Maureen Dowd Asks Candice Bergen About That Famous Date With Donald Trump

From a Maureen Dowd interview in the New York Times headlined “Candice Bergen, Woman Who’s Had It All”:

There may be some things more fun than hanging out with Candice Bergen and talking about Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Steve McQueen, Jack Nicholson, Princess Diana, Princess Grace, John Belushi, Donald Trump, Charles Manson, getting fat, getting old, getting wrinkled and not giving a damn.

But I don’t know of anything. . . .

The Bergen family traces the history of show business in America, from the rise of her father, Edgar, in vaudeville, radio and fledgling TV as a ventriloquist — with a smart-aleck dummy named Charlie McCarthy — to Candice’s own half-century career in movies and TV, capped by her five Emmys for “Murphy Brown.”. . . .

Now, at 74, Ms. Bergen is in the swim with streaming, starring with Meryl Streep and Dianne Wiest in “Let Them All Talk,” an extemporaneous movie for HBO Max, directed and filmed by Steven Soderbergh with a hand-held camera on board the Queen Mary 2, as actual passengers wandered about. . . .

I asked how she felt about the election.

“When I found out that Biden had won, I was going out of my building and I heard honking and people screaming and I said to the doorman, ‘What’s happening? Is there a parade?’ He said, ‘He won.’ And I just burst into tears. It was just such a relief. We just needed a sense of decency, a sense of kindness.” She added, for the president-elect: “May the wind be at his back because he’s going to need it.”. . .

She speaks highly of her famous leading men: Caine, McQueen, Connery and especially Nicholson. Early in her career, she got scathing reviews. After “The Group” came out, Pauline Kael wrote about Ms. Bergen in Life magazine that “As an actress, her only flair is in her nostrils.” Reviewing “The Adventurers,” The New York Times said that Ms. Bergen “performs as though clubbed over the head.”

But on “S.N.L.” and in the 1979 film “Starting Over,” in which she belted out songs like a cat in pain, and then in “Murphy Brown,” Ms. Bergen discovered she had comedic timing, perhaps honed as a child in her father’s holiday skits with Charlie McCarthy. Younger fans laughed at Ms. Bergen as a rabid former beauty queen in “Miss Congeniality” and as a Vogue editor in “Sex and the City.”. . .

And about that famous date with Donald Trump, when she was at the University of Pennsylvania?

He was shy, quiet and introspective, one presumes?

“Yes, in fact his knowledge of philosophy goes way beyond,” she said, laughing. “We went to, I think, a steakhouse but he picked me up from school in a limousine, which was unusual, and it was a burgundy limousine and he was wearing a burgundy suit and burgundy patent leather boots. I just thought, this guy can color coordinate with the best of them. I think I was home by 9. I remember it being just very slow going and heavy lifting, it was just like pulling a sledge. And then I was home early.”

There was another renowned date in the 1970s, with Henry Kissinger, arranged by family friends. Ms. Bergen went ahead with it at the puckish urging of her counterculture boyfriend, Bert Schneider, and his pal, Abbie Hoffman, who wanted intel on the Vietnam War.

She said if it wasn’t the best date she ever had, it was “certainly the best-guarded. Some family friends invited Frank Sinatra and a date and Henry Kissinger and me for dinner. I remember, when he was late, getting a call that the Secret Service couldn’t find Beverly Hills. It was concerning. The whole dinner was just a mano-a-mano between Frank and Henry. I think Frank won.”. . .

Maureen Dowd, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and author of three New York Times best sellers, became an Op-Ed columnist in 1995.

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