Frances Leo Bergen

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Frances Leo Bergen (Westerman)

Birthplace: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, United States
Death: October 05, 2006 (84)
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Place of Burial: Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Westerman and Lille Mabel Howell
Wife of Edgar Bergen
Mother of Candice Bergen and Private

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Frances Leo Bergen

Frances Bergen (born Frances Westerman; 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 and film & television editor Kris Bergen.

Early life

Bergen was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of Lille Mabel (née Howell) and William Westerman. Her paternal grandfather Frank Westerman was German. In 1932, her father died of tuberculosis, when Frances was ten years old. Shortly after, her mother moved the family to Los Angeles. 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.


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.

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 cult western show Yancy Derringer as Madame Francine, the strong willed but beautiful owner of a members-only gambling house in New Orleans set in 1868.

Frances 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, The Sting II, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Morning After, and Made in America, among others. She had a major part in Henry Jaglom's independently made film Eating (1990). She also appeared on two episodes of Murphy Brown, her daughter's hit show, including Part One of the series finale in 1998.

Personal life & death

In 1941, Westerman met Edgar Bergen after a radio program when he was 38 and she was only 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 in 1978 at age 75.

She dated actor Craig Stevens after the death of his wife of many years, Alexis Smith.


Bergen died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of undisclosed causes on October 2, 2006, aged 84. She was buried beside her husband Edgar Bergen in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California. She was survived by her daughter Candice, her son Kris, and her granddaughter Chloé Malle (b. 1985).

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Frances Leo Bergen's Timeline

September 14, 1922
Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, United States
May 9, 1946
Age 23
Beverly Hills, CA, United States
October 5, 2006
Age 84
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, United States