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November 8, 2023 40 mins

When Candice Bergen describes her childhood as weird and eccentric, she isn’t exaggerating. She grew up with a world-famous sibling, who met presidents and movie stars. He was also a dummy – the kind made of wood. Charlie McCarthy was the creation of her ventriloquist father Edgar Bergen. Candice tells Mo what life was like sharing her father’s love and attention with a puppet.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
How often does Charlie cross your mind?

Speaker 2 (00:05):
Oh, not as often as you think, but probably once
a week.

Speaker 1 (00:16):
Have you ever dreamed about him?

Speaker 3 (00:19):

Speaker 2 (00:19):
Since I've been an adult. I think it's amazing that
I'm a walking, talking person, frankly, and nobody gives me
credit for that. The fact that I'm like a normal
person is a miracle.

Speaker 1 (00:34):
I'm speaking with actress Candice Bergen. You probably know her
best as TV's Murphy Brown. It's a role that won
her five Emmys.

Speaker 4 (00:43):
Which one of you turkeys got their greasy fingerprints all
over my emmy?

Speaker 2 (00:48):
All right, too bad?

Speaker 1 (00:51):
But her real life story could be its own TV series,
more Twilight Zone than Sitcom, you see. Candace Sperking grew
up with a rather unusual sibling, and he.

Speaker 2 (01:04):
Was always called my brother since I was a little kid.
It was like and your brother, Charlie. There was always
such an aura around him in the house. He had
his own room next to mine. It was a guest room,
but it was called Charlie's room. And Charlie was in
the closet. Oh did he sleep in the closet. He
would hang in the closet and his different heads would

hang in the closet. And he had a sleepy head
and an old head and an angry head.

Speaker 1 (01:37):
Yeah, for Charlie's different moods, exactly without your father manipulating him.
He must have looked.

Speaker 2 (01:45):
Dead, not dead enough, he was always living.

Speaker 1 (01:57):
The Charlie we're talking about is Charlie McCarry. And if
you haven't figured it out already, Charlie was a dummy, yes,
a boy made of wood. And Candace's father, Edgar Bergen,
was the ventriloquist who brought him to life.

Speaker 5 (02:12):
Well, I believe in letting a boy work for his money, Yes,
you approve. Man.

Speaker 1 (02:18):
Listeners of a certain age will remember Charlie as the
ultimate smart alec, usually dressed in a tuxedo with a
top hat and monocle. And for a time, this dummy
was one of this country's biggest stars.

Speaker 5 (02:34):
Miss West.

Speaker 6 (02:35):
This is the famous Charlie McCarthy.

Speaker 5 (02:37):
Oh hello, shot up doctor handsome, how tall, blonde and terrific.

Speaker 2 (02:43):
He was like a head of state, a minor state,
you know, like Monaca.

Speaker 1 (02:50):
Well he had his own coat of arms, right.

Speaker 2 (02:52):
Yeah he did. He had a Charlie McCarthy crest an,
a scepter and a crown. I thought this guy must
really rate.

Speaker 1 (03:04):
Charlie was kind of like God him. Well, he was
to me from CBS Sunday Morning, and iHeart, I'm Morocca
and this is mobituaries, this moment. Charlie McCarthy September thirtieth,

nineteen seventy eight, death of a dummy.

Speaker 2 (03:55):
I'm so proud of how weird and eccentric my childhood was.
Nobody as a childhood as weird as me. I mean,
I knew a lot of people whose parents were famous,
and none of them did anything nearly as weird as

my father.

Speaker 1 (04:18):
Right, So, Nancy Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Jane Fonda all had
famous parents, but they were normal. They weren't living with dummies.

Speaker 2 (04:29):

Speaker 1 (04:30):
We're going to continue with Kandisbergen's weird and eccentric childhood
in Act two. But in this act, I'm going to
tell you the story of her father's unlikely and spectacular
rise to fame as a ventriloquest because there is no
Charlie McCarthy without Edgar Bergen. Edgar Bergen was born in

Chicago to Swedish immigrants in nineteen oh three. At age eleven,
he began ventriloquism from a book he'd purchased for a quarter.
At sixteen, he managed to impress a touring vaudeville performer
known as the Great Leicster, enough so to get a
few months of free one on one lessons in ventriloquism.

