Kentucky Legends Hall of Fame
There is a good explanation why Florence Henderson has endured as one of the most beloved American entertainers of the last six decades. Long before she became a television icon as Carol Brady of “The Brady Bunch,” Florence’s talent, love of performing and love of people were matched with an ethic of hard work and curiosity to explore new dimensions. These qualities opened doors of opportunity and success soon followed in almost every genre of the performing arts.
That talent, drive and determination followed her when she arrived with suitcase in hand to try out for the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 17, and continue to fuel her passion to this day. Within a year of attending the Academy, Broadway beckoned with a role in the chorus of John Logan’s Wish You Were Here. Florence was discovered and became a protégé of the legendary Rodgers and Hammerstein, first starring as Laurey in the national company of Oklahoma. Her name was soon about the Broadway marquis in Fanny, The Sound of Music, The Girl Who Came to Supper, South Pacific, and The King and I, among others.
The emerging medium of television piqued her interest and Florence accepted the job as the “Today Show” Girl alongside pioneering broadcaster Dave Garroway. Florence was also a mainstay on live performance shows like “Ed Sullivan,” the “Bell Telephone Hour” and others.
But that was all a warm up for mega-popular “The Brady Bunch,” the television series that has remarkably not left the airways in syndication since it ceased production in 1974. It still airs in over 122 countries. Carol Brady became one of the most popular mothers in television history.
In the aftermath of “The Brady Bunch,” Florence Henderson continued to star in major theatrical productions, headline in Las Vegas and perform live at major venues around the country.
Most recently, Florence appeared in the Marlon Wayans parody feature Fifty Shades of Black released in 2016. Her 2015 CLEO-award-winning Super Bowl commercial generated millions of views on social media. In 2010, she also competed on Dancing With the Stars at age 76. Florence’s memoir Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to Lovely Lady and Beyond (Center Street/Hachette Book Group) was published in 2011 and made the New York Times Bestsellers List.
Florence was inducted into the Smithsonian Institute’s first permanent Entertainment History Exhibit as one of the greatest pop cultural icons of all time in November 2008. She was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003. Her enthusiasm, professionalism, commitment to quality and artists made Florence Henderson one of the most respected and endearing performers of our time.
Florence passed away in 2016.
From humble beginnings as a single Mom in a small Kentucky town to her meteoric rise as a country music superstar and American icon, Naomi Judd’s incredible lifelong journey is an inspiring story of overcoming the odds through optimism and hard work.
Naomi Judd was first known to the world as half of country music’s mother/daughter duo, The Judds. Reaching unprecedented success throughout the 80′s and 90′s, The Judds sold 20 million records, scored fifteen #1 hits and received over sixty industry awards, including six Grammy’s and seven consecutive CMA Vocal Group of the Year awards and the ACM’s Top Vocal Duet award. At the pinnacle of their career, Naomi was stricken with Hepatitis C, a potentially fatal chronic liver disease, incurred from an infected needle when she worked as a registered nurse cutting short her musical career and forcing her into retirement to battle the disease. The Judds bid farewell to the fans in 1991, but Naomi did not step out of the public spotlight for long.
Today, Naomi is a survivor of Hepatitis C and served as the first national spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation. Using her fame, her experience as a former RN and her passion to help people, she’s re-directed energies into communicating her learnings and research through educating audiences about the scientific link between mind, body and spirit in the healing process as a keynote speaker. A member of Dr. Andrew Weil’s board of directors, Naomi advocates an integrative holistic approach to medicine along with the latest in modern technology. She helps to bridge the conversation between academia, medical communities and the everyday person about health and family-related issues whether her audience is the National Institutes of Health or a group of uninsured, single working Moms.
In 2004, her self-penned bestseller, Naomi’s Breakthrough Guide, 20 Choices to Transform Your Life, remained on The New York Times best-seller list for over eight weeks. In 2005, Naomi wrote her third children’s book, Gertie the Goldfish, and in 2006, The Transparent Life hit the shelves. Hallmark Channel tapped her to host, Naomi’s New Morning, a weekly talk show that aired 2005 to 2007. In 2007, Naomi released yet another best-seller titled Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gratefully which was a message of empowerment to the millions of Baby Boomers in this country. She also served as spokesperson for Partners Against Pain, Post Cereal’s “Heart Health” campaign, Prilosec and AARP. In seasons 2008-2009 she helped launch CMT’s reality competition hit, Can You Duet as a talent judge. And coming full circle to where we first discovered this unique, captivating personality, Naomi and Wynonna took to the road in 2010 for “The Judds: The Last Encore Tour” and released a new single, “I Will Stand By You.” Chronicling that experience was a hit docu-series, “The Judds,” which premiered April 2011 on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The series followed the award winning mother/daughter duo as they hit the road for their first and final concert tour in ten years. Cameras captured their emotional journey as they worked to heal their relationship, reconnect with the fans and share the spotlight once again. 2012 – 2013 finds Naomi back in the familiar role of radio host with her six-week SiriusXM radio series “Think Twice” which launched nationwide in June of 2012. She has also found time to add film projects to her list of accomplishments as she shot “The Nearlyweds” in Vancouver in June 2012 for the Hallmark Channel and “An Evergreen Christmas” a feature film in February 2013.
Meanwhile, Naomi continues humanitarian efforts including River Cities Harvest, the Saint Louis University Liver Center, M.A.D.D., Parents Television Council, Make-A-Difference Day, Women’s World Peace Initiative, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and created her own July 4th Judd’s Annual Food Drive to benefit families of Appalachia.
The legendary character actor was born in Depoy, Kentucky and raised in Louisville. He attended Male High School and then enlisted in the Marines for two years where he was an aircraft mechanic. Oates then attended the University of Louisville, where he became interested in theater. His dream took him to New York, where he made his acting debut in several live TV productions. From there he traveled to Hollywood, and his distinctive style earned him numerous roles playing rough characters in TV Westerns and Crime Dramas.
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Universally adored for her comedic talents, Lily Tomlin is also an accomplished actress and writer. She started doing stand-up comedy in Detroit and New York, but soon soared to fame on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, with two of her most recognized characters, young Edith Ann, and Ernestine, the telephone operator. Acting roles soon followed including notable films like Nine to Five and Nashville, which garnered her an Oscar nomination.
Lily’s work is recognized across many fields; she received a Tony Award for her one-woman show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe and a Grammy Award for her comedy album, This is a Recording. She has also received countless Emmy Awards and American Comedy Awards for her work, and in 2003 she was honored with the Kennedy Center’s prestigious Mark Twain Prize for Humor. Lily continues to thrill audiences everywhere with TV and movie roles, and her stand-up comedy performances.
Conrad is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Louisville’s International Festival of Film and the Louisville Film Arts Institute. He began his acting career over 50 years ago in the classic TV sitcom, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Since then he’s gone on to do hundreds of episodic’s, over 350 commercials, and thirty feature films. He’s best remembered as the ill-fated Dr. Jim in the cult classic Tremors. He’s worked with every major actor in Hollywood, and doubled and performed the stunt work for Bing Crosby in Stagecoach.