Bergen in 1953
|Born||Nellie Paulina Burgin
July 14, 1930
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
|Died||September 20, 2014
Southbury, Connecticut, United States
|Occupation||Actress, singer, writer, entrepreneur|
|Spouse(s)||Jerome Courtland (m. 1950–55)
Freddie Fields (m. 1957–75)
Jeffrey Endervelt (m. 1982–90)
|Children||2 adopted children
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.
Bergen was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, to Lucy (née Lawhorn) and William Hugh Burgin, a construction engineer. "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.
Bergen appeared in many film roles, most notably in the original Cape Fear (1962) opposite Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. She had roles as the romantic interest 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. She was featured in a number of westerns during the 1950s, including Warpath, Arena and Escape from Fort Bravo. She also starred in a horse-racing comedy, Fast Company, as the first female commander-in-chief in Kisses for My President and as the wife of James Garner in the romantic comedy Move Over, Darling, also starring Doris Day. Bergen's later roles included Mrs. Vernon-Williams in Cry-Baby, a John Waters film.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. In 2003, she starred at the same theatre in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Mark Hamill in a role she took over from Rue McClanahan.
Bergen played Fran Felstein on HBO's The Sopranos, the former mistress of Johnny Soprano and 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
Bergen was married to actor Jerome Courtland in the early 1950s. In 1957 she married Hollywood agent-producer Freddie Fields with whom she had two adopted children, Pamela Kerry Fields and Peter William Fields, and stepdaughter, Kathy Fields. Bergen converted from Southern Baptist to Judaism upon marrying Fields. The couple divorced in 1975. She was married to entrepreneur Jeffrey Endervelt in the 1980s.
Bergen was a liberal-minded, politically active Democrat and feminist. She was an active advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment, women's education, and planned parenthood. Bergen's niece is the television producer Wendy Riche.
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.
|1949||Across the Rio Grande||Singer|
|1950||At War with the Army||Helen Palmer|
|1951||That's My Boy||Betty 'Babs' Hunter|
|1952||The Stooge||Mary Turner|
|1953||Cry of the Hunted||Janet Tunner|
|1953||Half a Hero||Red Skelton|
|1953||Fast Company||Carol Maldon|
|1953||Escape from Fort Bravo||Alice Owens|
|1954||The Blue Angel||Herself-Host|
|1962||Cape Fear||Peggy Bowden|
|1963||The Caretakers||Lorna Melford||Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama|
|1963||Move Over, Darling||Bianca Steele|
|1964||Kisses for My President||U.S. President Leslie Harrison McCloud|
|1967||A Guide for the Married Man||Technical Adviser (Clara Brown)|
|1987||Making Mr. Right||Estelle Stone|
|1989||Mother, Mother||Barbara Cutler||Short film|
|1995||Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde||Mrs. Unterveldt|
|1995||Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored||Miss Maybry|
|2005||Paradise, Texas||Beverly Cameron|
|2006||A Very Serious Person||Mrs. A|
|2012||Struck by Lightning||Grandma|
|1954–1955||The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse||Herself-Host||Unknown episodes|
|1956–1961||To Tell the Truth||Herself||165 episodes|
|1957||Playhouse 90: The Helen Morgan Story (Season 1, Episode 33)||Helen Morgan||Television film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1957–1958||The Polly Bergen Show||Herself||18 episodes|
|1961||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Crystal Coe||Episode: "You Can't Trust a Man"|
|1962||What's My Line||Herself||Episode: "January 28, 1962|
|1962||Belle Sommers||Belle Sommers||Television film|
|1974||Death Cruise||Sylvia Carter||Television film|
|1975||Murder on Flight 502||Mona Briarly||Television film|
|1977||79 Park Avenue||Vera Keppler||Television film|
|1977||Telethon||Dorothy Goodwin||Television film|
|1978||How to Pick Up Girls!||Dana Greenberg||Television film|
|1981||The Million Dollar Face||Jo Burns||Television film|
|1982||Born Beautiful||Marion Carmody||Television film|
|1982||The Love Boat||Dana Pierce||3 episodes|
