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Candice Bergen: One of a kind

Candice Bergen, looking forward at 75
Candice Bergen, looking forward at 75 04:36

At her cottage in Connecticut, Candice Bergen is teaching "Sunday Morning" host Jane Pauley the fine art of fast food.

"Painting is one of those things that I really wish I could do," Pauley said, painting a hamburger.

"Well, you know, it comes with the doing," Bergen said.

Candice Bergen and "Sunday Morning" anchor Jane Pauley paint hamburgers.  CBS News

"Are you a person who looks more back, or more forward?"

"Forward," said Bergen. "Although I do from time to time think my life has been so rich that I could not have asked for more."

More beautiful would be hard to imagine. She born to Hollywood royalty. Her father – ventriloquist Edgar Bergen – and his sidekick, Charlie McCarthy, were household names for generations of Americans.

But his only daughter quickly made a name for herself, as a model, photojournalist, author, and movie star opposite more leading men than she can remember: Anthony Quinn, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, to name a few. She never took it all that seriously, until 1979, in "Starting Over" opposite Burt Reynolds. Like her father, comedy was to be her calling card.

Candice Bergen sings "Better Than Ever" in Starting Over (1979) by Horror Baby on YouTube

Comedy, said Bergen, "was my only ability."

"Go on."

"I mean, I was just so comfortable doing it. And I had no vanity. As long as I get a laugh, I'm just in heaven."

And of course, "Murphy Brown," for which she won five Emmys for Best Actress in a Comedy.

But lately a new milestone is testing her confidence: "I'm 75. And I feel older. I just thought that if I'm going to get older, I would like to do it with credibility. So, I had these chasms on my lips, and I have a waddle, which is why I wear a turtleneck. But at least people can see how you look when you get older. I mean, 75 was like, 'Yeah. Time to get real.'"

Candice Bergen.  CBS News

She'd already suffered what she described as a frightening cluster of mini-strokes in her early 60's. "I kind of sat like an old thing, and people brought me tea!" she laughed. "So, you know, stuff happens."

She does know. Late to marriage (at 34, to French film director Louis Malle) and late to motherhood (at 39, with the birth of her daughter, Chloe), when Malle died of lymphona in 1995, she was widowed at the age of 49.

Her second husband, businessman Marshall Rose, has suffered serious health issues for several years now.

Pauley asked, "Do you feel like your life is smaller?"

"Much. But it's more …. it's more. It's smaller because it's not scattered, and it's focused on what's in front of me."

But nothing comes before the love of her life, daughter Chloe, who is just across the road with her husband and the first grandchild, Artie.

"So, this is kind of a mother-in-law house situation?" asked Pauley.  

"It is. It is. And there have been boundaries set, with reason. And I observe them!"

A doting grandmother, her own privileged Hollywood upbringing had come with a poignant caveat: She says she never heard her father or mother say "I love you." 

"I tell Artie I love him all the time: I just love you, Artie!  He has no idea what I'm saying. But he has to understand the sound of those words, 'cause they're so powerful."

"Don't fail to say them?" said Pauley.

"Don't fail to say them. It's so easy. It's three syllables, barely."

Story produced by Gabriel Falcon. Editor: Karen Brenner. 

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