I’ve just read Candice Bergen’s recent memoir, A Fine Romance, in two, long luscious sittings. That’s not to say I positively loved it. I’m still slightly on the fence about that.
Their romance took off like a Roman candle and Mr. Malle, lo and behold, was an avid letter writer, missives Ms Bergen generously shares.
Pages of a letter, bursting with loving endearments one can hold and remember are jewels to see us into old age.
She has piles of them.
Nov 12 1982
My darling, I was just speaking to you, your first call from Dubrovnik. Each time I hear your voice, it does go from my ear to my heart and then radiates through my entire body. When your voice says my darling I feel together again, I feel myself again.
Nov 23 1982
My darling, my love, my life, it is tough isn’t it? We so much need each other, we’ve made our lives so much part of each other, it feels like I have been cut from half of myself. Going to bed, waking up in the middle of the night, having a slight pause in the madness of the shoot, every time the same pain, the same anguish. “Where is she? I miss her, I need her.”
I was so sad to leave and didn’t know how to deal with it. I wanted to hold you in my arms but didn’t want to give you my cold….this is just to tell you how much I miss you.
Let’s hear it for separation.
When Candice finds she’s pregnant with their daughter Chloe, things change. Louis has two other children from two other women prior to her…hey…he’s French…but sadly, he kind of gets left in the placenta as it were, because once she gives birth, she also gives all her love to this tiny, new being.
As you read you think, hey…hold it Candy, back up…you’re making a mistake here. You can’t abandon a man who clearly loves you this much for a baby, even if it is his.
We then segue to Murphy Brown, Bergen’s signature acting role propelling her to fame and fortune. She appeared in films before this, but Murphy makes her a legend.
What I know about TV is, it’s demanding, long and lavishly lucrative at a very high price. Fourteen hour days are not unusual, exhaustion like you’ve never known. Your whole life revolves around the show, and in her case she was the show, so do the math on that one.
Her husband stayed in France coming to L. A. a few days a month. Their intimacy that took your breath away, was suddenly reduced to a jaded, jet-lagged love.
I found myself at 3 in the morning railing at her. Are you nuts? This man is amazing…he’s more important than an Emmy, I promise you…as she walked away with 5.
To his credit, as an artist, he was supportive of her at a great cost, but her choice to work in such a demanding medium sadly left little room for closeness. Even when the show was on hiatus and she and Chloe spent time in France, the harm of neglect was already in play.
Then Louis Malle becomes ill with an autoimmune disease first stealing his speech, then the use of his legs before dying in 1995 at the age of 63.
It broke my heart…especially when both his wife and daughter kept saying…when will this be over…when will we have our life back?
I’m no stranger to illness, and watching someone die is the ultimate leveler, but when you love someone down to your socks, you have to get it’s a privilege to be there.
The second part of her book is a second marriage to another stellar man, who also loves her passionately. She clearly has something going on to snag all these magnificent men.
But what I really got from her, and her candor does her credit, is she’s a very self-absorbed human being. The term narcissist comes to mind…extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.
Nothing seems more important than her, and her need for adulation globally, not just from a loving partner. And people like that don’t want to be joined at the hip even though on occasion they do want you there, but always on their terms.
I couldn’t help feeling how unconscious she seemed as she penned much of this.
There’s an expression, one holds out a cheek while the other kisses it. It appears Candy Bergen’s cheeks have been kissed a lot, all four of them.
I’m still going to recommend A Fine Romance for its brutal, artless and in spots, tender honesty. She’s basically saying, this is who I am, take it or leave it. I’m a bitch who tries not to be, but at 69, what do you want from me?
She admits she’s fat due to medication and a lust for sweets, has had Botox and little plastic clean-ups…prefers dogs to humans and wishes her husband, the sweetest man on earth, wasn’t so needy of constant companionship.
I’m someone who feels candor is worth its mettle despite what it reveals.