You think your brother or sister is a dummy? You got nothing on Candice Bergen.
You’ll recall from my last post that in the 1940s, I was a big boyhood fan of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his wooden alter ego, Charlie McCarthy. Not long after the end of World War II, Mrs. Bergen gave birth (May 9, 1946) to a daughter, Candice, who grew up to become a leading-light in her own right. In her fine 1984 autobiography, KNOCK WOOD, Candice wrote:
When I was born, it was only natural that I would be known in the press as “Charlie’s sister.” “Charlie’s room” was redecorated and renamed “the nursery.” And even though at my birth, he was simply moved to the guest room, next to the nursery, soon everyone again began referring to “Charlie’s room.” The sibling rivalry thus established was certainly unique, considering I was the only child and the sibling was, in truth, my father.
Quoting from the book’s dust cover: Christmas was a visit from David Niven in the role of Santa, and a present from “Uncle Walt” Disney, the neighborhood was the Barrymore estate that bordered her yard….and because she was the daughter of Edgar Bergen, radio’s greatest dignitary/comedian, her “sibling” was Charlie McCarthy, the impudent dummy beloved of millions, vaguely resented by one little girl whose father was the center of her universe.
KNOCK WOOD is the candid story of a celebrity’s daughter growing up in a unique environment, and I recommend it highly. It is full of anecdotes and “name-dropping,” including the likes of W. C. Fields, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe and the aforementioned Walt Disney. Fields, as you old-time radio buffs know, carried on a famous “feud” with Charlie McCarthy, primarily on The Chase and Sanborn Hour starring Edgar Bergen. Here’s a typical example :
To appropriately wrap up the subjects covered in this and the previous post, let’s go with I’ve Got No Strings from Walt Disney’s 1940 acclaimed animated feature, PINOCCHIO: