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Frances Bergen (née Westerman;[1] September 14, 1922 – October 2, 2006) was an American actress and fashion model. She was the wife of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the mother of actress Candice Bergen and film and television editor Kris Bergen.

Frances Bergen
Frances Bergen.jpg
Bergen at the 62nd Academy Awards, March 1990
Frances Westerman

(1922-09-14)September 14, 1922
DiedOctober 2, 2006(2006-10-02) (aged 84)
OccupationFilm, television actress, model
Years active1953–1998
Edgar Bergen
(m. 1945; died 1978)
Children2, including Candice Bergen


Early lifeEdit

Bergen was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of Lille Mabel (née Howell) and William Westerman. Her paternal grandparents were both from German families.[2] In 1932, her father died of tuberculosis, when Frances was ten years old. Shortly after, her mother moved the family to Los Angeles. She graduated from Los Angeles High School.[3]

In 1936, she suffered a skull fracture in an auto accident, at age 14. While recuperating, she was given a Charlie McCarthy doll to cheer her up.[citation needed]


X Brands, Bergen, and Jock Mahoney

While in New York City, she became a successful John Robert Powers model. She was "the Chesterfield Girl" and "the Ipana Girl" in magazines and on billboards. She was thereafter professionally known as Frances Westcott.[citation needed]

As an actress, Bergen had supporting or minor roles in a number of films. She made her debut in Titanic (1953), after which she appeared in Robert Z. Leonard's Her Twelve Men (1954), and Douglas Sirk's Interlude (1957). During the 1958-1959 television season, Frances became the recurring love interest on the western show Yancy Derringer as Madame Francine,[4] the strong willed but beautiful owner of a members-only gambling house in New Orleans set in 1868.

Bergen also made numerous other appearances on television, with guest starring roles on The Millionaire, The Dick Powell Show, Barnaby Jones, MacGyver, and Murder, She Wrote.

She returned to films in the 1980s, with small roles in American Gigolo (1980), The Sting II (1983), The Star Chamber (1983), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), Hollywood Wives (1985), The Morning After (1986), and Made in America (1993). She also had a major part in Henry Jaglom's independently made film Eating (1990). She appeared on two episodes of Murphy Brown, her daughter's hit show, including Part One of the series finale in 1998.

Personal lifeEdit

Candice Bergen and Frances Bergen, 1990

In 1941, Frances Westerman met Edgar Bergen after a radio program when he was 38 and she was 19. Westerman, who graduated from Los Angeles High School the year before, was in the audience of Edgar Bergen's radio program as the guest of a member of his staff. Sitting in the front row, the young fashion model's long legs caught the attention of Bergen, who asked to meet her.

The two were married in Mexico, after years of a long distance courtship, on June 28, 1945, and remained happily married until Edgar's death on September 30, 1978, at age 75. On May 9, 1946, the couple welcomed their first child Candice Bergen. It was 15 years later, on October 12, 1961, they had a son, Kris Edgar Bergen, who would later become a film and television editor.


Bergen died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of undisclosed causes following "a prolonged illness" on October 2, 2006, aged 84. She was not buried beside her husband Edgar Bergen, but was cremated with her ashes interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles. She was survived by her daughter Candice Bergen, her son Kris, and her granddaughter Chloé Françoise Malle (b. 1985).


Year Title Role Notes
1953 Titanic Madeleine Astor
1954 Her Twelve Men Sylvia Carlin
1957 Interlude Gertrude Kirk
1980 American Gigolo Mrs. Laudner
1981 Rich and Famous Literary Party Guest
1983 The Sting II Lady Dorsett
1983 The Star Chamber Mrs. Cummins
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan Leonard Winesop's Receptionist
1986 The Morning After Mrs. Harding
1990 Eating Whitney
1993 Made in America White Woman #2


  1. ^ Lentz, Harris M., III (2008). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2006: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. ISBN 9780786452118. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  2. ^ McClure, Rhonda R. (March 27, 2003). "Ancestry of Candice Bergen". Archived from the original on June 12, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ McLellan, Dennis (October 5, 2006). "Frances Bergen, 84, dies". The Daily Herald. California, Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times. p. 22. Retrieved September 11, 2019 – via
  4. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 1201. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.

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