There are a couple of very different things that come to mind when I think of Morgan Fairchild. Foremost in my mind are memories of the smokey-voiced, intimidatingly hot, mega-bitch she played on many of the shows I was too young to watch back in the day. Then there's the secondary memory of a chubby guy in a bad suit on SNL, bragging on his delusional marriage to this blonde bombshell. It's a strange dichotomy of fame, but it nonetheless made Morgan one of the most lusted after hotties of her day.
Before Morgan was Morgan, playing all those bitchy blondes on prime time soaps of the 80s, she was just a shy little Texas girl, born Patsy Ann McClenny in early 1950s Dallas. Her mother, looking to make her wallflower daughter bloom, enrolled young Patsy in some drama courses, quickly setting her on the path to the bright lights of fame. By the time she reached her teens, Patsy had earned her first semi-professional role, playing Faye Dunaway's stand-in on the set of BONNIE & CLYDE. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
After a brief sojourn as a married woman in the late 60s, which had ended in divorce by the early 70s, young Patsy resumed her ambitions to be an actress, travelling to New York City to try her hand at acting full time. Her first step in that direction was ditching her birth name, picking the stage name Morgan from the title of the 1966 comedy film, MORGAN: A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT. She also found her first full-fledged role around this time, playing the maniacal character Jennifer Pace on the daytime soap Search for Tomorrow. It was the first of many bitchy roles Morgan was destined to play on TV and elsewhere in her long career as an actress. After a successful 4-year run in daytime TV, Morgan moved to LA to seek out bigger and better things in her steadily heating career.
In 1978, she played Jenna Wade, sister to J.R. Ewing in the massive 80s TV hit Dallas. Unfortunately for Morgan, she never got the chance to continue with the role, which was later played by Priscilla Presley, the former wife of the late rock star Elvis Presley. Morgan then proceeded to take the grand tour of 80s TV shows, doing guest appearances and one off roles on tons of popular 80s shows like Simon & Simon, Mork & Mindy, Magnum P.I. and The Love Boat. That earned her her first prime time role in the short-lived NBC show Flamingo Road, which ended after one season, but hung on long enough to earn her a Golden Globe nomination.
All those guest-starring and cancellation experiences eventually had to lead to something. And that something for Morgan was her role as the glamorous lawyer Jordan Roberts on that most 80s of 80s TV shows, Falcon Crest. The role of the defiant professional bitch earned Morgan at least half of the public notoriety she owned in the middle part of that decade. The other half came from the unlikeliest of places, namely professional schlubby guy Jon Lovitz and his popular "Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar" character on Saturday Night Live. Known for doling out ample amounts of lies to anyone willing to listen, Tommy's most popular lie was his opener, wherein he attempts to name drop via his "wife," Morgan Fairchild. The skits proved popular, giving Morgan a ton of indirect popularity and making her name a household word for a time.
All that bitchy role-playing didn't do anything to hurt her popularity as a sex symbol. Morgan stands as one of the most desired women of the 80s, her big, poofy blonde hair and toned body the epitome of desire in that time. She topped several sexiest stars lists of the day and was a popular face in many fashion magazines of the day. Most of that came from TV roles, though Morgan did occasionally branch out into movies, one of the best remembered being her role as the big screen version of Pee-Wee Herman's girlfriend Dottie in the beloved PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE.
By the 90s, Morgan's recognition factor was sufficient to give her guest star status as she continued to appear on just about every show being made. Some of these guest star roles often proved just as popular as her previous series regular status. One of the best remembered of these roles was as lesbian lover to Sandra Bernhard's character on that other great 80s TV institution, Rosanne. She then moved on to "Must See TV" playing the overly hot mom to Chandler Bing on that great NBC cultural phenomenon known as Friends.
The new millenium saw Morgan enter her 50s, yet just as flush with antagonist roles as she had ever been. Her guest stints as the nasty character on were seen on pretty much all the big shows of the last 10 years, both in prime time on shows like Chuck and on daytime TV with soaps like The Bold and the Beautiful. Apparently the inside scoop a producer gave to Morgan during one of her early gigs as the bad girl was true, "I can get a good ingenue anywhere, but a good bitch is hard to find."
Now in her 60s, Morgan supplements her enduring legacy as the "rich bitch" character on TV, with her true identity as an advocate for several charity organizations, among them her support for amFAR and prominent organizations related to environmental awareness. She's also a long time committee member on several boards in the Screen Actor's Guild. When she isn't busy wih those things, she lives with her long time companion, film executive Mark Seiler in Los Angeles.
Morgan has always played the unscrupulous and wicked one on various shows over the years - the hottie everyone loved to hate. While that may just be a facade, it's one she's gotten very good at putting on over the years. And as nasty as those alteregos were, they never seemed to hurt her hotness. In fact, they often only enhanced it. She may have always been the woman it was dangerous to mess with back in the day, but that never stopped us from wanting to do so anyway.