Florence Henderson on Being a ‘Second Mother’ to the Brady Bunch Kids

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The Brady Bunch‘s Carol Brady may be one of the most iconic mothers of all time, but it turns out star Florence Henderson was just as much a loving mom off screen as the famously blended family’s matriarch was on.

“We spent so many hours together with the kids, and I sort of became like a second mother to them,” Henderson told PEOPLE Friday on the set ofBreaking Bread with Brooke Burke airing on Feeln. “I treated them with respect. They were treated as pros and they came prepared.”

She added, “I was the only person on the show that was a mother in real life. I already had four children – my youngest was just a little tiny thing.”

But, as most moms must do from time to time, Henderson occasionally had to give the actor playing the Brady kids a little tough love.

“I really wound up treating them like my children on the set, you know, and shaking my finger at them,” she said with a laugh. “It was interesting, and they loved it. I wanted them to be professional and nice kids – and they are.”

And Henderson, 81, shared that she’s still “always in touch with the kids.”

“I feel very close to the kids. I adored Ann B. Davis [who played the Bradys’ housekeeper Alice]. I feel so bad that she’s gone [as well as my TV husband]Robert Reed,” Henderson said. “I think one of the reasons why the show [has] never been off the air in this country and it’s in over 122 countries around the world … was our chemistry. We all just kind of loved each other.”

And what’s the best part about being tied to the Brady Bunch phenomenon for Henderson?

“I think being part of something that has kind of become such a huge part of pop culture,” Henderson shared. “That this little show – which represents something that I think everyone wishes they had, which is a loving family and the fact that it was the first blended family – I just think there was something about the heart of that show that touches people …. It’s kind of wonderful.”

PEOPLE MAGAZINE

BY Mariah Haas

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