Conchata Ferrell, a three-time Emmy nominee who appeared in more than 200 episodes of Two and a Half Men and was a regular on L.A. Law‘s sixth season, died Monday at Sherman Oaks Hospital of complications following a cardiac arrest. She was 77. She died peacefully surrounded by family.
Ferrell probably is best known for her role as no-nonsense housekeeper Berta on the hit CBS comedy Two and a Half Men. The role earned her a pair of Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy nominations in 2005 and 2007.
“She was a beautiful human,” Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer said. “I’m crying for the woman I’ll miss, and the joy she brought so many.” Added fellow Men star Charlie Sheen, “An absolute sweetheart, a consummate pro, a genuine friend. Berta, your housekeeping was a tad suspect, your ‘people’ keeping was perfect.”
The veteran actress also landed an Emmy nomination in 1992 for her role as Susan Bloom on L.A. Law. She was a regular on that Emmy-winning series during its sixth season. Her other notable TV series include Good Times, ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, BJ and the Bear and Grace and Frankie.
Ferrell was an accomplished stage actress. She gained success off-Broadway as an original member of the Circle Repertory Theatre. For her appearance as Gertrude Blum in Edward J. Moore’s The Sea Horse, she received a Drama Desk Award, a Theatre World Award and an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1974. Her role as April Green in Lanford Wilson’s Hot L Baltimore led her to Los Angeles and a starring role in the 1975 Norman Lear series of the same name.
Lear called Ferrell “one of the dearest people and most amazing talents I have ever worked with.”
Other notable productions Ferrell appeared in include Battle of Angels in 1974 by Tennessee Williams (later known as Orpheus Descending), and Picnic by William Inge at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
“Conchata Ferrell was exactly the kind of artist for whom we created our theater – a deeply honest performer who would inspire our playwrights to create roles for her,” said Circle Rep’s founding artistic director, Marshall W. Mason. “She was our first home-grown star.”
Ferrell’s extensive film credits include Heartland — which marked her first starring role — Network, Mystic Pizza, True Romance, Erin Brockovich, Edward Scissorhands, Mr. Deeds and Krampus. Throughout her career, Ferrell was represented by talent agent and close friend Judith Moss.
She was a beautiful human
Berta’s gruff exterior was an invention of the writers. Chatty’s warmth and vulnerability were her real strengths.
I’m crying for the woman I’ll miss, and the joy she brought so many. https://t.co/SucL6gFaAR
— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) October 13, 2020
“I started my long journey with Conchata Ferrell in 1975,” Moss said. “What started as an agent/client relationship grew into a long-lasting friendship, and I consider her family. Her work and being in front of an audience was always her joy. Conchata’s talent, laughter and smart, quick wit that she brought to her characters and her life will be greatly missed.”
Born Conchata Galen Ferrell on March 28, 1943, in Charleston, WV, she attended West Virginia University and Marshall University. Ferrell graduated from Marshall with a degree in history education. She later taught acting for television at UCLA for several years.
Ferrell, whose most recent credits included Netflix’s The Ranch, TV movie A Very Nutty Christmas and the upcoming feature Deported, moved into a long-term care facility several months ago after suffering a cardiac arrest. She is survived by her husband, Arnie Anderson, and her daughter, Samantha. In lieu of flowers the family requests any donations to TheLovelandFoundation.org and the ASPCA.org.
an absolute sweetheart
a consummate pro
a genuine friend
a shocking and painful loss.
was a tad suspect,
your “people”keeping was perfect.
— Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) October 13, 2020
Here is more from Mason’s memories of Ferrell, whom he directed in her most significant plays:
After graduating from Marshall University, Conchata Ferrell came from West Virginia to the Circle Repertory Company, an off-off-Broadway company in its first year, where she made her debut as the Maid who lighted a chandelier and then raised it to illuminate Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
Lanford Wilson saw Chatty (as we all knew her) as Agnes in his one-act Ludlow Fair opposite Trish Hawkins, and he was so delighted that he wrote The Hot L Baltimore for them. Chatty anchored the long-running hit as April, the world-weary wise-cracker who had done everything and enjoyed most of it. Her star turn attracted the attention of Norman Lear, who created a television series of Hot L around her.
Before she left for Hollywood, Chatty came back to Circle Rep to play Gertie, a mesmerizing performance in The Sea Horse, which won her an Obie Award.
Then, she played the breathless, sexually hysterical artist Vee Talbot, the wife of the red-neck Sheriff in the New York premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Battle of Angels.
In the early 80’s, she joined an all-star cast in the Ahmanson Theater production of Picnic, as Mrs. Potts, the warm-hearted neighbor of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rue McClanahan. She reprised her role in the Showtime television version.