Mary Kay Bergman

The voice of Wendy Testaburger, Mayor McDaniels and Ms. Crabtree dies at 38.

Topics: South Park,

On Nov. 11, the world lost a talented performer. Although she starred in two of the summer’s most anticipated blockbusters, most people wouldn’t recognize the 38-year-old actress’s face. That’s because Mary Kay Bergman primarily did voice-over work, assuming the identities of over 100 animated and other characters. Bergman died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

While she can be heard in “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” she’s perhaps best known as the voice of all the female characters on Comedy Central’s animated series “South Park.” Under the name Shannen Cassidy, Bergman gave life to Stan’s love interest Wendy Testaburger, the incompetent Mayor McDaniels, the screeching bus driver Ms. Crabtree and others. Comedy Central sent out a special issue of its “Delete Me First” e-mail list mourning her death. While “‘South Park’ creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are shocked and deeply saddened,” the message said, “South Park will continue production as scheduled.”

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Bergman also gave life to Mrs. Butterworth, voiced some of the faces in the hell scene in “What Dreams May Come” and did voices for both “Mulan” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” She also performed vocals on a Weird Al Yankovic album and recorded Snow White’s voice for the soundtrack of the ride at Walt Disney World.

In an interview early this year, Bergman said that voice-over work “keeps you sharp. You don’t ever just sit back and rest on your laurels. You’re always striving to find something new, something different.” Listening to her work, that difference is obvious.

Andy Dehnart is a writer living in Chicago.

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