The TV show “Friends” was “the same thing. You want to place yourself where you are seen with an audience that you want to cultivate,” she said. “On 'Friends' [her character] was the vixen mom when all [Chandler Bing] wants was Donna Reed” for a mother.
Asked by Fairman why she has often been typecast as a vixen, Morgan replied, “I always thought it was my nose. I have a pointy nose, and it makes everybody think you are a bitch. They don't even give you a chance.
“I honestly thought I was going to play ingenues my whole life. Suddenly, I get to New York and get on the soaps and it's instant bitchdom,” she said. “It's more fun to play the bad guy because you are always the catalyst. I take a lot of one dimensional bad girl parts and make them fun.”
Perhaps Morgan's most shocking role was a small part as a lesbian in the 1980s sitcom “Roseanne.”
Classic TV Beauties 1980s Countdown
MORGAN FAIRCHILD as Constance Weldon Carlyle in "Flamingo Road" and Jordan Roberts in "Falcon Crest"
Morgan's role as Constance was a small oeuvre of her body of work in playing bitchy blonde babes. Much like our No. 1 selection, Heather Locklear, Morgan's spot in the 1980s Classic TV Beauties Countdown is a culmination of playing glamorous, sophisticated ladies.
Morgan earns a Lifetime Achievement Award for vamping, starting as a daytime soap actress in the early 1970s. Whether she played Chandler Bing's mom on “Friends,” Sandra Bernhardt's girlfriend on “Roseanne,” or any other number of flirtatious vixens, Morgan built her reputation as a blonde bombshell sex symbol.
Morgan's appeal went beyond the popular soaps she starred in – “Search For Tomorrow,” “Flamingo Road” and “Falcon Crest” – that lay the foundation of her acting career. Later in her career young fans fell for her in her campy Old Navy commercials in the 1990s.
In more recent times she proved that she still had sex appeal as a 50-something actress.
Appearing in the touring company of “The Graduate,” the 55-year-old Morgan bared all in one scene. Although the lighting was set dim to shadow her nude body, she had no reservations about disrobing for the stage.
She told interviewers that her contract required her to appear naked in that one scene, yet she admitted that she was game to show off her body. “I can't believe anyone would want to see me naked at this age...the fact that anybody would actually pay money to get a glimpse of my naked body is thrilling.”
Staying versatile was Morgan's key to maintaining her career.
“I have this theory that to stay in this business you have to reintroduce yourself to a new audience every five years,” she told interviewer Michael Fairman. “So when they offered me the Old Navy gig, I thought that was great.”
“I knew it was groundbreaking because I was the first lipstick lesbian on a sitcom,” she said. “Sandra talks about her new girlfriend through the whole show and the last person anybody was going to expect to walk through that door was Morgan Fairchild. It was fun and you like to catch people off guard.”
Born in Dallas as Patsy Ann McClenny, Morgan described herself to The Washington Post as “a little fat pudgy kid with big thick glasses, and I was quiet and never said a word...Teachers loved me, straight A student.”
Kids teased her, calling her Fatsy Patsy. To help break her out of her shell, her mom insisted she taking acting lessons after she became too petrified to give a fifth grade oral book report.
She remade herself by trading the cat-eye glasses for contact lenses and shedding the extra weight by dieting on hard-boiled eggs and grapefruit.
“It was the first step in creating Morgan Fairchild,” she said. “You have to be willing to think of yourself differently, if you're going to make a transition.”
“Search” launched her career, which consisted mainly of TV work. Her most memorable film role was playing the victim of a stalker in “The Seduction.” Morgan appeared nude in several scenes and the movie got terrible notices. A New York Times reviewer wrote, “Miss Fairchild spends most of the movie in water – swimming in her pool, in her whirlpool bath, in the health-club steam room or under a shower...she has a real talent for gracefully soaping her long, fine legs.”
“I would have loved to do more film work,” Morgan said to www.metroweekly.com. “But I'm a very practical person, I work where they offer me work. I just haven't gotten offered as many movies as I would like.”
And on getting typecast as the blonde bombshell, she said, “I got famous doing glamour parts. You get stereotyped with it, and they won't let you come in and read something that has your hair in a bun and no makeup and big, thick glasses because they don't see you as an actor anymore, they see you as a personality. They see you as an image.”
Morgan married young and acted in dinner theater and stock productions in the Dallas area. She got a divorce and changed her name to Morgan Fairchild – after the 1966 British film “Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment.” Within three weeks after moving to New York she landed the role of Jenna in “Search for Tomorrow.”
“I was grateful for the job,” she said in an interview with her hometown newspaper, The Dallas Morning News. “I had done theater, commercials and some low-budget films, but I had a family to support, and when I went to an audition, it was because I needed the job.
“I originally auditioned for a three-day part. I didn't get it but they liked me and put me in as Jennifer and built up the role when they saw I could handle it. Susan Lucci and I became the first great bitch goddesses of TV.”