Mary Kay Bergman
|Mary Kay Bergman|
June 5, 1961|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||November 11, 1999
Venice, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park
|Other names||Shannen Cassidy|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Influenced by||Carol Burnett
|Height||5' 3" (1.60 m)|
|Religion||Jewish as per Jewish law|
|Spouse(s)||Dino Andrade (m.1990–1999) (her death)|
Patricia McGowan Paris (deceased)
Mary Kay Bergman (June 5, 1961 – November 11, 1999), credited on the first season and the first half of the second season of South Park as Shannen Cassidy, was an American voice actress and animation voice-over teacher. She was the only child of Jewish musicians Pat Paris and Dave Bergman and had an interest in fantasy and animation early in her life.
Bergman had previously acted in plays in high school and also studied theater at UCLA. However, after previous unsuccessful acting jobs, she was considering a career in the Air Force, when "going wild" on karaoke at a housewarming party changed her life. In 1989, she began voicing the Disney character Snow White and is now perhaps best known for her roles in South Park, which she voiced from its 1997 debut until her death, and The Fairly OddParents. She also did voice work for over 400 television commercials.
Bergman was the wife of actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Dino Andrade, whom she married in 1990. After she committed suicide in November 1999, Andrade established the Mary Kay Bergman Memorial Fund. She is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.
Family and early life
Born at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, California, Bergman was the only child of Jewish musicians Patricia McGowan Paris, a singer, and Dave Bergman. Bergman grew up on North Gower Street around the corner from the home of Adriana Caselotti, the original voice of Snow White.
Bergman's mother, at the age of 16, also worked as a cel painter for animator Max Fleischer on the original Popeye cartoons in New York City and later formed a singing duo with her husband, playing lounges in Reno and Las Vegas and various clubs in Los Angeles. Upon learning of Patricia's pregnancy, the Bergmans settled in Los Angeles in order to give their daughter a stable home life. Characterizing her mother's previous work inking and painting cels for Fleischer, Bergman said it was a mechanical task, but it piqued her mother's interest in animation that was shared with Bergman years later by watching Saturday morning cartoon shows with her. Among Bergman's favorite shows were Jonny Quest, The Flintstones, and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which she considered a "precursor to The Simpsons."
Bergman grew up next to the Forever Hollywood Cemetery. She would sneak into the Paramount Studios and visit the Chinese Theater, which she loved being around. At an early age, Bergman found herself interested in fantasy entertainment ranging from science fiction to anything Disney. She was always proud of the fact that as a child she and her mother wrote letters to NBC to help keep the original Star Trek on the air for a third season. She regularly visited Disneyland and said, "My one regret is that I never got to meet Walt Disney."
Education and early career
Bergman had considered a film career, as her parents were both singers and musicians. Bergman attended Van Ness Avenue Elementary School, Le Conte Jr. High, and Hollywood High School, graduating in June 1978 with top academic honors. Following in the steps of one of her idols, Carol Burnett, Bergman attended UCLA and became a theater arts major there from 1978 until 1981. Also during her time there, she befriended classmate and future Simpsons voice actress Nancy Cartwright.
After getting cast in an Equity-waiver play outside of school, Bergman decided to leave UCLA. She, who actually started acting in high school plays, got an agent for on-camera commercials, film, and television and studied privately with acting coach Harry Mastrogeorge for several years. And at the age of 16, Bergman received her first professional acting job in the TV movie Return Engagement, starring Elizabeth Taylor.
After she left school, Bergman joined a small agency that had started six months earlier. She had an audition for an exercise program that was going to be on TV and got the role. She was hired because she had a "nice figure" but could also be a dancer, comedian, singer, or impressionist. However, not a week after she got the job, the agency closed. Bergman said, "Everything fell apart. I thought, 'I'm really not getting anywhere. Maybe I should give up this silly dream of mine about becoming this great star and actually get a real job.'"
