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Polly Bergen
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Born in Knoxville, Tennessee as Nellie Burgin on July 14, 1930, her family, which included father William, mother Lucy and sister Barbra, eventually moved to Los Angeles. By the time she was 14, Polly was singing professionally on radio and managed to scrape up singing gigs with smaller bands around and about the Southern California area. She attended Compton Junior College before Paramount mogul Hal B. Wallis caught sight of her and signed her up with his studio. Having made an isolated film debut (as Polly Burgin) a year earlier in the Monogram western Across the Rio Grande (1949), Wallis showcased her as a decorative love interest in the slapstick vehicles of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the (then) hottest comedy team in Hollywood. But At War with the Army (1950), That's My Boy (1951) and The Stooge (1951) did little for Polly although she presented herself well. MGM and Universal had the idea to cast her in a more serious vein with co-starring roles in their dramas Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), Arena (1953) and Cry of the Hunted (1953), but again she was overlooked. Disasppointed, she decided to abandon her lucrative film contract and seek work elsewhere.

That "elsewhere" came in the form of 1950s TV. Focusing on her singing, she promoted her many albums for Columbia by guest-starring on all the top variety shows of the times. This culminated in her own variety program, The Polly Bergen Show (1957). The song "The Party's Over" became her traditional show-closer and signature tune. Polly also showed some marquee mettle on the cabaret and nightclub circuits, performing at many of the top hotels and showrooms throughout the country. She made her Broadway debut along with Harry Belafonte in "John Murray Anderson's Almanac" in 1953, and went on to appear in such stage shows as "Top Man" and "Champagne Complex". A delightfully engaging game show panelist to boot, she took a regular seat on the To Tell the Truth (1956) panel for five seasons.

Polly tended to display a looser, down-to-earth personality to induce laughs but she was also was formidable dramatic player and fashion plate quite capable of radiating great charm, poise and elegance. For her role as alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan in the special TV showcase "The Helen Morgan Story", she took home the Emmy award. Unfortunately for Polly, Ann Blyth took on the role of the tragic singer in the film version (with Gogi Grant providing the vocals), in what could have been a significant return to films for her.

Polly Bergen stared in:

Title Year Saw with/at: Scene On Rating
At War With The Army 1950 0000-00-00 ** 1/2
Move Over, Darling 1963 2020-04-29 ***
Cry Baby 1990 With Jessica 0000-00-00 ****
Struck by Lightning 2012 Suzy 2013-08-12 ***