Polly Bergen

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Polly Bergen
Polly Bergen 1953.JPG
Polly Bergen in 1953
BornNellie Paulina Burgin
(1930-07-14)July 14, 1930
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedSeptember 20, 2014(2014-09-20) (aged 84)
Southbury, Connecticut, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer, writer, entrepreneur
Years active1949–2012
Spouse(s)

Jerome Courtland (m. 1950–55)

Freddie Fields (m. 1956–75)
Jeffrey Endervelt (m. 1982–90)
Children2 adopted children
1 stepchild
 
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Polly Bergen
Polly Bergen 1953.JPG
Polly Bergen in 1953
BornNellie Paulina Burgin
(1930-07-14)July 14, 1930
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedSeptember 20, 2014(2014-09-20) (aged 84)
Southbury, Connecticut, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer, writer, entrepreneur
Years active1949–2012
Spouse(s)

Jerome Courtland (m. 1950–55)

Freddie Fields (m. 1956–75)
Jeffrey Endervelt (m. 1982–90)
Children2 adopted children
1 stepchild

Polly Bergen (born Nellie Paulina Burgin; July 14, 1930 – September 20, 2014) was an American actress, singer, television host, writer, and entrepreneur.

She won an Emmy Award in 1958 for her performance as Helen Morgan in The Helen Morgan Story. For her stage work she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Carlotta Campion in Follies in 2001. Her film work included 1962's Cape Fear and 1963's The Caretakers, for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. She hosted her own variety show for one season (The Polly Bergen Show), and as an author wrote three books on beauty, fashion, and charm.

Early life[edit]

Bergen was born in Knoxville, Tennessee to Lucy (née Lawhorn) and William Hugh Burgin, a construction engineer.[1] "Bill Bergen", as he was later known, had singing talent and appeared with his daughter in several episodes of her 18-episode NBC comedy/variety show, The Polly Bergen Show, which aired during the 1957-1958 television season.[2]

Career[edit]

Bergen at the 1989 Emmy Awards

Bergen appeared in many film roles, most notably in the original Cape Fear (1962) opposite Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. She had roles in three Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy films in the early 1950s: At War with the Army, That's My Boy and The Stooge. Bergen's later roles included Mrs. Vernon-Williams in Cry-Baby, a John Waters film.[3]

Bergen received an Emmy award for her portrayal of singer Helen Morgan in the episode The Helen Morgan Story of the 1950s television series Playhouse 90.[4] Signed to Columbia Records, she enjoyed a successful recording career during this era, as well. In the 1950s she also was known as "The Pepsi Cola Girl", having done a series of commercials for that product.[5]

She was a regular panelist on the CBS game show To Tell the Truth, during its original run. She also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. In 1963 Bergen co-starred with Doris Day and James Garner in the film comedy, Move Over, Darling. She earned an Emmy nomination for her role as Rhoda Henry, wife of Capt. "Pug" Henry (played by Mitchum), in two ABC miniseries, The Winds of War and its sequel, War and Remembrance.[3]

She starred in a 2001 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Belasco Theater and received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[6]

Bergen played Fran Felstein on HBO's The Sopranos, the former mistress of Tony Soprano's father, and former mistress of John F. Kennedy. From 2007 to 2011 Bergen had a guest role in Desperate Housewives as Lynette Scavo's mother, Stella Wingfield, which earned her an Emmy Award nomination.[3]

She was a semi-regular cast member of Commander-in-Chief (2006) as the mother of Mackenzie Allen, the President of the United States, played by Geena Davis.[3] Bergen herself had once played the first female President of the United States, as President Leslie McCloud in the 1964 film, Kisses for My President.[3] Another late appearance came in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Candles on Bay Street (2006), in which she played the assistant to a husband-and-wife team of veterinarians.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In 1965, Bergen created the Polly Bergen Company cosmetics line. She also created lines of jewelry and shoe brands, and authored three books on beauty.[5] Bergen was a liberal-minded, politically active Democrat and feminist.[7][8]

Bergen converted to Judaism after marrying Hollywood talent agent Freddie Fields, with whom she had two adopted children, Pamela Kerry Fields and Peter William Fields, and stepdaughter Kathy Fields.[9][10] She had previously been a Southern Baptist.[11] Bergen's niece is the television producer Wendy Riche.[12]

Death[edit]

