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 by gunshot|
|Other names||Shannen Cassidy|
|Education||Van Ness Avenue Elementary School
Le Conte Jr. High
Hollywood High School
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Occupation||Voice actress, voice-over teacher|
(m. 1990–1999; her death)
Patricia Paris McGowan
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 voice-over teacher. Born in Los Angeles, she had an interest in fantasy and animation early in her life. She acted in plays in high school and also studied theater at UCLA. After 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. Bergman is widely known for her voice work in the earliest seasons of South Park and The Fairly OddParents. She 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. Bergman suffered from depression, and committed suicide in November 1999. Shortly after her death, Andrade established the Mary Kay Bergman Memorial Fund. She is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.
Family and early life
Mary Kay Bergman was born at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, California. She was the only child of musicians David "Dave" Bergman and Patricia Paris "Pat" McGowan. She grew up on North Gower Street around the corner from the home of Adriana Caselotti, the original voice of Snow White.
Pat and Dave performed as a singing duo, playing lounges in Reno and Las Vegas and various clubs in Los Angeles. Upon learning of Pat's pregnancy, they 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."
Education and early career
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. She was a classmate and friend of future Simpsons voice actress Nancy Cartwright.
After getting cast in an Equity-waiver play outside of school, Bergman decided to leave UCLA. Having started acting in high school plays, she got an agent for on-camera commercials, film, and television and studied privately with acting coach Harry Mastrogeorge for several years. And at age 16, Bergman received her first professional acting job in the TV movie Return Engagement, which starred Elizabeth Taylor. After leaving 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 studied the voice of a character if she was matching a voice. Bergman stated that accents came very easily to her. She stated that she enjoyed doing accents such as Chinese, Japanese, Australian, English, American, French, German, Spanish, and Italian.
From 1994, Bergman taught the technique of doing voice-overs for animation at the Kalmenson and Kalmenson Studios in Burbank for six years. After voicing as the villain, Dr. Blight, on the show Captain Planet and the Planeteers, replacing Meg Ryan, she acquired 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 and other broadcast forms.
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 her voice had been replaced until the 1993 Academy Awards, when she heard Bergman as Snow White presenting an award for best animated short subject. Disney received hundreds of complaints after the ceremony, noting the changes to the Snow White character which Jeffrey Katzenberg had made. Katzenberg apologized and Bergman did not publicly admit to voicing Snow White while Caselotti was still alive.
Bergman was the original voice for 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 originally 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 played as Deandre Avant in "The Adventures in School!. 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 and final film role, dedicated to her. Bergman's other film role was in Balto II: Wolf Quest, in which she voiced a vixen and a wolverine.
"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 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.
The films which Bergman most admired were A Room with a View, Meet Me in St. Louis, and The Sound of Music. Her preferred forms of music were 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 was not observant of the faith. In the early 1970s, she became fascinated with Christianity. She spent a number of years moving from one Christian denomination to another, eventually settling on Catholicism, although she was never devout. She always remained proud of her past Judaism, 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."
Bergman suffered from bipolar and generalized anxiety disorders, which she hid from her family, friends, and co-stars. When 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 were not going well; she was concerned that people would feel that her talent had gone, and that her career would come to an end. Andrade later regretted Bergman told nobody about 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 vacation in Las Vegas, which they had planned a week before her death.
On the morning of November 11, 1999, Bergman contributed to a radio show celebrating Disneyland's 45th anniversary. She was last seen alive at 9 p.m., 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. She was pronounced dead by police at 10:18 p.m.
Memorials and legacy
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 service was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the 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.
Bob's Video, made by Mary Kay & Dino's production company, Klaxon Filmworks, had been completed before Bergman 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."
In an August 2010 interview, Bergman's friend and student Grey DeLisle said of her:
"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."
In a March 2000 interview, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker said about Bergman:
"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."
|1990-1999||The Adventures in School!||Deandre Avant, Additional Voices||Main role|
|1991||Beauty and the Beast||Babette|
|1994||Felidae (film)||Hermann 1||Uncredited|
|1995||Annie: A Royal Adventure!||Miss Hannigan/British children/New York children/additional voices|
|1996||The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Quasimodo's Mother|
|1996||The Adventures in School!: All-Stars||Deandre Avant|
|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|
|1998 - 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 Testaberger/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||All credits from this point are released posthumously|
|2000||Bob's Video||Lady in Red/Telephone Voice/Radio Dispatcher|
|2000||Christmas in South Park||Sheila Broflovski/Shelley Marsh/Other women|
|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|
- "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. University 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.
- "The Ghostbusters Fan Forum's October 20, 1999 Interview of Ms. Mary Kay Bergman". Official Mary Kay Bergman Memorial. October 20, 1999. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Lee, Steve (October 18, 2001). "Mary Kay Bergman". Hollywood Lost and Found. 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.
- Bonin, Liane (November 22, 1999). "A Voice Silenced". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
- Weird Al Yankovic. Ask Al: Questions from February 2000. Archived May 10, 2000 at the Wayback Machine. 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). "EXTRA: Not a 'South Park' Casualty". mkbmemorial.com.
- "Fatal Fears" 52. People Magazine. December 6, 1999. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "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 January 22, 2013.
- Bob's Video. MKBmemorial.com; accessed October 15, 2012.
- Chapman University interview video (6:32). MKB Interview; accessed February 8, 2013.
- Lowe, Al. "Mary Kay Bergman Tribute". Al Lowe Humor Site. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- Mary Kay Bergman at Find a Grave
- "You're the Voice: Grey DeLisle". August 28, 2010.
- "South Park: Female Voices And Mary Kay Bergman". zimbio.
- Mary Kay Bergman Personal Site and Memorial
- CNN Obituary
- Mary Kay Bergman at the Internet Movie Database