Some people just seem destined to have their eventual careers. If you have parents who were entertainers, including a mother who went from being a performer to being an animator—doing the grunt work of the industry, true, but still—and literally grew up around the corner from the original voice of Snow White, Adriana Caselotti, it’s not exactly shocking when you have an extremely successful career as a voice actor. Obviously, it’s not guaranteed, but it’s the sort of biography that makes people nod and say, “Well, of course.”
Mary Kay Bergman was one of the voices of Millennial childhood. Her career didn’t really take off until the ‘90s; before that, she’d done the standard Starving Actor Career. She worked as a receptionist for the Boy Scouts of America. She did commercials part time and worked at Robinson’s Department Store (o staple of my childhood), quitting her job when they wouldn’t give her a day off for what became her big break, subbing for Caselotti. Unfortunately, it caused a lot of fuss that Disney was replacing her while she was still alive, and Bergman stepped back to a certain extent.
But beyond Snow White, she voiced any number of other characters. A lot of them were for Disney; she voiced the “Bimbettes” of Beauty and the Beast, not to mention Quasimodo’s mother and a lot of Additional Voices. But then she was Daphne Blake. Gwen Stacy on the ‘90s Spider-Man cartoon. The original Timmy Turner. Practically all the female voices on South Park; two episodes are dedicated to her. She was even Mrs. Butterworth for many years.
She was, in the end, very difficult to replace, not least because Grey DeLisle didn’t want to audition for her roles. Becoming Daphne was a stressful process, because she’d been one of Bergman’s students. I also assume it was very difficult to replace Bergman in the field of “voice matching.” Anyone who could fill in for both Jodie Foster and Alfre Woodard, Emma Thompson and Jennifer Tilly, is extremely valuable to the voiceover industry. It turns out not everyone has a soundalike brother the way Tom Hanks does.
Bergman arguably died because of The Stigma. The mentally ill people in your life know about this. It’s the shame mentally ill people are given for being mentally ill. Bergman did not seek treatment, did not ask for help. Now, in part, this is likely because your brain lies to you when you’re mentally ill; Bergman apparently was coming to believe that her career would end because everyone would realize that she was no good. However, there was likely also the problem that she was afraid of being seen to have something wrong with her. She apparently had herbal mental health treatments in her possession when she died; if she’d had real ones, perhaps she would be alive today.