Say the name Candice Bergen and you can't help but think of "Murphy Brown," the character she played in the hit television series for 10 seasons -- a big step up from her childhood, when she had to share the spotlight with an unusual rival. Jane Pauley has our Sunday Profile:
At 68, Candice Bergen finally feels comfortable in her own skin.
She is the daughter of internationally-renowned ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Charlie McCarthy was the star. "To have a world-famous dummy as a brother and be referred to until now as Charlie McCarthy's sister -- it has an impact," said Bergen.
So did having that face.
"My father used to warn me about being beautiful," she said. "And when I was, like, 10 years old he said, 'You know, Candie, it's the beautiful women who commit suicide.' So I never had any vanity about it because I always saw it as being fatal basically!
"And it's a lot to deal with. You don't realize the reaction a beautiful woman has when she walks into the room unless you see her walk into the room. And suddenly the atoms shift a little bit ... and that was me."
Was, she says.
"Now that I'm almost 70 -- I'll be 69 next month -- those years are so far behind me," said Bergen. "And I find it so liberating."
In her new book, "A Fine Romance" (published by CBS' Simon & Schuster), she looks back on not one but three relationships, beginning with French film director, Louis Malle.
"It was an unusually wise choice by both of us to not rush into a romantic relationship," Bergen said.
"What are you talking about? You rushed into a marriage," said Pauley. "You were married within months."
"Yeah, six months. It was fast!" laughed Bergen. "But when you're Louis --"
"It could have gone faster?"
"No, I don't think so!" she laughed. "But when you've dated a lot of people and you're 34, you kind of know."
They were married at Louis' family estate in the French countryside. Five years later, the real love of her life arrived.
She'd been deeply ambivalent about motherhood, writing: "I wondered if I could love a baby as much as a dog." [Bergen describes herself as "an animal person."]
Which explains the pet name ("Bunny") for her daughter, Chloe, now 29.
"We call each other Bunny," said Bergen.
And Malle's nickname for her? "La petite cretine."
"Sounds lovely. What does it mean?"
"Well, it means 'little Idiot,'" laughed Bergen. "I disagreed with him calling her that, but there was always a kind of testiness between Louis and Chloe, because Chloe infringed on Louis' and my relationship. She crashed it."
Soon another woman, named Murphy Brown, would put an ocean between them.
"The one place in acting where I've always been comfortable is in comedy," said Bergen, "but I never got the chance to do it because I didn't look like a funny person."
"Murphy Brown" was a hit from the start. While Candice and Chloe lived in Los Angeles, Louis commuted to and from France.
But only death would truly separate them, after he was diagnosed with an untreatable lymphoma.
Louis Malle died at 63 on Thanksgiving Day 1995.
Working, she says, kept her sane -- and rich. Candice was then the highest-paid actor in television, man or woman. "I went to a lot of trouble to keep it quiet," she said, "but it was a lot of money."
She made news, too -- real news when Murphy became an unwed mother, and the Vice President of the United States disapproved, suggesting the show glamorized unwed-motherhood.
Her own mother was glamorous. Frances Bergen died in 2006. Candice describes their relationship as fraught.
Pauley asked, "Was there competition between the two of you?"
"Yeah. I mean, I got everything she wanted so it was very difficult for her. She could sing very well, and that was sort of what she held onto - 'She can't sing!'"
As they got older, the competition fell away. "The competition was almost completely gone when I had Chloe," said Bergen, "because it was just such a gift for her to have this adorable granddaughter."
She and her father were not as close as they appeared. She never heard him say I love you. And when Edgar Bergen died in 1978, Candice wasn't mentioned in his will. She still doesn't know why not, but speculates:
"I was acting out adolescence in print at a very early age, and I often embarrassed my parents," she said. "But I said something that was very hurtful to my father, and I think that he just slid the bolt."
Charlie McCarthy, the puppet, did get a bequest. "I quoted the part of the will that I can never get over," said Bergen: "'To Charlie McCarthy, from whom I have never been separated even for a day.' You know, I also have a perverse kind of pride that I had the weirdest upbringing of anyone I know!"
Seventeen years ago, romance returned unexpectedly. In June of 2000 Candice married real estate developer and philanthropist Marshall Rose.
"I just thought I trust this man completely and by dessert I was sort of in his pocket," Bergen laughed.
In 2004 she returned to television in another hit, "Boston Legal."
Then, two years later, she suffered two small strokes.
Pauley asked, "How do you know when you're having a stroke?"
"I was nauseous and then when I got up I had no equilibrium and I was lurching and I couldn't stand up straight."
"No. I mean, for a few weeks there were. Now I'm good. But I know that right now I could suddenly just keel over."
"Are you thinking about your mortality?"
"Are you kidding?" said Bergen. "Of course, sure. I have a target age I'd like to get to. I was thinking 88, because anything past 88 seemed really greedy!"
Candice Bergen is not in denial about aging -- or anything else. She begins one chapter of her book, "Let me just come right out and say it: I am fat."
"Basically I just love eating," Bergen said. "But I started putting on weight when I was put on medications and I lost half my thyroid. So my metabolism changed because I almost don't have a metabolism."
"So if you can't have a metabolism, you can at least have a cookie," said Pauley. "Or another one."
"Or four!" laughed Bergen.
And what is her weakness? "I love cheese. I love brownies. I love those chocolate cakes that they call volcanoes where they sort of are melting on the inside. I love soufflés."
And wedding cake?
This summer, she'll return to France, where she married Louis Malle. This time she'll be playing the role of mother of the bride -- a fine romance, indeed.
READ AN EXCERPT: "A Fine Romance" by Candice Bergen
EXTENDED TRANSCRIPT: Candice Bergen and Jane Pauley
VIEW GALLERY: Candice Bergen
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