Speaker 5 (05:16):
In my first year at high school, I discovered I
was a ventriloquist, and I earned my first dishonest money
answering roll calls.

Speaker 7 (05:22):
From missing classmates.

Speaker 1 (05:24):
In my senior year, I teamed up with Charlie.

Speaker 5 (05:25):
We've been partners ever since.

Speaker 1 (05:28):
Charlie was made to order. Edgar had paid Chicago woodcarver
Theodore Mack thirty five dollars to carve Charlie's head.

Speaker 2 (05:36):
Well. My father based the look of him on a
newsboy in his neighborhood in Illinois.

Speaker 1 (05:45):
This newsy An Irish kid named Charlie was around Edgar's age.
He inspired not only the dummies first name, but also
his appearance, short red hair, high rosy cheekbones, and big
bright eyes. As for the ummy's personality, he.

Speaker 2 (06:02):
Was cocky and smart and ambitious for a dummy, and
very confident.

Speaker 1 (06:13):
How many of those characteristics describe your father?

Speaker 2 (06:17):

Speaker 1 (06:21):
Edgar tended to be taciturn uneasy, and withdrawn. Candice describes
her father as stereotypically Swedish. Charlie gave Edgar a chance
to break out of his shell.

Speaker 2 (06:34):
I mean he could say anything through Charlie and he
wouldn't have to take the blame.

Speaker 1 (06:41):
That is pretty handy to have to have an id
that you could just take with you.

Speaker 2 (06:47):

Speaker 1 (06:47):
Right, and these are the things I want to be
able to say now. Edgar had not been raised to
work with a dummy.

Speaker 2 (06:54):
He was at Northwestern as a student. He was either
going to go into medicine or be a ventriloquism. It
was like.

Speaker 1 (07:03):
Humph, it was no to medicine, yes to ventriloquism. And
being a good ventriloquist meant learning to throw his voice.
And for people who don't know, can you explain what
does it mean to throw your voice? What does that mean?

Speaker 2 (07:18):
It means that you squeeze it from your diaphragm and
it gives the illusion that your voice is coming from
across the room and that there's someone at the door,
or that there's someone in the corner, and you go,
who's in here. It's like a vocal illusion.

Speaker 1 (07:39):
In its earliest ancient forms. Ventriloquism was associated with oracles
who claimed to address spirits dwelling inside their stomachs. By
the time Edgar Bergen was coming up, those so called
belly prophets had become known as belly talkers, a not
exactly prestigious form of entertain These were the days of vaudeville,

and for a decade, Edgar and Charlie played theaters across
the country. Luxurious this was not, and yet Edgar would
later describe this as the happiest time in his career.

Speaker 5 (08:15):

Speaker 2 (08:16):
You would talk about vaudeville and you know how getting
on the trains and sleeping on the trunks and just
going from town to town and it would be freezing cold,
and then it was baking hot. But he he loved it.

Speaker 1 (08:32):
A typical vaudeville bill would include up to ten live
stage acts, running the gamut from established singers and comedians
to novelty acts like mind readers, jugglers, and trained lions.
Edgar and Charlie steadily climbed the ranks and eventually arrived
at the valhalla of vaudeville, performing at New York's Palace Theater. Wow. Yeah,

Playing the Palace was the pinnacle, Alice.

Speaker 2 (09:01):
It was the pinnacle we always used to come to
New York and he would say, Candy, that is the
theater where your father performed in Vaudeville. And I was
so indifferent. I was just like, yeah, right, Edgar.

Speaker 1 (09:20):
It turned out reached this peak just in time. Within
a few years, Vaudeville had been overtaken by motion pictures
and radio, and Vaudeville's over and your father had to
remake himself.

Speaker 2 (09:32):
That's when he started to make the break was when
he played the supper clubs in Chicago. I mean it
was very swanky.

Speaker 1 (09:45):
The act was a hit in Chicago, and word made
its way west to a very influential entertainer.

Speaker 2 (09:51):
And Rudy Valley discovered my father, and then Rudy Valley
brought my father to Hollywood.

