by David Sheff
A candid conversation with a woman of many parts–actress, photographer, writer, off-key singer–about overcoming fame and wealth in Beverly Hills
“Patrician is a word used about me. But, I mean, I’m the daughter of a Swedish ventriloquist! Oh, well, the way people view me, I think, has changed dramatically with Murphy Brown. People see how silly I am.”
“When you’re younger, you’re a prisoner of heat. You act on impulses. And in a way, I think it’s too bad. In every relationship, you give part of yourself away. I would like to have dated fewer men.”
“My father made me suspicious of beauty. He said all the beautiful women he knew ended up committing suicide or being failures as human beings. He said I should always cultivate everything in spite of it.”
There’s that profile again–those great cheekbones, the patrician nose, the sparkling smile. On billboards. At bus stops. In advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Who Says Comedy Is Not Pretty? runs the ad for her TV show–without apologies to Steve Martin, who first made this observation about comedy. Actually, one of the few things that Candice Bergen, at 43, has not been is a wild and crazy guy.
It’s ironic that the promotions for the TV show that has launched Bergen into her latest career emphasize the very thing that made her, and others, distrust her talent. Can someone be too pretty? She summed it up in her memoir, Knock Wood: “Men seemed to want me to be more than I was, and women to want me to be less.”
Perhaps that’s why Bergen’s résumé reads like that of a woman proving something: model, print and TV journalist, photojournalist, political activist, movie star, author and, most recently, TV star and Emmy winner for best lead actress in a comedy series. All this in addition to her roles as mother and wife.
Candy Bergen is everywhere these days because of Murphy Brown, the often hilarious, sometimes predictable comedy in which she plays a journalist on a TV news magazine.
For a pioneer Beverly Hills brat, it has been a strange, circuitous journey back to Hollywood. Bergen was born in the cradle of show business, receiving her earliest notices as the first real child of fabulously popular ventriloquist Edgar Bergen–his other child being the dummy, Charlie McCarthy. (Her brother Kris was born when she was 15.)
Bergen married Frances Westerman, Candice’s mother, 20 years his junior, when she was 20. She was a model, the Chesterfield girl. Their daughter, Candy, had a charmed childhood–growing up on the laps of family friends who included the Jimmy Stewarts, the Charlton Hestons, even the Ronald Reagans. Her childhood girlfriends included Liza Minnelli and Mia Farrow. Some afternoons were spent riding the working miniature steam train in Uncle Walt (Disney’s) back yard. And at Christmas, Santa Claus showed up and looked a lot like David Niven. At the family’s parties, Fred Astaire danced and Rex Harrison sang.
Growing up in Hollywood was life in the fastest of lanes–and Bergen found herself overwhelmed by it as she became a teenager. To get away from Beverly Hills and all that glittered, at 14, she asked to be sent abroad–to a Swiss boarding school. She was ordered home again at 15 when her parents discovered that while in Switzerland, she had bleached her hair, started smoking and was drinking bloody marys.
At 18, she enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania–mostly because three fourths of the student population was male. She modeled on the side. In 1964, she was the Tawny Girl for Revlon. Her perfect teeth and sapphire eyes graced covers of magazines such as Vogue and McCalls.
She was kicked out of college after flunking opera and art and, at 19, was cast in her first film, The Group, in which she played a lesbian from Vassar and earned her first terrible reviews. She wrote about the making of the movie for Esquire and showed a stronger talent for journalism–and self-deprecation–than for acting.
Inspired by legends such as Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White and encouraged by her friend photographer Mary Ellen Mark, Bergen worked as a photojournalist and then as a writer, contributing to magazines including Playboy. She worked as a TV journalist on AM America and Today and even turned down an offer to be a correspondent on 60 Minutes. Her magazine articles–about Charlie Chaplin, a Masai witch doctor, Jane Goodall and Oscar Levant–were well written, but there was the suspicion, which came with being Candice Bergen, that the work was a ghostwriter’s. That, in part, challenged her to write–by herself–Knock Wood at 40, published in 1984. It received highly respectful reviews for its candor, humor and style.
Since The Group, Bergen has acted in more than 20 movies–from The Sand Pebbles, with Steve McQueen, to Claude Lelouch’s Live for Life to her small part (as a photographer) in Gandhi. Her best dramatic performance was undoubtedly in Mike Nichols’ 1971 Carnal Knowledge, but that was an exception for her in those days. Reviews for the most part were scathing. (Pauline Kael wrote: “Her only flair is in her nostrils.”)
Then she was encouraged to do what she had long insisted was in her genes: comedy. In Starting Over, with Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh, she first showed the world how badly a girl can sing–“like Ethel Merman after periodontal surgery,” as one writer described it. She received an Academy Award nomination and then followed it up with her comic role in Rich and Famous, with Jacqueline Bisset, which was also praised.
Her personal life was as dramatic as her career. She had adventures with drugs, Sixties and post-Sixties politics (from hanging out with the late Huey Newton and Abbie Hoffman to campaigning for George McGovern) and other political causes. She was Rolfed, went through group therapy, was arrested in an antiwar sit-in. She had relationships with radicals and royalty, with movie stars and politicians.
In 1980, she married Louis Malle. Malle, director of Pretty Baby, My Dinner with Andre, Atlantic City and other acclaimed movies, travels between their homes in New York, France and Los Angeles. Although she said that she probably had the maternal instincts of a cantaloupe, she is now the doting mother of Chloe, four. She also spends as much time as possible with Malle’s two other children.
To interview Bergen–herself a journalist who now plays a journalist–we sent journalist and Contributing Editor David Sheff to meet her in New York and Paris. His report:
“In New York, our first sessions were at her two-story penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park West. The place is comfortable, decorated with mementos of her travels to India, Africa, the Orient.
“Bergen wore assorted diamonds and hoops in her double-pierced ears, a silver bracelet and watch, and she made the coffee herself (she drank a mixture of cranberry juice and Perrier). Once we relaxed and started talking, she appeared more delicate than she does on screen. It’s by now a cliché, but her wide smile does sometimes distract from an impressive command of language, rare in movie stars. Her wit is quick and often bawdy. When I jumped too quickly in an early session to the subject of some of her juicier exploits, she zapped me. ‘OK, but it’s like a guy trying to cop a feel. I mean, “Yeah, but can we have dinner first?”‘ She had plenty of New York stories. She was recently hit by a flower truck (‘They never even sent flowers!’); she gave a homeless person 50 cents and he screeched. ‘You’re Candice Bergen! You’re worth more than that!’ He chased her down the street.
