Best remembered for her roles as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca (1942), and as Alicia Huberman in Notorious (1946), an Alfred Hitchcock thriller also starring Cary Grant and Claude Rains
Die Vier Gesellen
En kvinnas ansikte
En enda natt
Adam Had Four Sons
Rage in Heaven
Swedes in America
Arch of Triumph
Stromboli, terra di Dio
Viaggio in Italia
Giovanna d’Arco al rogo
Elena et les hommes
The Yellow Rolls-Royce
A Walk in the Spring Rain
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Murder on the Orient Express
A Matter of Time
Ingrid Bergman, named after Princess Ingrid of Sweden, was born on August 29, 1915 in Stockholm, to a Swedish father, Justus Samuel Bergman and his German wife, Friedel Henrietta Augusta Louise (née Adler) Bergman.
When she was two years old, her mother died. Her father, who was an artist and photographer, died when she was 13. In the years before he died, he wanted her to become an opera star, and had her take voice lessons for three years. But she always knew she wanted to be an actress.
Later, she received a scholarship to the state-sponsored Royal Dramatic Theatre School, where Greta Garbo had some years earlier earned a similar scholarship. After several months, she was given a part in a new play, Ett Brott (A Crime), written by Sigfrid Siwertz. Chandler notes that this was “totally against procedure” at the school, where girls were expected to complete three years of study before getting such acting roles.
During her first summer break, she was also hired by a Swedish film studio, which led to her leaving the Royal Dramatic Theatre after just one year, to work in films full-time. Her first film role after leaving the Royal Dramatic Theatre was a small part in Munkbrogreven (1935), although she reportedly had previously been an extra in the 1932 film Landskamp). She went on to act in a dozen films in Sweden, including En kvinnas ansikte, which was later remade as A Woman’s Face with Joan Crawford, and one film in Germany, Die vier Gesellen (The Four Companions) (1938).
Bergman’s first acting role in the United States came when Hollywood producer David O. Selznick brought her to America to star in Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939), an English language remake of her earlier Swedish film Intermezzo (1936). Unable to speak English and uncertain about her acceptance by the American audience, she expected to complete this one film and return home to Sweden.
Her husband, Dr Petter Lindström, remained in Sweden with their daughter Pia (born 1938). In Intermezzo, she played the role of a young piano accompanist opposite Leslie Howard as a famous violin virtuoso. She arrived in Los Angeles in May 1939, and stayed at the Selznick home until she could find another residence.
Bergman was soon accepted without having to modify her looks or name, despite some early suggestions by Selznick. Selznick understood her fear of Hollywood make-up artists, who might turn her into someone she wouldn’t recognize. He was also aware that her natural good looks would compete successfully with Hollywood’s “synthetic razzle-dazzle” During the following weeks, while Intermezzo was being filmed, Selznick was also filming Gone with the Wind. Intermezzo became an enormous success and as a result Bergman became a star.
After completing one last film in Sweden and appearing in three moderately successful films (Adam Had Four Sons, Rage in Heaven and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all 1941) in the United States, Bergman co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in the classic film Casablanca (1942), which remains her best-known role. In this film, she played the role of Ilsa, the beautiful Norwegian wife of Victor Laszlo, played by Paul Henreid, an “anti-Nazi underground hero” who is in Casablanca, a haven from the Nazis. Bergman did not consider Casablanca to be one of her favorite performances.
After Casablanca, with “Selznick’s steady boosting,” she played the part of Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), which was also her first color film. For the role she received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The film was taken from Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the same title.
The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Gaslight (1944), a film in which George Cukor directed her as a wife driven close to madness by co-star Charles Boyer. Bergman next played a nun in The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) opposite Bing Crosby, for which she received her third consecutive nomination for Best Actress.
Bergman starred in the Alfred Hitchcock films Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), and Under Capricorn (1949).
