On October 12, actress Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half Men, Edward Scissorhands), most-recognized for her role as Berta on Two and a Half Men, passed away at Sherman Oaks Hospital from complications of a cardiac arrest. People reports that the actress was surrounded by loved ones at the time of her death and that she is survived by her husband Arnie Anderson, daughter Samantha and two stepdaughters.
— Two and a Half Men (@TwoAndAHalfMen) February 19, 2015
According to Deadline, Ferrell studied history at the University of West Virginia, but developed a love for theater while attending graduate school at Marshall University. After graduate school, Ferrell joined the off-Broadway acting troupe the Circle Repertory Company where she made a name for herself on the stage. Throughout her theater career, Ferrell preformed works of acclaimed playwrights such as Anton Chekov (The Seagull, Uncle Vanya), Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and William Inge (Picnic, Bus Stop) and earning a Drama Desk Award, a Theatre World Award and an Obie Award, via People.
Chekov’s Three Sisters, in which Ferrell played a maid, marked the actress’ on-stage debut with the Circle Repertory Company, and became far from the only time the actress would play a maid. In sitcom legend Norman Lear’s (All In the Family, One Day at a Time) 1974 show Maude, Ferrell made her television debut, once more playing a maid in the episode “Florida’s Goodbye”.
Lear and Ferrell would work together again in 1975, when he cast Ferrell as April Green in a television adaptation of the Lanford Wilson play Hot L Baltimore, which the actress had starred in on stage in the same role. The New York Times cites Hot L Baltimore as “one of Mr. Lear’s rare failures,” conjecturing that the series may have been “too risqué for 1975.” Nevertheless, Ferrell was quoted saying that “[Hot L Baltimore] was a good 13 weeks” (The New York Times). According to Deadline, the 98-year-old Lear referred to Ferrell as “one of the dearest people and most amazing talents I have ever worked with.”
Once Ferrell’s on-screen career began, she saw roles in acclaimed films such as Network, True Romance, Erin Brockovich and Edward Scissorhands. Adam Sandler (Little Nicky, Grown-Ups), who acted alongside Ferrell in Mr. Deeds, expressed his condolences over the actress’ passing on Twitter Tuesday.
RIP. Great lady. Will be missed terribly. So sorry to her family. pic.twitter.com/6Y9oMdLXOP
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) October 13, 2020
While Ferrell’s credits on stage and screen are bountiful, joining a television family on Chuck Lorre’s (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) sitcom Two and a Half Men brought Ferrell’s comedic talents to a larger, syndicated audience. From 2003 to 2015, Ferrell played the surly housekeeper Berta in over 200 episodes of the CBS sitcom. The role earned the actress two of her three Emmy nominations for Supporting Actress in a Comedy, her other Emmy nomination came from her role as Susan Bloom on L.A. Law.
According to The New York Times, Ferrell fundamentally shaped the role of Berta, who was originally written as Eastern European and only meant to be featured in two episodes. Ferrell’s “trailer park” take on the character became a signature part of the twelve season show, via The New York Times. Lorre said of Ferrell, when speaking to CNN, “We called her Chatty. And we all loved her. Twelve years of highs and lows, and lots and lots of laughter. Through it all she was a rock. One of the greats. I was privileged to call her a friend.”
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
The nickname Chatty has been lovingly repeated in the sentiments of Ferrell’s Two and a Half Men cast members on social media. Star Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men, Pretty in Pink) tweeted: “Chatty’s warmth and vulnerability were her real strengths.” Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men, Anger Management), who left the show in 2010, shared a photo of his and Ferrell’s characters sharing a beer, saying “Berta, your housekeeping was a tad suspect, your “people” keeping was perfect” (Twitter).
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
While Berta played a pivotal role in the lives of the fictional Harper family, actress Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness, Up in the Air) shared what a massive part family played in Ferrell’s life off-screen. According to Lynskey’s tweet, Ferrell’s husband would attend every taping of Two and a Half Men, oftentimes with Ferrell’s daughter, to express his love and support.
Lovely, brilliant Chatti. I’m weeping. She was the warmest, most gracious lady. Her husband Arnie came to every single taping of Two And A Half Men and sat in the audience, beaming with pride. Her sweet daughter Samantha was often there too. Oh, she was loved. She will be missed. https://t.co/38Nu2QGF6L
— Melanie Lynskey (@melanielynskey) October 13, 2020
People reports that Ferrell’s family had been similarly glued to her side through health struggles that began with a kidney infection in December 2019. A heart attack landed Ferrell back in the hospital in May, a particularly difficult time for her family who could not visit due to COVID-19 restrictions, via People. Ferrell required special care and was unable to leave the hospital; she was moved to long-term care, where she was put on a respirator and dialysis. Fortunately, COVID restrictions became slightly more flexible, allowing the actress’ family to surround her with that same love and support they had provided on set. According to Deadline, Ferrell’s family asks that donations be made to TheLovelandFoundation.org and the ASPCA.org, in lieu of flowers.