(1903–1978). Film and television performer. America's premiere ventriloquist, he and his partner, the wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy, were favorites in several media, including a handful of movie musicals. Bergen was born in Chicago and created his co-star McCarthy while attending Northwestern University, with the twosome giving performances to help pay for tuition. After graduation, Bergen went on the vaudeville circuit and then found national fame when he and Charlie were on Rudy Vallee's radio show. The concept of a ventriloquist impressing audiences on the radio was unique and even bizarre, yet the material was so strong and the characters so well defined that Bergen was a hit. The pair was featured in such film musicals as The Goldwyn Follies (1938), Here We Go Again (1942), Around the World (1943), Stage Door Canteen (1943), Song of the Open Road (1944), and Fun and Fancy Free (1946). Bergen created other puppet characters and featured them as well in his many concert, nightclub, and television appearances, but wisecracking, even lewd McCarthy remained the audience's favorite. The pair was last seen on film in a cameo in The Muppet Movie (1979), which creator Jim Henson dedicated to Bergen. He is the father of actress Candice Bergen (1946–).
From The Oxford Companion to the American Musical in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Music Theatre.