“In Paris, I met her in the lounge of the Hotel de Crillon near the apartment she shares with Louis Malle. She had just come from the Louvre (her mother was in town) and it was one of those sultry Parisian summer days. She was wearing a baseball cap and her white T-shirt stuck to her. She was utterly different from the person I had met in New York–far less formal, more bubbly.
“Candice had had quite a week. No stranger to the glamour set–she has been invited to everything, even Truman Capote’s famed black-and-white ball in 1966–she had attended a party that impressed even her. It was the centennial celebration of the Eiffel Tower. In her box were the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Baron and Baroness Guy de Rothschild and Malcolm Forbes. She was particularly happy at sitting near some visibly nervous Parisian descendants of the Bourbon royal family, while thousands of choreographed torch-bearing dancers marched toward them, chanting, ‘Liberté! Liberté! Liberté!’
“But our interview began in a humbler setting and on a quieter note.”
Playboy: Isn’t a TV sitcom an unlikely place for Candice Bergen to have landed?
Bergen: I never thought I would be doing a sitcom. I even have trouble saying it.
Playboy: Did you share the film community’s widely held attitude that TV is the lowlier, crasser medium?
Bergen: Definitely. I never even watched TV. But now there are all kinds of people in movies and theater who you would never think would admit they watch television who are fans of the show.
Playboy: What made you cross the line?
Bergen: For me, in so many ways, this role is the answer to everything I want to do. I knew as soon as I read the script of the pilot. And the show just sparkles at its best. I love not just that Murphy is at the top of her profession but that she is, in a very realistic way, paying the price for it. I know many journalists, including television journalists, and I don’t know any women in that position who haven’t paid a very high price. Of course, we’re doing a half-hour comedy, so the desperation is only hinted at, but it is noteworthy that the most meaningful relationship in Murphy Brown’s life is with her house painter. The only complaint I’ve heard from a lot of women is that Murphy’s life is not desperate enough. The women who really do what she does are so despondent that the landscape of their personal lives is so bleak. Murphy can hardly have a date.
Playboy: Does it bother you that Murphy’s wit–often at the expense of men–caters to the stereotype of successful women as bitches and ball-busters?
Bergen: I don’t see her like that. I just see her as fast and furious and funny. She’s the funniest when she’s looking foolish, bouncing off walls, or when she breaks into one of her songs. Humiliating yourself is risky.
Playboy: Has the character infiltrated your personality?
Bergen: Yeah, I suppose its brought back some of the bravado that I abandoned. Basically, I’m a rather unassuming, quiet person unless I get with people I’m comfortable with–then I launch into my Shriner mode. All in all, when you’re a grownup, you don’t get to yell and scream and sing like an asshole–it’s great to get to do that. I used to be an incredible smartass and I sort of willed myself to stop doing that as much as I could. I wasn’t as good at it as Murphy is.
Playboy: Murphy Brown practices some pretty tough journalism. Do you believe that a woman in big-time TV journalism has to be as tough as Murphy?
Bergen: I’ve met some women who make Murphy look like a cream puff, frankly. I wouldn’t want to mention any names, but, yeah, I think TV journalism is still a man’s profession. That’s what most of the women in it claim, notable exceptions to the contrary. It requires dedication and talent but also exceptional toughness.
Playboy: So TV news is not the place for nice people?
Bergen: There are exceptions. But having a strong, distinctive style is a liability. I think it was a liability for Linda Ellerbee, for instance, who is much more a prototype for Murphy than almost anyone.
Bergen: Because for a woman, it’s so tough already. And almost impossible if you have a strong personality, if you don’t play by the rules. Murphy was able not to play by the rules because she played so well. And that became her sort of stock in trade, as it did for Ellerbee. But by and large, I think that for a woman to really get to a position that is almost equal to men’s, there is one way to be. And, by the way, there are not many men of that stature who don’t play by the rules. You don’t see any renegades doing the news. It’s the most homogenized bunch. And local news? Forget it! I’d kill myself if I had to go out with a guy who did that to his hair. It must take some of those guys days. Do they sleep with it like that? Is it fiberglass? Give me a break.
Playboy: What does fiberglass hair mean?
Bergen: They’re all clones, for Christ’s sake. So it’s not only women. I mean, you don’t think Mike Wallace doesn’t dye his hair? When I visited CBS News with Diane Sawyer, behind Dan Rather’s desk there was a huge can of hair spray. I don’t know if it was his, because he has that sort of well-mannered hair, but, I mean, just go through what Rather goes through: the question of whether or not to wear a wool vest to soften his image. I remember him wearing that stupid vest in July. Now, mind you, I watch Dan Rather. He’s my newsman of choice. But the ratings are on every one of their desks the first thing every morning. What happened to that “Courage” sign-off that he tried for however many nights? It was supposed to be this daring, distinctive way of signing off at the end of the news: “Courage.” It got such flak that he was immediately back to, you know, “This is Dan Rather. Good night.” It’s hair spray, vests and ratings, not individuality. It’s not like the women are a flock of sheep and the guys are these mavericks. The guys are sillier than the women most of the time. Half of the correspondents dye their hair and have gotten face lifts. It’s part of the inherent competitiveness.
Playboy: Can you cite exceptions?
Bergen: Once in a while, a fluke happens. That’s what happened in Ellerbee’s case. I’m also crazy about Diane Sawyer. I just think she’s a woman of real intelligence and a woman of really great caring and honor. And I’m crazy about Ted Koppel. I’m a total Koppel loyalist. He’s unpretentious and you feel that he’s totally his own person. His hair does that because it has no other choice and he dresses that way because he really can’t wear those other things–he would look stupid in Armani. Although he does conform visually to the network rules, it so happens that there’s no better television journalist around.
Playboy: Speaking of attention to good looks, the promo for Murphy Brown–“Who says comedy is not pretty?”–is everywhere. Does the attention to your looks embarrass you?
Bergen: You really don’t see what people are fussing about. At least, I never did. All you get is the jet stream, but you don’t understand why. There’s a huge reaction and it is overwhelming at times. You don’t do anything to earn it or to justify it.
Playboy: You aren’t going to get much sympathy about how difficult it is.
Bergen: Well, my father made me suspicious of it, just by making me aware of the pitfalls. He said all the beautiful women he knew were unhappy. In fact, he went further than that. He said all the beautiful women he knew ended up committing suicide or being miserable, being failures as human beings. So he said I should always cultivate everything in spite of it.
