Candice Bergen Biography
Candice Patricia Bergen is an Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning American actress and former fashion model, best known for her starring role on the television situation comedy Murphy Brown, and as Shirley Schmidt, the legal partner of Denny Crane (played by William Shatner), on the ABC comedy-drama Boston Legal. Earlier in her career she starred in the famous Revisionist Western movie Soldier Blue.
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 ventriloquist, comedian, and actor. Her paternal grandparents were Swedish-born immigrants who anglicized their surname. As a child, Bergen was irritated at being referred to as Charlie McCarthy's little sister, Charlie McCarthy being her father's star puppet.
Bergen began appearing from on her father's radio program at a young age, and in 1958, at age eleven, 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. In 1966, Bergen played the role of Shirley Eckert, an assistant school teacher in the movie The Sand Pebbles, which was nominated for several Academy Awards. She also played an aloof university student in The Group (1966) which delicately touched on the then forbidden subject of lesbianism.
Bergen has written articles, a play, and a memoir, Knock Wood (1984). She has also studied photography and worked as a photojournalist. Considered one of Hollywood's most beautiful women, Bergen worked as a fashion model but soon began acting. Despite initial rocky reviews, she appeared in such films as Mike Nichols' bleak Carnal Knowledge and Starting Over, for which she received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actress.
On Murphy Brown, Bergen played a tough television reporter. Although the show was a successful comedy, it tackled 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." While his remarks became comedic fodder, as Murphy Brown was depicted watching Quayle's speech, they paved the way for a subsequent episode to explore the subject of family values within a diverse set of families. Remaining true to the show's humor, Murphy arranges for a truckload of potatoes to be dumped in front of Quayle's residence, an allusion to an infamous incident in which Quayle misspelled 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," according to the Associated Press. Bergen's run on Murphy Brown was extremely successful: between 1989 and 1995 she was nominated for an Emmy Award seven times and won five. After her fifth win, she declined future nominations for her role as Murphy Brown.
After playing the role of the successful journalist, Bergen was offered the chance to work as a real-life journalist. After the run of Murphy Brown ended in 1998, CBS gave her the opportunity to cover some stories for 60 Minutes, an offer she declined, under the conviction that acting was her profession: journalism was meant for her television character and should not cross over into her own professional life.
After Murphy Brown, Bergen hosted Exhale with Candice Bergen on the Oxygen network. She also appeared in character roles in films, most notably Miss Congeniality as the sweet-yet-demented pageant host Kathy Morningside; she also portrayed the mayor of New York in Sweet Home Alabama. In 2003, she appeared in the movie View from the Top. In January 2005, Bergen joined the cast of Boston Legal as Shirley Schmidt, a founding partner in the law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt. In 2006 and 2008 Bergen received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in the series.
She has also made guest appearances on many other TV shows, including Seinfeld (as herself playing Murphy Brown), Law & Order, Family Guy, Will & Grace (playing herself), and Sex and the City, where she played Enid Frick, Carrie Bradshaw's editor at Vogue. A frequent host on NBC's Saturday Night Live, Bergen appeared twice in 1975. She was the first woman ever to host the show. Candice also appeared once in 1976, 1987, and 1990. Candice Bergen guest-starred on the first season of The Muppet Show 1976-1977, appearing in several skits, an episode included in the new DVD collection. She is also well-known for starring in a long-running "Dime Lady" ad campaign for the Sprint phone company.
Candice attended the University of Pennsylvania, but acknowledges that her failure to take her education seriously resulted in her being asked to leave. Bergen and then-boyfriend Terry Melcher lived at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, which was later occupied by Sharon Tate and her husband, Roman Polanski. Tate and four others were later murdered in the home by followers of Charles Manson. There was some initial speculation that Melcher may have been the intended victim. A political activist, Bergen accepted a date with Henry Kissinger, but was unable to influence his views. During her activist days she participated in a Yippie prank when she, Abbie Hoffman, and others threw dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1967, leading to its temporary shut-down. In 1981, she married French film director Louis Malle. They had one child, a daughter named Chloe Malle, in 1985. The couple were married until Malle's death from cancer in 1995.
Bergen has traveled extensively and speaks French fluently. She is a vegetarian and is now married to New York real estate magnate and philanthropist Marshall Rose.