Speaker 1 (09:58):
Rudy Valley was a singer and bandleader with a popular
radio show.

Speaker 6 (10:03):
Just Imagine the Dummy, and take my word for it
that both voices you will hear are owned and operated
by just one man, Edgar Bergen.

Speaker 1 (10:14):
Edgar and Charlie made their radio debut on Rudy Valley's
program in December nineteen thirty six.

Speaker 6 (10:21):
Why put a ventriloquist on the air. The answer is
why not?

Speaker 5 (10:25):

Speaker 6 (10:25):
Our ventriloquist, Edgar Bergan, is an unusual one, sort of
Noel Coward or perhaps Fred Allen among ventriloquists, an extrous
fellow who depends more upon the cleverness and wit of
his material than upon the believe it or not nature
of his delivery.

Speaker 1 (10:41):
A ventriloquist act on the radio. This doesn't make a
lot of sense to modern ears, so can you do
explain it.

Speaker 2 (10:52):
To any ears? But it gave him latitude. Charlie Kuitski,
Charlie could ride horses, Charlie could climb mountains. There was
nothing they couldn't do on the radio.

Speaker 1 (11:06):
Wow, So ventriloquist act on the radio actually had more freedom,
had more creative potential.

Speaker 2 (11:13):
Yeah, it was more engaging for the radio audience because
they were so un fettered.

Speaker 1 (11:21):
Let's hear a bit of the act from that first
radio broadcast.

Speaker 5 (11:25):
Alcohol. It's nothing but slow poison, is la. It's slow poison?

Speaker 2 (11:30):
Is that?

Speaker 5 (11:31):

Speaker 1 (11:31):
Yes, slow poison, that's what it is. Slow poison is Well,
I'm in no hurry.

Speaker 8 (11:38):
Well, let me say.

Speaker 1 (11:43):
That appearance was such a success they got their own show. Well,
Charlie got his own show, The.

Speaker 5 (11:50):
Makers of Jason Samblan Coffee Bring You The Johnny McCarthy Show,
starring Edgar Bergen and Gnomy.

Speaker 1 (12:03):
The Golden Age of radio was just getting started. Edgar
and Charlie carroused with all the big stars of the day.

Speaker 2 (12:11):
Charlie, why don't you walk out on Bergen?

Speaker 6 (12:14):
What's holding you?

Speaker 8 (12:15):
He is?

Speaker 1 (12:16):
His on air banter with legendary vamp May West caused controversy.

Speaker 5 (12:21):
Why don't you.

Speaker 6 (12:22):
Come up home with me now, honey, I'll let you play.

Speaker 1 (12:24):
In my woodpile. Charlie cracked wise with crooner Frank Sinatra.

Speaker 9 (12:32):
Well tell me, Charlie, what makes you think you could
make me a success?

Speaker 1 (12:35):
Well look what I did for Bergen and Charlie fond
over a young Marilyn Monroe.

Speaker 8 (12:42):
My dear, we were made for each other.

Speaker 5 (12:47):
Just yes, gladly, all right.

Speaker 1 (13:00):
Charlie had particularly memorable exchanges with comedian W. C. Fields.

Speaker 8 (13:06):
My only laugh you ever got was a sneer from
a disgruntled termite.

Speaker 5 (13:10):

Speaker 1 (13:13):
I read somewhere that WC. Fields genuinely hated Charlie. Yeah,
he probably did, called him a flop house for termites.

Speaker 2 (13:22):
Or all we only you're down to a coat hanger.
That was one line.

Speaker 1 (13:27):
Around this time, Edgar and Charlie began appearing in movies
where the audience could see them at work. Here they
are in the nineteen thirty eight Backstage drama Letter of introduction.

Speaker 5 (13:39):
You're not so clever e than mister.

Speaker 2 (13:41):
Oh I'm not well.

Speaker 5 (13:42):
I can see your lips move. Oh that burns him up. You.

Speaker 2 (13:49):
He was not meticulous about his technique, really, because people
could always see him moving his lips.

Speaker 1 (13:55):
Well, I was gonna say that. And why didn't that
bother people?

Speaker 2 (14:00):
Adienk because they were focused on the on Charlie and
the material was so.