Playboy: What’s the difference between you and the way you’re perceived?
Bergen: Well, it’s hard to break away from that image from twenty years ago, but I don’t think I present myself any longer as a Scandinavian snow queen. Some of it was unconscious–my looks were intimidating to people–but also I was so intimidated by people that I really used that facade as a defense. It’s not behavior I’m proud of. I don’t take any pride in fending people off, and I don’t do it anymore. I do lose my patience with people and I take on this attitude and I just hate it when I do that.
Playboy: What brings you to that point?
Bergen: I am always getting into fights at the supermarket, because the check-out clerks can be so rude that I get really rude back. I always have Chloe in a Snugli and here I am, being the devoted mom, and I have to take shit from these check-out clerks. “Come on, I’m just here, you know, buying diapers and formula, trying to get home with the stuff, and can’t you just say please and act like human beings?” Then they call, like, the manager of the market–“We got somebody with attitude here.” And I say, “Are you insane? Don’t you understand? I’m, like, famous for manners. If you could just say good morning….” I just don’t need this. Consumer crisis. I don’t have time for that kind of thing. My time is really valuable. I don’t have time for parties anymore. I don’t have time for conversation with people who don’t mean anything to me. I just won’t do it anymore. I have plenty of time to sit with Chloe and watch Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock–or to be in France with Louis and Chloe and garden and make dinner. Anyway, I think that image is why people didn’t believe I could do comedy. Because of my persona. I suppose I was aloof.
Playboy: The word patrician has been used a lot.
Bergen: Patrician is used a lot. But I mean, I’m the daughter of a Swedish ventriloquist! Oh, well, the way people view me, I think, has changed dramatically with Murphy Brown. People see how silly I am.
Playboy: Yet even when you decided you wanted the role, the show’s creators had doubts about casting you, didn’t they?
Bergen: The people at the network had their doubts, which stunned me. I thought they would be so thrilled. [Laughs] It was quite a humbling experience.
Playboy: Were they doubtful that you could do comedy?
Bergen: They questioned whether I could play Murphy’s toughness and her dynamism. I was perceived as–demure. I don’t think they thought I could do raunchy. I read for them. It was dreadful. I was vaguely resentful that I had to read for them in the first place and it was a terrible reading. I was very stiff.
Playboy: One executive said “abysmal.”
Bergen: Quite aptly. It was sort of a rocky start. But Diane English, the producer, convinced them. By then, I really wanted it. It was my dream. When I would do Saturday Night Live, I was always envious of the regulars on the show, because they had a chance to do ensemble comedy week in and week out.
Playboy: Do you improvise on the set of Murphy Brown?
Bergen: We rarely change a comma. We’re so respectful of what is written. I don’t think I’ve asked for changes more than twice. Once there was a joke about spinning a hamster to death. I’m an animal-rights person. I just couldn’t say, “I spun a hamster to death.”
Playboy: So the Murphy Brown we see is created somewhat in your image.
Bergen: Yeah, but there’s a lot about her that’s different. I envy some of it. I love her directness. I’m always somewhat in awe of people who are indifferent about what other people think. I’ve never been single-minded about a career. I’ve never had the kind of self-confidence Murphy has. She’s a great force to be around, because she’s very liberating. I would probably have done what Murphy does, only I didn’t have her stuff. I certainly dabbled at it.
Playboy: What stopped you from being Diane Sawyer or Linda Ellerbee?
Bergen: I wasn’t gifted with the kind of self-confidence that it takes. Also, I couldn’t have asked the tough questions.
Playboy: You’ve been a journalist in real life, you play a journalist on TV and you’ve been interviewed by a lot of journalists. Is it better to ask the questions or be asked?
Bergen: Much better to ask. I had the greatest self-respect when I worked as a journalist. I loved that people perceived me as I was instead of as I appeared. I stopped being Edgar’s daughter. I was listening to them. I loved focusing on them. It was a total relief. I disappeared.
Playboy: What about when you‘re asked the tough questions–are you more receptive since you’ve been on the other side?
Bergen: I suppose, but I’m always amazed at people’s ability to ask certain things. I’m really appalled by some of it–by the journalists who buttonhole the bereaved. “How do you feel about your son’s being splattered against the wall?” I would never go that far. I wouldn’t be able to take the photographs the great photographers take if it meant intruding on someone’s grief.
Playboy: As an interviewee, how bad do the questions get?
Bergen: From “Did you have an affair with so-and-so?” to questions worded to be insulting by virtue of insinuation: “Miss Bergen, in the past, you’ve had many appalling reviews–actually, some of the sleaziest, most degrading reviews of any actress in history. How do you feel about that?” I feel like saying, “Go stuff it.”
My main complaint is that there are just some things I don’t think we need to hear. I went to the gynecologist in New York–I can say it now since it was in the New York Post, thank you very much. I don’t like going to the gynecologist. In fact, I put it off for a couple of years, which you’re not supposed to do, because I’m not really thrilled to sort of jump into the old stirrups, if you know what I mean. And I finally went and my reward was that, the next day, in the Post. it said that I was seen coming out of my gynecologist’s office and it speculated that I might be pregnant, which I wasn’t, and I thought, I don’t need this shit.
Playboy: Can you complain, after being on the other side of the tape recorder?
Bergen: I did my share of trashing people, God knows, because it’s really tough to do an interesting story without it. But I think there are plenty of stories to write that are moving and that have lots of heart and that are sort of profiles in courage. I would much rather write those. I don’t feel good about trashing people. I don’t like gossiping about people. Socially, I’m very discreet. Geraldo and that kind of journalism represent something bigger–it’s sort of cannibalizing people’s private lives and it’s really out of line. I don’t think that people have a right to know beyond a certain line.
There’s something dangerous about where journalism has gone, something very unhealthy and destructive about it. People have become expendable. It’s a psychic violence and it can’t be condoned. Instead, it’s being fueled. What about the children who suffer in the press? Children’s lives are destroyed because of it. The little boy with AIDS in Florida? What happens to him? The public appetite is so greedy and the press appetite to feed it is so greedy and so insensitive. I hate the way the press behaves. They’re like sharks in a feeding frenzy. You know, the camera crew at the door of the widowed wife. “How does it feel?” It’s turning us into ghouls.
Playboy: Back to your journalism career. You said you didn’t have the discipline it takes. Do you know why?
