Family & Companions
A robust, full-bodied performer with a ringing, resonant voice, Conchata Ferrell can be brassy and cynical or warm and yielding, depending on the demands of the role. She has carved an enviable niche primarily in supporting roles on both the big and small screens. Since making her theatrical debut in the New York Off-Broadway scene in the 1970s, Ferrell has demonstrated her versatility and staying power in a succession of character parts in numerous TV-movies, many theatrical films, several TV series and countless guest spots.
This native West Virginian first came to notice as an original cast member of Lanford Wilson's "Hot L Baltimore," the award-winning Off-Broadway production which Norman Lear later produced as a series for the 1974-75 ABC-TV season. The show brought sexual innuendo and racy dialogue into the nation's living rooms, some of it courtesy of Ferrell's character, prostitute April Green. Despite some affiliates refusing to carry the show, ABC kept it on the air for four months before it was finally dropped due to lack of viewer interest. Ferrell remained in Los Angeles, where her often tart-tongued and bossy but always warm and earthy demeanor garnered her continuing employment in a slew of supporting character parts, including plenty of nurses and, for variety, the occasional doctor.
Making her theatrical film debut as a feisty programmer in Sidney Lumet's "Network" (1976), Ferrell shed her typically urban persona when she won her first and to date only starring role opposite Rip Torn in Richard Pearce's small-scale, beautifully acted gem about rural life, "Heartland" (1980). She appeared in the ensemble comedy romance "Mystic Pizza" (1988), and also served up a memorably hokey performance in Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" (1989). Ferrell later acted in Tony Scott's "True Romance" and Oliver Stone's "Heaven and Earth" (1993) and left an impression on viewers as the busybody office manager who frequently clashed with Julia Roberts in "Erin Brockovich" (2000). That same year, she lent her typically earthy presence to the brief role of Ellen Barkin's high-spirited best friend in the otherwise mundane "Crime + Punishment in Suburbia." The actress played a character named Mama Cass in the women's correctional facility telepic "Stranger Inside" (2001), followed by a supporting turn in the ABC TV movie "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Amy and Isabelle" (2001). Ferrell continued to appear in features with stints in "K-PAX" (2001), "Mr. Deeds" (2002) and the mockumentary "Surviving Eden" (2004).
Among Ferrell's many spots as a TV primetime series regular are roles on the popular seriocomic road adventure "B.J and the Bear" (NBC, 1978-81) and "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1991-92), for which she received an Emmy Award nomination. In many cases, Ferrell joined established series during their runs: for example, she was featured during the last two seasons of "Hearts Afire" (CBS, 1993-95) as a sharp-tongued psychiatrist who writes an advice column for the small-town paper which the protagonists publish. Later, she returned to the series grind as a diner owner in the short-lived ABC sitcom "Townies" (1996-97) and as the aunt of a teen whose best friend serves as his guardian spirit in "Teen Angel" (ABC, 1997-98). The actress was a guest star on several popular series, including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Touched by an Angel," "JAG," "Friends," "Popular," "ER," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "Becker" and "Judging Amy," and she appeared on the short-lived drama "Push Nevada" (ABC, 2002). The actress delivered another memorably tart-tongued creation in her recurring role as Berta, Charlie Sheen's sardonic housekeeper on the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" (CBS, 2003-15). Ferrell's winning portrayal of the sassy, blue-collared Berta twice earned her Emmy nods - first in 2005, then again in 2007 - for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Scored a personal success for her ensemble work in the original off-Broadway production of Lanford Wilson's "Hot L Baltimore"
Reprised her role as prostitute April Green from "Hot L Baltimore" for the short-lived ABC TV sitcom
Theatrical film debut, Sidney Lumet's "Network"
TV-movie debut, "The Girl Called Hatter Fox"
Played recurring role of Wilhemina "The Fox" Johnson on the NBC comedy-adventure series, "B.J. And the Bear"
First starring role in a feature, "Heartland", opposite Rip Torn
Played Vangie Cruise on the NBC detective series, "McClain's Law", starring James Arness
Played Nurse Joan Thor on the CBS hospital-sitcom "E.R.", toplining Elliott Gould
First TV miniseries, "North Beach and Rawhide"
Reprised L.A. stage role of Helen Potts, the aging spinster who cares for an elderly mother, in "Picnic" (PBS)
Played role of Kate Galindo on the short-lived zoo-set drama series, "Peaceable Kingdom", starring Lindsay Wagner
Played regular series role of Susan Bloom on a season of the long-running NBC drama series, "L.A. Law"; nominated in 1992 for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Acted in "True Romance" and "Heaven & Earth"
Joined cast of the CBS TV sitcom, "Hearts Afire", in role of Madeline Stoessinger
Was featured in the Naked Angels' stage production of "Naked at the Coast"; delivered a monologue by Jon Robin Baitz
Portrayed a society matron in the BBC/PBS miniseries adaptation of Edith Wharton's "The Buccaneers"
Played regular role of a diner owner in the ABC sitcom "Townies"
Had featured role of Aunt Pam on the ABC sitcom "Teen Angel"
Cast as Ellen Barkin's best friend in "Crime + Punishment in Suburbia"
Delivered an amusing supporting turn as the officious office manager who comes into conflict with Julia Roberts' "Erin Brockovich"
Cast in "K-PAX" opposite Kevin Spacey
Cast in the short-lived drama "Push, Nevada" (ABC)
Cast as blue-collar housekeeper, Berta on the CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men"; earned Emmy (2005, 2007) nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series