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Mary Kay Bergman (June 5, 1961 – November 11, 1999), initially credited on South Park as Shannen Cassidy, was an American voice actress and voice-over teacher.

Born in Los Angeles, she had an interest in fantasy and animation early in her life. She acted in plays in high school and also studied theater at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After unsuccessful acting jobs, she was considering a career in the Air Force, when "going wild" on karaoke at a housewarming party changed her life.

In 1989, she began voicing the Disney character Snow White. Bergman is widely known for her voice work in the earliest seasons of South Park and The Fairly OddParents. She did voice work for over 400 television commercials and voiced over 100 cartoon, film and video game characters throughout her career.

Bergman was married to voice actor Dino Andrade before she killed herself in November 1999. Shortly after her death, Andrade established the Mary Kay Bergman Memorial Fund.

Early life

Mary Kay Bergman was born on June 5, 1961, in Los Angeles. She was the only child of musicians David "Dave" Bergman and Patricia Paris "Pat" McGowan. She grew up around the corner from the home of Adriana Caselotti, the original voice of Snow White.

Her parents performed as a singing duo at lounges and clubs in Reno and Las Vegas and in Los Angeles. They settled in Los Angeles after her mother became pregnant. Characterizing her mother's previous work inking and painting cels for Fleischer, Bergman said it was a mechanical task, but it piqued her mother's interest in animation that was shared with Bergman years later by watching Saturday morning cartoon series with her. Among Bergman's favorite series were Jonny Quest, The Flintstones, and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which she considered a "precursor to The Simpsons."

Bergman attended Le Conte Middle School and Hollywood High School, graduating in June 1978 with top academic honors. Following in the steps of one of her idols, Carol Burnett, Bergman attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and studied theater arts from 1978 until 1981. She was a classmate and friend of future The Simpsons voice actress Nancy Cartwright.

She and Dino Andrade were married on April 7, 1990.

Her parents were Jewish, but Bergman was non-practicing and converted to Roman Catholicism after exploring several Christian denominations; however, she still remained proud of her Jewish heritage.

Career

After getting cast in an equity-waiver play outside of school, Bergman decided to leave UCLA. Having started acting in high school plays, she got an agent for on-camera commercials, film, and television and studied privately with acting coach Harry Mastrogeorge for several years. At age 16, Bergman received her first professional acting job in the TV movie Return Engagement, which starred Elizabeth Taylor. After leaving school, Bergman joined a small agency that had started six months earlier. She had an audition for an exercise program that was going to be on TV and got the role. She was hired because she had a "nice figure" but could also be a dancer, comedian, singer, or impressionist. However, less than a week after she got the job, the agency closed. Bergman said, "Everything fell apart. I thought, 'I'm really not getting anywhere. Maybe I should give up this silly dream of mine about becoming this great star and actually get a real job.'"

Bergman's next post was as a receptionist for the Boy Scouts of America. She enjoyed the job and was pleased to work with the people of the organization. Bergman commented, "All the time I kept hearing, 'Gosh, you have a lovely speaking voice. You should do something with that.'" She worked as a receptionist for an insurance company and from there she moved up the ranks to become an assistant underwriter, which she found extremely boring. To break the monotony, Bergman thought about becoming a disc jockey but could not find information about where to take classes and considered a career in the Air Force.

The origins of Bergman's voice acting can be traced to when she attended a housewarming party at one of her co-workers' houses. Someone brought a karaoke machine to the party and Bergman started "going wild", using several different voices. One of the guests at the party was studying with voice-over coach Kat Lehman and suggested she take a class with his teacher, which she did.

Bergman took many voice-over classes in order to do many different styles and voices. Some specialized in animation, some in ADR/looping, and others in commercial and improvisation. Bergman studied the voice of a character if she was matching a voice. Bergman stated that accents came very easily to her. She stated that she enjoyed doing accents such as Chinese, Japanese, Australian, English, American, French, German, Spanish and Italian.

In 1994, Bergman started teaching the technique of doing voice-overs for animation at the Kalmenson and Kalmenson Studios in Burbank, California. After voicing the villain Dr. Blight in the series Captain Planet and the Planeteers, replacing Meg Ryan, she acquired a reputation for voice matching and began doing these matches for other actors such as Jodie Foster, Gillian Anderson, Helen Hunt, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Tilly, Emma Thompson, and Alfre Woodard.

Death

Bergman suffered from generalized anxiety disorder, which she hid from her family, friends and co-stars. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Bergman's depression was mistaken as a reaction to her mother's illness along with job-related stress. Andrade said that he found herbal mood medications that Bergman had hidden in their home.

Bergman had privately confessed to her husband that she was afraid of losing her talent, as sessions were not going well, and soon people would know her talent had vanished and that would be the end of her career. Andrade later regretted that Bergman had told nobody about her distress. As time went by, Bergman's fears seemed to lessen as her mother was doing better. Bergman and her husband were also making plans to buy a new house within a year, but she still suffered physically. Because of this, she and her husband decided to have an elaborate vacation in Las Vegas, which they had planned a week before her death.

On the morning of November 11, 1999, Bergman contributed to a radio show celebrating Disneyland's 45th anniversary. She was last seen alive at 9 pm, while she was talking to her friend on the phone. An hour and 20 minutes later, her husband and his friend, John Bell, returned home to find that she had fatally shot herself with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. A police officer pronounced her dead at 10:18 p.m.

Filmography

Animation Dubbing

Animated Series

External Links

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