Candice Bergen attends  a 25th anniversary event for "Murphy Brown" in 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Candice Bergen attends a 25th anniversary event for "Murphy Brown" in 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Candice Bergen has had a lengthy career on TV, in film and on stage; she was on Broadway as recently as last year. But for many, her name remains synonymous with her smart, tough TV sitcom character Murphy Brown, a role for which Bergen won five Emmys. The character mirrored some parts of Bergen’s own life: Becoming a mother later than her peers, balancing relationships and parenting with a demanding, high-profile job. Now, at 68, Bergen reflects on the people and experiences that have made up her own story — namely, the three great loves of her life. Actress Candice Bergen joins Diane for a conversation about her career, marriage and love.

Guests

  • Candice Bergen Actress and author of the new memoir "A Fine Romance"

Read A Featured Excerpt

Excerpt from A FINE ROMANCE by Candice Bergen. Copyright © 2015 by Candice Bergen. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.

Video: Murphy Brown And Aretha Franklin

In this scene from her well-known sitcom, Candice Bergen, as Murphy Brown, has a scene with the Queen of Soul.

Video: Boston Legal

In this episode of Boston Legal, Candice Bergen gets into a spat with James Spader.

Transcript

  • 11:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Candice Bergen is best known to most as TV's "Murphy Brown," the strong, independent character Bergen says she herself wished she'd had as a role model growing up. Now, 17 years after the final episode, Bergen has taken a close look at her life and career from the time she met her first husband through the "Murphy Brown" days to recent work on Broadway.

  • 11:07:26

    MS. DIANE REHMHer new memoir titled "A Fine Romance," in fact, tells three great love stories with intimate portraits of her husbands, Louis Malle and Marshall Rose and of her daughter, Chloe. Candice Bergen joins me here in the studio and I'll look forward to hearing your questions, comments. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Candice Bergen, what a pleasure to meet you.

  • 11:08:05

    MS. CANDICE BERGENI am thrilled to be here and to meet you in the flesh -- could I just describe you to your listeners? Because, you know, whenever we listen to you, we have no idea, or I have no idea, what you look like. You are so stunning. You have snow white, beautifully coiffed hair. You have an eggplant, long-sleeved V-necked fitted sheath that is incredibly chic, with matching eggplant suede kitten heels with a lighter eggplant bow across the front.

  • 11:08:38

    MS. CANDICE BERGENYou were described, as one of your staff, as a rock star and you are and it's just great to meet you in person.

  • 11:08:47

    REHMOh, Candice. And you, my friend, are absolutely as gorgeous as you have ever been. Truly, truly.

  • 11:08:58

    BERGENThank you, Diane.

  • 11:09:00

    REHMI mean that. You know, it's interesting to me that this is your second memoir. Your first was all about your own childhood, your life. But you describe the birth of your daughter, Chloe, as clearly the beginning of your life. Tell us why.

  • 11:09:28

    BERGENWell, I was 39 when I had my daughter at which, in those days, was considered sort of you're on your extended shelf life. And it just -- and I was very apprehensive about having a child. I wasn't sure that I wanted a child. I wasn't sure I had any maternalism in me and the second this child was born, it just cleared the filters in my emotional system. It just blew everything away and just tapped into a depth of feeling that I didn't know was there and I was very much in love with my late husband at the time.

  • 11:10:17

    BERGENI mean, I certainly was not an unfeeling person, but this was really a new depth of feeling and a joyousness. It was...

  • 11:10:27

    REHMWas it he who wanted the child or you?

  • 11:10:32

    BERGENHe left it up to me and he had two children from previous relationships and he said that -- he always said, you know, a child is a gift you give yourself. So the ball was in my court.

  • 11:10:47

    REHMAnd you thought about it for awhile.

  • 11:10:50

    BERGENI thought about it for almost five years, which, in your 30s, is optimistic to say the least.

  • 11:10:57

    REHMAnd what was it that you think finally helped you make that decision?

  • 11:11:05

    BERGENI went to an analyst, a psychiatrist who lived down the street, who was very highly recommended. And I said, you know, something is blocking me from doing this. And I had been to this man before when I had not found a man that I really wanted to marry and he was a very brilliant doctor and really held my feet to the fire in terms of confronting things that, you know, are too boring to go into, but he, in a remarkably short period of time, sort of cleared me for take-off.

  • 11:11:54

    REHMDo you think it was your relationship with your own mother that was sort of getting in your way?

