PONDER THIS, MR. VICE PRESIDENT: THE tiny actress who played Murphy Brown’s baby has not only a father—but two mothers. Meet Danica Fascella, of Orange County, Calif., who, along with her fraternal twin, Cynthia, owes her young life to in vitro fertilization using a donor womb. Her mother, Alice Fascella, 38, a nurse, and father, Brian, 34, a contractor, had been trying to conceive since 1981. After five failed IVFs, they asked Alice’s married cousin Cynthia Miller, 35, who has two children of her own, to act as a surrogate and carry Fascella’s fertilized eggs to term. The happy result was the twins, who weighed about 5 lbs. each when they were born on Feb. 7. (Each had gained 3 lbs. prior to shooting.).
The $125 that dainty Danica earned for her splashy series debut on May 18 hardly makes a dent in the $30,000 IVK costs, which also included reimbursing Miller for missed work time. But money wasn’t a factor in the decision to audition. “We did it for the fun of it,” says Alice. “If it went somewhere, fine. But I never thought it would take off like this.” During taping, three sets of twins were at the ready, thanks to child labor laws and most babies’ mercurial dispositions, and the producers were set to shoot all day. But Danica, the first baby chosen, nailed the postpartum scene. Here she charismatically cuddled up to her new mom in bed while Murphy cooed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
“They liked Danica because she moved her arms and squealed,” says her proud mother, adding, “It’s just been a trip. Danica has been on the news constantly. She has gotten more publicity than Johnny Carson.” And just like Johnny, her showbiz career now may be over. “Murphy had a boy,” notes Alice, “so they’re not going to be calling us again.”