When it comes to the wonderland that was 1980s sitcoms, Morgan Fairchild was the It Girl. She was the beautiful, powerful woman with a mass of blonde hair to show off. “They’re not paying me to play a chairwoman,” the actress once said about her TV roles. “They’re paying me to show up looking glam, and, damn it, I’m gonna show up looking glam!”
She became known for being a “man-eater.” People magazine dubbed her “the ultimate two-faced man-eater prowling the 1980s’ prime-time soap operas.” That about sums it up for you. No, but really, let’s take a look at the colorful life of Morgan Fairchild.
How Old Is Morgan Fairchild?
Born Patsy Ann McClenny in Dallas on February 3, 1950, the actress is now 71 years old. Fairchild started out early, having appeared on WFAA’s Mr. Peppermint Show with Jerry Haynes. Then, in her teens, Fairchild appeared in a number of locally broadcast commercials on Dallas-Fort Worth TV stations.
Her first acting job was as Faye Dunaway’s double for Bonnie and Clyde (1967). The particular scenes she was needed for were ones where Bonnie is driving a car (Dunaway didn’t know how to drive a stick shift)—wondering why she changed her name to Morgan? She took it from the film Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966).
She Was Extremely Shy
Fairchild was an intelligent young girl who grew up in Texas and would impress her parents and teachers alike with constant high grades. She was often the teacher’s pet. Still, school didn’t interest her as much as acting did.
Well, the truth is – as ironic as it may sound –that she was extremely shy. In fifth grade, she had to read a book report aloud to her peers and got so nervous that she fainted. By the time she was nine, her mother had made a decision. She enrolled her daughter in drama lessons.
They Called Her “Fatsy Patsy”
Fairchild joined what was called an “expression class,” which was an introduction to drama classes for young children. From there, she moved on to more advanced classes, and by the time she was 10, she was acting in plays.
By 12, she was working in theater companies. The future star was a chubby kid with glasses back in those days, and kids gave her the unflattering nickname “Fatsy Patsy.” Apparently, she went on a diet that consisted of hard-boiled eggs and grapefruit, which led to her losing a lot of weight.
She Got Hitched at 17
The teen actress began doing dinner theater and stage productions while still living in Dallas. She competed to be a part of “Miss Teenage Dallas,” but lost the competition. Losing the weight must have really paid off because she started modeling for the Kim Dawson Agency while still in high school.
She graduated early, in 1967, and got married at 17. Fairchild tied the knot with Jack Calmes, a rock music promoter, inventor, and executive. Their marriage ended in 1973, and, believe it or not, she never remarried. Calmes was her one and only husband.
She Had a “Rotten” Marriage
“We had a rotten marriage,” she told The San Francisco Examiner a decade later. “Too young, no money, no children.” The actress never had any kids. “I may have wanted children,” she explained, but her career “went nowhere during the marriage.”
For her, that was a “come-down.” When their marriage ended, Fairchild was only 23. That’s when she decided to move to New York. She was determined to start a career in acting and refused to let anything get in her way. Soon enough, she was cast as Jennifer Pace on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow.
She Was Kidnapped in 1970
It was in NYC that Fairchild experienced her first terrifying experience. In 1970, she was abducted by a street pimp. The man reportedly threw her into a taxi. She played her cards right – remaining calm and talking her way out of it. In a 2014 interview, she spoke about the incident.
“I was young, I was naive, I was fresh from Texas, visiting my sister,” the actress recalled. She explained how she was walking the busy streets of the city, radiating a “new country girl aura” which really made her stand out. “All of a sudden, a big guy comes up next to me….”
She Feared for Her Life
The pimp and drug pusher started talking to her, but she just kept on walking. “Then another big guy comes up on the other side of me. Once he came up, I kind of knew I was in trouble.” The two men literally picked her up – by the elbow – and shoved her into a taxi.
When one of the men held a gun up to her head in the taxi, she started to fear for her life. “I was absolutely terrified. I had no idea how I could get away from these guys.”
She Joked Her Way Out of Her Kidnapping
“I saw my life flash in front of my face, my God, my life as I had known it was over.” Fairchild explained that she started making jokes as they were telling her the plans they had for her. Luckily, her tactic worked.
Finally, one man looked at the other and said, “You know what? She’s funny. Let’s let her go.” And just like that – she was free to go. Amazingly, this wasn’t her only time being kidnapped. The second incident is less publicized but still noteworthy.
She Was Kidnapped Again
The second kidnapping happened while Fairchild was on the verge of becoming famous with her role as Constance Weldon Carlyle on the soap opera Flamingo Road. When she appeared on an episode of Biography’s Celebrity Close Call, Fairchild revealed what went down.
