Childhood & Early Life
Conchata was born Conchata Galen Ferrell, on March 28, 1943, in Loudendale, West Virginia, near Charleston, to Mescal Loraine and Luther Martin Ferrell. Her family later moved to Circleville, Ohio.
Conchata attended 'West Virginia University' but dropped out after 2 years. She then took up a few jobs to support herself. Conchata later graduated from 'Marshall University,' majoring in history education. Before making her professional entry into the mainstream entertainment industry, Conchata made her stage debut in Marshall in 1969, with a skit comedy and musical production titled 'Barfenon Review.'
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Conchata ventured into the field of acting as a stage actor. She was a member of the 'Circle Repertory Company.' She was cast in the original ‘Off-Broadway’ play 'The Sea Horse,' for which she won three awards: the 'Drama Desk,' the 'Obie,' and the 'Theatre World Award.'
Conchata made her TV Debut in 1974, as ‘Rita Valdez’ in an episode of the 'CBS' sitcom 'Maude,' titled 'Florida's Goodbye.' The following year, she was cast in the sitcom ‘Hot l Baltimore.’ The series was based on a play of the same name that had Conchata as a cast member. She played a prostitute named ‘April Green’ in 13 episodes of the series. While filming the series, Conchata would receive letters from prisoners who wanted to show her their hometowns and waterbeds.
The 1975 thriller 'Deadly Hero' was Conchata’s film debut. It featured her as ‘Slugger Ann.’ Following this, she was featured as ‘Barbara Schlesinger’ in the 1976 satirical film 'Network.' Conchata then appeared as a nurse in two projects. She was seen as ‘Nurse Cassidy’ in the TV short 'Mixed Nuts’ and as ‘Nurse Rinehart’ in the TV movie 'The Girl Called Hatter Fox.'
In 1981, Conchata shared the 'Bronze Wrangler Western Heritage Award' with the cast of the 1979 film 'Heartland.' Based on 'Letters of a Woman Homesteader' (1914) by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, the film was known for its genuine portrayal of early homestead life in the American West. Conchata essayed the character ‘Elinore Randall Stewart.’
She played the mother of the title character of the fairy tale 'Thumbelina' in the live-action children's anthology TV series 'Faerie Tale Theatre' (also known as 'Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre').
Conchata had a prominent role in the 1988 coming-of-age film 'Mystic Pizza.' She played ‘Leona,’ the owner of the titular pizza shop in Mystic, Connecticut. Her next significant project was the legal drama series 'L.A. Law.' She was seen as a tenant named ‘Susan Bloom’ (also ‘Lorna Landsberg’ in one episode) in 20 episodes and was nominated for the 'Primetime Emmy Award' for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.’
From 1992 to 1995, Conchata appeared as ‘Dr. Madeline Stoessinger/Dr. Ruth Colquist’ in the 'CBS' sitcom 'Hearts Afire.' She played a social worker named ‘Mrs. Sheets’ in the 1996 crime film 'Freeway.'
Conchata had a recurring role as ‘Pam’ in 'ABC's 'TGIF' fantasy sitcom 'Teen Angel.' She was part of the 2000 'Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize'-nominated film 'Crime and Punishment in Suburbia.'
Conchata was seen as ‘Brenda,’ the secretary of real-life lawyer Edward L Masry, played by Albert Finney, in the 2000 biopic 'Erin Brockovich.' Following this, she played ‘Jan,’ a retired rodeo clown and close friend of the titular character, in the 2002 comedy film 'Mr. Deeds.'
The year 2003 was a remarkable year for Conchata. She began her longest stint in a TV series that eventually became the highlight of her career. She played ‘Berta,’ a housekeeper, in 211 episodes of the 'CBS' sitcom 'Two and a Half Men.' Initially, she was cast in just two episodes in the first season. Her character was supposed to leave after the character ‘Alan’ and his child moved into the beach house. The makers had also decided that her character would be an ethnic minority. However, after watching Conchata’s performance, they changed their mind. The makers not only made variations to the character but also made her a regular in the subsequent seasons.
Conchata had competed with 32 actors to bag the role. Her performance on the show won her two 'Primetime Emmy Award' nominations (2005 and 2007). Conchata’s departure from the show was portrayed as ‘Berta’ receiving her final paycheck from ‘Charlie’ and moving to ‘Walden's beach house.
In 2012, Conchata was seen playing an obese and doting mother of an obese boy named ‘Bob,’ played by Robert Capron, in the 3D stop-motion-animated fantasy–horror–comedy 'Frankenweenie.' Her most recent appearance was as ‘Shirley’ in the second season of the sitcom 'The Ranch' in 2017.