Bergen: I think a lot of it had to do with growing up in Beverly Hills.
Playboy: Ah. The dreaded flaky-spoiled-rich-girl syndrome.
Bergen: I don’t think the environment of Southern California forges strong, disciplined minds. I think if I’d grown up on the East Coast, I would have been much more serious. The fact that there was so much available to me–and I didn’t have to do anything to get it–ended up being a tremendous handicap. It’s hard to plead a case, but I didn’t have to learn what I was doing. I was handed co-starring parts. At nineteen, I flunked out of college. I was given parts in The Group and The Sand Pebbles as rewards for flunking opera and art.
Playboy: So you might have become an opera singer.
Bergen: I had ambitions to be a photojournalist. It was something I loved doing. It gave me a real sense of excitement and a sense of accomplishment. I loved being able to indulge my curiosity.
Playboy: When they kicked you out of school, was it a shock?
Bergen: I was thunderstruck. I couldn’t believe it. That was in Philadelphia. In Los Angeles, I would have been made dean.
Playboy: Did you re-evaluate yourself?
Bergen: There wasn’t much time, because I was starting this role in The Group. There was never any self-evaluation until I was thirty. I kept moving.
Playboy: Why were you moving?
Bergen: I was moving because I really couldn’t sit still with myself. I didn’t like coming up against myself, because I didn’t know if there were anybody in there.
Playboy: What changed?
Bergen: You eventually have to face facts. I was getting parts and getting terrible reviews. It became unconscionable on every level. Then I started becoming at least somewhat disciplined. Writing my book, Knock Wood, was a key step. It was just a hateful experience. And there was this sense of the arrogance of writing a memoir at that age. It was so unpalatable and so unacceptable to me that I had to make it self-effacive. The hardest part was being completely honest.
Playboy: Why did you undertake a memoir when you were only forty?
Bergen: The superficial reason was to prove to people that I was more than they thought I was. I’d written articles and nobody ever believed I wrote them. It was so insulting. The ultimate reason, though, was that the book was my last grasp at pulling it together. It was my emotional homework. It was my last resort at reordering my priorities. I was very embarrassed by what I’d done with all I’d been given. The book was taking inventory–the way someone at A.A. writes a self-inventory.
Playboy: What kinds of issues were sorted out in the process of writing?
Bergen: It is what helped me come to grips with the death of my father. I just couldn’t deal with it. I had kept it at arm’s length. And it helped me deal with the choices of relationships that I’d made.
Playboy: What did you discover?
Bergen: They were more flamboyant, more glamourous, better reading than other women’s bad choices, but they were no worse than the choices of any other woman in that period.
Playboy: What conclusions did you draw?
Bergen: I knew I’d spent those years and I couldn’t afford to make any more bad choices. I knew that I wanted a family. I wanted substance. I wanted roots. And I don’t think it’s any accident that I am one of the few happy people I know who do what I do. I worked really hard at it.
Playboy: You wouldn’t have been able to say that ten years ago?
Bergen: I’ve now been married for almost nine years. I was like a lot of people I knew who didn’t think they were able to sustain a long-term relationship. I didn’t think I would meet anyone I would want to sustain a long-term relationship with. And I really met virtually everyone. It wasn’t as if I’d been short-changed and hadn’t had options. I met virtually every variant of guy, from Latin-American guerrilla to Saudi sheik. I never met one who I knew would go the distance.
Playboy: Until Louis Malle. When you met him, were you familiar with his films?
Bergen: Some of his movies were–are–among my favorites, like Murmur of the Heart, which they just re-released.
Playboy: That is pretty autobiographical, isn’t it?
Bergen: Most of his work is autobiographical in some sense. Murmur of the Heart is autobiographical up to the point of incest. Louis had a heart murmur and his mother took him to a spa for treatment. He was really pulled off a whore at the worst moment his first time out, just like the little boy in the film. I love all his films. My Dinner with Andre, The Lovers, which I saw when I was in college. I’ll never forget seeing the very scandalous scene when Jeanne Moreau is lying on top of him either in bed or in the bath and then she slides out of the frame. Where’s she going? At the time, I think there was some sort of court case in America over whether it could be released or not. And there was a court case concerning Pretty Baby.
Playboy: In which Brooke Shields played a child prostitute at only twelve years old. Do you think that was exploitation?
Bergen: You’d have to review that with Louis. I didn’t like it as much as some of his other films, but I thought it was a real feast on a certain level.
Playboy: Malle happens to be a very successful French film maker. Could Mr. Right have been a Sherman Oaks accountant?
Bergen: Well, you know, there does have to be some kind of shared experience or at least enough difference of experience to make it work.
Playboy: A lot of women probably don’t want to hear that it took finding Mr. Right to make your life complete.
Bergen: What can I tell you? I really resent being confined politically as to what has made me happy. I just find it unacceptable. Finding me was also what it took to make my husband happy. It just happens that I’m a woman and it’s politically unfashionable for me to admit that the two happiest days of my life were the day I got married and the day that Chloe was born. They were the purest joy and deepest sense of contentment that I have ever known. And since, in the years following, with Chloe, I’ve never known anything like it. Murphy has no family. There’s a reality to her life that women can’t ignore. I was almost her. I don’t know that I could have played this part if I weren’t married and didn’t have a child. It would have been too painful for me. Because for me, my family is what has grounded my life. It happens to be that I’m saying this as a woman, but my husband has said the same thing. We found each other, both of us, at a point where we really saved each other from lives that were unfulfilling.
Playboy: Is this unexpected for you?
Bergen: I always knew that this was what I wanted. I remember now that I showed Snow White for my twenty-first-birthday party. It’s sort of a telling choice. Even then, what mattered to me was that someday my prince would come. Now, I happen to be happily married for nine years, so it may not have served me so badly. But for women of my generation, it was all about the guy on the white horse. It ties up a lot of time.
Playboy: But it seems as if you fought it tooth and nail.
Bergen: I got caught up in the politics and the Zeitgeist of the Sixties and Seventies as much as anyone. I was incredibly vehement about not wanting to get married and not wanting to have a family, but frankly, I was selling myself a bill of goods that I really didn’t want to buy. My life was shaped by those Fifties black-and-white sitcoms. I loved Harriet Nelson and June Cleaver. That’s the kind of mom that I was conditioned to be. But I also loved Brenda Starr. I wanted to be what the guys were. As I grew up, I didn’t have any women friends. All my friends were guys and they were guys who were very powerful and very accomplished. It was a confusing mix. So it may be unfashionable and it may be unpolitical, but there’s a reality of women’s lives out there. At least mine. I really lived my life like a man. I was part of a world of women who considered women the weaker sex and I wanted to distance myself from them as much as possible.