  • 11:12:06

    BERGENI think it probably was a large part that. I think I was very much a daddy's girl. I was very much in love with my father and my mother and I had, until my 30s, my mother and I had a very fraught relationship. And I think that if I -- my sense was that if I were pregnant and I would have a daughter and she would revisit on me what I had subjected my mother to.

  • 11:12:40

    REHMBut indeed, it turned out very much differently.

  • 11:12:46

    BERGENYes, it did. It did because, of course, we all try to make up for things that we felt we didn't have or felt could've been done differently in our childhoods and so my daughter and I have, until now, a very close relationship that is sometimes prickly, but is really a mainstay in my life.

  • 11:13:12

    REHMAnd even in infancy, you and she went through some little struggles. She was an independent young thing.

  • 11:13:22

    BERGENAnd independent little cuss. She was. In fact, especially in her infancy, it was challenging. She was not a cozy, cuddly baby. If she were crying at night and I went in to sort of pick her up, she would push me away and that went on for many months.

  • 11:13:45

    REHMThat can be scary...

  • 11:13:46

    BERGENWell, it...

  • 11:13:48

    REHM...to a young mother.

  • 11:13:48

    BERGEN...it's wounding because you want so deeply to bond with your child. But then, I would just sing to her at night by her -- sort of standing by her crib and stroke her and that took root. And now, she's the most demonstrative, the most affectionate.

  • 11:14:10

    REHMHow wonderful. Tell us about Louis Malle, your first husband, and how you met and both of you really knew.

  • 11:14:24

    BERGENWell, we met when I was 34 and he was 13 years older. So we -- it was not our first rodeo and we took it slowly. We became friends first. We didn't -- I think it's often an error to rush into a relationship because what could go over years is sometimes burned out in a week. And we took it slowly and we knew very quickly that this is where we wanted to stay.

  • 11:15:02

    REHMAnd so you went to France.

  • 11:15:07

    BERGENWe were married in France. He had -- and now the children have a house in the southwest of France that's in a very remote part of France, very beautiful, very unspoiled and that's where my daughter is going to be married, in the same tiny town hall and she will go back, like we did, to the house to have dinner in the garden. It's perfect. It's great.

  • 11:15:30

    REHMIs that going to be this summer?

  • 11:15:32

    BERGENIt's going to be in July.

  • 11:15:33

    REHMOh, how wonderful. I'm sure you're looking forward to that.

  • 11:15:37

    BERGENI am. I am.

  • 11:15:38

    REHMAbsolutely. How did you manage a marriage that, at times, was a very long distance one? He and you both had your separate careers, what you wanted to do, where you wanted to live?

  • 11:16:00

    BERGENWe manage with difficulty. For two people who both have a career in acting or making movies, you are invariably separated and you go from strength to weakness and that sets up a kind of competitiveness between the couple and the relationship. And when we married, Louis was ready to move back to France and I missed my family in Los Angeles. So I didn't work for much after we were married.

  • 11:16:34

    BERGENBut then, when I had Chloe, I really stopped working for three years. And then, I thought, you know, I miss my family. My mom lived in L.A. My brother. And I got this irresistible offer to do "Murphy Brown." And I thought, this solves everything because it was a schedule that allowed to do carpool in the morning and be home with my daughter for supper at night and, you know, sit with her while she had her bath.

  • 11:17:01

    BERGENIt gave me a week off a month and the job was seven months a year. So it was, in many ways, ideal. It's just that the burden of the commuting fell to my husband and that was very difficult.

  • 11:17:17

    REHMHe had a depressive nature.

  • 11:17:22

    BERGENWell, he did. It was never rampant and he only -- he would have a period, maybe two or three periods in his life, where he struggled with it. But yes, he did.

  • 11:17:42

    REHMCandice Bergen, her new memoir is titled "A Fine Romance." We're going to take your calls, your comments, your email after a short break. Stay with us.

  • 11:20:03

    REHMAnd we're back with Candice Bergen, who many of you know from her role, probably your favorite role...

  • 11:20:13

    BERGENBy far.

  • 11:20:13

    REHM...as Murphy Brown. But just before the break we were talking about Louis Malle. I was so impressed and envious of the letters he wrote you.

  • 11:20:30

    BERGENYou know I debated whether to include the letters in the book. And then I thought, they're just so exquisitely written.

  • 11:20:39

    REHMBeautiful.