Speaker 1 (14:06):
Smart, and so the fact that you could see Edgar
Bergen's mouth moving a little bit, it's.

Speaker 2 (14:11):
A lot, Okay, I think it was a lot.

Speaker 1 (14:15):
It should be noted that Edgar Bergen created other characters,
the sweet but slow witted Mortimer Snurd. You don't get around.

Speaker 5 (14:24):
Very much, do your Mortimer?

Speaker 3 (14:26):

Speaker 2 (14:26):
No, I live with Grandpa.

Speaker 7 (14:29):
You live?

Speaker 5 (14:30):

Speaker 2 (14:31):
I mean some people loved Mortimer, and he had his
own theme song, and.

Speaker 1 (14:44):
And then there was Spitfire Spinster, Effie Clinker.

Speaker 5 (14:48):
You're not mate, No, I'm not No, no, damn it.

Speaker 2 (14:54):
No one, and Effie had no interest for me, Charli.

Speaker 1 (15:00):
He was just not going to let these other characters shine. No,
there was just no.

Speaker 2 (15:04):
Way, no, and they weren't as equal.

Speaker 1 (15:06):
In nineteen thirty seven, at the height of their fame,
Edgar received an honorary oscar for the creation of Charlie.
The statuette itself was wooden with a movable mouth. And
then the next year another milestone of sorts, Edgar and
Charlie's radio show was airing at the same time as
Orson Wells's infamous War of the World's broadcast. You may

remember that that program led some listeners to believe that
Martians were invading rural New Jersey.

Speaker 2 (15:36):
And things stopped in parts of the country. People were
so panic stricken because they thought we were being invaded
by aliens. It only didn't end life in America because
many people were listening to my father's radio show, which
was on at the same time.

Speaker 1 (15:57):
Orson Wells later claimed that he received a telegram from
drama critic Alexander Walcott saying, quote, this only goes to
prove my beamish boy that all the intelligent people were
listening to that dummy and that all the dummies were
listening to you. Charlie even met to US Presidents FDR

and Harry Truman.

Speaker 2 (16:19):
Yeah, he met everybody. I have an invitation from Missus
Roosevelt to Charles McCarthy to lunch at the White House.
I don't know if my father was invited, but Charlie
is definitely invited.

Speaker 5 (16:34):
This has really been a wonderful day for us. Yet
it has lunch at the White House, pot luck with Roosevelt. Yes.

Speaker 1 (16:44):
By the time Candice Bergen was born in nineteen forty six,
Charlie McCarthy was a megastar, coming up after the break.
A sibling rivalry unlike any other.

Speaker 5 (17:10):
Who Lizy, what is your father's name? Edgar Bergen?

Speaker 1 (17:14):
In nineteen fifty eight, a young Candas Bergen appeared on
the comedy quiz show You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx.

Speaker 5 (17:21):
Your father is Edgar began the Swedish Nightingale. Yeah, well
then your brothers must be Charlie McCarthy and Motamus name.

Speaker 2 (17:32):
It was not good for Charlie when I was born.
Charlie was always competition for me, and he always won.

Speaker 1 (17:39):
When Candasbergen was born in nineteen forty six, it was
kind of big news. Papers featured a photo of baby
Candace in her cradle, lovingly surrounded by father Edgar, mother Francis,
and yes, Charlie. The photo caption in the Los Angeles
Times actually read Charlie's new can.

Speaker 2 (18:00):
I mean it was. It was an eccentric childhood when
we used to have breakfast, the three of us, my father, Charlie,
and I, and we would sit at the table and
my father would put me on one knee and Charlie
on the other, and he would have us talk to
each other.

Speaker 3 (18:23):
Were you actually talking in this scenario you were on
I was talking, but my father was squeezing my neck
to cue me when to move my mouth to start talking.

Speaker 2 (18:35):
I find photographs sometimes of me when I was like
seven or eight, and I am giving Charlie a look
that's like as soon as my father leaves, I am
going to put a knife in your rip. I mean,
it's like I cannot wait to kill this thing.

Speaker 1 (18:58):
Probably know him. She captures their relationship more than the
Christmas photo that you took when Candace was just three.
There's no other way to say it. It's pretty creepy.
She and Charlie stand at the top of a dark
staircase in matching footy pajamas. Candas is holding a lip

candle while Charlie, wearing his monocle, just kind of hovers.
Both glare straight ahead, just.

