Winner of five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes, actress Candice Bergen was destined for stardom from an early age. Born in Beverly Hills, her father was the famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, and her mother was a former model who'd been the face of Chesterfield cigarettes. As her mother did, Bergen began her career as a fashion model and appeared on the cover of Vogue before she made her screen debut in the 1966 film, "The Group." After receiving critical success for her work in films during the 1970s and 1980s, Bergen finally found her niche when she was cast in the title role for the politically-charged sitcom, "Murphy Brown." During the show's 10-year run, Bergen's portrayal of Murphy as a smart, independent anchorwoman earned the actress wide critical acclaim and a large fan base. She is also known for her role as Shirley Schmidt on the ABC drama, "Boston Legal." In films, Bergen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1979 movie "Starting Over" and for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Gandhi” in 1982. Active in a broad range of philanthropic causes, Bergen has established and endowed numerous scholarships in her name at her alma mater.
Bergen’s passion for performing blossomed at the University of Pennsylvania. She arrived in 1963, having just finished boarding school in Switzerland. Despite being prepared and extremely smart, it didn't take long for Bergen to realize that her passion wasn't in school. During her freshman year, Bergen was already putting her Grace Kelly-like looks to good use. While other students were going to class and taking exams, she was shuttling between the Philadelphia campus and New York City for modeling assignments. (She'd been signed by the Ford Modeling Agency.) Still, this didn't stop Bergen from being extremely popular in college. At Penn, she was elected both Homecoming Queen and Miss University. However, by the end of her sophomore year, the jig was up for the future award-winning actress. After failing two courses in art and opera, Bergen was asked to leave the university.
Nearly three decades later, Bergen finally received her cap and gown at the University of Pennsylvania. For her many achievements in the arts, university leaders decided to reward Bergen with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1992. Additionally, Bergen was asked to deliver that year's Ivy Day address. Using herself as an example, she explained how anyone can achieve happiness and fulfillment in the future, no matter how bleak or uncertain the prospects may seem. To illustrate her point, she recalled her days at Penn when the Dean of Women asked Bergen where she would be in 10 years without a Bachelor's degree. "I have no idea," she said. To end her speech, Bergen explained her attachment to her alma mater by comparing the pro-women messages in her TV show with the attitude changes at Penn concerning co-education. "Women lived in Hill House," she said, referring to the school's previous moratorium on coed housing. "Women couldn't live, let alone streak, in the Quad!"