Candice Bergen


  1. Jane Fonda, The Chase, 1966.     It was Sam Spiegel who first saw her as a future star, introduced her to Columbia, tested her for several of his productions…and unusually for him, kept his hands off her. It was Candice’s test as Robert Redford’s wife that convinced  Robert Wise to  sign her for The Sand Pebbles, long before she had finished her memorable debut  in The Group, 1966. “I’d not heard of her.  Everyone was very high on the Group test and suggested I take a look. Fortunately, she had the smallest role in The Group,  so she had plenty of time  to read our script and test for us.”
  2. Katharine Ross, The Graduate,  1967.    
  3. Harriett  Andersson, The  Deadly  Affair, 1967.   Missed probably true best film of a John le Carre book due to delays on  The Sand Pebbles. “Never in the history of movie-making  has so much time been wasted doing so little.  To pass the time on Formosa, I went to funerals.”
  4. Jane Fonda, Hurry Sundown, 1967.   For the central roles of Julie Ann and Henry Warren, producer-director-ogre Otto Preminger snared Bergen and Michael Caine. Candice escaped and Fonda suffered. The following year, Bergen and Caine co-starred in The Magus. No better.
  5. Barbara Parkins, The Valley of the Dolls1967.
  6. Faye Dunaway, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967.  For the insurance agent investigating Tommy Crown, director Norman Jewison wanted Eva Marie Saint.  Too old, screamed the suits. OK, the director drew up a dreamy wish list:  Anouk Aimé,  Brigitte Bardot, Candice Bergen, Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Suzanne Pleshette, Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Tate,   Raquel Welch… and his star, Steve McQueen, suggested testing Camilla Sparv.  “Yeah, well, I’ve just seen an early print of Bonnie and Clyde… and you’re gonna spend eight hours kissing her!”
  7. Carol  White, Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting, 1968.     First choices for the victim of a psychopath (who’d seen too many movies said critic Roger Ebert) were Bergen, Jane Fonda, Marlo Thomas.  White was totally miscast, too healthy, wrote Ebert, too blond, too fetchingly plump, too simple, too secure for a haunted heroine. Ironically, her role was named Cathy – and White’s biggest UK film (and social impact) success was in Ken Loach’s tele-film, Cathy Come Home, 1969.
  8. Diana Rigg, The Hospital, 1971. For the first time in his (eventual) 39 screen-writing gigs, Paddy Chayefsky has total control of his work.  He was the writer, producer and, indeed, the opening narrator for a blistering take on not merely the US medical services but the divided nation of the 60s.  UA wanted Bergen, Jane Fonda or Ali MacGraw as The Girl. Paddy did not. He signed Mrs Emma Peel/Mrs James Bond…
  9. Dominique Sanda, The Mackintosh Man, 1973.   Not many actresses turn down Paul Newman – and John Huston!  After her weak excuse (‘the material is too risky”), Bergen came clean in her autobiography: “Twelve weeks is three months. Three months is 90  days…  Leaving The Love Object for 90  nights!”  He was producer Bert Schneider. 
  10. Mia Farrow, The Great Gatsby, 1973.  There were  eight  possible Daisy Buchanans – Candice Bergen, Genevieve Bujold, Lois Chiles, Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Katharine Ross, Tuesday Weld and Natalie Wood. were also in the loop but Bergen and Farrow went to the wire.  Producer David Merrick wanted “aristocratic looks, hard to find in an actress.” Farrow won the tests – with the looks of a ‘flu victim with a 103 temperature. And Chiles became the “fast” Jordan Baker. Time magazine’ critic  Jay Cocks decreed: “The film is faithful to the letter of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel but entirely misses its point.” 

  11. Jacqueline Bisset, The Deep, 1976.   Wanted.   By Columbia Pictures. Someone… anyone  “looking like Ursula Andress in a bikini.”  (So why didn’t they ask her to be Gail?)  Bisset beat fellow Brits Samantha Eggar, Charlotte Rampling, plus Candice Bergen, Katharine Ross and newcomers Susan Blakely, Christina Raines. But disliking the “silly and unfair” Andress line, she refused to be forced into a wet tee-shir!!   Still riding the wave of The Detective, Bullitt, Airport, etc, she wanted Nick Nolte’s second billing.  He refused.  Until meeting her…

  12. Faye Dunaway, Network, 1976.  
    Having worked with the world’s “greatest English-speaking actress” on Murder on the Orient Express in 1974, director Sidney Lumet wanted Vanessa as Diana Christensen, “the ratings-hungry programming executive who is prepared to do anything for better numbers,” as critic Roger Ebert put it. But the Jewish scenarist Paddy Chayefsky refused her, due to her sympathies with the PLO: Palestine Liberation Organisation.  “Paddy, that’s blacklisting,” said Lumet, also Jewish. “Not when a Jew does it to a Gentile,” retorted Paddy. Also in the Diana mix: Bergen, Ellen Burstyn, Jill Clayburgh, Jane Fonda, Kay Lenz (stuck on TV’s Rich Man, Poor Man), Marsha Mason and Natalie Wood. Faye won one of the four Oscars won by the “satire” which became reality when the fictional UBS network became a fact. Fox. 
      And  her then-hubby, photographer  Terry O’Neill, got his classic Morning After photo!  The following year, Vanessa won a support Oscar for Julia, despite what she called intimidation (picketing and burning her effigy) outside the event by “Zionist hoodlums.”

  13. Margot Kidder, Superman, 1977.
  14. Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977.   The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 29possible pretty Violets – and another 19 actresses for her mother: Candice Bergen, Cher, Julie Christie, Glenn Close (passed), Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda (with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (preferred Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Sylvia Kriste (Emmanuelle, herself),  Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver. Plus Joan Collins, who suggested Jasmine Maimone,  her screen daughter in that year’s Magnum Cop,  would  make a fine Violet. Louis  Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City, 1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
  15. Karen Black, Capricorn One, 1977.   Ironically, the futureTV journo, Murphy Brown (1988-1998) passed on the role of… a TV journo!
  16. Mary Steenburgen, Goin’ South, 1978.    Back in 1970,  Paramount was voting George Segal and Candice, when Jack Nicholson suggested Jane Fonda and himself as the odd Western couple (she saves him from the gallows by agreeing to wed him).  By ’77, Nicholson (and Warren Beatty) discovered Mary waitressing at the Magic Pan Creperie on 58th Street and fought to star her first.
  17. Audrey Hepburn, Bloodline, 1979.   Jacqueline Bisset and Diane Keaton also refused. When Audrey came to UK director Terence Young’s rescue, the heroine moved from 22 to 33.  Hepburn, however, was actually… 50.
  18. Jill Clayburgh, Starting Over, 1979.  Dumbfounded, offended, at losing the top role, she become the “silly, shallow, self-absorbed” wife. “Not since Tony Curtis in The Vikings had there been such classic miscasting!” In her first film since her father’s death, she finally inherited his “joy o fmaking people laugh” – becoming the comic that ventriloquist Edgar Bergen always hoped she would be.  Here was her   first step towards  TV’s Murphy Brown.
  19. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987. 
  20. Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  20