She said that a man entered her hotel room and started looking around for money. He couldn’t find any, so he threatened to kill her. The man took her from the hotel but eventually let her go. She is clearly lucky, and these experiences have actually helped her.
The More Experiences, the More Relatable
Fairchild spoke about her kidnapping experiences, saying that they helped her achieve a lot in her career. “Acting is a very interesting experience. You always pull parts of it from yourself and the other parts of it, you try to build from the point of view of the character that you’re playing.”
Being a victim has helped her relate to more of her characters. And, boy, has she had a lot of characters to play over the years. She eventually became typecast as the “b***hy” blonde.
Jordan Roberts From Falcon Crest
Fairchild was at the height of her stardom in the mid-’80s when she was known as Jordan Roberts on the soap opera Falcon Crest. Playing the driven and beautiful lawyer, Fairchild was only cast for one season. But the role opened another door for the actress: comedy.
One of her first comedy moments came in a bit she never even participated in. Remember the Saturday Night Live character, Tommy Flanagan? He was a pathological liar played by Jon Lovitz, who always claimed to be married to Morgan Fairchild. “My wife, Morgan Fairchild, yeah, that’s the ticket.”
Becoming Chandler’s Mom
It didn’t take long for Fairchild to become an in-demand guest star on sitcoms. She played memorable cameos in some of the biggest shows of the era: Murphy Brown, Roseanne, Cybill, and Friends. Of course, the younger generation knows her as Chandler Bing’s mom.
Chandler’s mother, Nora Bing, was a fun role for Fairchild. She said she had “so much fun” on Friends. “They always gave us such great writing and such great lines and stuff, so I loved doing that,” she said.
She Was Ready to Start Playing Mom Roles
Fairchild revealed that when they first offered her the role on Friends, a lot of her actress friends told her, “Oh, you can’t do that. You’re too young to play that guy’s mother.” But she disagreed: “At some point, you’ve got to make that transition to playing the mother. So, I said, yes.”
One thing she enjoyed the most about the role was the script. She explained that it wasn’t just any other guest star role on a show, where they just give you “marginal stuff to do.”
The One With Morgan Fairchild
The writers on Friends “were always great for all of us guest stars,” she explained. “All the parents and all the dates: they always wrote great stuff for everybody.” Fairchild appeared on the show in 1995, 1998 and again in 2001. She would later see herself on Friends re-runs and say, “This is one I was in.”
She says she and the cast run into each other occasionally. Lisa Kudrow gets her hair done at the same salon that she goes to. She sometimes runs into Matthew Perry, too, at the Polo lounge having lunch.
She Was the First to Kiss One of the Friends
According to Fairchild, Perry is “always such a sweetheart” as he never fails to come over to say hello. Looking back on the Friends adventure, Fairchild is proud to have made her mark on the show. Nora Bing was the author of steamy romance novels and famously left her mark on Ross.
“I was the first person to kiss a Friend,” Fairchild bragged when asked about the role in an interview with Media Village. The show was still new at the time, and she was one of the first parents cast on the show.
She Got Them in the Top Five
Being the first person to kiss one of the Friends was “a lot of fun.’’ When she was offered to be in “The One with Mrs. Bing” episode, Friends still wasn’t a big hit. However, shortly after that episode ran, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc came up to her in a Blockbuster store.
Since her appearance was promoted heavily, they went up to her to tell her that she got them into the top five! “I felt I had a very vested interest in the show,” she shared.
Talking Backstage With Gary Oldman
She returned for “The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding,” where she reunites with her ex-husband Charles (Kathleen Turner). She recalled how Gary Oldman was also in the episode, but they didn’t use many of his scenes because there was so much going on in the plot.
Fairchild recalled how Oldman was doing a “Peter O’Toole” kind of character, and she told him, “You should do more comedy. They never cast me that way.” He replied, “I know the feeling. They never cast me the way I want to be, either.”
What Is She Up to Now?
In recent years, the actress has returned to her roots as a stage performer. She played Mrs. Robinson in a production of The Graduate. She also revisited her soap opera days with an appearance on Days of our Lives.
You might have also seen her in the Hallmark movie, Perfect on Paper. Fairchild has also moved into publishing, with a book called Super Looks, which includes tips on hair, makeup, and exercise. She’s also an activist who works on AIDS issues and environmental causes.
She Was Diagnosed With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
After being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1989, Fairchild became an advocate for the Solve ME/CFS Initiative. She has been living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
She has said that she has a mild case compared to others. For those who don’t know, it is a long-term illness with many symptoms, but the most common is extreme tiredness. Reportedly, there were CFS outbreaks in the 1980s and ‘90s. Fairchild’s illness isn’t talked about very much in the media, but she’s very open about it on Twitter.