Bergman's next post was as a receptionist for the Boy Scouts of America. She enjoyed the job and was pleased to work with the people of the organization. Bergman commented, "All the time I kept hearing, 'Gosh, you have a lovely speaking voice. You should do something with that.'" She worked as a receptionist for an insurance company and from there she moved up the ranks to become an assistant underwriter, which she found extremely boring. To break the monotony, Bergman thought about becoming a disc jockey but could not find information about where to take classes and considered a career in the Air Force.
Voice acting career
Bergman's origins of her voice acting can be traced to when she attended a housewarming party at one of her co-workers' houses. Someone brought a karaoke machine to the party and Mary Kay started "going wild." One of the guests at the party was studying with voice-over coach Kat Lehman and suggested she take a class with his teacher, which she did.
Bergman took many voice-over classes to do many different styles and voices. Some specialized in animation, some in ADR/looping, and others in commercial and improvisation. Bergman would study the voice of a character if she was matching a voice. Bergman stated that accents came very easily to her. She noted: "I really enjoy using them, too. I also do Chinese, Japanese Australian, various English dialects, American dialects, French, German, Spanish, Italian ... you get the idea..." From 1994, Bergman taught the technique of doing voice-overs for animation at the Kalmenson and Kalmenson Studios in Burbank for 6 years.
After voicing as the villain, Dr. Blight, on the show Captain Planet and the Planeteers, replacing Meg Ryan, she had a reputation for voice matching and began doing these matches for Jodie Foster, Gillian Anderson, Helen Hunt, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Tilly, Emma Thompson, Alfre Woodard, and more, for various movie trailers, TV shows, etc.
After her first voice role as a frightened woman in a radio commercial for a small home security company on a local station in 1986 and a few more radio spots in 1989, Bergman was not making enough to earn a living, so she worked part-time at Robinsons department store. During this time she got the role with Disney as the voice of Snow White on tape, replacing Adriana Caselotti. She told her boss she needed the day off for the recording, but he refused and she left the post. Disney was pleased with her performance, but she agreed to accept future jobs only when Caselotti was unavailable. She later learned that Disney had different plans.
When Disney was releasing a restored version of Snow White, Caselotti was brought back in to record a scene that was missing its audio track. After the studio executives listened to her work, they chose to have Bergman record the scene instead. Caselotti was unaware she'd been replaced until the 1993 Academy Awards, when she heard Bergman as Snow White presenting an award for best animated short subject. To make matters worse, Jeffrey Katzenberg also chose to modernize Snow White's costume in the animation.
Disney received hundreds of complaints after the ceremony, noting the change to the Snow White character Katzenberg had made. He made apologies, and Bergman did not publicly admit to voicing Snow White whilst Caselotti was alive.
Bergman's probably most known voice roles were most of the female characters for South Park and the 1999 feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Her characters included Liane Cartman, Sheila Broflovski, Shelly Marsh, Sharon Marsh, Mrs. McCormick, and Wendy Testaburger. She was credited as Shannen Cassidy (taken from stars Shannen Doherty and David Cassidy) out of concerns regarding possible conflicts with her continued work as Disney's official Snow White voice. "It was a conscious decision to be anonymous at first, because none of us knew the show would be a hit, and if anyone tells you they did, they're lying," she said. "Then it did hit, and Shannen Cassidy was getting mail like Santa Claus, so we transitioned out of it."
Bergman credited South Park for pulling her out of a typecasting rut. "I'm known for these sweet, cute little characters," she said, noting her roles in The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. "So I've been doing them forever. My agents were trying to submit me on shows that are edgy, and they're laughing, 'Mary Kay, are you kidding? No way!'"
Bergman worked on over 400 television commercials, including the voice of Mrs. Butterworth in Mrs. Butterworth's syrup commercials. She had roles in many Disney films including Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and the posthumously released Toy Story 2 where she provided the yodeling for Joan Cusack's Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl as well as the voice of Jessie for the line of Toy Story 2 talking toys and games. Her video games roles would include The Curse of Monkey Island and the English version of Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins. She worked on other shows including Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Oh Yeah! Cartoons, The Fairly OddParents, and several female voices in The Tick animated series. She also provided the voice of Gwen Stacy in the final episode of Spider-Man.
