Morgan Fairchild started acting in the 1970s and hasn’t stopped since! She burst onto the screen as Jennifer in the soap opera Search for Tomorrow before moving to the primetime soap Dallas in which she played Jenna Wade. Surprisingly, her guest roles were equally impressive, earning her award nominations and acclaim. In all, Fairchild has appeared in over 150 television and film roles.
Throughout her career, she decided to use her platform for activism. Today, Morgan Fairchild continues to tirelessly champion the causes most important to her.
Patsy Ann McClenny
Fairchild was born Patsy Ann McClenny on February 3, 1950, in Dallas, Texas. Her mother was a school teacher, but her parents seemed to have bigger aspirations for Fairchild and her younger sister Cathryn. When Fairchild failed to give a book report in class, her mother decided acting lessons would help her overcome her stage fright. At age ten, she began performing in children’s plays.
After drama lessons and theater experience, she appeared on the television production Mr. Peppermint Show hosted by Jerry Haynes. As a teenager, Fairchild was an audience member of the bandstand show Sump’n Else after auditioning three times to become a member of the show’s dance group unsuccessfully. Fairchild made her first true acting debut as a double for Faye Dunaway in the film Bonnie and Clyde at seventeen. She received the role not only for her looks but also because she could drive a stick shift during the getaway scenes.
In addition to T.V. parts, Fairchild also acted in many commercials broadcast to her local Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In the early 1970’s, Patsy was traded in for a new stage name — Morgan, allegedly from the film Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment. Armed with a fresh title, Fairchild moved to New York City to pursue acting in earnest.
Her first major role was Jennifer Pace in the daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Fairchild would play Jennifer from 1973 to 1977. In 1978, she won the part of Jenna Wade in the nighttime soap opera Dallas, which was incredibly popular. The role required her to move to Los Angeles, California. During this time, Fairchild continued to pick up guest roles in primetime television series, such as Happy Days, The Bob Newhart Show, and Mork and Mindy. Within the same year, she graduated from television series to television film thanks to her part in The Initiation of Sarah.
The role often cited as launching Fairchild into stardom came in 1980. She was awarded the part of Constance Carlyle in Flamingo Road. Though the initial hype for the soap opera died after just two seasons, Fairchild’s portrayal of the elegant and wealthy Constance cemented her position in the acting world. So much so, that Fairchild was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her work in Flamingo Road.
The beautiful yet ambitious woman was a constant theme in her career. She epitomized this persona in several television series, like The Love Boat and Magnum, P.I., as well as live theater and theatrical films, such as The Seduction. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Fairchild was a regular soap opera actor, starring in Paper Dolls and Falcon Crest; and frequently appeared in advertising campaigns as her glamorous vixen persona. Eventually, Fairchild’s characterization of an over-the-top ambitious beauty became so popular that she played herself in films like Naked Gun 33 1/3.
From 1995 to 2001, Fairchild embodied a different role. She played the “mom” character, Nora Tyler Bing, on the popular television series Friends. Fairchild only appeared in five episodes from 1995 to 2001, but the part impacted her.
At forty-five, she felt she had reached the age to begin playing “mom roles,” and agreed to be Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) mother figure even though her real-life friends told her she was much too young. However, Fairchild felt it was time, so she said “yes.” Despite her more matronly role, Fairchild never failed to be an iconic bombshell.
After Friends, Fairchild continued racking up guest roles and accumulating award nominations. To this day, she is still gracing screens. Her latest role was in General Hospital as Haven de Havilland in 2022.
What is Morgan Fairchild Doing Now?
Morgan Fairchild has been busy with her acting career, starring in a comedy play titled “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at The New Theatre from February 2nd to April 10th, 2023.
The play, a smash hit in Paris and London, involves a series of hilarious confusions and improvisations. Fairchild also stars in a romantic comedy feature titled “Our Almost Completely True Story,” written by Mariette Hartley and Jerry Sroka. This film tells their almost completely true love story, featuring other stars like Bernie Koppell, Tess Harper, and John Rubinstein. In personal news, Fairchild underwent two secret hip replacements,
Fairchild continues to act in movies and television in various small parts. But she is also passionate about causes and interests. She has long been a prominent Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) member, holding a board position and serving on committees. Fairchild also routinely fundraises and advocates for causes such as environmental issues, children’s charities, and the Entertainment Industry AIDS Task Force, of which she is a member.
The brainy beauty manages to maintain a personal life despite her incredible career. From 1967 to 1973, she was married to business executive Jack Calmes. In 1980, she began a relationship with Mark Seiler, CEO, entrepreneur, and movie producer. She and Seiler are long-term partners and do not share any children.