Fatal Fears

updated 12/06/1999 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/06/1999 AT 01:00 AM EST

Few fans knew Mary Kay Bergman by sight, but they loved the characters she brought to life from behind the scenes. Bergman, 38, performed voice-overs in such family fare as Disney's Beauty and the Beast (she was Bimbette). But she was best known for her work in the edgy cult Comedy Central cable hit South Park, in which she spoke the parts of Ms. Crabtree and several others. "She was just a dear," says Libby Westby, the agent who found Bergman her first role 12 years ago. "One of the nicest people, always positive, always a kind word."

But unknown even to her closest friends, Bergman was in pain. "We believe she suffered from a progressive phobic disorder," says her husband of nine years, screenwriter Dino Andrade, 36. "She was haunted by irrational fears that steadily grew." Until Nov. 11. That morning, she did a radio show celebrating Disneyland's 45th anniversary. That evening, she put a shotgun to her head. Andrade says he found the body and two notes—one to him, the second to their friend, writer John Bell—"saying she could not handle the fear anymore."

An only child growing up in Los Angeles, Bergman idolized her neighbor Adriana Caselotti, the original voice of Snow White. Years later, her own ability as a mimic led to her being named Caselotti's successor. She went on to roles in many major animated works, including this year's South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Andrade regrets Bergman told no one of her distress. "There was no getting her for help," he says, noting she seemed unhappy, but not alarmingly so, in recent weeks. "We did not see this coming."

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