Candice Bergen turned 70, and is comfortable looking her age, as well she should. She is happily free from the runway-model thinness.
She started out with the right genes. Her mother, Francis, was a Powers model who went by the professional name of Francis Westcott. Her father, as we all know, was Edgar Bergen, the ventriloquist for Charlie McCarthy. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy were superstars in our day.
(Trivia: Edgar’s parents were Swedish immigrants whose name was originally “Berggren.” When very young, Candice appeared on her father’s radio show and was described as Charlie’s little sister, which she hated.)
She attended the University of Penn (yes, right here in Philadelphia) where she was elected Homecoming Queen and Miss University. She flunked out after her sophomore year, but she was a late bloomer and they awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1992. No one questions her intelligence.
Her latest memoir, A Fine Romance, a highly praised bestseller (that I plan to read), was published in 2015. A previous memoir, also a bestseller, Knock Wood, was published in 1984.
So much for the back story. In her latest book, she tells us her father sat her down during those early times when she was getting so much publicity, and said, “You know, Candy, it’s the beautiful women who commit suicide. It’s the beautiful women who struggle in life.”
That was an amazing observation, contrary to our expectations. Good looks are an obstacle to a happy life, not a help. It is possible to be too good looking, for both men and women. Looking back over our high school yearbook, our best looking classmates often did not have happy lives, while the rest of us did. When I watch a webcam on the Ocean City boardwalk, I see streams of happy people, but not many who would be candidates for Homecoming Queen anywhere—or King. (Candice seems to have learned from her father’s advice and had both a happy life and beauty. But she was unusually grounded and laughed at herself. Like you, she is the exception that proves the rule.)
Good looks do not lead inevitably to happiness? Why should this be? We all do what little we can to make ourselves better looking—buying better clothes, working out, styling our hair—assuming this will increase our happiness. I am better off staying just as I am, I kid you not. Just as long as I do not scare little children.