Mac Graw’s romanticism has sometimes been “her undoing,” says Candice Bergen.
The actress is rapturous about her friend—“You fall in love with her; she’s always been more alive than most others, so artistic and enchanted, with that refined, intellectual, bohemian glamour and a little bit of the Bedouin”—but she, like many other friends, worries that Mac Graw always asks for less than what she gives, and accepts that skewed equation far too gracefully.“Ali was a saint, Steve was a prick” is agent Sue Mengers’s typically blunt way of putting it.
She’d earned every penny to her name, and she had the emotional scars and discipline, as well as the cultural sophistication, that came from growing up in a family of artists.
Despite those cocky-princess roles, her depth resonated.
’s Vincent Canby noted that Mac Graw’s Jenny Cavilleri and Ryan O’Neal’s Oliver Barrett IV “fall in love in the snow.…
He agreed to buy the script “because I fell in love with her.” He also seduced her into turning her weekend trip into a life with him in his eucalyptus-draped, rosebush-ringed dream house, right around the corner from the hotel.
Aside from its seven Academy Award nominations, its implantation of the kitschy motto “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” into America’s brainpan, and the fact that, thanks to its low budget, it’s still among the most profitable studio movies ever made, it snapped the twig of popular culture.
Instantly gone was the hard-rock-fueled sexual revolution; in its place were soaring strings, tragic love, and sweetness.
The movie she’d talked him into was She was the biggest female star of the year; he was the biggest movie star in the world.
She was a Wellesley-educated aesthete who fantasized about living in Paris and who, as a girl, had checked Nijinsky’s biography out of the Pound Ridge, New York, library 16 times.