Everybody knows Candice Bergen from Murphy Brown but before she had a career in Hollywood, she was essentially a prop in a ventriloquist act in a house in a town called Beverly Hills.
Bergen was born in 1946 to Frances Westcott and Edgar Bergen. Frances was an actress and model and Edgar was the most famous ventriloquist in the world.
Edgar had a “son” named Charlie McCarthy. He was a puppet.
For the first several years of her life Candice believed Charlie was a real person, her brother. He had his own bedroom (bigger than hers) and he had lengthy conversations with her during meals.
“For the first three years of her life, candice had breakfast with Edgar and Charlie McCarthy…Charlie would sit there and talk to her: ‘drink your milk.’ her father never spoke directly to her. till one day she opened a closet she wasn’t suppossed to open and found five of her brothers hanging there.” – Henry Jaglom
A few years later Edgar would do a ventriloquist act with both of his kids at the breakfast table. He would place Charlie on one knee and Candice on the other.
“A gentle squeeze on the back of my neck was my cue to open and shut my mouth so he could ventriloquize me. Charlie and I would chatter together silently, while behind us Dad would supply the snappy repartee for both of us.” – Candice Bergen
Candice would go to birthday parties at Liza Minelli’s house, where a whole circus would perform, or to Walt Disney’s house with his rideable trainset.
Eventually, she was shipped off to a boarding school in Switzerland. When her parents visited when she was 14 she offered them a Bloody Mary mixed by Richard Burton who was there visiting as well.
She briefly attended the University of Pennsylvania but flunked out. She turned to modeling and acting, the latter of which she would be moderately successful at before the age of 42 when Murphy Brown made her a household name.
When Edgar Bergen died in 1978 he left Candice $0. He left Charlie $10,000.
“I make this provision for sentimental reasons which to me are vital due to the association with Charlie McCarthy who has been my constant companion and who has taken on the character of a real person and from whom I have never been separated even for a day.” – Edgar Bergen’s Will
What happened to this $10,000 remains a mystery to this day.
“Edgar Bergen was an ice-cold fellow.” – Orson Welles