Bergen died of natural causes on September 20, 2014, at her home in Southbury, Connecticut, surrounded by family and close friends. She had been diagnosed with emphysema and other ailments in the late 1990s.[10][13]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1949ChampionSingerUncredited
1949Across the Rio GrandeSinger
1950The MenSingerUncredited
1950At War with the ArmyHelen Palmer
1951That's My BoyBetty 'Babs' Hunter
1951WarpathMolly Quade
1952The StoogeMary Turner
1953Cry of the HuntedJanet Tunner
1953Fast CompanyCarol Maldon
1953ArenaRuth Danvers
1953Escape from Fort BravoAlice Owens
1954The Blue AngelHerself-Host
1957Playhouse 90: The Helen Morgan Story (Season 1, Episode 33)Helen MorganTelevision film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1962Cape FearPeggy Bowden
1962Belle SommersBelle SommersTelevision film
1963The CaretakersLorna MelfordNominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1963Move Over, DarlingBianca Steele
1964Kisses for My PresidentU.S. President Leslie Harrison McCloud
1967A Guide for the Married ManTechnical Adviser (Clara Brown)
1974Death CruiseSylvia CarterTelevision film
1975Murder on Flight 502Mona BriarlyTelevision film
1977Harold Robbins' 79 Park AvenueVera KepplerTelevision film
1977TelethonDorothy GoodwinTelevision film
1978How to Pick Up Girls!Dana GreenbergTelevision film
1981The Million Dollar FaceJo BurnsTelevision film
1982Born BeautifulMarion CarmodyTelevision film
1984VelvetMrs. Vance
1987Making Mr. RightEstelle Stone
1988Addicted to His LoveVivien LangfordTelevision film
1988She Was Marked for MurderLaura Lee WebsterTelevision film
1989Mother, MotherBarbara CutlerShort film
1989The Haunting of Sarah HardyEmily StepfordTelevision film
1989My Brother's WifeMyra GilbertTelevision film
1990Cry-BabyMrs. Vernon-Williams
1991Lightning FieldCarolTelevision film
1992Lady Against the OddsCleo StorrsTelevision film
1993Arly HanksRuby BeeTelevision film
1995Dr. Jekyll and Ms. HydeMrs. Unterveldt
1995The SurrogateSandy GilmanTelevision film
1995Once Upon a Time... When We Were ColoredMiss Maybry
1996In the Blink of an EyeMurialTelevision film
1996For HopeMolly AltmanTelevision film
2005Paradise, TexasBeverly Cameron
2006A Very Serious PersonMrs. A
2006Candles on Bay StreetRosemaryTelevision film
2012Struck by LightningGrandma

Television[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1954–1955The Pepsi-Cola PlayhouseHerself-HostUnknown episodes
1957–1958The Polly Bergen ShowHerself18 episodes
1956–1961To Tell the TruthHerself165 episodes
1961Alfred Hitchcock PresentsCrystal CoeEpisode: "You Can't Trust a Man"
1962What's My LineHerselfEpisode: "January 28, 1962
1982The Love BoatDana Pierce3 episodes
1983The Winds of WarRhoda Henry6 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1984Fantasy IslandEsther BrandellEpisode: "Lady of the House/Mrs. Brandell's Favorites"
1985HotelElizabeth HastingsEpisode: "Images"
1985Murder, She WroteDr. Jocelyn LairdEpisode: "School for Scandal"
1988–1989War and RemembranceRhoda Henry6 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1988My Two DadsEvelyn TaylorEpisode: "Joey's Mother-in-Law"
1989Jake and the FatmanEmma JulianEpisode: "By Myself"
1990Steel MagnoliasClairee BelcherUnsold TV pilot
1991–1992Baby TalkDoris Campbell23 episodes
1998Touched by an AngelStellaEpisode: "Deconstructing Harry"
2004The SopranosFran FelsteinEpisode: "In Camelot"
2005–2006Commander in ChiefKate Allen10 episodes
2007–2011Desperate HousewivesStella Wingfield10 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film

Discography[edit]

Albums list adapted from AllMusic and Discogs.[14][15][16]

Albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Polly Bergen profile". filmreference.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ "IMDb: Bill Bergen". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Polly Bergen at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ "Emmy Awards Search – Polly Bergen". emmys.com. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Polly Bergen Dies at 84; Emmy-Winning Actress". New York Times. September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014. 
  6. ^ "2001 Tony Award Nominations". Los Angeles Times. May 8, 2001. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Polly Bergen (who Doesn't) Thinks E.r.a. Needs a Facelift". people.com. October 6, 1980. Archived from the original on March 30, 2011. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Polly Bergen, dead at 84, was strong women's rights activist". Los Angeles Times. September 20, 2014. Archived from the original on September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Polly Bergen biography at". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Polly Bergen dies at 84; Emmy-winning actress, nightclub singer". Los Angeles Times. September 20, 2014. Archived from the original on September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Acting, Just for The Fun of It". The Washington Post. December 18, 1988. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Wendy Riche Biography - IMDb". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ "AP: Polly Bergen, versatile actress and singer, dead at 84". myfoxhouston.com. September 20, 2014. Archived from the original on September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Allmusic: Polly Bergen - Discography". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Discogs: Polly Bergen - Discography". Discogs.com. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Allmusic: Polly Bergen - Billboard Charts". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]