Maureen McCormick is mourning the loss of her Brady Bunch TV mom Florence Henderson, who died on Thursday at the age of 82.
Two months before her death, Henderson made her last TV performance when she appeared as Carol Brady in McCormick’s Dancing With the Stars performance, and on Monday — just days before her death — Henderson was in the DWTS audience during finals week of the reality dancing competition series.
McCormick, best known for her role as Marcia Brady in the hit sitcom, spoke exclusively with PEOPLE about the time she spent with her beloved friend.
There are so many people who never met Florence but feel like she was a best friend or a mother to them. To me, she was both. I first met her when I was just 12 years old. At the time she was like a second mother but she was so much more than that. She became a dear friend. When you do a show like The Brady Bunch, you have such a bond together. I spent so much time with her on weekends at her house with her family. Her kids became almost siblings — and all of them are such beautiful people today, which is such a testament to Florence.
She took me to New York for Christmases with her family. We had slumber parties and would go swimming and hang out and cook in her kitchen. And she didn’t just do that with me. Anyone she met became family. She embraced everyone. She had incredible love for everyone and wanted to spread that joy and light and laughter wherever she went. The song’s words could not have been more true — she was one of the loveliest ladies I’ve ever known. She taught me a lot that I will have with me forever. I feel her so much inside me. She was just so multi-talented and classy and fun and just an inspiration to me.
Time could pass with Florence and I would get back together and it seemed like our love grew deeper through the years. We shared so much that you can’t really describe to other people. I had just spent so much quality time with her because of Dancing with the Stars and she was just so incredibly healthy and full of life. I feel so fortunate that I got to spend that time with her. She’d gone through that experience just a few years earlier and her main advice was to “just go have fun.” And Florence did that. She did that in everything she did. Her glass was always half full. She always looked for the fun and was always laughing and wanted to spread that.
She’ll be remembered as a real class act — someone with so much talent. She just brought a smile to everyone’s heart. She made people feel good. She will be loved forever. She was just so humble, so kind. She will live on forever in everyone’s hearts all over the world.
After learning about the death of her longtime friend and costar, McCormick took to Twitter to share her sentiments about the difficult loss.
“Florence Henderson was a dear friend for so very many years & in my [heart] forever. Love & hugs to her family. I’ll miss u dearly #RIPFlorence,” McCormick wrote in a post. In another, McCormick simply penned, “You are in my heart forever Florence.”