Happy Birthday

Candice Bergen, murphy brown
Richard Drew/AP

Happy Birthday, Candice Bergen, Film and Television Star

May 09, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
Candice Bergen came from a show business family and starred in numerous films in the 1960s and 1970s. But it wasn’t until her 10-year run on television as broadcast journalist Murphy Brown that she became a household name.

Candice Bergen’s Early Days

Candice Bergen was born into a famous Hollywood family on May 9, 1946; her father, Edgar Bergen, was a famous ventriloquist with his wooden sidekick Charlie McCarthy, and her mother Frances was an actress.

“It was difficult for her,” said Frances. “She couldn't understand all this fuss being made over Charlie McCarthy … She was referred to as Charlie McCarthy's sister. It was rather unique.”

Bergen began showing a rebellious side as a teenager at a Swiss school, where she smoked and drank at age 14. She went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, though she flunked out after just a year. She worked as a Ford model and indulged in her passion for photography, traveling the world with her camera.

Bergen’s Notable Accomplishments

Her film career began in 1966, when the 19-year-old Bergan portrayed a lesbian college student in the Sidney Lumet film “The Group.” She appeared in several more movies, including “Carnal Knowledge” (1971), in which she starred with Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel.

At the same time, Bergen pursued a successful career in photography; her photos and articles were published in such magazines as Life and Esquire. In a 1970 profile, Time magazine compared Bergen’s public persona to the character Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby.”

In 1975, Bergen made comedic history as the first female host of “Saturday Night Live.” This success at comedy led her to take on the role of the tone-deaf ex-wife of Burt Reynolds’ character in 1979’s “Starting Over.” Her efforts landed an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Bergen picked up her best-known role in the late 1980s as the TV journalist Murphy Brown in the CBS sitcom of the same name. The comedy lasted for 10 seasons (1988–1998), during which time Bergen won five Emmys and two Golden Globes.

In 1992, Bergen went head to head with Vice President Dan Quayle when he condemned her character’s decision to bear a child alone. In her acceptance speech for her Emmy that same year, Bergen jokingly thanked Quayle for the award.

The Rest of the Story

Bergen’s first husband, famed French director Louis Malle, died in 1995, transforming her into a real-life single mom until her 2000 marriage to New York real estate mogul and philanthropist Marshall Rose.

In a 2005 interview with AARP: The Magazine, Bergen discussed her anxiety about separation from her college-bound daughter, and her hope for many more years of health and happiness. "I started getting very teary and depressed about anything that revolved around Chloe," she said. "I'd tell myself, I'm not going to make this into a personal tragedy; I can do this."

More recently, Bergen has taken smaller roles in such films as “Miss Congeniality” (2000) and “Sweet Home Alabama” (2002). She joined the cast of “Boston Legal” in 2005, and earned an Emmy nomination in 2006.

In 2008, Bergen became one of "The Women on the Web," a group of highly accomplished women who created a Web site, WoWoW.com, that publishes news and features aimed at women over 40.

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