Bergman voiced the Scooby Doo character Daphne Blake in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost (1999), and Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000), this last one being a posthumous release, dedicated to her. Bergman's final film role was in Balto II: Wolf Quest. Her final recording sessions were as Snow White for a Disneyland radio commercial and the voice for Timmy Turner for the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short, "The Temp!"
Bergman contributed vocals to the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi," alongside Tress MacNeille. Al stated, "Originally I had Mary Kay come in to sing the whole song. I basically wanted her to do the voice of Kyle’s mom from South Park. Her agent wouldn’t let her do it (thinking that it might get her in trouble with Comedy Central)--so Mary Kay wound up doing kind of a squeaky voice instead. Later, I decided that the 'squeaky voice' thing really wasn’t what I was looking for, so I called in my old friend Tress to do her Fran Drescher impersonation instead. The part that you can still hear Mary Kay on is the line in the middle of the song where she does the very Gentile-sounding 'for a Rab-bi…' Mary Kay was an incredibly sweet, talented, funny, wonderful woman, and we all miss her very, very much."
Mary Kay Bergman married Dino Andrade at Saint Monica's Church on April 7, 1990. She and her husband enjoyed Star Trek conventions and visited Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.
Bergman's most admired films were Room With a View, Meet Me in St. Louis, and the Sound of Music. Her preferred music was jazz, classical, opera, and especially film scores. Bergman loved reading books by authors Anne Rice, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Amy Tan, Carrie Fisher, Leonard Maltin, and Douglas Adams and the genres mystery, science fiction, horror, comedy, biography, and comic books. Bergman was also an avid Dodgers fan since the 1988 National League Championship Series.
Although her parents were Jewish, Bergman never practiced the faith. In the early 1970s, Bergman became fascinated with Christianity. She spent a number of years moving from one Christian denomination to another, eventually settling on Catholicism, which she converted to, although she was never devout. She always remained proud of her Jewish heritage, jokingly referring to herself as a "Catholic Jew." Andrade stated, "I don't know if it was because she just had this spiritual sense, or if it was because she hoped there was a better life beyond this one. It could be simply that she was just looking for God."
Illness and death
Bergman had been suffering from bipolar and generalized anxiety disorders, which she hid from her family, friends, and co-stars. Because her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Bergman's depression was mistaken as a reaction to her mother's illness along with job-related stress. Andrade said that he found herbal mood medications that Bergman had hidden in their home.
Bergman had privately confessed to her husband that she was afraid of losing her talent, as sessions weren't going well and that soon people would learn that she had lost it and that would be the end of her career. Andrade later regretted Bergman told no one of her distress. As time went by, Bergman's fears seemed to lessen as her mother was doing better. Bergman and her husband were also making plans to buy a new house within a year, but she still suffered physically. Because of this, Bergman and her husband decided to have an elaborate getaway in Las Vegas, which they had planned a week before her death.
On the morning of November 11, 1999, Bergman had done a radio show celebrating Disneyland's 45th anniversary. Bergman was last seen alive at 9 p.m. that evening, while she was talking to a friend on the phone. An hour and 20 minutes later, her husband and his friend, John Bell, returned home to find that she had shot herself with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Notes were also found from her for both her husband and Bell. She was later pronounced dead by police at 10:18 p.m.
Memorials and legacy
Bergman's husband Dino Andrade established the Mary Kay Bergman Memorial Fund, which contributes to operation of the Suicide Prevention Center at the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center.
To benefit the Mary Kay Bergman Memorial Fund, a Memorial Celebration and Concert was held in March 2000. Many industry voice actors came to the event including Jane Jacobs, Mona Marshall (who would be one of her South Park successors), Barbara Goodson, and Diane Michelle, all of whom sang in the choir. The choir's musical accompanists were Reid Bruton and David Kaminski. Tara Strong, her fiancé Craig Strong, Tara’s sister Marla Charendoff, and Debi Derryberry also attended. The service was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the famous Blossom Room, where the first Academy Awards was presented in 1929. Also contributing to the memorial fund was March 28, 2000's Los Angeles edition of the Daily Variety magazine, which ran a full-page Oscar version of the Open Letter to All by Andrade.