Speaker 2 (19:29):
About to push him down the stairs, just on the cusp,
and I'm looking so unhappy, I'm scowling.

Speaker 1 (19:37):
So when you say that you wanted to push Charlie
down the stairs or stab him, was it that you
were annoyed? Was it that you were jealous?

Speaker 2 (19:46):
Jealous? I was jealous.

Speaker 1 (19:49):
Yeah, but killing Charlie didn't really make a lot of sense,
and not just because you can't kill a puppet.

Speaker 2 (19:55):
He was the head of the family. He wasn't just
a member of the family.

Speaker 1 (20:03):
What was that like for your mother?

Speaker 2 (20:07):
Such a good question. My mother dealt with it with
tremendous grace.

Speaker 1 (20:17):
Francis Bergen was an actress and fashion model from Alabama.
Her face graced billboards as both the Ipana Girl for
Ipana toothpaste and the Chesterfield Girl for Chesterfield Cigarettes. She
was only nineteen when she met Edgar.

Speaker 2 (20:34):
She met my father at his radio show. She was
in the front row, right, and she had very long
legs and she was sitting in the front row wearing
a skirt and heels, and my father saw her legs
and went about meeting her afterwards.

Speaker 1 (20:49):
Edgar, who had never married, was thirty nine and a
major star, and there was a big age difference.

Speaker 2 (20:55):
Yeah, about twenty years. He was a very good candidate
for marriage, and she loved him.

Speaker 1 (21:04):
They were married in Mexico in the summer of nineteen
forty five. And do you think after the wedding, when
they started home together, she thought there are three of
us in this marriage.

Speaker 2 (21:15):
Oh, very much so, and accepted it. I mean everybody
accepted it. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (21:22):
One of the crazy ways that the press participated. There's
an LA Times headline after your parents get engaged, and
it says will Charlie let Bergen wed. Oh gosh, everyone
was all in on this.

Speaker 2 (21:40):
It's just really weirdness beyond what should be allowed.

Speaker 1 (21:45):
Before long, Candice began making appearances with her father and
her sort of brother.

Speaker 2 (21:51):
We go on my father's radio show together. Obviously, Charlie
was regular, he was on every show since it was
the Charlie Courthy Show. But I would go on and
we would compete with each other for my father's attention.

Speaker 5 (22:07):
Tonight, Charlly. Tonight, my little daughter Candy is going to
be on this show. Yeah, and that's why I'm so happy,
you know, she she's the apple of my eyes. Yes
I know, but don't forget buster. I'm the cabbage of
the bank book.

Speaker 1 (22:24):
Yes, Candace was just nine years old in this radio
show appearance, and it seems like her father is stoking
the rivalry.

Speaker 5 (22:35):
Candy, my my own little Candy. Oh Jesus, yes, tonight tonight,
my heart is full of joy. Tonight my little girl
steps out into the footlights of life down down ply Snoke.

She's getting laughs too, watching Kidrin. There's only one star
on this show. Just remember that.

Speaker 1 (23:04):
Candice was living in Charlie's shadow, but so was her father.

Speaker 5 (23:08):
But I want to be on the show, Charlie. I
want to be just like daddy. Oh no, ambitionary.

Speaker 2 (23:17):
I remember that dialogue. I guess he was a real
smartness on some level.

Speaker 1 (23:22):
Did you love Charlie?

Speaker 3 (23:27):

Speaker 2 (23:27):
But I felt connected to him sometimes uncomfortably connected to him.
There were moments when I liked him. It depended on
my father, because you know, my father was the guy
behind him.

Speaker 1 (23:44):
Did Charlie make it more difficult for you to get
close to your father, Did it seem that way.

Speaker 2 (23:51):
I spent less time with my father when he was
with Charlie because he was working with Charlie, and so
Charlie always go with him in the car in his trunk.
But I was just jealous of the time. I think
the time and the importance he was so important.

Speaker 1 (24:13):
Candice relished the one on one time with her father
that she did get.

