LOS ANGELES (AP) — Candice Bergen is producing a film about her late father, famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The big-screen project will tell the story of Bergen’s father and his ventriloquist’s model who became an unlikely celebrity, spokeswoman Heidi Schaeffer said. The film will be based on Candice Bergen’s 1984 memoir, “Knock Wood.”
In a statement, ‘Murphy Brown’ star Bergen said his dad was eclipsed by the 3ft long wooden figure named Charlie McCarthy, who got the best lines while reserved Edgar Bergen played the straight man .
“This creation took over and overshadowed the creator,” said Candice Bergen. “He was the model that wouldn’t die. All the fan mail initially went to Charlie. And Edgar wasn’t really welcome at parties at first unless Charlie was with him. It was totally surreal.”
James Francis Trezza and Pam Widener, who are producing the film with Bergen, said they wanted to introduce a new generation to the beginnings of American show business, from vaudeville to the birth of television, and explore how Bergen navigated its changes. .
Barbara Turner, who worked with Trezza and Widener on Jackson Pollock’s Oscar-winning biopic “Pollock,” is writing the screenplay.
Charlie “truly was Bergen’s alter ego and, perhaps more interestingly, he was America’s alter ego,” producer Widener said in a statement. “At a time when mores and norms ruled the airwaves, Charlie said the unspeakable and got away with it.”
A flirtatious radio exchange between Charlie and sexy actress Mae West in 1938 drew the ire of NBC, but the popularity of Bergen and his sidekick was unaffected.
“I find it infinitely fascinating that a reserved man, a man who had difficulty expressing his feelings, fell into the profession of ventriloquist on the radio”, says his daughter. “And that the person he created was this carefree, unrestricted, prisonerless model.”
Edgar Bergen died in 1978 at the age of 75, after beginning a series of farewell performances in Las Vegas. Charlie McCarthy has found a home at the Smithsonian Institution.
The release date of the film, titled “Charlie McCarthy”, has not been announced.