Birthplace: Dale, Indiana
Perky and petite actress known best for anchoring the The Brady Bunch (1969?74). Born one of ten children to a poor tobacco farmer, she was determined to go on the stage and went to New York at 17 to study acting. Her first substantial part was in a tour of Oklahoma! (1952), which led to the title role in the Broadway production of Fanny (1954), co-starring Ezio Pinza and Walter Slezak. She landed the role of Maria in The Sound of Music for the 1961?62 tour. She later appeared in The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963) opposite Jose Ferrer, and South Pacific (1964). Her film debut came in The Song of Norway (1970), but she is known mostly for her stage and television work. She also hosted a cooking show on TNN from 1985?92, has written a cookbook, and co-authored a Bible story book with puppeteer Shari Lewis. She also co-hosted NBC's Later Today (1999?2000).