  • 11:20:40

    BERGENAnd of course I didn't put all of them in the book and I edited them. But the body of the letters is there and they're just the most romantic, beautifully written love letters. And that's something that, you know, kids generations below us will not experience, which is really a loss because it's such a delightful part of a relationship.

  • 11:21:10

    REHMWhen you first met, was he able to -- and fell in love, did he also express orally as beautifully his love for you as he did in those letters? I wondered about that.

  • 11:21:33

    BERGENHe was very affectionate, very loving. But he was -- he had a very dry wit, so in person he would sort of -- he would call me the wife because he thought it was hysterical that Americans go: Oh, and the wife and I are coming for dinner. So it's worth the wife. And, but, no, the way he expressed himself in his letters was unique.

  • 11:21:56

    REHMIt was extraordinary.

  • 11:21:57

    BERGENYeah.

  • 11:21:58

    REHMTell us about why the character Murphy Brown appealed to you so much.

  • 11:22:07

    BERGENWell, first of all, it was just brilliant comedy writing and character creation. To me it was reminiscent of the great comedies of the '40s in America. And the character of Murphy was so pesky. She was so -- she was bratty, she was pushy, she was relentless. But there was also something irresistible about the character. And most importantly, she was -- she could take any man. She could drink any man under the table, until she stopped. She could compete with, you know, the best of them as an electronic journalist. She was really tops in her field and worked like a demon. And she didn't care what anyone thought about her.

  • 11:22:57

    BERGENAnd I think women are -- at least women of my generation, which is old...

  • 11:23:03

    REHMHardly.

  • 11:23:04

    BERGEN...women just...women care too much about pleasing people. And finally I've outgrown that. But I think it just saves women, young girls, so much time if they can leapfrog over that.

  • 11:23:22

    REHMYou know, we've got a clip here I want to play for our listeners and for you. It sets up the plotline that became central to the show.

  • 11:23:38

    BERGENFrank, I want to ask you something.

  • 11:23:40

    MR. JOE REGALBUTOWhat?

  • 11:23:42

    BERGENIt's a favor.

  • 11:23:43

    REGALBUTOSo ask me.

  • 11:23:45

    BERGENIt's a big favor.

  • 11:23:49

    REGALBUTOAw, come on, Murphy. You want to borrow my Junior Walker album again. You know, I don't know. You already put a big scratch in it.

  • 11:23:53

    BERGENI want you to father my child.

  • 11:23:56

    REGALBUTOExcuse me?

  • 11:24:00

    BERGENI want to have a baby, Frank. I need a father. I think it could work.

  • 11:24:05

    REGALBUTOThis is a joke, right?

  • 11:24:08

    BERGENI know what you're thinking. It's a little unorthodox. But I've done...

  • 11:24:11

    REGALBUTOYou want to have sex with me, right Murph? So I was just seeing image -- you want to have sex with me? Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

  • 11:24:20

    BERGENFrank, please, I don't want to have sex with you. I'm talking about fertilizing an egg. We don't even have to be in the same room.

  • 11:24:27

    REGALBUTOOh, this is too weird. Look, Murph, I think we should forget dinner tonight. I can't...

  • 11:24:33

    BERGENJust listen to me a minute, okay? For a long time now, I felt like I was 23 and if I wanted a baby it was my choice. Suddenly I'm 40 and all my options are disappearing. I don't want to look back and feel like I missed something, like I made a mistake. Don't you ever think about this, Frank?

  • 11:24:48

    REGALBUTOYes, but it doesn't involve you, Murphy. You're my best friend. We're pals.

  • 11:24:54

    BERGENThat's why this is so perfect.

  • 11:24:55

    REGALBUTOOh.

  • 11:24:56

    BERGENWe'll be pals forever. No divorce, no custody battles. Our kid will be well-traveled and smart and funny and a good public speaker. It's great. It's just wonderfully written.

  • 11:25:11

    REHMHow much of yourself did you see in Murphy Brown?

  • 11:25:17

    BERGENI think I saw my want-to-be self. I think that all of us on the show wanted in some way to be more like Murphy. My driving was immediately affected. I should not have been let on the road behind the wheel. And my confidence level went way up, and of course the fact that the success that followed the show was also part of that. But I -- and then there was a part of me that really got rarely expressed, except with close friends, that came out.

  • 11:25:54

    REHMHow much did your sense of your own beauty enter into your thinking about yourself?

  • 11:26:08

    BERGENIn Murphy, or life?