Speaker 2 (24:17):
We'd go fishing, we'd go in his plane. He'd put
phone books on the seat for me and I'd get
to fly. We'd go to Palm Springs and we'd we'd
just have like little trips together.

Speaker 1 (24:30):
That was just the two of us without Charlie. Yeah,
no Charlie, Charlie free zone.

Speaker 2 (24:35):
Yeah, Charlie free zone and mother free zone.

Speaker 4 (24:39):
Was just us.

Speaker 1 (24:41):
That's pretty special. Can I ask you, do you remember
the first time that you said I love you to
your father.

Speaker 2 (24:53):
I don't know that I ever did, because I never
heard it from him. Think I think it was and
my mother too. It was a big struggle for me
because I had to, like because I wanted to hear

it from my parents so much. I'm sure I probably
forced my father to say it some way when I
was older, like thirteen or fourteen when I got into
that sticky age. But and I dimly remember him saying yes,

well I love you to him, it's like, okay, can
we move on now.

Speaker 1 (25:40):
When Candace was fifteen, her brother Chris was born, and
this was an actual flesh and blood brother. And you
just loved your little brother.

Speaker 2 (25:50):
I did. And we're still very very close. Yeah, except
he's six ' three now, so he's not a little
brother anymore.

Speaker 1 (25:58):
By this time, Candace was becoming more and more comfortable
in the spotlight. At eighteen, she appeared on the TV
program The Hollywood Palace, hosted by Purl Lives Edgar.

Speaker 7 (26:09):
I hope you won't mind if I tell the book
something about the lovely young girl who appeared in your act.
Ladies and gentlemen, That charming young lady and Edgar's act
was his eighteen year old daughter Ken look out.

Speaker 2 (26:26):
Ahire you gentlemen.

Speaker 5 (26:29):
Isn't she beautiful?

Speaker 1 (26:30):

Speaker 5 (26:31):
Thank you, Charlie, just my love.

Speaker 1 (26:34):
She has to be my sister.

Speaker 3 (26:37):
Oh gosh, it was the family business, Yes, it was.

Speaker 2 (26:42):
Very much so.

Speaker 1 (26:43):
Do you think your father was ever resentful of Charlie?

Speaker 2 (26:47):
Well, I think he created a monster everybody wanted Charlie
and they didn't want my father.

Speaker 1 (26:54):
Edgar's dream was to appear in movie musicals.

Speaker 2 (26:57):
My father did a few things by himself, but really
Charlie was the draw. My father had to fight to
get billing above Charlie. On the radio show, it was
always the Charlie McCarthy Show with Edgar Bergen.

Speaker 1 (27:14):
There's a quote where your father said at one point,
Charlie is famous and I am the forgotten man. Yeah,
did he mean that seriously?

Speaker 8 (27:24):

Speaker 2 (27:26):
I don't think he would have admitted it, but yeah,
Charlie just stole his thunder.

Speaker 1 (27:35):
On the other side of the break, A father's star
wanes as his daughter's star rises. Ladies and ten. In

nineteen sixty five, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his daughter Candice Bergen,
then aged nineteen, appeared on the game show What's My Line.
There's an ease and warmth between the two of them,
but their careers were moving in different directions.

Speaker 6 (28:15):
Look Magazine said it, and today The New York Daily
News had a wonderful piece about Candy's is.

Speaker 9 (28:19):
One of the great stars of the future in the
American cinema.

Speaker 2 (28:23):
Right in the.

Speaker 1 (28:25):
Right but as the stars of the past, right, and
your father says kind of under his breath, and I'm
a star of the past.

Speaker 2 (28:34):
Well it's true. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (28:37):
Edgar and Charlie's hugely popular radio shows ran for nearly
two decades until nineteen fifty six, but by the nineteen
sixties the novelty of their act had long since faded.
Was that period hard for your father when Charlie became
less popular and people just didn't care?

Speaker 2 (28:56):
Well, Charlie becoming less popular? Was my father also becoming
less popular and he'd also he'd aged out. That happens
to all of us.

Speaker 1 (29:09):
Well, we're still getting a lot of work. But Kandasbergen
has been a star for six decades. Her rise started
back in the nineteen sixties.

