Beverly Hills, California, 9 May 1946; daughter of Edgar Bergen (a
ventriloquist) and Frances Bergen (a fashion model).
Attended University of Pennsylvania, 1963–65.
Married Louis Malle (a filmmaker), 27 September 1980 (died 1995);
Model, 1960s; free-lance photographer and writer, late 1960s; actress,
from 1966; commentator on
, NBC-TV, 1975; appeared in dozens of television programs including
Arthur the King
Murder by Reason of Insanity
, 1987, and
Emmy Awards, outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, Academy of
Television Arts and Sciences, 1988, 1989, and 1992, Golden Globe Awards,
best actress in a comedy series, 1988 and 1992, and several other
television awards, for
PMK, 955 S. Carillo Drive, #200, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Films as Actress:
Unusual Occupations (Brandt) (as herself [uncredited infant role])
The Group (Lumet) (as Lakey Eastlake); The Sand Pebbles (Wise) (as Shirley Eckert)
The Day the Fish Came Out (Cacoyannis) (as Electra); Live for Life ( Vivre pour Vivre ) (Lelouch) (as Candice); Flash O2 (short) (Martialay) (as herself)
The Magus (Green) (as Lily/Julie)
The Adventurers (Gilbert) (as Sue Ann Daley); Getting Straight (Rush) (as Jan); Soldier Blue (Nelson) (as Cresta Marybelle Lee)
The Hunting Party (Medford) (as Melissa Ruger); Carnal Knowledge (Nichols) (as Susan); T. R. Baskin ( Date with a Lonely Girl ) (Ross) (title role)
11 Harrowhouse ( Anything for Love ) (Avakian) (as Maren)
Bite the Bullet (Brooks) (as Miss Jones); The Wind and the Lion (Milius) (as Eden Pedecaris)
The Domino Principle ( The Domino Killings ) (Kramer) (as Ellie Tucker)
The End of the World in Our Usual Bed in a Night Full of Rain ( La fine del mundo in una notte piena di pioggia )(Wertmuller) (as Lizzy); Oliver's Story (Korty) (as Marcie Bonwit)
Starting Over (Pakula) (as Jessica Potter)
Rich and Famous (Cukor) (as Merry Noel Blake)
Gandhi (Attenborough) (as Margaret Bourke-White)
2010 ( 2010: The Year We Make Contact ) (Hyams) (as voice of SAL 9000)
Stick (Reynolds) (as Kyle McLaren); Arthur the King ( Merlin and the Sword ) (Donner—for TV) (as Morgan Le Fey); Murder: By Reason of Insanity ( also known as My Sweet Victim ) (Page—for TV) (as Ewa Berwid); Hollywood Wives (Day—mini, for TV) (as Elaine Conti)
Mayflower Madam (Antonio—for TV) (as Sydney Biddle Barrows)
Who Is Henry Jaglom? (doc) (Rubin and Workman) (as herself)
Mary and Tim (Jordan—for TV) (as Mary Horton) (+ co-exec pr); Belly Talkers (doc) (Luckow) (interviewee)
By BERGEN: books—
Knock Wood (autobiography), New York, 1984.
By BERGEN: articles—
Sheff, David, "Playboy Interview: Candice Bergen," in Playboy (Chicago), December 1989.
On BERGEN: books—
Gruen, John, Close Up , New York, 1968.
On BERGEN: articles—
Zehme, Bill, "Hard Candy," in Rolling Stone (New York), 26 January 1989.
Orth, Maureen, "Candice Bergen Plays at Hollywood," in Vanity Fair (New York), February 1989.
Rosenblatt, Roger, "Candy Can," in Vanity Fair (New York), December 1992.
* * *
As the child of the legendary ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, Candice Bergen spent much of her childhood in the shadow of her father's more famous offspring—his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. In adulthood, however, she quickly came into her own, first as a model, then as one of Hollywood's most beautiful and respected film and television actresses.
After attending the University of Pennsylvania and modeling on the side, 20-year-old Candice Bergen made her screen debut in Sidney Lumet's The Group (1966), playing the then shocking role of a beautiful lesbian in the Mary McCarthy story of a group of friends from a Vassar-like school. Following her successful debut, Hollywood was quick to cast the striking blond-haired beauty opposite top star Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles , a film nominated for eight Academy Awards. But most of the acting acclaim went to McQueen, who turned in what many felt was his best performance. To Hollywood, Bergen was still mostly just a very pretty face.
Nonetheless, Bergen continued to work steadily throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, establishing herself as a competent actress, who also happened to be very easy on the eyes, in a series of less-than-memorable films, including The Day the Fish Came Out , The Magus , The Adventurers , Getting Straight , and Soldier Blue. In 1971, Bergen joined an all-star cast including Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Rita Moreno, Carol Kane, and Ann-Margret in Mike Nichol's Carnal Knowledge (1971). The story of two men's lives and sexual journeys featured Bergen as Garfunkel's rather proper and somewhat dull wife. In a film that could have been a breakthrough for Bergen, the acting honors once again went to someone else—Ann-Margret, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Bergen continued to soldier on in both leading and supporting roles in films as diverse as Bite the Bullet , The Wind and the Lion , and The Domino Principle. She even took over for Ali McGraw opposite Ryan O'Neal in the saccharine Oliver's Story. But though Bergen was regarded as a competent and always beautiful Hollywood star, it was not until she was cast opposite Burt Reynolds in Starting Over (1979) that she proved her mettle as an actress. As Jessica Potter, Bergen showed off her ability to play comedy, particularly in a scene in which she tries to seduce her ex-husband (Reynolds) wearing a see-through blouse and singing very badly. Bergen's willingness to make fun of herself and her own beauty signaled new possibilities for the 33-year-old actress. Hollywood thought so, too, and nominated Bergen for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Bergen followed up Starting Over with a starring role opposite another screen beauty, Jacqueline Bissett, in the fluffy George Cukor film, Rich and Famous. And, in a part in which film mimicked life, Bergen played photographer Margaret Bourke-White (Bergen is an avid amateur photographer) in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. In 1980, Bergen married director Louis Malle, and for much of the decade she devoted herself to their marriage and their daughter. But in 1988, the 42-year-old actress returned to acting, playing the title role in the television sitcom, Murphy Brown. As the outspoken and often controversial investigative reporter, Bergen was finally able to return to the comedic form she displayed in Starting Over , and the sitcom became an 11-season hit as well a pop culture phenomenon.
Bergen and Brown were virtually synonymous for more than a decade, and though the actress did not make a film in the 1990s, she became more famous than ever—and, as a multiple Emmy Award winner, much more highly acclaimed. In 2000, Bergen resurfaced on the small screen to host a TV talk show. But one can only wonder if she will ever bring the talent she honed for eleven seasons on the small screen back to the medium in which she got her start.