Conchata Ferrell, or Berta, as you probably know her, was a fine actor who portrayed many roles on stage, television, and the big screen. Her career was mostly limited to small roles in films, such as Edward Scissorhands and Erin Brockovich, and recurring supporting roles on series, such as Attorney Susan Bloom on L.A. Law and of course, Berta on Two and a Half Men. Ferrell’s career can be traced back to The Hot l Baltimore, the 1973 play by Landorf Willson, where she was a part of the original cast.
Over the years, Ferrell has mostly done well in bossy or authoritative roles, which is quite the opposite of what she was like in real life. Many of her co-stars have often said Ferrell was kind, warm, and friendly. Conchata Ferrell, or Chatti as friends fondly called her, passed away on October 12, 2020, of complications from a cardiac arrest in Sherman Oaks, California. The actor is survived by her husband Annie Anderson, daughter Samantha, and two stepdaughters. Let’s go over the life, career, and other facts about Ferrell as we fondly remember the sharp-tongued but good-natured Berta we all came to love.
Ferrell’s health had taken for the worse more than a year before she passed on. The actor’s health began deteriorating back in December when she was at her Charleston, West Virginia holiday home. She was weak, and doctors subsequently diagnosed her with a kidney infection, which had spread to a point where her blood was contaminated. Ferrell was hospitalized, and she stayed in the ICU for several weeks.
Once released from the hospital, Ferrell went back to her holiday home to recuperate. Her recent ailments had left her bedridden, so she was undergoing physiotherapy several times daily. Not even a month later, Ferrell was back on her feet and back to Los Angeles. In a statement, Ferrell said she was unsure how she developed the kidney infection and was surprised her health took such a drastic hit, seeing how she rarely fell ill. She even went on to say she looked forward to getting in front of the camera once she had recovered some more. Ferrel added that husband Anderson was there by her side throughout the hospital and recovery, even though he’s not someone to take care of things usually.
But in May, Ferrell was again in the deep end. Her husband, Andie Anderson, said her health deteriorated further in May when she began to feel sick again. Her ailment was connected to her earlier infection, and she was moved to an ICU. But things took a turn for the worse, and she suffered from a cardiac arrest only a couple of days after she was shifted into the ICU. Doctors were able to stabilize her, but she had to remain in the ICU for about four weeks before she was moved to transitional care.
Ferrell stayed at a special treatment center for long-term care, where she was on a respirator and received dialysis treatment. She remained semi-conscious, in a state where she was somewhat aware of her surroundings but was mostly unable to communicate. Moreover, with the COVID-19 outbreak, Anderson and their family were unable to visit. When asked about Ferrell’s condition and recovery, Anderson said the problem was neurological, and recovery was a long way to go. He even added nothing the doctors or anyone could do would speed up her recovery, other than to hope for the best.
After a whole year of being in and out of hospitals and care facilities, Ferrell passed away on October 12, 2020, among family and friends in Sherman Oaks, California, at the age of 77. Her daughter Samantha passed away peacefully. Farrell is buried at the Forest Cemetery in Circleville, Ohio
Even though Ferrell has portrayed many roles on the big and small screen, it was almost so that most of us may not have recognized her today. Her most loved role as Berta on Two and a Half Men almost didn’t happen, and it was a stroke of luck that she bagged the role, which was only supposed to be for only two episodes. Even though the show is based on the train wreck that is the lives of Charlie, Alan, and Jake Harper, many fans agree that Berta plays a big part in the show. Her wit and comic timing make her small appearances something to look forward to.
Two and a Half Men was a major hit with the original cast, and audiences were disappointed to see Charlie Sheen go, but his exit was inevitable after he publicly insulted producer Chuck Lorre. To be fair, Charlie Sheen had a number of bad behavior instances on and off set much before that as well. His drug and alcohol abuse made him even more unpredictable, and his behavior was erratic, to say the least. Co-star Jon Cryer, who plays Alan Harper on the show, has even given an interview with a detailed account of Sheen’s meltdown.
Before we move on to Ferrell’s career and other lesser-known facts about her, please take a moment to hit the like button if you’re enjoying this video, and do subscribe to our channel for more such facts.
Ferrell has played an assortment of roles over the course of her long career. The young Ferrell was expected to emerge as a television star, and although that did come true, it wasn’t in a leading role. Even though Ferrell mostly played small roles, one can’t deny the actor was exceptionally talented. Her acting career in theatre took off with Landorf Willson’s 1973 play The Hot l Baltimore. She did perform for the same title again but in a 1975 series produced by Normal Lear. Even though the play was a hit, the TV series failed to woo audiences.
