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- Candice Patricia Bergren
- Beverly Hills Los Angeles
- United States
- Actress Model
One cool, eternally classy lady, Candice Bergen was elegantly poised for trendy "ice princess" stardom when she first arrived on the 60s screen, but she gradually reshaped that débutante image in the 70s both on- and off-camera. A staunch, outspoken feminist with a decisive edge, she went on to take a sizable portion of these contradicting qualities to film and, most particularly, to late 80s TV.
The daughter of famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and former actress and "Chesterfield Girl" Frances Bergen, the Beverly Hills born-and-bred Candice was surrounding by Hollywood glitter and glamor from day one. At the age of 6, she made her radio debut on her father's show. Of extreme privilege, she attended Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles, the Cathedral School in Washington D.C. and then went abroad to the Montesano (finishing) School in Switzerland. Although she began taking art history and creative drawing at the University of Pennsylvania, she did not graduate due to less-than-stellar grades. In between studies, she also worked as a Ford model in order to buy cameras for her new passion--photography. Her Grace Kelly-like glacial beauty deemed her an ideal candidate for Ivy League patrician roles, and Candice made an auspicious film debut while still a college student portraying the Vassar-styled lesbian member of Sidney Lumet's The Group (1966) in an ensemble that included the debuts of other lovely up-and-comers including Joan Hackett and Joanna Pettet. Film offers started coming her way, both here and especially abroad (spurred on by her love for travel). Other than her top-notch roles as the co-ed who comes between Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel in Carnal Knowledge (1971) and her prim American lady kidnapped by Moroccan sheik Sean Connery in The Wind and the Lion (1975), her performances were deemed a bit too aloof to really stand out among the crowd.
During this time, she found a passionate second career as a photographer and photojournalist. A number of her works went on to appear in an assortment of magazines including Life, Playboy and Esquire. Most of Candice's 1970s films were either unmemorable or dismissed altogether, including the campus comedy Getting Straight (1970) opposite the hip counterculture star of the era -- Elliott Gould; the disturbingly violent Soldier Blue (1970); the epic-sized bomb The Adventurers (1970); T.R. Baskin (1971); Bite the Bullet (1975); The Domino Principle (1977), Lina Wertmüller's long-winded and notoriously long-titled Italian drama Fine del mondo nel nostro solito letto in una notte piena di pioggia, La (1978) [The End of the World in Our Usual Bend in a Night Fall of Rain]; and the inferior sequel to the huge box-office soaper Love Story (1970), entitled Oliver's Story (1978) alongside original star Ryan O'Neal. Things picked up toward the second half of the decade, however, when the seemingly humorless Candice took a swipe at comedy. She made history as the first female guest host of "Saturday Night Live" (1975) and then showed an equally amusing side of her in the dramedy Starting Over (1979) as Burt Reynolds tone-deaf ex-wife, enjoying a "best supporting actress" Oscar nomination in the process. She and Jacqueline Bisset also worked well as a team in George Cukor's Rich and Famous (1981), in which her mother Frances Bergen could be glimpsed in a Malibu party scene. Candice also made her Broadway debut in 1985 replacing Sigourney Weaver in David Rabe's black comedy Hurlyburly (1998). In 1980 Candice married Louis Malle, the older (by 14 years) French director. They had one child, Chloe.
In the late 80s, Candice hit a new career plateau on comedy television as the spiky title role on "Murphy Brown" (1988), giving great gripe as the cynical and competitive anchor/reporter of a TV magazine show. With a superlative supporting cast around her, the CBS sitcom went the distance (ten seasons) and earned Candice a whopping five Emmys and two Golden Globe awards. TV-movie roles also came her way as a result with colorful roles ranging from the evil Arthurian temptress "Morgan Le Fey" to an elite, high-classed madam -- all many moons away from her initial white-gloved debs of the late 60s. Malle's illness and subsequent death from cancer in 1995 resulted in Candice maintaining a very low profile for quite some time.
Since then, however, she has returned with a renewed vigor (or should I say vinegar) on TV, with many of her characters enjoyable extensions of her "Murphy Brown" curmudgeon. Lightweight fare such as Miss Congeniality (2000), Sweet Home Alabama (2002) and The In-Laws (2003) have had her chomping again at the comedy bit. In 2005, she joined the cast of "Boston Legal" (2004) playing a brash, no-nonsense lawyer while trading barbs with a much less serious William Shatner, earning an Emmy nomination the following year. Her second husband (since 2000) is Marshall Rose, a Manhattan real estate developer.