Playboy: Why did you identify more strongly with the men around you and not succumb to the Harriet Nelson wife-and-mother role?
Bergen: My father had the attitude, “Don’t get married too young, don’t tie yourself down.” I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. But more, I perceived in women the desire to do little more than shop and have lunch. I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. The women around me were not women who were accomplishing anything of substance or who were saying anything of significance. The men were; so it was my fantasy to have a life that was somehow a life with a man’s options.
Playboy: You seem to have gotten both.
Bergen: In a roundabout way. I agonized about the decisions as they were happening, but when I look back on my life, I had adventures that I can’t even believe. They make great bedtime stories for Chloe.
Playboy: Would you tell her that after those adventures, you were content to be a wife and mother?
Bergen: While I loved being home and not working, I think my husband was right when he said it was making me crazier than I realized. I’d worked at something since I was fourteen or fifteen years old. It wasn’t backbreaking labor, but I had supported myself from an early age, I’d always been doing something. Then I was at home with Chloe and, you know, I was exhausted and I had help, but the amount of time it takes to become invisible is breathtaking. I mean, people just peel off. I was experiencing it as Candice Bergen and thinking, What is it like if you don’t have some celebrity and you go to these gatherings and you’re not doing anything other than raising a child? Even some of the women would get this expression on their faces and flee–all except for other parents. We would, like, huddle in a corner.
So it was really fate for me that the TV show came along when it did. I never thought I’d have a chance to do this kind of thing again. And by the way, all the time I talk about how important my family is to me, I think it’s also important to say that for some women, it doesn’t matter. When I wasn’t married and didn’t yet have a child, I really resented that I was often made to feel like the great defecto because I wasn’t married or a mother. I see life as a constant state of jeopardy. I have a lot of friends who are deeply unhappy, who don’t have relationships or who don’t have fulfilling jobs. You have to make time for both. In Hollywood, it’s particularly difficult; it doesn’t foster longevity in relationships.
Playboy: Why doesn’t it?
Bergen: Because this industry indulges a lot of neuroses and a lot of narcissism in people. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Appearance is all that matters. You put on your various faces until you don’t know how to do anything else. It’s difficult when you do films. It doesn’t help to play love scenes with people. The lines of reality get blurred. I’ve been on a lot of locations, and it’s just bizarre beyond all belief. Every rule of normal conduct is suspended. People can become unrecognizable when they’re cut off from their normal worlds. They just go nuts.
Playboy: For you, playing love scenes was more bizarre than romantic, wasn’t it?
Bergen: Yeah. Suddenly, you wind up in bed with a guy on top of you you wouldn’t want to share a cab with. You’re there for half the day with people looking on. Most people weren’t bothered by it the way I was. I wasn’t bothered by it if it was with somebody I liked and was attracted to–and even then, it was a little bizarre.
In a scene of a film I did with Lina Wertmuller, I was being seduced in the back of a car by Giancarlo Giannini. She wanted to show a tit. So they were trying to light the tit. I was holding it for the camera. It all became about this disembodied tit. Everybody was around looking at the tit! Very strange.
When I did Soldier Blue, they had to take a mold of my tits to make them bigger. They made rubberized ones to glue over them, because my character was supposed to be very busty. To be twenty-three and to have some guy rubbing petroleum jelly on your tits so he can clomp plaster on them to make a mold–so unreal. But I refused to have surgery. I’d like to have tits as much as the next person, but I just felt that there were politics and principles involved.
Playboy: Anyway, you were making a more general point about what happens to people making movies away from home—-
Bergen: You can’t believe what it’s like on location! A spell gets cast. People think they are in love because this intense bond happens. A million couplings that are seemingly forever–and then they’re all undone three months later. It’s all set up to foster infidelity.
Playboy: Which you know from experience?
Bergen: Which I know from experience and from witnessing it. Part of it is seeking something to hold on to because you’re a stranger in a strange land. You find yourself in places that are so alienating–Formosa, when I was nineteen, for four months, filming The Sand Pebbles. I couldn’t leave my room. I think I put on forty pounds. I started smoking.
Years later, I was on another location in New Mexico for Bite the Bullet, where we were confined to this very fancy dude ranch in the middle of nowhere. Rich Texans came to shoot moose–they’d put straw out for them and then plug them while we were having supper. One actor had a breakdown. We finally found where he had been walking in a circle until he’d worn a path a foot deep. Another man had a heart attack and was taken off in an ambulance. Some of the women playing hookers started to live the part. People literally go nuts.
Playboy: Yet you described the Hollywood you grew up in as a place where you were at least exposed to some models of honorable behavior.
Bergen: Well, it’s very different now. Hollywood is not necessarily about good behavior now. There’s a greater emphasis on affluence now. It seems that it was a much more gracious time then.
Playboy: Could that be a child’s romanticized view?
Bergen: No. It was very different then. Especially my parents’ crowd. The Jimmy Stewarts and the Ronald Colemans and the Randy Scotts and Ray Milland. There was great gaiety. Friendship was valued. I don’t think it was as competitive as it is now. Money is supremely important; money is the real caste divider now–as opposed to talent. I just think Hollywood has been vulgarized, mostly by television, which vulgarizes everything. It shoots to the lowest common denominator and makes amounts of money that are in some cases beyond calculation. It rewards mediocrity.
Playboy: Was it as a reaction against Hollywood that you went into journalism?
Bergen: I think it was just a direct access to experiences that I wanted to have. I also just fell in love with the heroes of photo-journalism. It was really the first time that I forgot everything else that I was doing. I was totally involved. As soon as I got kicked out of college, when I did The Sand Pebbles, I took my cameras and photographed everything. I found that it was a great way of disappearing and getting to know other people. You sort of crawl into the shutter box and see everything through this little aperture. It’s like being an ostrich–you forget that the rest of you is sticking out there, because you’re inside.
Playboy: Of course, you also had experience on the other side of the camera–modeling. How did you reconcile that with your feminism?
Bergen: It was just the easiest money. Well, it wasn’t that easy, because, really, it was very tough to hang on to any self-respect doing it, but some of it was fun, and I met some nice people. But it just further reduces you to elements that you should be getting away from. You really become not even a talking head. It just reduces you to nothing more than a frame.
