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Polly Bergen

Polly Bergen

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Also Known As: Nellie Paulina Burgin, Polly Burgin Died: September 20, 2014
Born: July 14, 1930 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Profession: actor, producer, singer, business executive

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most diversely talented of American performers, Polly Bergen was an Emmy-winning actress, singer and entrepreneur who found success in nearly every medium over the course of a half-century in show business. A professional singer while still in her teens, she transitioned from nightclub chanteuse to film actress in the 1950s, but found her early roles lacking. She returned to singing while keeping a hand in acting via television and Broadway. The former proved to be Bergen's best showcase, and an Emmy win in 1957 led to her own variety series, "The Polly Bergen Show" (NBC, 1957-58). It also improved the quality of her film choices, which by the 1960s included an acclaimed turn in "Cape Fear" (1962). In the late 1960s and 1970s, she shifted her interest to the business world, where she founded her own fashion lines. Emmy-nominated turns in the epic miniseries "The Winds of War" (ABC, 1983) and its sequel "The Winds of Remembrance" (ABC, 1988) revived her profile in the 1980s, and she was an active and vibrant presence on countless television series - most notably "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). Her Emmy nomination for an appearance on the latter series was a clear indication that an...

One of the most diversely talented of American performers, Polly Bergen was an Emmy-winning actress, singer and entrepreneur who found success in nearly every medium over the course of a half-century in show business. A professional singer while still in her teens, she transitioned from nightclub chanteuse to film actress in the 1950s, but found her early roles lacking. She returned to singing while keeping a hand in acting via television and Broadway. The former proved to be Bergen's best showcase, and an Emmy win in 1957 led to her own variety series, "The Polly Bergen Show" (NBC, 1957-58). It also improved the quality of her film choices, which by the 1960s included an acclaimed turn in "Cape Fear" (1962). In the late 1960s and 1970s, she shifted her interest to the business world, where she founded her own fashion lines. Emmy-nominated turns in the epic miniseries "The Winds of War" (ABC, 1983) and its sequel "The Winds of Remembrance" (ABC, 1988) revived her profile in the 1980s, and she was an active and vibrant presence on countless television series - most notably "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). Her Emmy nomination for an appearance on the latter series was a clear indication that an actress with a breadth of talent like Bergen would never go out of style. Her death at the age of 84 on September 20, 2014 saddened friends and fans alike.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
4.
 For Hope (1996) Molly
5.
 In the Blink of an Eye (1996) Murial
6.
 Dr. Jekyll and MS. Hyde (1995) Mrs Unterveldt
8.
 Surrogate, The (1995) Sandy Gilman
9.
 Leave of Absence (1994) Janet
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1944:
Made professional singing debut
1950:
Made film debut in "At War With the Army"
1950:
Regularly sang on "The Alan Young Show"
1951:
Recorded first album, "Little Girl Blue"
1952:
Made dramatic TV debut in an episode of "Schlitz Playhouse" (CBS)
1953:
Made stage debut on Broadway in "John Murray Anderson's Almanac"
1954:
Hosted "The Best in Mystery"; sang on "The Blue Angel" series
1955:
Hosted "The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse" (ABC)
1956:
Was panelist on "To Tell The Truth" (CBS)
1957:
Starred in NBC variety series "The Polly Bergen Show"
1962:
Appeared in the original "Cape Fear" opposite Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum
1963:
Won plaudits for dramatic turn in "The Caretakers"
1965:
Formed the Polly Bergen Co., creating and selling cosmetics
1974:
Made TV-movie debut, "Death Cruise"
1977:
Starred in TV miniseries "79 Park Avenue"
1983:
Earned an Emmy nomination for her role as Rhoda Henry in the ABC miniseries, "The Winds of War"
1988:
Reprised role of Rhoda Henry in "War and Remembrance" (ABC)
1990:
Co-starred in John Waters' "Cry-Baby"
1991:
Regular cast member of "Baby Talk"
1994:
Produced "Leave of Absence" for NBC
2000:
Resumed singing career and began making nightclub appearances
2001:
Returned to Broadway to play Carlotta Campion in the Broadway revival of "Follies"; earned Tony nomination
2001:
Appeared in the Off-Broadway run of "The Vagina Monologues"
2002:
Joined cast of the hit revival of "Cabaret" as Frau Schneider
2005:
Played a recurring role on ABC's "Commander in Chief," as the mother of the US President played by Geena Davis
2007:
Had a role on ABC's "Desperate Housewives" as Lynette Scavo's (Felicity Huffman) mother; earned an Emmy nomination in 2008 for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Compton Junior College: Compton , California -

Notes

Bergen is on the board of advocates of Planned Parenthood. Her humanitarian works have been legendary. At the Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine in Denver, CO, one can find the Polly Bergen Cardio-Pulmonary Laboratory.

Polly Bergen was the first woman every elected to the board of directors of The Singer Company.

"One thing I'd love to do that I've never done before is act in a horror film, a vampire film. I've loved them since I was a kid. I think I'd make a terrific vampire. They always look beautiful before the fangs appear and they all have very white skin, which I have, and they wear a lot of black. I look wonderful in black!" --Polly Bergen

"I'm normally asked to play a woman who is in control and looks perfect." --Polly Bergen

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Jerome Courtland. Actor. Divorced.
husband:
Freddie Fields. Agent, later film executive, later producer. Married in 1957; divorced in 1975.
husband:
Jeff Endervelt. Married c. 1982, Bergen filed for divorce April 1990 due to irreconcilable differences; divorced 1991.

Family close complete family listing

father:
William Hugh Burgin. Construction engineer.
mother:
Lucy Burgin.
sister:
Barbra Burgin. Younger; suffers with schleroderma; born c. 1939.
daughter:
Pamela K Fields.
son:
Peter Fields.
niece:
Wendy Riche. Emmy-winning executive producer of "General Hospital".
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Polly Bergen Book of Beauty, Fashion and Charm" Prentice-Hall
"Polly's Principles: Polly Bergen Tells You How You Can Feel and Look As Young As She Does" Peter H Wyden
"I'd Love To, But What'll I Wear?" Wyden Books

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