Bearse studied acting at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse under instructor Sanford Meisner. Her initial success came with the role of Amanda Cousins on the soap opera All My Children from 1982 to 1983. During and after that time, she appeared in a string of independent and B-movies, including Protocol (1984), Fright Night and Fraternity Vacation (both 1985). Her big break came in 1987 when she was cast as Marcy Rhoades (later Marcy D'Arcy) on the hit Fox TV sitcom Married. . . with Children. She played the role until the show ended in 1997. In the mid-1990s, Bearse also appeared in the films The Doom Generation and Here Come the Munsters.