  • 11:26:10

    REHMIn life.

  • 11:26:11

    BERGENI would say surprisingly little. Surprisingly little, but it is -- it impacted my life hugely. And my father, when I was -- I wrote this in the book very briefly -- my father warned me that, when I was 10 or 11, he said, "You know, Candy, it's the beautiful women who commit suicide." And I go, what?

  • 11:26:40

    REHMWow.

  • 11:26:40

    BERGENAnd he said, "It's the beautiful women, who when their looks fade, they have nothing to fall back on and they become depressed and they sometimes commit suicide. But they struggle." And he said, "So I always want you to follow your interests: your interest in photography, your interest in writing. I want you to develop your interests and not rely on your looks." It was an extreme warning for a young woman.

  • 11:27:14

    REHMWhoa. I should say.

  • 11:27:16

    BERGENBut it did -- I was the least vain of any woman I know. I mean, for someone in today's or yesterday's society.

  • 11:27:28

    REHMGood for you.

  • 11:27:29

    BERGENIt really avoided a lot of the pitfalls.

  • 11:27:32

    REHMBut at the same time, as an actress on stage, on screen, on television, you had to take care of your face as you began to age. What did you do?

  • 11:27:52

    BERGENWhen I started Murphy, I was 41 and I had my eyes done because they were fairly hooded and TV lighting is very harsh. And then the next year I had muscles under my jaw shaved -- actually, it's disgusting -- to reduce the shadows that that caused. And that's the extent of the plastic surgery I've had. I go -- because I hate it so much, I go to have the shots once a year, because it takes...

  • 11:28:25

    REHMBotox.

  • 11:28:27

    BERGEN...it takes me a year to recover, frankly, because. And when the doctor sees me coming, she just goes, "oy."

  • 11:28:33

    REHMOy.

  • 11:28:33

    BERGENAnd she said, "I almost took a Valium today," because I'm such a pain in the ass. And the Botox, I mean -- she said, "I've only given you an eighth of a hypodermic, and you're halfway, you're at the bottom of the chair." So I'm not a good patient. But I do that -- I do that probably once a year. Of course, it only lasts for three months, but...

  • 11:28:57

    REHMYeah.

  • 11:28:58

    BERGENAnd I have -- I go to a woman in Los Angeles whose name is Mila Moursi, who's an excellent facialist. And I don't have anyone in New York that I use, which is where I live.

  • 11:29:12

    REHMNow, if you had not gone into acting, if you had not. If you had pursued photography and writing and something out of the public eye, do you think you would have done all of that?

  • 11:29:32

    BERGENNo. No. But frankly, I've done very little. And also, I'm...

  • 11:29:41

    REHMBy comparison, true.

  • 11:29:43

    BERGEN...I'm one of the few who's honest about it. Let me just say that.

  • 11:29:47

    REHMGood for you. Yeah.

  • 11:29:48

    BERGENAnd I always -- yeah. I just -- I respect the women who are honest about it. But obviously everybody has a choice.

  • 11:29:59

    REHMEverybody has the choice. You know, going back to Murphy Brown, you have to wonder, I mean, with the sass you put into that character, so many young women identified with you.

  • 11:30:23

    BERGENYou know, because when we were making the show, we were working so hard we really didn't have time to go out and about and gauge the reaction to the show. So when people -- women today say, "You know, my mom and I used to watch you on Murphy Brown." And Marissa Mayer, who's the CEO of Yahoo, came up to my daughter at an event in San Francisco a year, six months ago, and said, "You know, if it weren't for your mom, I wouldn't have become CEO."

  • 11:30:51

    REHMAh.

  • 11:30:52

    BERGENAnd I thought, that was just great. That was thrilling to hear because it had an impact. I mean, because television is so impactful. We just have no idea.

  • 11:31:05

    REHMAnd of course Vice President Dan Quayle took note of your desire to have a child.

  • 11:31:13

    BERGENHe was very savvy. He was very shrewd. Because Dan Quayle gave a speech in San Francisco about -- it was soon after Murphy announced her pregnancy or that it was revealed on the show. And he said, "And shows such as 'Murphy Brown' dismiss the importance of father," and so -- so it was a...

  • 11:31:33

    REHMFinish that. Finish that.

  • 11:31:36

    BERGENOh, if I could verbatim -- I mean, I almost could have a few years ago. But, "and raising a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice." Well, we didn't dismiss the importance of fathers. But -- nor do we mean that fathers are dispensable, because they are vital for the development of a child.