She’s Known as the B-Word
Fairchild has made a name for herself in Hollywood and was lucky enough to have had a long career (that’s still going). However, like many other actors, her on-screen roles and off-screen personality become blurred.
Many people assume that she is just like the characters she plays on TV, which, at the end of the day, can only attest to how good of an actress she is. So, really, it can be seen as a compliment. “A b***h is what people think I am, in real life and on the screen,” she said in 1982.
The “Old Navy Babe”
“A ruthless, sex symbol who’s going to claw her way to the top no matter what” is the description she gave as to her typical role. But the actress has managed to stay relevant and has continued to get cast in shows and movies.
“Every five years, there’s a new generation that comes of age where they start paying attention and identifying, and you just have to be there on the cutting edge of whatever that is.” Fairchild said that a whole new generation of teenagers know her as the “Old Navy babe.”
She Was Asked Out by Warren Beatty
When Fairchild was younger and starring as Faye Dunaway’s stunt double, she was asked out on a date by Warren Beatty, the actor who played Clyde. “He reportedly has a reputation for saying and doing outrageous things to other women,” is what Fairchild told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journey in 1976.
Still, he was “always very nice to me,” she added. It’s not every day that a heartthrob actor asks out the main actress’ stunt double. It must have been flattering for Fairchild on her very first movie role.
She Studies Martial Arts
Fairchild has been a longtime student of the martial arts. Why? She was inspired by the opening fight scene of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. The way she described it back in 1975: “The fusion of body and mind to create such powerful yet graceful movements really knocked me out.”
When she started working in New York City, she looked around for a good martial arts school. Not a naturally athletic person, she had to start using muscles that she had never really used before.
Kung Fu in the City
She had studied dancing before, but martial arts was very different. She recalled how she “literally had to be carried out of the school” after her first lesson. Her legs were so sore. The classes eventually made her a much more confident person.
She gained confidence not only in acting, but in her daily life. Especially living in New York, which can really beat you down, kung fu has given Fairchild a new kind of self-esteem. “Problems don’t get the better of me and things people say don’t bother me.”
The “Rich B***h” or the Vixen?
During the ‘70s, Fairchild guest-starred in all kinds of shows, typically as the “rich b***h” or the vixen. She was on Switch, Happy Days, The Bob Newhart Show, Barnaby Jones, Dallas, Mork & Mindy and The Love Boat.
Fairchild also starred in TV movies like The Initiation of Sarah (1978), Murder in Music City (1979) and The Memory of Eva Ryker (1980). In 1982, she was front and center in the Hollywood film The Seduction, where she played a reporter who became the victim of a deadly stalker. The critics hated it.
The Poster Girl Business
By the ‘80s, Fairchild grew frustrated by the fact that she was being sold as a sex symbol via sexy posters and other imagery. “By that point, she had been acting for 20 years, and all this “poster girl business” was really getting on her nerves.
“I did do a poster, true,” she admitted. But she said they offered her a lot of money and the photos were already taken of her “in some old bathing suit or something.” When she was asked to do another poster, she declined.
A TV Movie Queen
She turned down another opportunity for another sexy poster because she wanted to move on to features. She admitted to taking some bad parts along the way, but she did what she needed to do: “a girl’s gotta pay the rent.”
“It’s better than hooking on the side,” she added dryly. She never did become an A-list film actress, but she’s been busy that’s for sure. She’s appeared in around 50 films between 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and 2018’s All Good Things. She’s also done 20 TV movies, between 1982’s Honeyboy and 2019’s A Date Before Christmas Eve.
She’s on a Keto Diet
Now in her 70s, the actress has no plans on letting her looks fade away. She told Closer Weekly that she worked hard to drop 30 pounds. She decided to go on a Keto Diet. She eats her “fake oatmeal” every morning and then salads throughout the day.
“It’s not a hard diet. It’s just very specific,” she explained. Apparently, she went to Keto after she found mold in her house. According to Fairchild, it caused her to blow up “like a balloon.”
The Mold Caused Her to Gain Weight
The mold caused her to have bronchial issues, which she was aware of. What she didn’t know at the time was that the mold was causing her to gain weight. She did her research and discovered that the two are indeed linked. It was an “ah-ha!” moment.
“Oh my God, unexplained weight gain!” she exclaimed to herself. But she still didn’t know how to fix the problem. She then “stumbled upon” a guy who was eating an “Ideal Protein” meal at the doctor’s office.
