The queen of daytime soap and prime time drama has gone from child actress to committed charity campaigner and along the way she’s shown a deft sense of comic timing.
Patsy Ann McClenny, as Fairchild was born, began performing on stage at the age of 12. As a teenager, she doubled for Faye Dunaway, the lead in the acclaimed film 'Bonnie and Clyde' (1966), co-starring Warren Beatty. After a brief marriage, she took the name Morgan Fairchild as her professional name. In 1973, Fairchild landed the role of the murderous ingénue Jennifer Pace on the long-running daytime drama 'Search for Tomorrow'. She left the programme in 1977 and relocated to Los Angeles.
Fairchild became well known during the 1980s for her portrayal of various glamorous, temperamental temptresses in such prime time melodramas as 'Dallas' (she appeared in one episode in 1979 as Jenna Wade, a character who would later be made famous by Priscilla Presley), 'Flamingo Road' (1981-1982), and 'Falcon Crest' (1985 to 1986). She also appeared in a number of TV movies, including 'The Initiation of Sarah' (1979), 'The Dream Merchants' (1980), 'Hotel' (1982), 'Street of Dreams' (1988), 'The Haunting of Sarah Hardy' (1989), 'How to Murder a Millionaire' (1990), 'Dead Man’s Island' (1996), and 'Into the Arms of Danger' (1997). From 1995 to 1996, she starred as a media mogul in the short-lived daytime drama ‘The City’. On the big screen, Fairchild appeared in such films as 'Pee Wee’s Big Adventure' (1985), 'Campus Man' (1987), and 'Venus Rising' (1995).
In the 1990s, Fairchild brought her famously sultry charm to a number of tongue-in-cheek comic performances, including an Emmy-nominated guest turn on 'Murphy Brown' in 1989 and memorable appearances on such sitcoms as 'Roseanne' (1992), 'Cybill' (1995), and 'Friends' (1998) in which she played Chandler Bing's mother, Nora. Fairchild also starred in a series of much-talked-about commercials for Old Navy clothing, and had a cameo in the comedy 'Holy Man' (1998), starring Eddie Murphy.
In addition to her work for television, Fairchild has starred in various stage plays, including a recent appearance as Mrs Robinson in a stage adaptation of the 60s cult classic, ‘The Graduate’. Known for her glamorous image and svelte physique, Fairchild admitted in a recent interview that she has to watch what she eats and works out regularly.
She suggested that since going through the menopause she finds it harder to keep her weight in check. She said: “It is a day-to-day battle. I say it's sort of carpe diem, seize the moment. I've got a few minutes, why don't I walk around the block... just to keep the blood moving."
Fairchild's most recent film has seen the actress playing the part of a commentator at a dog show, for the comedy ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2’. The film was released straight to DVD and Blu Ray by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
As well as her acting and charity work, Fairchild is strongly affiliated with the Screen Actors Guild and has been a board member for the past three years. The guild was established in 1933 to prevent the exploitation of actors in Hollywood who at the time were being forced to sign long contracts.
Fairchild lives in Los Angeles with her long-time companion, the film executive Mark Seiler. Active in pro-choice and environmental groups, she also serves on the board of Americans for AIDS Research (amFAR) and AIDS Project Los Angeles.