  • 11:32:01

    REHMOf course they are.

  • 11:32:02

    BERGENBut at the same time, this -- what was happening as a social phenomenon was women of my age and slightly younger were feeling that because of whatever reasons, because they had pursued a career and they had thought they could put it off indefinitely, suddenly realized that they couldn't put it off. And so they were harvesting eggs wherever they could and having children with friends or just out of sperm banks. And that existed. And that was happening. And we thought that it would be informational and also material with depth to explore. And it was explored in depth.

  • 11:32:57

    BERGENWe -- Murphy talked about having an abortion. Murphy talked about -- and the father of the child was her ex-husband, so that sort of made it less of a random hookup. And Murphy had a live-in father figure who was Eldin the painter. And she had Frank Fontana on the show. And I mean, every -- it was going to be -- it was going to take a village. And she had the village.

  • 11:33:27

    REHMAnd what was your personal reaction when Dan Quayle said what he said?

  • 11:33:38

    BERGENI was blindsided because I was on my way back from Philadelphia on the train. And when I got to my building in New York and suddenly there was the cover of, I don't know, the Post or the News and it was "Murphy has Baby, Quayle has Cow." And, Quayle to Murphy, "You slut." And it was like, whoa.

  • 11:34:00

    REHMAnd we have a clip of exactly that statement.

  • 11:34:07

    MR. DAN QUAYLEIt doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers.

  • 11:34:19

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." That was, of course, the voice of Dan Quayle. I think it helped the show.

  • 11:34:32

    BERGENOh, it put us -- I think the week we were back -- it became a campaign platform for -- and it was very shrewd because they had deleted -- his speechwriter had deleted the remark about Murphy and Quayle reinserted it, which was very savvy, because it caught fire. And he was identified with family values. And then later in the campaign, Clinton endorsed family values. So it got incredibly confusing. But it lasted for months. And you couldn't open the paper without suddenly seeing a political cartoon or an op-ed piece or a -- it just went on and on.

  • 11:35:13

    REHMTell me about the death of your beloved husband, Louis Malle.

  • 11:35:22

    BERGENLouis came to -- we had spent Christmas together in Sun Valley. And then he went back to Paris. And he came back about three weeks later, a month later. And he -- he was slightly off. He -- and a friend of his came up, we had a lunch on our patio. And a friend of his from Paris, who he'd known forever came up and he took me aside and he said, "Something's not right with Louis. Has he had a CAT Scan?" And I said, "No." He said, "I think he should go see my doctor." And so I took Louis in to see his doctor, who is Dr. Rick Gold, in Los Angeles. And that began the long saga of a 10-month illness, that was a catastrophic illness and a critical illness.

  • 11:36:22

    REHMWhat was it?

  • 11:36:23

    BERGENIt began as myelofibrosis. It morphed into -- it then attacked his brain and it incapacitated him. It attacked the lower cerebral cortex. He could no longer -- he had such difficulty speaking that he stopped speaking because I think he found it so demeaning. He -- I could have samples of his handwriting, which just deteriorated over a few weeks. He could no longer walk or could barely walk -- could only walk with real support. And he -- so he stayed in Los Angeles. And then he wanted to go back to his house in France, in the -- that was in the country. It was a very exhausting trip but he did it. And then he died in Los Angeles.

  • 11:37:23

    REHMI'm so sorry. Candice Bergen, her new book is titled, "A Fine Romance." Short break. Your calls when we come back.

  • 11:40:00

    REHMAnd welcome back. Candice Bergen is with me. Beautiful, beautiful Candice Bergen, who is absolutely as gorgeous as you know her to be. Her new book is titled, "A Fine Romance." It is a memoir. I want to ask you about your current husband, whom I know you adore.

  • 11:40:33

    BERGENI'm very lucky because, first of all, men don't really notice women over a certain age. And...

  • 11:40:43

    REHMExcept when they're as gorgeous as you.

  • 11:40:46

    BERGENOh, no. Not at all. It really is like someone turning off the light switch. And I didn't date after my husband died. And I went on one dinner in three years. I was home by 9:00. One dinner and one drink and that was it. And I met my husband. I didn't know until the wedding dinner that it was a fix-up and that it was arranged by Don Hewitt who was the producer of "60 Minutes." And he was friendly with my husband Marshall and my name came up. And Don said, "Well, would you like to meet her?" And he said, "Well, sure." So he never told me. But he said, "You know, Candy, I want to have a dinner for you." And so I said, "Oh, that'd be great." Because he and I were talking about doing something.