Speaker 2 (29:20):
Snobbish, fierce, contradictory, and controversial. I'm Kandisbergen, who portrays Lacky
in The.

Speaker 1 (29:26):
Group, That's Candice and the trailer for the nineteen sixty
six movie The Group her screen debut. By that time,
she'd had success as a fashion model. At twenty one,
she landed on the cover of Vogue, Working both sides
of the camera. She pursued a career as a photojournalist

in tandem with acting, and in nineteen seventy one, she
starred opposite Jack Nicholson in Carnal Knowledge.

Speaker 2 (29:54):
Bo Are you really something? I don't feel like something.
I feel like nothing.

Speaker 1 (30:03):
Her performance in the movie Starting Over earned her an
Academy Award nomination. On TV, she hosted Saturday Night Live
in its inaugural season and made history.

Speaker 4 (30:15):
I am very happy to be here tonight. I am
also especially happy to be here and Saturday Night's first
woman host. This may not make up for the era
vote the other day, but at least did something.

Speaker 1 (30:31):
While her father was a traditional Republican, Candace campaigned for
Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. She associated with and supported
activists like Abbi Hoffman. She was arrested at an anti
war sit in. By the early nineteen seventies, Candace was
a lot more than the daughter of a ventriloquest What

was that like? Do you think for your father when
he went from being Edgar Bergen too being Candasan's father.

Speaker 2 (31:03):
It was an adjustment for people in our house, for
I mean for my mother, for my father, for I
think he was proud of me, But at the same time,
I'm sure he was very mixed about it.

Speaker 1 (31:23):
Meanwhile, Charlie was spending most of his time in a trunk,
pulled out only occasionally to play small stages or conventions.
Edgar himself had aged into an emeritus figure. Johnny Carson,
who'd gotten his start as a magician, was a longtime
fan of Edgar Bergins and had him on his show.

Watching Edgar on The Tonight Show in nineteen seventy seven
without his scene partner is bittersweet. They always said.

Speaker 9 (31:51):
The venture was basically, remember when they were talking about you,
that you were a shy man, and you use Charlie
and more just to sayings. But they feel more comfortable
saying than you would if you said them.

Speaker 1 (32:04):
Is there any truth to that?

Speaker 2 (32:05):
I mean, you can be I guess.

Speaker 1 (32:06):
I hate to admit it, but I guess it certainly is.

Speaker 5 (32:09):
Because I wish I could walk into a room and
be accepted as readily as Charlie and martinmer.

Speaker 1 (32:14):
I've tried it and it doesn't work. I'm just no.
In September nineteen seventy eight, nearly sixty years after the
act was born, Edgar Bergen and his Wooden sidekick, convened
a press conference in Los Angeles, to announce their retirement.
Here's Charlie addressing reporters.

Speaker 5 (32:35):
I just am not going to admit it my last performance.

Speaker 1 (32:39):
I'm going to keep hoping you you.

Speaker 5 (32:41):
Take your pills and we can do it through benefits anyway.

Speaker 1 (32:45):
They would play one final two week engagement at Caesar's
Palace in Las Vegas. Do you remember your father's farewell
performances at Caesar's Palace?

Speaker 2 (32:55):
What was that like? It was very emotional. In fact,
I can't believe I'm getting emotional now thinking about it.
He was dressed in his white tie and tails, which
he never usually performed in.

Speaker 1 (33:16):
Candace, her mother, Frances, and her brother Chris were all
there on opening night.

Speaker 2 (33:22):
We were in a bonkhead in front of him, and
it was so emotional for us.

Speaker 1 (33:32):
Edgar and Charlie snapped back into the old routines as
if they'd never stopped doing them. Candace says that despite
his recent hospitalization, her father's performance was flawless, and he
wrote that you looked over and you saw your mother
was mouthing the words.

Speaker 2 (33:49):
Yeah, she'd heard them all so many times, and he
used old material, but he made it fresh. And we
went backstage afterward and I just talked him. I'm surprised
at how much it's effectively.

Speaker 1 (34:13):
Was he surprised at the turnout that that people wanted
to see him off because he.

Speaker 2 (34:18):
Had it had been it had been tough year for
that lean years. Yeah, he'd been performing in really p dunk.

