Actress Conchata Ferrell, who is remembered for her Emmy-nominated role as housekeeper Berta on CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men died surrounded by her family on Monday of complications following a cardiac arrest. She was 77.
Born March 28, 1943 in Loudendale, West Virginia, Ferrell began her career on the stage as a member of the Circle Repertory Company. She appeared in the original Off-Broadway cast of Lanford Wilson’s The Hot L Baltimore, and was featured in the cast of the ABC sitcom of the same name in 1975. The series had several controversial elements, including two primary characters who were prostitutes, one of whom was played by Conchata Ferrell. It was also the first ABC network series to have a warning at its opening, cautioning viewers about mature themes. But it only lasted 13 episodes.
Other notable stage productions on Ferrell’s resume included Battle of Angels in 1974 by Tennessee Williams (later known as Orpheus Descending), and Picnic by William Inge at the Ahmanson Theater.
Ferrell appeared in an array of TV series early in her career (including the original One Day at a Time, The Rockford Files, Good Times and The Love Boat), as well as regularly scheduled roles in short-lived B.J. and the Bear and sitcom E/R. But it was her appearance as restaurant owner Leona in 1988 sleeper theatrical hit Mystic Pizza (opposite Julia Roberts) that gave Ferrell notable exposure.
Next for Ferrell was a featured role in feel-good CBS drama A Peaceable Kingdom in 1989, followed by a three-season stint on NBC legal drama L.A. Law (which resulted in an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama). In 1992, she appeared for three seasons opposite John Ritter in CBS sitcom Hearts Afire. Two additional sitcoms followed — Townies opposite Molly Ringwald in 1996, and Teen Angel in 1997 — before she joined the cast of Two and a Half Men in 2003.
“She was a beautiful human,” Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer tweeted following the news of Ferrell’s death. “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.”
Ferrell’s film roles included Heartland, which marked her first starring role, Network, True Romance, Erin Brockovich, and Edward Scissorhands. She also had guest roles in series like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Friends. More recent was a recurring role on Netflix dramedy The Ranch in 2017.