Monday, October 9, 2006


Frances Bergen was one of those people better known for her relationships to other people than she was for her own accomplishments.

Widow of Edgar Bergen. Mother of Candice Bergen.

But the former model made her mark in Toobworld, and not always due to her role as wife and mother.

Once the face of the “Chesterfield Girl,” the “Ipana Girl,” Mrs. Bergen died at age 84 at a Los Angeles hospital after a prolonged illness. , Heidi Schaeffer, a publicist for Candice Bergen's publicist, Heidi Schaeffer, declined to specify the illness.

Born Frances Westerman in Birmingham, Ala., the future Mrs. Bergen moved to Los Angeles with her mother after her father died of tuberculosis.

When she was 19, Frances attended a recording of the wildly popular “The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show” and caught the attention of the 39-year-old vaudevillian, marrying him after a year of courtship.

Her glamorous marriage to one of America’s most famous celebrities was closely watched. When she gave birth in 1946 to their first child, Candice, it made headline news. The infant made her first public appearance in a magazine advertisement with her parents.

The Bergens had a son, Kris, in 1962. Edgar Bergen died in 1978 at age 75.

Like her husband, Frances Bergen appeared in several movies, playing small roles in the 1953 rendition of “Titanic,” “American Gigolo” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” She also appeared on her daughter’s hit sitcom “Murphy Brown.”

Besides her son and daughter, Bergen was survived by granddaughter Chloe Malle, 20, who is the child of Candice Bergen and the late film director Louis Malle.

Bare Essence (1982) (TV)

"Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder" (1987) (mini) TV Series
"Hollywood Wives" (1985) (mini) TV Series .... Pamela Lancaster

"Yancy Derringer" ..... Madame Francine
- Outlaw at Liberty (1959)
- Panic in Town (1959)
- Mayhem at the Market (1959)
- Nightmare on Bourbon Street (1959)

"Murphy Brown"
- Never Can Say Goodbye: Part 1 (1998) TV Episode .... Mrs. Payton
- Goin' to the Chapel: Part 2 (1990) TV Episode .... Claire Forrest
"Murder, She Wrote"
- A Little Night Work (1988) TV Episode (uncredited) .... Janice Darrow
"Out of This World"
- Till Then (1987) TV Episode (as Francis Bergen) .... Janet Hunter
- Slow Death (1986) TV Episode .... Eleanor Kingman
"Barnaby Jones"
- Testament of Power (1977) TV Episode .... Margaret Jason
"The Dick Powell Show"
- Special Assignment (1962) TV Episode .... Hilda Swanson
"Shirley Temple's Storybook"
- The Land of Oz (1960) TV Episode .... Glinda the Good
"The Millionaire"
- Millionaire Whitney Ames (1960) TV Episode .... Eva
"Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre"
- The Doctor Was a Lady (1958) TV Episode .... Dr. Fran Mitchell
"Four Star Playhouse"
- High Stakes (1956) TV Episode .... Rita Raymond

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) .... Leonard Winesop's receptionist

A few Toobworld notes.....
Madame Francine is listed in the Classic TV Archive's episode guide for 'Yancy Derringer' as Yancy's "special friend".

That "Madame" title has me wondering if, like Miss Kitty of 'Gunsmoke', she had a profession that just couldn't be mentioned outright back in those days.

If so, what if she didn't take the proper precautions - as she would have insisted from her "girls" - and became pregnant?

Perhaps she and Yancy were the beginnings of several family trees. It could be that "Nick Derringer, P.I." (as seen in the same-titled episode/unsold pilot from 'Hooperman') was their direct descendant.

And if I wanted to make some kind of connetion to her real-life daughter, it might also come to pass that Avery Brown, Murphy's Mom, could trace her lineage back to New Orleans....

It's a shame that it took the death of Mrs. Bergen for me to find out that the live-action Toobworld had its own version of 'The Wizard Of Oz'. Being a collector of "Ozbits" - those mentions of Oz and quotes from the classic movie in various TV shows, - there's a topic I'll have to investigate further.


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