Bunch, Henderson does reveal some stories about that iconic show. While she divulges some of what went on in the background, this is one classy woman. She handles everything in this book in a way so no one could accuse her of being spiteful or derogatory.
Okay, so enough with the career part. People love reading autobiographies to get the private dirt celebrities dish out about themselves and their colleagues. Florence Henderson does not disappoint, in that regard. Although originally hesitant, she has truthfully laid out some personal events that might shock Brady Bunch lovers. As I mentioned, there is much more to this woman than the persona of Carol Brady.
Henderson, although a strict Catholic, married a Jewish man who agreed to raise their children in her faith. And, as a Catholic, birth control was not an option. Then, along came “the pill.” All of this is discussed in this memoir. Catholic guilt played a role in her life as she embarked on an affair, although she still wanted to avoid the “D” word. Divorce was against the rules for strict Catholics, however eventually her marriage did end in that dreaded “D” word.
Her second marriage was more fulfilling, but this one ended in another “D” word – death. The death of her husband was difficult, but something she handled with strength and courage.
Florence Henderson also talks frankly about her bout with crabs, which she contracted after a one-night-stand with John Lindsay, the former Mayor of New York.
She also dishes about some sailing excursions with members of the Kennedy family, a car ride with Frank Sinatra, and many more interesting episodes that are all part of the life and times of this very interesting woman.
Life Is Not a Stage is a forthright story of the life and career of Florence Henderson. Even though she has been through some tough – and interesting – times, the book is peppered with plenty of wit and humor. After reading this book, the public will have a deeper understanding of this woman who has had an incredible life and long-lasting career.