Morgan Fairchild was born Patsy Ann McClenny on February 3, 1950, in Dallas, Texas. She began acting at the age of 10, starting with children's plays and later dinner theater and stock productions in her hometown.
She eventually chose Morgan as her stage name, taken from the title character of the 1966 film, Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment. In 1967, she was Faye Dunaway's stand-in for Bonnie and Clyde, and made her film acting debut in 1970's A Bullet for Pretty Boy.
In 1973, Fairchild moved to New York City and landed the role of Jennifer Pace on the CBS daytime soap Search for Tomorrow six weeks after her arrival. During that time she also made guest appearances on series such as Kojak, Police Woman and Happy Days.
She left Search for Tomorrow in 1977, and relocated to Los Angeles, where she soon found work on the ABC made-for-TV The Initiation of Sarah (1978). She was next cast as the original Jenna Wade on CBS's popular nighttime soap Dallas (a role later given to Priscilla Presley), continued making guest appearances on series like Mork & Mindy, and co-starred in made-for-TV movies like The Concrete Cowboys and Murder in Music City (both in 1979).
In late 1980, Fairchild became a nighttime soap diva, playing spoiled adopted daughter Constance Weldon Semple Carlyle on NBC's Flamingo Road. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Drama in 1982, the same year she co-starred in the feature The Seduction. More made-for-TV movie work included parts in Hotel (1983), Time Bomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood (both in '84), where she appeared as Lady Marian.
In 1984, the actress returned to series television, starring as Racine, the powerful head of a modeling agency in the short-lived ABC series, Paper Dolls. Fairchild appeared on Saturday Night Live in February 1985, and made a cameo in Pee-wee's Big Adventure later that year.
She portrayed schizophrenic attorney Jordan Roberts in another nighttime soap, Falcon Crest, during the CBS drama's 1985-'86 season. TV work kept her busy with roles in the ABC miniseries North & South (1985) and its sequel North & South II (1986), and made-for-TV films like Red-Headed Stranger (1986) and The Haunting of Sarah Hardy (1989).
In 1990, Fairchild received an Emmy nomination for her guest appearance in an episode of Murphy Brown, in which she played an actress researching Murphy for a role. More TV movie parts followed, including 1990's Menu for Murder and How to Murder a Millionaire, and 1991's Even Angels Fall and Writer's Block.
She played Sandra Bernhard's lesbian lover Marla in three episodes of the hit series Roseanne in 1992, and made her first of several appearances as Chandler's sexy mom, Nora Tyler Bing, in a January 1995 episode of Friends. That same month, she debuted another recurring TV role, that of Andrea Thorpe on the sitcom Cybill.
She returned to regular series work portraying Sydney Chase, one of the world's richest women, on ABC's daytime drama The City (1995-'96). Some of Fairchild's big-screen appearances during the '90s include 1994's Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (as herself), 1995's Gospa and Venus Rising, as well as Bimbo Movie Bash (1997), Shattered Illusions (1998) and Nice Guys Sleep Alone (1999).
Onstage, Fairchild co-starred in the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Crimes of the Heart in Los Angeles, in November 1999. In 2000, she starred in another comedic play, High Infidelity, in New York City.
Fairchild guested on Dharma & Greg and three more times on Friends in 2001, and did the TV circuit with guest roles on Providence (2002), Roswell (2002), Just Shoot Me (2003), and That '70s Show (2004).
While television appearances tend to dominate her resume, recent big-screen work includes the prison film Unshackled (2000), Jungle Juice (2001), co-starring Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner, Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002), Arizona Summer (2003), and Knuckle Sandwich (2004).