When Maureen McCormick was asked whether she could walk the runway during this year’s New York Fashion Week, the answer was a "yes."
However, the 60-year-old wasn’t just in attendance to flaunt some couture. Rather, the actress who once made audiences across America laugh as popular Marcia Brady in 1970s hit sitcom, “The Brady Bunch,” was there to get audiences smiling again, in remembrance of her beloved TV mom Carol, played by Florence Henderson.
McCormick was one of 19 celebrities to participate in The American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2017, presented by Macy’s at Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday.
The annual show was created to raise awareness on heart disease among women. According to AHA, cardiovascular diseases cause one in three deaths among women each year — more than all cancers combined.
Good heart health was an important cause to Henderson who also participated in the event just a year ago. As Carol Brady, the Hollywood veteran could solve any problem that arose in the Brady household, but in real life she battled heart problems from a very young age — and they weren’t as simple to resolve.
“Florence had a heart disease issue from the time that she was a child,” explained McCormick to Fox News. “She had a heart murmur and about a decade ago, she had something really frightening happened to her. She went into Cedars-Sinai in LA and they discovered a mitral valve leakage. And fortunately, they were able to revive her and repair her valve, instead of replace it.”
Henderson unexpectedly passed away in late 2016 at age 82 from heart failure. Just three days before her death, she attended a taping of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” to cheer on McCormick, who was participating in the dance competition series.
“[Florence was] a person who wanted to spread love and laughter,” said McCormick on her friend. “She loved people, she loved life. She’s born on Valentine’s Day, how perfect, right? [She was] just a great woman. Someone I really admired.”
Her former cast-mates also had a special bond with their TV mother right up to the end.
“One thing [fans] may not know is recently, I got to ride in Mike Lookinland’s (Bobby) new Tesla, which was really, really cool. He loves cars, he loves driving and he actually drove across the country to be at Florence’s celebration,” said McCormick. “And he came across the country in his Tesla that he was on the waiting list for.”
McCormick was also grateful to have Henderson cheer her on in what she described as one of the toughest things she’s ever had to do in her life.
“I’ve always admired people that can dance and move their bodies,” said McCormick on her recent involvement with “Dancing with the Stars.” “It’s something I’ve always thought, ‘Oh, if only I can do that, wouldn’t that be great?’ But it’s something I always thought I could not do. I was afraid to do it in public because I was afraid to look bad doing it. I was just afraid to be that vulnerable.”
“I don’t know, dancing always made me feel very vulnerable, so I would always stop if I was in a club with friends — just because I was so insecure about it,” added McCormick. “It was definitely a very interesting way to deal with a fear in front of the world.”
While McCormick was ultimately eliminated from the show, fans still continue to show their admiration for the actress — one die-hard admirer in particular even made that love permanent.
“I would have to say my most unique encounter with a fan, and my husband was there to witness it, was at a place in Colorado,” explained McCormick. “The guy came up to me and I was tattooed on his arm. And…that was insane. And it was actually even really before tattoos were cool, and something that everybody was doing. And I was just shocked!”
That fan may have left McCormick speechless, but she does have a message for women everywhere — one that the ever-doting Henderson would have approved of.
“Just be careful women,” said McCormick. “This is the number one killer of women. Heart disease. Ask questions, go talk to your doctor, get all the tests and check-ups that we’re supposed to do for cholesterol, and blood pressure, and blood sugar. Exercise a good amount. And eat right. And take care of yourself.”
“Life is short, you know,” she said.