  • 11:41:31

    BERGENAnd he, two days before the dinner in New York, he said, "Oh, and a man's going to pick you up. His name is Marshall Rose." I said, "Yeah, fine." I didn't pay any attention because he was very clever. And I just thought he would look like kind of a nebbish guy. And he's a very handsome man, let's be fair. He's just...

  • 11:41:50

    BERGENHe's a good-looking guy. And he, on top of being good looking, he has eyes that are so trustworthy that you just think, I would put my life in his hands. And so we were married a year and a half later. But it just took immediately. And during the dinner, I was seated next to him at Don and Marilyn's house. And at dessert, Marshall turned to me and they were passing around lemon tart, and he said, "Shall we share one of these?"

  • 11:42:21

    REHMOh.

  • 11:42:22

    BERGENAnd I said, "No. I want my own. Are you crazy?" So that's when he said he knew.

  • 11:42:29

    REHMAh. Lovely. I'm so glad for you.

  • 11:42:32

    BERGENAnd he's a lovely man. He's exceptionally lovely.

  • 11:42:36

    REHMAnd what about Chloe? Is she okay with it?

  • 11:42:41

    BERGENWell, it's a lot, because Chloe and I were living very happily in Los Angeles. We had a beautiful house. She went to a great school. She was beloved at her school and she -- I mean, and so we moved back to New York a year after Marshall and I were married. And she was 14. It was just...

  • 11:43:03

    REHMAh. Hard time.

  • 11:43:04

    BERGENIt was just a very hard thing to ask.

  • 11:43:06

    REHMYeah.

  • 11:43:07

    BERGENAnd she was always respectful of Marshall. She was never rude. She was never snippy. But there were times when we would be having dinner and Marshall would be going on about something that did not interest her. And she -- I would see her doing her deep breathing and that was how she would get through it. And then, after a year, she was brining him Father's Day cakes and Father's Day presents...

  • 11:43:32

    REHMAw.

  • 11:43:34

    BERGEN...that were thoughtful and witty. And Marshall relaxed, because Marshall was trying too hard. So it took awhile. But they're very close now.

  • 11:43:49

    REHMI'm glad. Let's open the phones. Let's see, first to Robert in Philadelphia. Hi there, you're on the air.

  • 11:44:02

    ROBERTYes. Hello, Ms. Rehm and Ms. Bergen. I notice, Ms. Bergen, with regard to the Sprint ads, I'm guessing that -- like, I'm guessing, I'm wondering if they were a little more wise than the Hollywood thinking was, which I'm sure -- I think you once said in an interview that when you're in your 40s, an actress is regarded as invisible, except for supporting roles, it seems. But with Sprint, that was in your Murphy Brown era, and you were in your 40s. And later on, they signed another 40-something actress, Sela Ward. Do you think that they sort of were kind of ahead of things as far as the idea of saying, "Hey, 40 does not mean that you're lacking in vibrancy and what have you. But 40 is just as good as anyone."

  • 11:44:50

    BERGENI'm not sure what the question is. But I did -- I did...

  • 11:44:56

    REHMForty is as good as anybody.

  • 11:44:59

    BERGENBy the time I finished doing the ad -- I think I worked for Sprint for eight years, which is a fairly -- a long haul for most spokespeople. And Sela Ward is far younger and more beautiful than I am. But I loved the writing that J. Walter Thompson did on those spots and probably would never have done them if the writing hadn't been so intelligent and witty, which is not to say that I didn't complain while I did them.

  • 11:45:30

    REHMWhat did you complain about?

  • 11:45:33

    BERGENWell, there was nothing to complain about. Sprint was lovely and I worked for them for five days a year. And -- but it's just, when you're doing a show, to have to work on the Saturdays, is -- you're just tired is all.

  • 11:45:50

    REHMBut unlike "Murphy Brown," your part in the series, "Boston Legal"...

  • 11:45:57

    BERGENAha.

  • 11:45:58

    REHM...was written with you in mind.

  • 11:46:00

    BERGENYes.

  • 11:46:01

    REHMIt was a real fit.

  • 11:46:04

    BERGENIt was written by David E. Kelley, who I think is a genius. And he's a television phenom. I mean, he's written two or three shows single-handedly at the same time. And he wrote a part for me in "Boston Legal." And it was great. It was as dry-witted and strong and really fun to be on that show.