Ferrell was an equally accomplished supporting actor on the big and small screens, having portrayed many roles in eminent productions over the years. Her TV debut was a one-time appearance on CBS’s Maude. In terms of performance, she arguably delivered her best in The Sea Horse, an off-Broadway play for which she won the Drama Desk Award, the Theatre World Award, and the Obie Award. Talking of the yesteryears, Ferrell was seen on the small screen in Maude, Knots Landing, and L.A. Law, and on the big screen in Heartland and True Romance. In recent years, other than Two and a Half Men, Ferrell was seen on screen in the 2020 film The Deported and the 2018 film A Very Nutty Christmas.
Awards and Recognition
Other than the three awards the off-Broadway play The Sea Horse grossed, Ferrell – along with the rest of the cast – also received a Western Heritage Award for Heartland in 1981. Her recurring role on L.A. Law gained her a nomination for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series’ at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 1992. Sadly, she lost to Valerie Mahaffey. She was nominated for the same category twice again for Berta’s role in 2005 and 2007, but again the award was not destined for her. Dorris Roberts bagged the award in 2005 for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond, and Jaime Pressly bagged it in 2007 for her role in My Name Is Earl.
Ferrell did win an award for Two and a Half Men, albeit a bit later. In 2009, the actor received the Future Classic Award – along with the rest of the cast – on TV Land Awards. It’s kind of sad that she didn’t win an award for specifically her role on the show. After all, she was a part of the cast from day one and starred in a whopping 212 episodes. If you’ve seen the show, you know an award was well deserved for her portrayal of the witty Berta.
Conchata Ferrell was born on March 28, 1943, to Luther Martin and Mescal Loraine Ferrell in Loudendale, West Virginia. The Ferrells stayed in Charleston, West Virginia, for most of Conchata’s childhood before moving to Circleville, Ohio. Conchata attended West Virginia University for two years before dropping out. After that, she took up several jobs to support herself. Later, she graduated from Marshal University, where she delivered her first stage performance as part of Barfenon Review, a skit, in 1969.
In 1986, Conchata married Arnie Anderson, whom she never separated from. The couple has a daughter together, Samantha, and she was a stepmother to Anderson’s two daughters Lisa and Caitlin, from his previous marriage. Conchata suffered from Type-2 diabetes and thus, struggled with weight gain throughout her life. Her sudden weight loss in recent years garnered a lot of media attention.
In terms of her relationships with cast and screw, Ferrell was warm and friendly toward everyone. She was especially very good friends with co-star Angus T. Jones, who played Jake Harper on Two and a Half Men. The two bonded over their love for reading and gaming. Yes, Ferrell loved gaming, especially role play games. She also enjoyed writing children’s poetry – talk about diverse interests!
Bertha’s Role Almost Didn’t Happen
Ferrell’s most recognized role, Berta on Two and a Half Men, almost didn’t happen. Show producers had someone with an Eastern European accent in mind for Bertha’s role. When Ferrell went for the audition, she explained she could do a Russian or a Polish accent, but she wanted to stick to her ethnicity for the role.
Ferrell felt the kind of a character they had in mind would be portrayed best as a ‘trailer park’ than anything else. Chuck Lorre, the show producer, was on board with the plan, and Berta came on. What’s more, Berta’s role was originally meant to be only two episodes. But as luck may have it, she became a part of the core cast. Speaking of ethnicity, did you know Ferrell is of English, Scottish, German, and Irish ancestry?
Regarding her long-standing portrayal of Berta, Ferrell said she loved her character. She elaborated further, saying Berta is the kind of person everyone wants to be – someone who can speak her mind without any fear.
Conchata Ferrell achieved much success in an understated way. Although she didn’t play leading roles, all her supporting roles were quite diverse and quite loved. Her career spanned almost five decades, throughout which she played a plethora of characters, mostly as one-time appearances. If you haven’t seen her one screen yet, we suggest you get cracking on any of the episodes from Two and a Half Men; she was pretty much a regular on the show. Not only are you sure to enjoy her performance as Berta, but you’re also pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the show – it’s hilarious. One of the best episodes with Berta is Camel Filters & Pheromones (Season 1, Episode 12).
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