Playboy: How do you feel when you see those old Vogue covers?
Bergen: When I see those pictures now, it’s a total out-of-body experience. Much later, when I was doing Rich and Famous, looking through Vogue to research really dopey women in the Seventies, since I was trying to look like the worst kind of fashion victim, the person I kept coming across most often, the person with more hairpieces than anyone else, was always me. I ended up satirizing myself with those pineapple hairdos and false eyelashes.
Playboy: When you were working as a journalist, did people take you seriously or was there a suspicion that you were a model and actress dabbling in journalism?
Bergen: The latter, and quite understandably. When I had access to Charlie Chaplin, I had it purely because a friend of mine had brought Chaplin to America. He shouldered the other competition aside to get me exclusive access to Chaplin for Life. It was an insane position to be in. I felt hated because I was given the job only because I was a movie star and I was well-connected. The pressure was unbelievable, because I knew that the assignment was totally unmerited. I knew I was incredibly resented by the press, as well I should have been.
Playboy: You said you got the assignment because of your connections. Did you pull it off?
Bergen: In the end, I did a nice cover of him and I got some very nice black-and-white photographs and they used the piece I wrote, so I held up my side of the bargain. If I’d folded, it would have really been unforgivable. As self-effacing as I am about it, I’m utterly confident about every story I ever wrote. Although self-effaciveness was my strong suit, I had two areas of confidence–my writing, the journalism that I’d done, and some suspicion that I could play comedy.
Playboy: Did you always know you could act?
Bergen: It was just assumed. When I look back at my first movies, I think that there was a quality, but that if I had been more serious and more professional, more interested and less frightened, I could have been much better. Some of them, like The Sand Pebbles and The Group, were very good movies. There were other movies that were good movies in which I wish I had been better. I wish I’d been better in The Wind and the Lion, which is a movie I love. I’ve always regretted not being up to par in it, because everything about it was so first-rate. And then there were other movies in which I was just wooden and totally lost. I wasn’t really in control or conscious of my work until Starting Over and Rich and Famous.
Playboy: How about a favorite of the Sixties generation–Carnal Knowledge?
Bergen: It was just a perfect piece, a perfect script and Mike [Nichols] is an actor’s ultimate director. It was beautifully shot. Jack [Nicholson], of course, is a great actor to work with.
Playboy: And most critics thought you held your own among some real heavyweights in that movie.
Bergen: I held my own there because it was too good to fail in. Everything around me was so good that I just followed instead of fought. In most of my movies, I was so resistant and so self-destructive. Carnal Knowledge, though, was different; and I don’t think it was given its due. It was so threatening to people, to women because it was so honest about how men were and to men for the same reason. It was even chilling to the men who made it. The tag scene, in which Jack has Rita Moreno talk him into his hard-on, to seduce him out of his impotence, and his abuse of the Ann-Margret character, were just brutal. The Jack Nicholson-Ann-Margret relationship was agonizing to witness for a lot of men and women. And for women, my character was hard to see: She was a woman of real intelligence and abilities who completely relinquished them, abandoned them without a fight and just gave in to a marriage, a sentence of imprisonment in a marriage that turned to stone. I love that and I loved Rich and Famous. Somebody finally gave me a real comedy role, which is what I’d been dying for.
Playboy: Did comedy have more value to you because making people laugh was so important to your father?
Bergen: Yeah. It’s what we made. Comedy was my father’s product. Other people’s fathers were in textiles or software. My father was in comedy.
Playboy: Is comedy genetic?
Bergen: I think some of it’s genetic and some of it is rewarded.
Playboy: Your childhood was obviously different from most kids’. When did you become aware of the difference?
Bergen: What comes through the strongest is having a father who seemed to be perceived as extraordinary. Somehow, he was set apart. Virtually all of the children I knew had fathers or mothers who in some way were celebrated for one thing or another. It’s perfectly normal in context, but when you venture out of that world, it’s disorienting. It gives you a really inflated and vulgar sense of entitlement.
Playboy: The oddest side to your childhood was your second brother, the wooden one. You’ve talked a lot about that bizarre sibling rivalry with Charlie McCarthy.
Bergen: It’s been sort of reinvented by the media. I wrote about it in the book because I’d never addressed it before. It was never anything that I gave much thought to. It was other people finding it so astonishing that made it such a big deal.
Playboy: It wasn’t? Even when Charlie McCarthy had a bigger bedroom than you?
Bergen: It was sort of a minor annoyance and a quirk of my childhood, an interesting wrinkle. I consider my childhood to be incredibly rich and baroque. I have scrapbooks of my father when he was in vaudeville. Doing the research on him was the best time I had doing the book. It was so interesting to learn about him. I found out things about my father that I’d never known when he was alive. And it is a fascinating story–he created Charlie and Charlie sort of took over; he couldn’t kill him off. He really just wanted to use Charlie as a wedge to get in the door and it became the thing. All the mail went to Charlie. If he went places without Charlie, people weren’t really interested in seeing him. It was always Charlie, very wise and quick-witted, fearless to say the unthinkable. And there was my father, who was very conservative, reserved and dignified. I have a chuckle that sometimes startles me because it sounds like Charlie’s. I go, “Oh, God.” For the book, I looked at my relationship with Charlie. I really looked at it and tried to understand it and mine it.
Playboy: Judging from your memoirs, your mother played a less influential role in your life. How did that affect you?
Bergen: I think it leaves you incomplete. I think it’s very hard to make your way in life if you don’t have a friendship with your mother. Daughters don’t want to be their mothers and yet it’s inevitable that in many ways they become them. I just come up against ways I’m like my mother all the time. Good ways and ways that trouble me.
Playboy: Yet your major influence was your father.
Bergen: I very consciously wanted to model myself after him. I think it was that I didn’t want to fall prey to the powerlessness that I saw women succumbing to. I always admired women or men who were self-sufficient and resourceful and I always wished that I had more of that myself.
Playboy: Did the fact that it was difficult for you to be affectionate with your father affect your romantic relationships?
Bergen: For a long time, it was very difficult for me to say “I love you” to anyone. It was easier to say it to a man than to a woman. It took me a long time before I was comfortable saying it to women friends or to my mother.
Playboy: When a man said it to you, did it turn you off?
Bergen: Yeah. I would really squirm. I was a moving target. I was always intrigued by someone I didn’t hear it from. And I would get very claustrophobic when I heard it.
Playboy: No more?