Speaker 1 (34:31):
To me, what's so beautiful about it is somebody who
does have these lean years and has been performing this
act for almost sixty years, and then at the end
in this big venue it's a big deal, and that
you all were there for it.

Speaker 2 (34:48):
It was great. It was a great goodbye for him
to have. And then he died.

Speaker 1 (34:59):
Just three nights into the run. Edgar Bergan died in
his sleep in his Las Vegas hotel room.

Speaker 10 (35:06):
He began his career with not much more than a
block of wood and his native wit, which was plenty.
But when Edgar Bergen died Saturday at age seventy five,
more than the entertainment world took notice.

Speaker 2 (35:18):
I remember his funeral. Carl Reiner was walking in and
he said, I hope I can have a ending like that.
This for a performer, that's what you want. The Muppet
Movie was dedicated to his memory. Jim Henson just worshiped

your father. Sounds like that was very nice. He spoke
at the memorial and he brought hermit.

Speaker 1 (35:47):
Is that right?

Speaker 2 (35:52):
It wasn't your usual funeral? And Reagan spoke.

Speaker 8 (35:59):
There was of course Edgar, the kindly and modest man.
We all knew there was never any cruelty in the
laughter that he brought to us. But there was an
Edgar Bergen who in truth was the puckish, pixie like
destroyer of the pampas Charlie.

Speaker 1 (36:16):
Johnny Carson also spoke about Edgar's utter lack of pretension.

Speaker 2 (36:21):
He was the most unpretentious man, the most modest, just
again Swedish.

Speaker 1 (36:30):
Was Charlie at the memorial?

Speaker 2 (36:33):
No he was not, No, that would have been too weird. God.

Speaker 1 (36:45):
Edgar Bergen left ten thousand dollars in his will for
the Charlie McCarthy fund, but nothing for Candace.

Speaker 2 (36:53):
That was a bitter pill.

Speaker 1 (36:55):
What do you think that was about? Why did he
do that?

Speaker 2 (36:57):
Well? He knew I'd left home and was making money
for many years before he died, and he knew I'd
made a lot of money, so I didn't need it.
Of course neither did Charlie. And he owed it all
to Charlie. I mean it was Charlie's money. Charlie was
the breadwinner.

Speaker 1 (37:18):
Charlie, of course couldn't actually accept the funds. In fact,
the money was designated to be used to fund Ventriloquist
performances for children in orphanages and quote other such similar
institutes for destitute and handicapped children. Charlie McCarthy relocated from

Beverly Hills to a new home in Washington, d C.
At the Smithsonian Institute. Candice and her family flew to
DC to preview the exhibit.

Speaker 2 (37:50):
We were thrilled that we had him out and taken
care of, and because it was like, what do we
do with him now? As Charlie without my father was
like a thing.

Speaker 1 (38:05):
Candicesbergn remembers staring at Charlie on display, waiting for a
look of recognition or a wise crack, but it never came.
Without her father, there was no magic, the illusion was gone.

Speaker 5 (38:23):
Well, when we started way back in those days, you
might say we were practically nobody. Yes, that's right. Why
we've come a long way, haven't I?

Speaker 1 (38:34):
Yeah, I hope you enjoyed this mobituary. May I ask
you to please rate and review our podcast. You can
also follow Mobituaries on Facebook and Instagram, and you can
follow me on the social media platform formerly known as

Twitter at morocca. Hear all new episodes of Mobituaries every
Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts, and check out Mobituaries
Great Lives Worth Reliving, the New York Times best selling book,
available in paperback and audiobook. This episode of Mobituaries was
produced by Aaron Schrank. Our team of producers also includes

Hazelbrian and me Moroka, with engineering by Josh Han. Our
theme music is written by Daniel Hart. Our archival producer
is Jamie Benson. Mobituary's production company is Neon Hummmedia. Indispensable
support from Alan pang, Amy Cronenberg and everyone at CBS

News Radio. Special thanks to Steve Razis, Rand Morrison and
Alberto Robina. Executive producers for Mobituaries include Megan Marcus, Jonathan Hirsch,
and Moroka. The series is created by Yours Truly

Speaker 2 (40:00):
The ha
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