In the early 1990s, Murphy Brown was one of the most popular sitcoms on the air. The show lasted 10 seasons on CBS and followed the beautiful Candice Bergen as Murphy, a cantankerous and take-no-prisoners reporter.
The series began as Murphy returned to her job at the FYI newsmagazine after hitting rock bottom and going to rehab. Her co-workers on the show were daredevil reporter Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto), stiff anchorman Jim Dial (Charles Kimbrough), ever-perky correspondent Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), and geeky Executive Producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud). Phil (Pat Corley) ran the group’s favorite local watering-hole and Eldin Bernecky (Robert Pastorelli) was perennially employed by constantly painting the interior of Murphy’s house and offering philosophical advice.
The show was very topical and made no bones about stirring current politics into the comedy mix, especially after Vice President Dan Quale made a crack about how terrible it was that Murphy was going to become an unwed mother. Eventually, the show dropped in the ratings and was cancelled. The last episode aired on May 18, 1998 with Murphy discovering that, after a tough battle with breast cancer, she was cancer free.
Today, all of the castmembers are all still quite busy in the business, with the exception of Corley and Pastorelli.
Corley’s Phil died on the show and his bar was taken over by his son. Surprisingly, Phil popped up in the series finale and told Murphy that he’d actually been in the witness protection program because of some secret Washington information he’d overheard. Before he could say much more, he was whisked away again.
Corely had a number of supporting roles in TV and movies prior to being on Murphy Brown and worked a handful of times after he left, including a few cartoon voice-over projects. He died on September 11, 2006 of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 76. His wife Iris had passed away in 2005.
Pastorelli’s Eldin finished painting Murphy’s house in 1994 and went traveling abroad. He returned for the final episode and proposed to Murphy because he thought she needed someone to take care of her. Murphy turned him down but suggested that he stick around because the house needed some “touching up.”
After he left the sitcom as a regular, Pastorelli worked quite a bit in episodic television and also played conman Luther Billis in the TV-movie version of the South Pacific musical. Unfortunately, Pastorelli died from an accidental heroin overdose at his home in Hollywood on March 8, 2004. The talented performer was only 49.
Recently, the rest of the Murphy Brown gang reunited on NBC’s Today Show. It’s easy to see that their on-screen chemistry came from their camaraderie behind-the-scenes. Take a look…