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Polly Bergen, ‘Cape Fear’ Actress, Dies at 84

Actress and singer Polly Bergen, who’s best known for her role in the original “Cape Fear” opposite Gregory Peck, died at her home in Connecticut on Saturday. She was 84.

Bergen had battled emphysema in the late 1990s.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary actress and long-time friend and client, Polly Bergen,” her publicist Judy Katz said in a statement. “She died peacefully at her home in Southbury, Conn. this morning at 11:10 a.m., surrounded by her family, long-time personal manager, Jan McCormack and close friends.”

Aside from a thriving acting career on film, TV and Broadway, she was also a prolific songstress, self-help author and businesswoman, having launched a successful cosmetics line that earned her millions.

Bergen won an Emmy in 1958 for her role as Helen Morgan on the 1950s anthology series “Playhouse 90.” She was a regular in TV movies and miniseries in the 1980s, most notably in the 1983 epic “The Winds of War” and its 1988 sequel, “War and Remembrance,” which earned her an Emmy nom for best supporting actress.

She was also the star of her own short-lived NBC variety series, “The Polly Bergen Show,” which ran from 1957 to 1958. Bergen became a regular on the popular game show “To Tell the Truth” during the 50s.

Most recently, she played Felicity Huffman’s mother on “Desperate Housewives” and Tony Soprano’s late father’s mistress on “The Sopranos.”

On the film front, she starred opposite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in her very first movie, the 1950 musical comedy “At War With the Army.” She would later join them in two additional comedies, “That’s My Boy” and “The Stooge.”

Bergen played the first female U.S. president in 1964’s “Kisses for My President.” Her other movies included “Move Over, Darling” (1963), “Making Mr. Right (1987)” and 1990’s “Cry-Baby” with a young Johnny Depp.

The multi-hyphenate star was also a prolific singer and theater maven. She released nearly a dozen albums throughout her career.

Bergen made her Broadway debut in the revue “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac” and received a Tony nomination in 2001 for her portrayal of Carlotta Campion in “Follies.” She had a role in the 2002 revival of “Cabaret” and returned to Broadway with the comedy “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” the following year.

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