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Bullet Points: Candice Bergen on Life After ‘Murphy’

Author Chris Wright Photography CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

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The new memoir from Candice Bergen, A Fine Romance, starts where the actress’s previous best-selling memoir left off, with Bergen’s marriage to legendary French film director Louis Malle, in 1980. From here, there’s a succession of milestones, including Bergen’s breakthrough role on “Murphy Brown” (pictured) in 1988 and her being pulled into the 1992 presidential election by Dan Quayle (for her TV character’s status as an unwed working mother).

Bergen, who turns 69 next month, allows that A Fine Romance isn’t always as upbeat as its predecessor—“A husband’s death [her beloved Louis died in 1995] can put a dent in the humor,” she says—but she is also aware that hers is no sob story. “Murphy Brown” remains one of the most successful and influential TV comedies of all time, she’s happily remarried, and her daughter Chloe, an editor at Vogue, is doing well.

“The book has a happy ending,” Bergen says. “But I was also about four years late turning it in, so the fact that it has any ending at all is a relief.”

Here, the feminist icon shares a few more details about what she affectionately describes as her “messy” life. (april 7)

• On over-sharing
“When I sat down to write, I said, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m doing it right.’ But maybe there’s too much intimate stuff. The self-indulgence and ego required to write a memoir is something I hate confessing to. I’m low-key and self-effacing, so I have trouble with that side of it.”

• On parenthood
“Having a child is a chance to redo our own childhood. Both of my parents were affectionate, but they never said they loved me—I don’t think it occurred to them. But Chloe, from the time she opened her eyes, I was saying it to her, singing it to her. My daughter is the love of my life. She’s a compassionate, vibrant, witty person. It’s been thrilling watching her grow up and gain independence. Of course, at the same time, it’s like a knife in my heart.”

• On Murphy brown
“It was uncanny how perfect Murphy was for me. I looked at the script and thought, ‘Oh God, this is mine.’ But I’m not really like her. I’m the least brassy person. So playing Murphy gave me a shot of confidence. Still, I found the Dan Quayle incident overwhelming. I put my head underground and waited for it to be over.”

• On life after Murphy
“The nature of fame is that it comes instantly, and it leaves instantly. So when ‘Murphy’ ended, sudden obscurity was something for me to deal with. If I’d been younger, I think I would have spun off into the atmosphere. Even in my 40s, it was all I could do to keep my head on straight.”

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