Bergen: When you’re younger, you’re sort of a prisoner of heat. You act on impulses. And in a way, I think it’s too bad. I don’t think you can give yourself away too easily. I think that in every relationship, you give part of yourself away. There’s always an impulse toward intimacy, and every time you engage that impulse and you give something of yourself to a man and you tell him, you know, whatever is required to tell him to afford that intimacy, then you lose something; the next time you do it, it’s a retread; it’s invalid.
I wish I had known fewer people. I would like to have dated fewer men. I met a lot of men I really learned from and who were really important as friends and important in other ways, but I also had relationships that didn’t mean anything. Ten or fifteen years ago, we telescoped relationships into a weekend. People would give themselves away over and over again every Friday night, and by Saturday, you’d be having a family, and by Sunday, you were divorced. And you can’t keep recycling yourself over and over again and have anything real left to give. It took me such a long time to learn. It took me such a long time to break patterns. I was only just ready when I met Louis.
Playboy: Why then? What had changed?
Bergen: I think a lot of it had to do with coming to terms with my father’s death. And it wasn’t just me, by the way. Families split apart like atoms, right and left, and everything was disintegrating. Nobody could–could—-
Playboy: The C word?
Bergen: Yeah. I was just totally unable to commit to anybody. Most of the women I know have, for some reason, little masochists in their DNA and it takes a while to exorcise those. Most of the women I know went through all kinds of masochistic relationships in their twenties. I still see the commitment syndrome all the time just by walking around. I see couples, especially younger couples in their twenties or their thirties, sitting on a park bench or walking along and the guys have their heads down and their eyes are shifting from right to left to see who’s watching, while the woman is, like, “I can’t stand it anymore and you’ve done it over and over and you just don’t hear me!” She’s screeching at the top of her lungs and she’s weeping and the guy is embarrassed, hoping nobody’s listening, shifting from one foot to the other and looking down and just waiting for it to be over. It’s a kind of hysteria that women have to go through, I guess. We love the drama.
Playboy: Were you particularly good at it?
Bergen: Oh, God! You know, when I think of the drama. I was so wedded to the drama. And the amount of breakage! I broke all kinds of stuff. And putting my hand through doors, through glass, through window panes. Driving like a lunatic. It’s women’s propensity. It has something to do with female wiring and I don’t know what it is. I think it comes from powerlessness. I know a lot of women whose husbands have chronically screwed around on them and either the women will have just found out about twenty years of infidelity or they’ll have lived with it for fifteen years and their only recourse is to get cancer. They can’t be homicidal, they can’t kill their husbands, so they kill themselves quietly. I’ve seen it over and over again.
Playboy: Is that you, too?
Bergen: I’m tall and I’m big and, unfortunately, my husband is sort of afraid of me. I don’t have tantrums very much anymore, but when I do, they’re really very unpleasant, very turbulent. I didn’t see it at the time, but I totally manipulated the men I was with. They would tell me and I didn’t know what they were talking about, but it’s absolutely crystal clear to me now how I manipulated every single fight, I just provoked everything down the line, provoked it so that I could then claim to be a victim.
Playboy: No more?
Bergen: There was a tacit pact made with Louis because I had just had enough of doing it and because he was really good at it, too, and neither of us was good at relationships and we were just worn out.
Playboy: So that’s what happens–we eventually get exhausted and give in?
Bergen: [Laughs] I see it now in other people and I think, Oh, God, how do you have the energy for it? How do you have the stamina? You couldn’t pay me to go back out there again. If, God forbid, anything ever happened, I’d just get a bunch of dogs and go live in the mountains. I’d be a forest ranger.
Playboy: You grew up at a particularly tumultuous time–smack in the middle of the Sixties. Do you remember it with nostalgia or with sadness?
Bergen: It was difficult for a lot of us. Whether it was the Sixties or Beverly Hills, there was an unusually high number of fatalities among the people I knew. I don’t know if it was coincidental with acid, but a lot of kids I knew died when they were in their early twenties. Some of them went over the edge and never came back.
Playboy: What was the difference between them and you?
Bergen: Probably Swedish Lutheranism. I know that I always wanted to get out. I was like an animal with my ears always up–aware that there was something dangerous about growing up in the environment of Beverly Hills. Maybe it’s something about the weather. As I’ve said, I found it a very difficult place to be self-motivated.
Moving to New York when I was in my twenties and thirties saved me. The kids in California are very uninformed, very uninterested and very unmotivated. They’re these gorgeous, physically perfect people who have the emotional register of a melon. It’s where “Have a nice day” came from. I wanted out. I went to Switzerland when I was fourteen.
Playboy: What were you looking for?
Bergen: I think it was really just curiosity. And also I felt that life was too fast and I was too young to deal with it. I looked much older than my age. I wanted very much to be independent and I wanted very much to be more open than I was. But I think the part of me that was a survivor knew that I couldn’t handle it.
Playboy: Were your parents overprotective?
Bergen: The fact that they let me go away to Switzerland, that they indulged that, says no. They didn’t indulge me in the way that other school friends of mine were indulged, with cars and jewelry and clothes and stuff. But they did it in terms of what they thought made sense–education. They thought that there was something valuable in going to school in Switzerland, which, in fact, turned out to be going from one fast lane to–supersonic.
Playboy: What’s the root problem of being the child of someone who’s famous?
Bergen: You think you’re hot stuff. And you don’t do anything to deserve it.
Playboy: Is that behind the suicides and O.D.s of your peers?
Bergen: Several things are. Because our parents were in careers that took them away from home for long periods of time, there wasn’t a constant sense of parental supervision. Most of the kids I knew had unlimited funds to act out any kind of adolescent fantasy that they could have wished for, so that there was no financial restraint, either. And it was very glamourous. Guys got 300SLs and Corvettes and unlimited spending at sixteen.
Playboy: What’s the result?
Bergen: I think you just spin out of control. I think your self-esteem is counterfeit. I didn’t get a car or money and I had curfews. It probably helped enormously.
I did go through a lot of whining, which I really hated, but that seems characteristic of people in their twenties, whether they’re raised in Beverly Hills or not. But I always had an enormous sense of guilt about my overprivilege. With it came a social conscience–try to use it rather than just feel guilty about it. I find that I have a really hard time being friends with people who don’t take some kind of action, who are committed shoppers.
Playboy: How were those issues dealt with in your home? Were your parents politically involved?