  • 11:46:25

    REHMAnd in the first scene of the series, you've just barged into the men's bathroom, where you encounter James Spader.

  • 11:46:40

    BERGENI know all about you.

  • 11:46:40

    MR. JAMES SPADERAnd I, you. There's much written in stall number two. I pictured you younger. Much.

  • 11:46:47

    BERGENA smart attorney recognizes who he can or cannot rattle.

  • 11:46:51

    SPADERHe also knows a good rattle when he sees one.

  • 11:46:55

    BERGENSince I'm your boss, I can't return your sexual banter. But I will say, for the record, that if I were looking for a rattle, he would be taller. He would be better looking. He would be more evolved than a junior in high school.

  • 11:47:08

    SPADERI prefer the juniors in high school.

  • 11:47:10

    BERGENHe would be something other than a self-loathing narcissist with a dwarf fetish and, yes, judging from what I got a glimpse of in the mirror when I first entered the room, he would be bigger. Much.

  • 11:47:26

    REHMWhat did you think of that scene?

  • 11:47:29

    REHMI loved it.

  • 11:47:30

    BERGENLoved it. I know it verbatim. It's just one of the most brilliantly written dialogs between two characters. It was so much fun to play. And James Spader is great to work with.

  • 11:47:44

    REHMAnd you, a comedienne.

  • 11:47:49

    BERGENYes. Yes, I can...

  • 11:47:51

    REHMA comedienne.

  • 11:47:52

    BERGENI just can't ever believe that they let me do it.

  • 11:47:56

    REHMReally?

  • 11:47:57

    BERGENWell, it was always such a dream of mine and I never thought I would -- I would get there. So it was just thrilling.

  • 11:48:04

    REHMIs that really how you see yourself, as a comedienne? That's your strength?

  • 11:48:12

    BERGENYes, it's where I'm at -- that's my comfort level. That's where I'm at my most comfortable. And, you know, I -- it took me a long time, in movies and television, to not be incredibly self-conscious and pathetic. So comedy, I always felt at home.

  • 11:48:28

    REHMAll right. Let's go to Jean in Sarasota, Fla. You're on the air. Jean, are you there? Oh, dear. I'm afraid we don't have him. Do you know, in Paris, he worked with your husband, Louie Malle? And he said, he was the best boss he ever had. Isn't that lovely?

  • 11:49:03

    BERGENThat's lovely. And I'm not surprised. And people loved to work on Louis sets because they learned so much about filmmaking. And the way my -- Louis approached it, which was that, for him, the most important sense on the film was sound.

  • 11:49:20

    REHMAll right. Let's go to Alleen in Oroville, Wash. You're on the air.

  • 11:49:27

    ALLEENOh, thank you, Ms. Rehm. And your programs are always wonderful. Outstanding.

  • 11:49:32

    REHMThank you.

  • 11:49:33

    ALLEENI wanted to tell Ms. Bergen that I had the pleasure of having lunch with her dad and mom in Beverly Hills. I was working there and a friend and I went out for lunch. And we went to this little café with outdoor tables, sat down and discovered we were seated next to Edgar Bergen and Mrs. Bergen. And we had the most delightful lunch chatting with them. And it's -- it was in the '70s. It's a memorable event.

  • 11:50:08

    BERGENWell, thank you. They were both extremely gracious people and both of them very modest and low-key, but very interesting, lovely people. So thank you.

  • 11:50:21

    ALLEENCharming. Thank you.

  • 11:50:23

    REHMAll right. And let's go now to Patrick in Jackson, Mich. You're on the air.

  • 11:50:33

    PATRICKHi, Diane. I wanted to say, first of all, that I love your show. I listen to it as much as I can.

  • 11:50:37

    REHMThank you.

  • 11:50:38

    PATRICKMs. Bergen, I wanted to go back to "Murphy Brown." Obviously your character was very strong. I'm a father of two daughters and I'm noticing myself get frustrated with television today and the role the women play. They seem to be marginalized again and definitely oversexualized. Even the stronger characters are oversexualized. And I just wondered if you could comment on that? And how -- I mean, I would love to see another "Murphy Brown," you know, show come back to TV, just to give my daughters a sense of strength again.