The film Bob's Video by Mary Kay & Dino's production company, Klaxon Filmworks, had been completed before Mary Kay died but was posthumously shown at the HBO Urban World Film Festival, at the Blue Sky Festival, and at a Mary Kay Bergman memorial screening. This included her only live action role, a few voice roles, still photography, and work as executive producer for the film.
Al Lowe, who had worked with Bergman on 3 Leisure Suit Larry video games, posted a tribute to her on his website. He stated, "Mary Kay was the sort of person who could light up a room just by entering. She was a joy to work with and made me look good as a novice voice-over director. It was therefore even more shocking when I learned that she had taken her own life."
Grey DeLisle, who was a friend and student of Bergman, once said in an interview:
"She was just the sweetest, most wonderful person in the world…and then she killed herself. Her husband came and stayed with me at my house, because he said, 'I can’t stay over there, it’s too painful.' And about a week later, they asked me to audition for Daphne…and I didn’t know what to do, because I just thought, 'Gosh, I just don’t know if I can do that.' I told him, 'They asked me to audition, but I’m not going to audition, because it’s just weird.' And he said, 'Grey, you have to do it, because Mary Kay would’ve wanted you to do it. You were her star student, she loved you, and she would’ve wanted you to do Daphne. Somebody’s going to do it. It might as well be someone who loved her.' And I was, like, 'I didn’t really think about it like that.' So I went in, and I didn’t study it, because I just thought, 'You know what? I’m just going to go in, and I’m just going to do my best interpretation of the character. I’m not going to try and sound-match her, because it would just be too sad to listen to her voice.' So I went in, and Eddie – the engineer at the time – and Collette Sunderman, the director, she just said, 'When you came in, Grey, it was just eerie. It was like there was some other hand in it, because you sounded exactly like Mary Kay.' So I guess it was meant to be, because I didn’t try. It just came out that way. They wanted me to speak at her memorial, and her husband really wanted me to speak, but I just couldn’t talk. I just kept crying and crying and…oh, would you look at me with the crying? Here I am talking about crying again. (Laughs) You’re thinking, 'This girl’s a mess!' But, yeah, it was an interesting turn of events to get to play Daphne, but I’m so glad that I have the role, and I was glad that I was able to carry that on for her. She set the bar very high."
During an interview with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they explained the challenges they had to face after Bergman's death:
"We kind of realized right away that one person wasn't going to do it, cause that's what she was amazing at, which was she could do so many different voices, and we had her just do all of them cause she could. And so we knew, and we know, we're still in the process of finding a lot of talented voice people there that can do one or two of the voices that she did. But it's going to take four to five people to replace her...Because we are in this thing where we do shows two weeks ahead of time, when it happened it was really tough because we had three shows to do...and we knew we weren't going to find anyone at the time, so we just wrote three episodes with no female characters in them."