Bergen: They were very conservative. They were very friendly with the Eisenhowers and the Reagans before the Reagans were even in politics. But to try to give a simple answer: I never felt that I could complain about anything. I really betrayed my parents as far as politics were concerned. When I came back to America, when I was about twenty-one, I sort of did my Beverly Hills hippie impersonation. Then I got involved in more focused political work.
Playboy: What led to your hippie impersonation?
Bergen: I walked flat into the Sixties after doing the Princess Grace impersonation and I just didn’t have a clue as to what was happening. I’d been in Europe for so long. I came home to a house full of the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas–literally–and I mean it was really the Sixties in full flower. I came in Chanel shoes and my Piaget watch and one of my Chanel suits and I just didn’t know how to deal with it. Nobody was talking and everybody was sitting around stoned, listening to this music. I didn’t know how not to talk. I didn’t know how not to make party patter. I was at Monterey Pop and I went to the Beach Boys’ house before they had to repaint it, when it was purple, and they were really working then to stock the pool with dolphins. Brian Wilson had his piano with its legs cut off in a sandbox, and he’d be in there playing, and there was a bust of Beethoven in the foyer that spoke to him every time he went by, and there was a recording studio off the living room and a ramp leading up to it, and suddenly somebody would ride up and do it on a motorcycle. This was very different from the royal courts of Europe.
Playboy: What’s the difference between a Beverly Hills hippie and a regular hippie?
Bergen: In Beverly Hills, his Nehru jacket was custom made at a place we all went to in Beverly Hills. He flashed peace signs from his Mercedes. He wore love beads from Tiffany.
Playboy: But eventually, you ended up hanging out with serious radicals such as the late Huey Newton.
Bergen: I knew Huey over a period of years, when he was underground.
Playboy: Were you part of that movement?
Bergen: I always felt somewhat like an outsider. I felt that the concerns were legitimate and I wanted to participate, but there were certain lengths to which I didn’t go or that I didn’t agree with. I wasn’t a likely SDS candidate.
Playboy: You did undercover work when you went on a famous date with Henry Kissinger–egged on by Abbie Hoffman.
Bergen: With Abbie right across the canyon watching, draped in a sheet.
Playboy: You were doing some espionage for the left, then?
Bergen: Well, we had the incredibly naïve idea that I would have some sort of input in Kissinger’s foreign policy. Sure. Abbie was one of the first and the most original voices of the counterculture. And he was the only one who didn’t end up on Wall Street or, you know, born again or making designer jeans. He’s the only one who stayed true to his school. He had real courage. There was also something sad and touching about him. It was very hard to be Abbie Hoffman later on, in the Seventies, and in the Reagan era.
But you know, the Seventies were a little overwhelming for many of us. Everything was in jeopardy. Everything was revolutionized–there was a political revolution, a spiritual revolution, a social revolution, a feminist revolution, a sexual revolution…and there was really nothing to hang on to anymore. That was OK in your twenties, because you didn’t need solidity in your twenties, but all the same, it could be confusing. There were a lot of winds blowing at the same time.
Playboy: How did the aforementioned sexual revolution affect you?
Bergen: I happened to be monogamous while the sexual revolution was going on. Though I was surrounded by people who weren’t. I basically believe in monogamy, so it wasn’t like I was participating on this grand level. But there was certainly a kind of buzz in the air. It’s amazing now when you think how we have retrenched and burrowed back into the comfort and the familiarity and the safety of our hearth and home. Not just me–everyone.
Playboy: Do you think that has happened because of AIDS or do you think it would have happened anyway?
Bergen: AIDS certainly is the most tangible and dramatic reason for it to happen, but I think all of the social movements were really more than people could manage. I think that people were really losing it, spinning out of control. A lot of good marriages bit the dust. A lot of families suffered and kids suffered. I’m not sure that anything got accomplished in the Playboy Philosophy scheme of things, because it seems now that we’re back to a morality that’s maybe less hypocritically rooted but more conservative.
Playboy: You’re talking about the old Playboy Philosophy. Hef’s married now. But if the difference between then and now is that our sexual behavior is a choice rather than behavior imposed upon us, would you agree that we’ve come a long way?
Bergen: In France, or anywhere in Europe, almost anywhere else in the world, it wouldn’t have been pursued with the vengeance that it was here. It was just an indication of how warped we were to begin with. One of the things I love most about Americans is how childlike we are. We’re very childlike in the sense of sex–the bathroom jokes and lascivious remarks on TV, for instance. The level of our humor is for people who are still titillated by sexual innuendo. It all strikes Europeans as incredibly immature–the way that we persecute politicians with these incredibly self-righteous, moralistic witch-hunts, as if anyone could be held accountable to such standards.
Playboy: What political issues concern you now?
Bergen: There are many things. I’m very concerned about America’s debt to Vietnam veterans. Personally, I will feel a little easier if I can figure out some way to pay back some of that. It’s not too late to make amends to those guys.
Playboy: Are you more sensitive about this issue because of your antiwar involvement?
Bergen: I don’t know. I certainly opposed the Vietnam war, but I never opposed the American soldiers.
But maybe the biggest issue now is the environment. I’m getting more and more obsessed about it and about people’s denial of what is going on. It makes me crazy that there are deliberations about whether we should recycle because it’s a lot of trouble. I can really imagine being very radical in this if I could find a way to be effective. It’s already almost too late. But it’s something I’ll be involved in. You risk making a real fool of yourself and you risk being lampooned by the press; Meryl Streep got involved in protesting Alar and pesticides and they savaged her very unfairly.
Playboy: You’ve mentioned several times how important it has been for you to risk humiliation and ridicule. Does that apply personally, too?
Bergen: It used to be the opposite; I had this reserve and this impenetrable facade. I was basically so self-conscious and so insecure around people, and I was getting hit on right and left. I didn’t know how to deal with it.
Playboy: Were you suspicious of the motives of potential suitors?
Bergen: I don’t think their motives were worse than mine.
Playboy: And today?
Bergen: There’s not a question since I’ve been married. Maybe it sounds boring, but I believe you should honor relationships.
Playboy: This sounds like the mature Candice Bergen speaking.
Bergen: It may be deadly to talk about, but getting older means being responsible. You acquire a sense of responsibility for your own behavior and you don’t pass it off on other people–on your parents, your environment. You have a sense of responsibility to your friends and to your family and to the people around you and to the planet and a sense that you should act from that. That’s what I believe about life: You should behave honorably. It’s very important to me. It is not what Hollywood is about.