|1983||The Winds of War||Rhoda Henry||6 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1984||Fantasy Island||Esther Brandell||Episode: "Lady of the House/Mrs. Brandell's Favorites"|
|1985||Hotel||Elizabeth Hastings||Episode: "Images"|
|1985||Murder, She Wrote||Dr. Jocelyn Laird||Episode: "School for Scandal"|
|1988||Addicted to His Love||Vivien Langford||Television film|
|1988||She Was Marked for Murder||Laura Lee Webster||Television film|
|1988–1989||War and Remembrance||Rhoda Henry||6 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1988||My Two Dads||Evelyn Taylor||Episode: "Joey's Mother-in-Law"|
|1989||Jake and the Fatman||Emma Julian||Episode: "By Myself"|
|1989||The Haunting of Sarah Hardy||Emily Stepford||Television film|
|1989||My Brother's Wife||Myra Gilbert||Television film|
|1990||Steel Magnolias||Clairee Belcher||Unsold TV pilot|
|1991||Lightning Field||Carol||Television film|
|1991–1992||Baby Talk||Doris Campbell||23 episodes|
|1992||Lady Against the Odds||Cleo Storrs||Television film|
|1993||Arly Hanks||Ruby Bee||Television film|
|1995||The Surrogate||Sandy Gilman||Television film|
|1996||In the Blink of an Eye||Murial||Television film|
|1996||For Hope||Molly Altman||Television film|
|1998||Touched by an Angel||Stella||Episode: "Deconstructing Harry"|
|2004||The Sopranos||Fran Felstein||Episode: "In Camelot"|
|2005–2006||Commander in Chief||Kate Allen||10 episodes|
|2006||Candles on Bay Street||Rosemary||Television film|
|2007–2011||Desperate Housewives||Stella Wingfield||10 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
|1952||Musical Comedy Theater||On an Island with You|
- 1955 Little Girl Blue
- 1957 Bergen Sings Morgan — Billboard 200 — 10
- 1957 The Party's Over — Billboard 200 — 20
- 1958 Polly and Her Pop
- 1959 My Heart Sings — Columbia #CS 8018 — orchestra conducted by Luther Henderson
- 1959 All Alone by the Telephone
- 1959 First Impressions — with Farley Granger and Hermione Gingold
- 1960 Four Seasons of Love
- 1961 Sings the Hit Songs from Do-Re-Mi and Annie Get Your Gun
- 1963 Act One, Sing Too
- 1996 My Heart Sings — re-release
- Bergen, Polly (1962). The Polly Bergen Book of Beauty, Fashion, and Charm. Prentice Hall. ASIN B0007E27RS.
- Bergen, Polly (1974). Polly's Principles. Bantam Books. ASIN B000H4KY1Y.
- Bergen, Polly (1978). I'd Love To, but What'll I Wear. G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 978-0872235236.
- "Polly Bergen profile". filmreference.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- "IMDb: Bill Bergen". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
- Polly Bergen at the Internet Movie Database
- "Emmy Awards Search – Polly Bergen". emmys.com. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
- "Polly Bergen Dies at 84; Emmy-Winning Actress". New York Times. September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- "2001 Tony Award Nominations". Los Angeles Times. May 8, 2001. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
- Jones, Kenneth (27 June 2003). "Rue McClanahan Bows Out of Bway's Six Dance Lessons; Hamill Ready to Dance". Playbill. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- Gans, Andrew (21 November 2003). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks to Close Nov. 23". Playbill. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- "Polly Bergen Obituary". The Guardian. September 22, 2014. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
- "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.
- "AP: Polly Bergen, versatile actress and singer, dead at 84". Associated Press, myfoxhouston.com. September 20, 2014. Archived from the original on September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
- "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.
- "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.
- "Wendy Riche Biography - IMDb". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- "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.
- Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Allmusic: Polly Bergen - Discography". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- "Discogs: Polly Bergen - Discography". Discogs.com. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- "Allmusic: Polly Bergen - Billboard Charts". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
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