Early life[edit | edit source]
Bergen was born in Beverly Hills, California. Her mother, Frances Bergen (née Westerman), was a Powers model who was known professionally as Frances Westcott. Her father, Edgar Bergen, was a famous ventriloquist, comedian, and actor. Her paternal grandparents were Swedish-born immigrants who anglicized their surname, which was originally Berggren ("mountain branch"). As a child, Candice was irritated at being described as "Charlie McCarthy's little sister" (referring to her father's star dummy).
She began appearing on her father's radio program at a young age, and in 1958, at age 11, with her father on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life, as Candy Bergen. She said that when she grew up, she wanted to design clothes. She later attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she was elected both Homecoming Queen and Miss University, but, as Bergen later acknowledged, she failed to take her education seriously and after failing two courses in art and opera, she was asked to leave at the end of her sophomore year. She ultimately received an honorary doctorate from Penn in May 1992.
She worked as a fashion model before she took up acting, featured on the covers of Vogue.
Career[edit | edit source]
Early years[edit | edit source]
In 1966, Bergen made her screen debut playing a university student in The Group, which delicately touched on the then-forbidden subject of lesbianism. The same year, she played the role of Shirley Eckert, an assistant school teacher in The Sand Pebbles (1966) with Steve McQueen. The movie was nominated for several Academy Awards. In 1968 she played the leading female role in The Magus, a British mystery film also starring Michael Caine and Anthony Quinn, that was almost universally ridiculed on its release. She was featured in a 1970 political satire, The Adventurers, playing a frustrated socialite.
Bergen starred in the highly controversial Western Soldier Blue (1970), a worldwide hit but a failure in its homeland, perhaps because of its unflattering portrayal of the U.S. Cavalry. The film's European success led to Bergen's being voted by British exhibitors as the seventh-most popular star at the British box office in 1971. She had roles in two other Western films including The Hunting Party (1971) and Bite the Bullet (1975), both of which starred Gene Hackman.
Bergen appeared in Mike Nichols' provocative Carnal Knowledge (1971) and the Burt Reynolds romantic comedy Starting Over (1979), for which she received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actress.
In 1975 she starred with Sean Connery in The Wind and the Lion, as a strong-willed American widow kidnapped in the Moroccan desert. She was the love interest of Ryan O'Neal in the Love Story sequel, Oliver's Story (1979), and portrayed a best-selling author in Rich and Famous (1981) with Jacqueline Bisset. In 1982, Bergen appeared in the Oscar-winning film Gandhi in which she portrayed documentary photographer Margaret Bourke-White. Bergen was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Turning to television, Bergen appeared in the 1985 miniseries Hollywood Wives. In addition to acting, Bergen has written articles, a play, and a memoir, Knock Wood (1984). She has also studied photography and worked as a photojournalist.
Murphy Brown[edit | edit source]
In 1988, she took the lead role in the sitcom Murphy Brown, in which she played a tough television reporter. The series provided her with the opportunity to show her little-seen comic talent, and although primarily a conventional sit-com, the show did tackle important issues. Murphy Brown, a recovering alcoholic, became a single mother and later battled breast cancer. In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle criticized prime-time TV for showing the Murphy Brown character "mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."
Quayle's disparaging remarks were subsequently written into the show, with Murphy shown watching Quayle's speech in disbelief at his insensitivity and ignorance of the reality of the lives of single mothers. A subsequent episode explored the subject of family values within a diverse set of families. The Brown character arranges for a truckload of potatoes to be dumped in front of Quayle's residence, an allusion to an infamous incident in which Quayle erroneously directed a school child to spell the word "potato" as "potatoe". In reality, Bergen agreed with at least some of Quayle's observations, saying that while the particular remark was "an arrogant and uninformed posture", as a whole, it was "a perfectly intelligent speech about fathers not being dispensable and nobody agreed with that more than I did." Bergen's run on Murphy Brown was extremely successful. The show ran for ten seasons and between 1989 and 1998, Bergen was nominated for an Emmy Award seven times and won five. After her fifth win, she declined future nominations for the role.
Throughout the same time frame as Murphy Brown, Bergen also appeared as the main spokesperson for a Sprint telephone ad campaign.
On January 24, 2018, after 30 years Bergen would return as Murphy Brown for a series revival to be aired on CBS in the 2018-2019 season.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Candice Bergen on Wikipedia