|1991||Beauty and the Beast||Babette|
|1987||Annie: A Royal Adventure!||Miss Hannigan/British children/New York children/additional voices|
|1996||The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Quasimodo's Mother|
|1997||Hercules||Earthquake Lady/Wood Nymph/Water Nymph/Earth Nymph/Teenage Girls/Athena|
|1998||Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero||Barbara Gordon/Batgirl|
|1998||Rusty: A Dog's Tale||Myrtle the Duck|
|1998||Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island||Daphne|
|1999||Jay Jay the Jet Plane||Jay Jay the Jet Plane/Herky/Savannah/Revvin' Evan|
|1999||South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut||Liane Cartman/Sheila Broflovski/Sharon Marsh/Wendy Testeberger/Clitoris/Additional Voices|
|1999||Deep Blue Sea||The Parrot||Uncredited|
|1999||The Iron Giant||Additional voices|
|1999||Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein||Mother|
|1999||Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost||Daphne|
|1999||Toy Story 2||Jessie's yodeling voice/additional voices|
|2000||Bob's Video||Lady in Red/Telephone Voice/Radio Dispatcher||All credits from this point are released posthumously|
|2000||Christmas in South Park||Sheila Broflovski/Shelley Marsh/Other women|
|2001||Atlantis: The Lost Empire||Additional Voices|
|2000||Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders||Daphne|
|2000||The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus||Martha/Nymph|
|2001||Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure||Si (Siamese Cat)|
|2002||Balto II: Wolf Quest||Fox/Wolverine 3|
- Bonin, Liane (November 22, 1999). "A Voice Silenced". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
- Lee, Steve (October 18, 2001). "Mary Kay Bergman". Hollywood Lost and Found. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- Fatal Fears 52. People Magazine. December 6, 1999. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "Mary Kay and her Illustrious Career". wackyvoices.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "A Conversation With... Dino Andrade". Mary Kay Bergman memorial. 2000. p. 2. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
- Mary Kay's Mother MKBmemorial.com. Accessed from August 30, 2012
- Kemmerman, Kristin. "Mary Kay Bergman, voiceover actress, dead", CNN, November 17, 1999
- Pat Paris and Dave Bergman. MKBmemorial.com. Accessed from August 30, 2012
- Tim Lawson, Alisa Persons (2004). The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 36. ISBN 1578066964.
- "A Conversation with... Dino Andrade". 2000. p. 6. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "Mary Bergman, Actress, 38; Did Voice-Overs On 'South Park'". New York Times. November 25, 1999. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Lawson, Persons. 2004. p. 37.
- EMuck--Mary Kay Bergman (Disney Voice Artist) Invited Talk Transcript. June 29, 1997. Transcript at mkbmemorial.com. Accessed from March 23, 2013.
- Lawson, Persons. 2004. p. 38.
- "Mary Kay Bergman". The Ghostbuster's Fan Forum interview at MKBmemorial.com. October 20, 1999. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- "Mary Kay Bergman; Voice Actress in 'South Park'". Los Angeles Times. November 21, 1999. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "A Conversation with... Dino Andrade". 2000. p. 7. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Lawson, Persons. 2004. p. 39.
- Weird Al Yankovic. Ask Al: Questions from February 2000. Archived from May 2000. Accessed October 21, 2012.
- "A Conversation With... Dino Andrade". Mary Kay Bergman memorial. 2000. p. 4. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- A conversation with Dino Andrade. p. 5. Accessed from September 3, 2012.
- "A Conversation With... Dino Andrade". Mary Kay Bergman memorial. 2000. p. 1. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- Ryfle, Steve (June 14, 2000). Not a 'South Park' Casualty. Hollywood.com. Accessed from April 27, 2013.
- "Mary Kay Bergman". Find a Death. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
- "Official obituary". Mary Kay Bergman memorial. 2000. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
- Doreen Mulman and Nora Salisbury (March 13, 2000). "Mary Kay Bergman Memorial Celebration and Concert". MKBmemorial.com. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- An Open Letter to All. Daily Variety. March 28, 2000. Accessed from January 22, 2013.
- Bob's Video. MKBmemorial.com. Accessed from October 15, 2012.
- Info on Chapman University interview. MKBmemorial.com. Accessed from February 8, 2013.
- Chapman University interview video (6:32). MKB Interview. Accessed from February 8, 2013.
- Lowe, Al. "Mary Kay Bergman Tribute". Al Lowe Humor Site. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- Mary Kay Bergman. Find a Grave. 2001.
- "You’re the Voice: Grey DeLisle". 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
- South Park: Female Voices And Mary Kay Bergman.
- Mary Kay Bergman Personal Site and Memorial
- CNN Obituary
- Mary Kay Bergman at the Internet Movie Database
- Mary Kay Bergman at Find a Grave