Edgar Bergen

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Edgar Bergen

Edgar Bergen

Photo credit: 
Everett Collection

Edgar Bergen

Date of Birth

Date of Birth: February 16, 1903
Date of Passing: September 30, 1978
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Obituary: Washington Post

Edgar Bergen was an American ventriloquist, actor, and comedian.

Bergen's career spanned almost 60 years, encompassing vaudeville, radio, television, and motion pictures. He was best known as the straight man for his ventriloquist's dummy, Charlie McCarthy.

Edgar Bergen was an American ventriloquist, actor, and comedian.

Bergen's career spanned almost 60 years, encompassing vaudeville, radio, television, and motion pictures. He was best known as the straight man for his ventriloquist's dummy, Charlie McCarthy.

After spending his formative years in Sweden (where he learned the language), he attended public schools in Chicago where, when he was 11, he discovered a facility for ventriloquism. He had the head of the Charlie McCarthy dummy carved (although he made the body himself) while he was still in high school. By the time he attended Northwestern University, he was proficient enough to earn money with ventriloquism and magic tricks. Shortly thereafter, he went into vaudeville and performed in nightclubs in the United States and Europe.

Bergen and Charlie McCarthy made their radio debut on a program hosted by singer Rudy Vallee. The following year, they were given their own program as part of The Chase and Sanborn Hour. The show was consistently rated in the top ten from 1937 to 1952. Other characters created by Bergen, such as Mortimer Snerd and Effie Klinker, were integrated into the program. After the show ended in 1957, Bergen and Charlie often appeared as guests on variety television shows.

During World War II Bergen took Charlie with him to entertain American service personnel, touring the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and Greenland, and appearing on many special radio shows.

Bergen served as president of the Television Academy.

Bergen died September 30, 1978, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 75.

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The Television Academy database lists prime-time Emmy information. Click here to learn more

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Edgar Bergen

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(L-R) Actor Edgar Bergen, Harry Lubcke, actor Don DeFore, Academy Founder Syd Cassyd, and actor Charlie Ruggles, 1955. At the time of the photo, DeFore was the Academy president; the other four gentlemen had previously served as president of the Academy.

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