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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Remembering Polly Bergen 1930 - 2014

Actress Polly Bergen, who died earlier today at age 84, appeared in many films, including At War with the Army (1950), That's My Boy (1951), The Stooge (1952), Cape Fear (1962), The Caretakers (1963), for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Drama, Move Over, Darling (1963), Kisses for My President (1964) as the first female President, Making Mr. Right (1987), John Waters' Cry-Baby (1990), A Very Serious Person (2006) and Struck by Lightning (2012) as Chris Colfer's grandmother.

Bergen starred in her own comedy/variety show, The Polly Bergen Show, which aired on NBC in 1957-58, and she won an Emmy Award in 1958 for her performance in the live Playhouse 90 drama, The Helen Morgan Story. She also received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries for The Winds of War (1983) and its 1988-89 sequel, War and Remembrance, as well as one for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Desperate Housewives (2007), in which she played Felicity Huffman's mother in 10 episodes. Her other television credits include an unsold 1990 sitcom pilot of Steel Magnolias (as Clairee), the 1991-92 sitcom, Baby Talk, and the 2005-06 drama, Commander in Chief (as the mother of the first female President).

The actress also enjoyed a successful recording career in the 1950s and early '60s, and her Broadway credits include the 1959 musical, First Impressions, a 1990 appearance in the play, Love Letters (with Robert Vaughn), the 2001 revival of Follies, for which she received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Cabaret (2002) as Fraulein Schneider, and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (2003) with Mark Hamill.

Below I've selected some videos to celebrate the life and career of Ms. Bergen.

The Stooge (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

She was the Mystery Guest on the game show, What's My Line?, on August 31, 1958, and January 28, 1962 (her appearance begins at 17:36).

Cape Fear (1962) with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum

Move Over, Darling (1963) with Doris Day and James Garner

Kisses for My President (1964) with Fred MacMurray

She appeared on ABC's Primetime Live with host Diane Sawyer on October 12, 1989, to discuss her abortion at age 17.

Cry-Baby (1990) with Johnny Depp

The Steel Magnolias TV pilot with Elaine Stritch and Cindy Williams aired on CBS on August 17, 1990.

In 2001, she performed "I'm Still Here" from the Broadway revival of Follies on both the Drama Desk Awards and the Tony Awards.

She played the longtime mistress of Tony Soprano's late father in a 2004 episode of The Sopranos.

A promo for Struck by Lightning (2012) with Chris Colfer


Christoph said...

The woman was seriously one of my favorites. She was a popular fixture on TV shows and TV movies when I was a kid in the 70s and I always thought she was one of the most lovely and classy ladies working. I remember a sequence watching War and Remembrance with she and Robert Mitchum, where she gets drunk and has a breakdown, and a friend of mine was just floored at what she thought was one of the greatest acting sequences she had ever seen. I concurred. I had the privilege to see Bergen perform in Cabaret and it was a truly wonderful performance. She will be missed.

Marc Harshbarger said...

Thanks for your lovely comment, Christoph.