Her Boyfriend Was in a Nursing Home
She then got advice from a “mold specialist.” She started a new program and “started dropping weight like crazy.” She orders pre-made meals−which makes it a heck of a lot easier! because she doesn’t have to cook at all.
“I don’t have to cook for anybody, and I don’t have to worry about getting a ton of groceries because I don’t eat,” she revealed. She’s not married, but she does have a 70-year-old boyfriend named Mark Seiler. As it turns out, Seiler was in a nursing home during the lockdown.
They’ve Been Together 33 Years
Seiler, a businessman, is “such a wonderful guy” in Fairchild’s eyes. They may not be officially married, but they’ve been together for 33 years! The couple doesn’t plan on walking down the aisle any time soon.
While Seiler was in the nursing home, Fairchild was happy to be at home during the lockdown with her cats. To pass the time, she had a routine: “I get up every day, I do my housework, I do my chores and I just do my exercises.”
She’s a “Science Nerd”
According to David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine, Fairchild “knows more about terrorism than 99.9 percent of Americans – and most members of Congress.” The actress is keen on political activism, which she attributes to her childhood fascination with science.
“I’m a science nerd,” she revealed. She said that growing up, she always dreamed of becoming a doctor, or even a paleontologist. But after getting married at 17 and divorced six years later, she ended up going down a different path.
She’s a Go-To Source for AIDS Information
While she was playing the short-lived role on Flamingo Road (which aired on NBC from 1980 to 1982), she studied anthropology at UCLA during her free time. In 1985, when news broke that actor Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS, the actress grew motivated.
Fairchild was only studying epidemiology as a hobby, but soon enough, she became a go-to source of information. Appearing twice on ABC’s Nightline, she talked about AIDS and would even substitute for her friend, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, at AIDS events.
Her Activism Cost Her Work
All her activism reportedly caused her agent and friends to really worry for her. She ended up losing work because of it. She even lost some friends, too, because she would visit hospices. Fairchild revealed that people would stop inviting her to dinner because they thought that if she touched their plates, she would spread the virus.
It goes to show just how important it is to spread the correct information. Good thing she actively does just that! Even if she lost work and friends along the way, it’s worth it.
Her Memorable Roles
In the ‘90s, Fairchild – who constantly changes up her characters to avoid always being typecast – decided to break character and take on comedy. On the sitcom Roseanne, Fairchild played Sandra Bernhard’s lesbian lover, Marla. She was given a recurring role on the show.
She also guest-starred on Murphy Brown in 1989 as Julia St. Martin. She did such a good job in that role that it earned her an Emmy nomination. Two and a Half Men fans remember her from her 2007 guest spot as a “cougar” who propositions Charlie Harper with one steamy line: “What has multiple orgasms and hums?”
Her Mork and Mindy Days
Before she became known for soap operas, Fairchild had a recurring role on Mork & Mindy. She remembers giving the young Robin Williams some advice before his stand-up special. She developed a friendship with Williams, who was establishing himself as a stand-up comic.
During an interview with Chanel in the City, Fairchild recalled how she helped Williams improve his stand-up routine for his first-ever solo TV special in 1978 (Robin Williams: Off The Wall).
She Gave Him Backstage Advice
Williams had invited her to the first night, which ended up being something of a disaster. “He wasn’t getting any laughs. It wasn’t working.” So, she went backstage between the two shows, where she saw him in a frantic state.
“It’s not working. They don’t like me,” he was saying. Fairchild then told him that in her opinion, his quick-fire delivery was the problem. “You are speeding so fast because you are so fast, you’re not taking them with you,” she told him. After listening to her advice, the second show went a lot better.
Her Tweets Are Controversial
One of her Tweets reads: “Some of my followers don’t really expect the eclectic nature of my interests…” Another read: “I probably would have more followers if I Tweeted more red-carpet stuff. But I don’t care about red-carpet stuff!”
Fairchild has a deep interest in politics and policy, and her study of terrorism and world affairs comes from her love of social anthropology and psychology. Her interest in terrorism dates back to the ‘70s, when she became fascinated with why people in terrorist organizations find the use of violence attractive.
She Likes Politics More Than Acting
Recently, Fairchild has been keeping in touch with U.S. Senators and “some Congresspeople.” When Fairchild isn’t networking with lawmakers and journalists, she’s putting herself in harm’s way in regions of war and conflict.
“I have much more fun doing this than movies!” she shared. In the ‘90s, she spent time in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war and was documented in a 1995 article for Spy magazine. At the time, she was playing the part of a nun in the drama Gospa (with Martin Sheen and Michael York).