Bergman strongly admired two films by Italian director Roberto Rossellini that she had seen in the United States. In 1949, Bergman wrote to Rossellini, expressing this admiration and suggesting that she make a film with him. This led to her being cast in his film Stromboli (1950). During production, Bergman fell in love with Rossellini, and they began an affair. Bergman became pregnant with their son, Renato Roberto Ranaldo Giusto Giuseppe (“Robin”) Rossellini (born February 2,1950).
Bergman received another Best Actress nomination for Joan of Arc (1948), an independent film based on the Maxwell Anderson play Joan of Lorraine, produced by Walter Wanger, and initially released through RKO. Bergman had championed the role since her arrival in Hollywood, which was one of the reasons she had played it on the Broadway stage in Anderson’s play. The film was not a big hit with the public, partly because of the scandal of Bergman’s affair with Italian film director Roberto Rossellini, which broke while the film was still in theatres. Even worse, it received disastrous reviews, and although nominated for several Academy Awards, did not receive a Best Picture nomination.
This affair caused a huge scandal in the United States, where it led to Bergman being denounced on the floor of the United States Senate. Ed Sullivan chose not to have her on his show, despite a poll indicating that the public wanted her to appear. However, Steve Allen, whose show was equally popular, did have her as a guest.
Because of the scandal, Bergman returned to Italy, leaving her husband and daughter (Pia). She went through a publicized divorce and custody battle for their daughter. Bergman and Rossellini were married in May 1950. In addition to Renato, they had twin daughters (born June 18 1952): Isabella Rossellini, who became an actress and model, and Isotta Ingrid Rossellini, who became a professor of Italian literature. In 1957 Rossellini had an affair with Sonali Das Gupta. Soon after, Bergman and Rossellini separated.
Between motion pictures, Bergman had appeared in the stage plays Liliom, Anna Christie, and Joan of Lorraine. During a press conference in Washington, D.C. for the promotion of Joan of Lorraine, she protested against racial segregation after seeing it first hand at the theater she was acting in.
With her starring role in 1956’s Anastasia (1956), Bergman made a triumphant return to working for a Hollywood studio (albeit in a film produced in Europe) and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for a second time.
Bergman made her first post-scandal public appearance in Hollywood in the 1958 Academy Awards, when she was the presenter of the Academy Award for Best Picture. She was given a standing ovation after being introduced by Cary Grant as she walked out onto the stage to present the award. She continued to alternate between performances in American and European films for the rest of her career and made occasional appearances in television dramas such as The Turn of the Screw (1959) for the Ford Startime TV series—for which she won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress.
During this time, she performed in several stage plays. She married producer Lars Schmidt, a fellow Swede, in December 1958. This marriage ended in divorce in 1975. After a long hiatus, Bergman made the film Cactus Flower (1969), with Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn.
In 1972, U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy entered an apology into the Congressional Record for the attack made on Bergman 22 years earlier by Edwin C. Johnson.
Bergman became one of the few actresses ever to receive three Oscars when she won her third (and first in the category of Best Supporting Actress) for her performance in Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Director Sidney Lumet offered Bergman the important part of Princess Dragomiroff, with which he felt she could win an Oscar. She insisted on playing the much smaller role of Greta Ohlsson, the old Swedish missionary.
In 1978, Bergman played in Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten) for which she received her 7th Academy Award nomination. This was her final performance on the big screen. In the film, Bergman plays a celebrity pianist who travels to Norway to visit her neglected daughter, played by Liv Ullmann. The film was shot in Norway.
In 1982, Ingrid Bergman died of breast cancer on her 67th birthday. Her body was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery, London, and her ashes taken to Sweden. Most of them were scattered in the sea around the islet of Dannholmen off the fishing village of Fjällbacka in Bohuslän, on the west coast of Sweden, where she spent most of the summers from 1958 until her death in 1982. The rest were placed next to her parents’ ashes in Norra Begravningsplatsen (Northern Cemetery), Stockholm, Sweden.