Frances Bergen

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Frances Bergen

Bergen at the 62nd Academy Awards, March 1990
BornFrances Westerman
September 14, 1922
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
DiedOctober 2, 2006 (age 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationFilm, television actress, model
Years active1953-98
SpouseEdgar Bergen (1945-78)
 
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Frances Bergen

Bergen at the 62nd Academy Awards, March 1990
BornFrances Westerman
September 14, 1922
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
DiedOctober 2, 2006 (age 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationFilm, television actress, model
Years active1953-98
SpouseEdgar Bergen (1945-78)

Frances Bergen (born Frances Westerman; September 14, 1922 – October 2, 2006) was an American actress and fashion model. She was the wife of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the mother of actress Candice and film & television editor Kris Bergen.

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Early life

Bergen was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of Lille Mabel (née Howell) and William Westerman.[1] Her paternal grandfather Frank Westerman was German.[1] In 1932, her father died of tuberculosis, when Frances was ten years old. Shortly after, her mother moved the family to Los Angeles. In 1936, she suffered a skull fracture in an auto accident, at age 14. While recuperating, she was given a Charlie McCarthy doll to cheer her up.

Career

While in New York City, she became a successful John Robert Powers model. She was "the Chesterfield Girl" and "the Ipana Girl" in magazines and on billboards. She was thereafter professionally known as Frances Westcott.

As an actress, Bergen had supporting or minor roles in a number of films. She made her debut in Titanic (1953), after which she appeared in Robert Z. Leonard's Her Twelve Men (1954), and Douglas Sirk's Interlude (1957). During the 1958-1959 television season, Frances became the recurring love interest on the cult western show Yancy Derringer as Madame Francine, the strong willed but beautiful owner of a members-only gambling house in New Orleans set in 1868.

Frances also made numerous other appearances on television, with guest starring roles on The Millionaire, The Dick Powell Show, Barnaby Jones, MacGyver, and Murder, She Wrote.

She returned to films in the 1980s, with small roles in American Gigolo, The Sting II, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Morning After, and Made in America, among others. She had a major part in Henry Jaglom's independently made film Eating (1990). She also appeared on two episodes of Murphy Brown, her daughter's hit show, including Part One of the series finale in 1998.

Personal life & death

In 1941, Westerman met Edgar Bergen after a radio program when he was 38 and she was 19. Westerman, who graduated from Los Angeles High School the year before, was in the audience of Edgar Bergen's radio program as the guest of a member of his staff. Sitting in the front row, the young fashion model's long legs caught the attention of Bergen, who asked to meet her. The two were married in Mexico, after years of a long distance courtship, on June 28, 1945, and remained happily married until Edgar's death in 1978 at age 75.

She dated actor Craig Stevens after the death of his wife of many years, Alexis Smith.

Death

Bergen died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of undisclosed causes on October 2, 2006, aged 84. She was buried beside her husband Edgar Bergen in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California. She was survived by her daughter Candice, her son Kris, and her granddaughter Chloé Malle (b. 1985).

References

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