  • 11:51:14

    BERGENWell, I certainly agree with the oversexualization. It's gotten way out of hand. I mean, there's certainly, what is it, "Two Broke Girls," that's a very smart -- because it's very well-written show about two sassy girls. I mean, there's extremely well-written shows. But, you know, I think the character of Murphy is unique. And I mean, Claire Danes did a fantastic job on "Homeland." But that was a very complicated character with, you know, some dark sides, because she was struggling with mental issues, with manic depression.

  • 11:51:57

    BERGENI do think that the quality of network television has gone way up, that some of the good shows are -- because they're competing with cable. So I think that there are some -- "Good Wife" is a wonderful character, for example.

  • 11:52:11

    REHM"Madam Secretary."

  • 11:52:12

    BERGEN"Madam Secretary." I love Tea Leoni. And I love that show. Yes, thank you, Diane. That's a -- so "Madam Secretary" is a great show for you to watch with your girls probably.

  • 11:52:25

    REHMHere's an email from Nancy in Altamonte Springs, Fla. She says, "I'm aware that the single-mother (word?) from "Murphy Brown" was a minor event in your life. But as a single mother at the time, of a 19-year-old son, the affirmation on your show meant everything to me."

  • 11:52:56

    BERGENWell, thank you. And it was in no way a minor event in my life or in anyone's life on the show. It was a very major event and had -- and lasted for a while. And I think -- I think that it's just -- I think people, society in general, is recognizing marginalized types, from gay marriage to transgender, I mean, single mothers, it's like, hello. And I think there's only reasons to praise and to support single moms.

  • 11:53:38

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Here's a Tweet. "What was it like to work with William Shatner?"

  • 11:53:50

    BERGENOh, Shatner. I love Shatner. And he's really talented. He is a wonderful actor. And I mean, he is from Canada. He was a Shakespearian actor, so he has great range and used to be a very handsome, dashing guy on "Star Trek" and so on. But I was always fascinated seeing him work because he threw away nothing. He gave even, you know, just a "Hey, how are you doing?" he gave it -- he was specific.

  • 11:54:25

    REHMHmm.

  • 11:54:25

    BERGENHe, I mean, you just -- I saw him. He was just -- his talent is really huge.

  • 11:54:32

    REHMThat's a lovely comment. And I do want to go back to your husband Marshall Rose, because you wrote something in your book, "A Fine Romance," that was somewhat confusing. You say, at first you resented Marshall Rose for marrying you. Why was that?

  • 11:54:59

    BERGENWell, I'm -- because I didn't get married the first time until I was 34, I was not sort of the over-marrying kind. And Marshall is a traditionalist. He likes -- for example, he likes to be with his wife. And my late husband I had professions where we were used to sort of just going off and...

  • 11:55:22

    REHMSure.

  • 11:55:22

    BERGEN...even in our apartment, he'd be in the back and I'd be in the front. But my husband just likes his wife there. And I think I found it a little restrictive. I still find it a little restrictive.

  • 11:55:35

    REHMYou do. You do.

  • 11:55:36

    BERGENBut he's like an electric blanket. He's just a warm, comforting presence.

  • 11:55:45

    REHMBut, you know, there are always adjustments in a relationship. And you almost went from one extreme to the other as far as...

  • 11:55:58

    BERGENYeah.

  • 11:55:58

    REHM...togetherness goes.

  • 11:56:00

    BERGENYes. Yes.

  • 11:56:02

    REHMAnd now, it's okay?

  • 11:56:04

    BERGENIt's mostly okay. I get cranky. But...

  • 11:56:08

    REHMWe all get cranky. Absolutely.

  • 11:56:13

    BERGENBut I'm very blessed because he's a wonderful husband and a fine man.

  • 11:56:20

    REHMAnd Chloe is in a profession of her own.

  • 11:56:25

    BERGENYes. Yes, she is. She is a writer and she's a very fine writer. And she's an editor at Vogue Magazine. She's the social editor at Vogue, which means she knows everyone of interest in the city, which is great. And she, herself, has superior social skills. So she's a perfect choice for that job. And she was one of the youngest editors at the magazine. And she has great respect for Anna Wintour and for the people that she works for.

  • 11:56:57

    REHMSomeday I hope to meet her.

  • 11:56:59

    BERGENAnd I hope she could meet you, Diane.

  • 11:57:01

    REHMThank you. Candice Bergen, her latest memoir is titled "A Fine Romance." So glad to have had you here.

  • 11:57:12

    BERGENWhat a pleasure, Diane.

  • 11:57:14

    REHMThank you. And thanks, all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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