Polly Bergen (born Nellie Paulina Burgin; July 14, 1930) is an American actress, singer, television host, and entrepreneur.


 [hide*1 Career


[1][2]Polly Bergen in 1953[3][4]Bergen at the 1989 Emmy Awards

Bergen appeared in many film roles, most notably in the original Cape Fear (1962) opposite Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. She had roles in threeDean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy films in the early 1950s: At War with the ArmyThat's My Boy and The Stooge. 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 seriesPlayhouse 90. Signed to Columbia Records, she enjoyed a successful recording career during this era, as well. In the 1950s she also was known as "ThePepsi 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.

In 1963 Bergen co-starred with Doris Day and James Garner in the film comedy, Move Over, Darling. Garner's character marries hers when he believes his long-lost wife (Day) to be deceased, only to have her turn up.

Bergen 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.

She also appeared as Fran Felstein on HBO's The Sopranos, the former mistress of Tony Soprano's father, and former mistress of 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.

Bergen became a semi-regular cast member of 2006's Commander-in-Chief 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 of her recent appearances came in CBS's Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Candles on Bay Street (2006), in which she played the assistant to a husband-and-wife team of veterinarians.

Personal life[edit]Edit

Bergen was born in Knoxville in eastern Tennessee, the daughter of Lucy (née Lawhorn) and William Hugh Burgin, a construction engineer.[1] "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 showThe Polly Bergen Show, which aired in the 1957-1958 television season.

In 1965, Bergen created the Polly Bergen Company cosmetics line. She has also created lines of jewelry and shoe brands, and has authored three books on beauty.

Bergen converted to Judaism[2] after having married Hollywood talent agent Freddie Fields, with whom she had two adopted children, Pamela Kerry Fields and Peter William Fields. She had previously been a Southern Baptist.[3]

When not working, Bergen lives at her home in Connecticut.

Bergen's niece is television producer Wendy Riche.[4]


Film and Television credits
Year Title Role Notes
1949 Champion Singer
Across the Rio Grande Singer
1950 The Men Singer
At War with the Army Helen Palmer
1951 That's My Boy Betty 'Babs' Hunter
Warpath Molly Quade
1952 The Stooge Mary Turner
1953 Cry of the Hunted Janet Tunner
Fast Company Carol Maldon
Arena Ruth Danvers
Escape from Fort Bravo Alice Owens
1954 The Blue Angel Herself-Host
1954-1955 The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse Herself-Host
1957 The Helen Morgan Story Helen Morgan Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1957–1958 The Polly Bergen Show Herself 18 episodes
1956–1961 To Tell the Truth Herself
1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Crystal Coe Episode: You Can't Trust a Man
1962 Cape Fear Peggy Bowden
Belle Sommers Belle Sommers
What's My Line Herself January 28, 1962
1963 The Caretakers Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Laurel Award for Top Female Dramatic Performance

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) cameo
1974 Death Cruise Sylvia Carter
1975 Murder on Flight 502 Mona Briarly
1976–1977 Not for Women Only Herself-Host
1977 Harold Robbins' 79 Park Avenue Vera Keppler TV miniseries
Telethon Dorothy Goodwin
1978 How to Pick Up Girls! Dana Greenberg
1981 The Million Dollar Face Jo Burns
1982 Born Beautiful Marion Carmody
The Love Boat Dana Pierce 3 episodes
1983 The Winds of War Rhoda Henry TV miniseries

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
Velvet Mrs. Vance
1985 Hotel Elizabeth Hastings Episode: Images
Murder, She Wrote Dr. Jocelyn Laird Episode: School for Scandal
1987 Making Mr. Right Estelle Stone
1988 Addicted to His Love Vivien Langford
She Was Marked for Murder Laura Lee Webster
1988-1989 War and Remembrance Rhoda Henry TV miniseries

Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

1989 Mother, Mother Barbara Cutler
The Haunting of Sarah Hardy Emily Stepford
My Brother's Wife Myra Gilbert
1990 Cry-Baby Mrs. Vernon-Williams
Steel Magnolias Clairee Belcher TV pilot
1991 Lightning Field Carol
1992 Lady Against the Odds Cleo Storrs
1991-1992 Baby Talk Doris Campbell 23 episodes
1993 Arly Hanks Ruby Bee
1995 Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde Mrs. Unterveldt
The Surrogate Sandy Gilman
Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored Miss Maybry
1996 In the Blink of an Eye Murial
For Hope Molly Altman
1998 Touched by an Angel Stella Episode: Deconstructing Harry
2004 The Sopranos Fran Felstein Episode: In Camelot
2005 Paradise, Texas Beverly Cameron
2006 A Very Serious Person Mrs. A
Candles on Bay Street Rosemary
2005-2006 Commander in Chief Kate Allen 10 episodes
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

2012 Struck by Lightning Grandma




  • 1957 Bergen Sings Morgan — The Billboard 200 — 10
  • 1957 The Party's Over — The 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
  • 1960 Four Seasons of Love
  • 1961 Sings the Hit Songs from Do-Re-Mi and Annie Get Your Gun
  • 1963 Act One, Sing Too


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