Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982)

ingrid bergman
Ingrid Bergman
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Ingrid Bergman has become one of Hollywood's legendary names, a byword for a radiant, wholesome beauty with a great natural acting talent. Midway through her career her wholesome image suffered because of her extra-marital affair with Roberto Rossellini but she triumphantly came back with her public adoration intact. She appeared in many high quality movies in the course of her career but she will always be remembered for her role in 'Casablanca' as Ilsa Lund opposite Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine.

Ingrid was nominated for Academy Awards seven times in all, twice winning the Best Actress Award and once winning the Award for Best Supporting Actress. Only Katharine Hepburn has bested her in the number of wins. In addition she has won four Golden Globes, two Emmys, and a Tony and she was voted number 4 in the AFI's list of Best Actresses of all time.


Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 29, 1915 to a Swedish father and a German mother.

Her mother died when Ingrid was three years old and, being an only child, she learned to create a circle of imaginary friends. Her father, who ran a camera shop, died when she was 13 and Ingrid lived first with an unmarried aunt and then with an uncle and aunt who had five children.

Within seven years she was one of the leading movie stars in Sweden and had refused several offers from Hollywood. Finally, in 1939, at the age of 24, Miss Bergman agreed to do a film for David O. Selznick. It was 'Intermezzo,' with Leslie Howard. She returned to Sweden to her husband, who was then a dentist, and their daughter, Pia.

Acting Career Start

When she was 17 the tall, young beauty successfully auditioned for the government-sponsored Royal Dramatic School but after her first year, after appearing as an extra in the 1932 film 'Landskamp' she decided that her future lay in movies rather than the theater and she left the Royal Dramatic Theatre to become a full time film actress.

She had to wait another year for her first film role, which was in the Swedish movie 'Munkbrogreven' and from then on she was guided by the Swedish director Gustaf Molander. Her ascent was swift and within seven years her fresh, wholesome beauty and natural, unaffected acting style had endeared her to the Swedish public, making her one of the leading movie stars in the country.

She made 12 films in Sweden (as well as one in Germany), the most important by far being 'Intermezzo' in 1936, which was the first in which she could realize her immense potential as an actress capable of both romance and passion, and it was seen by Hollywood producer David O. Selznick. Remake rights for Hollywood were purchased by Selznick International, and Bergman was included in the deal. She had married in 1937 Petter Lindström, a dentist, and their daughter, Pia Lindström, was born in September of the following year. When Ingrid set off for her new career in Hollywood in 1938 she left her husband and infant daughter behind.

Hollywood Career

Her Hollywood career was launched by the remake of 'Intermezzo' in 1939, as 'Intermezzo: A Love Story', in which she co-starred with Leslie Howard, and the film immediately made her a major Hollywood name. Audiences loved her unforced, natural beauty, seemingly without make up and they responded to the romantic intensity of her performance.

She continued the successful start to her Hollywood career with three well received films in 1941, 'Adam Had Four Sons', 'Rage in Heaven', and 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde', and she also appeared on the Broadway stage in 'Liliom' in 1940 and in Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" in 1941. Her career was going well and it was about to get even better.

Casablanca 1942

In 1942 Ingrid appeared in 'Casablanca' as Ilsa Lund opposite Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine. It was to become the role by which everyone would remember her, and one which suited her acting style in portraying a tortured woman in love, in an ultimately doomed, wartime romance. Ingrid did not enjoy making the movie. She asked the director, Michael Curtiz, who she was supposed to be in love with - Humphrey Bogart or Paul Henreid? Curtiz helpfully told told her to “play it in the middle.” Although she and Bogart became a byword for the romantic onscreen couple, it was in reality, just good acting. She said, “I kissed him, but I never knew him.” Nevertheless the movie established her position as one of the top female stars in Hollywood.

Career Heights

Ingrid was now the number one box-office attraction in Hollywood and over the next few years she appeared in a succession of quality, hit movies. In 1943 she received her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', co-starring with Gary Cooper, and in 1944 she won the Best Actress award for her portrayal of a persecuted woman in 'Gaslight'. She continued with another, third consecutive, nomination in 1945, for her moving performance as a nun in 'The Bells of St. Mary's', co-starring with Bing Crosby as a priest.

Her successes continued for the rest of the decade. She made two films for Alfred Hitchcock, firstly with Gregory Peck in 'Spellbound' in 1945 and then the following year with Cary Grant in 'Notorious'. She also performed a 6 months run in 'Joan of Lorraine' on Broadway, winning a Best Actress Tony Award. She repeated the role in the movie version in 1948 and was again nominated for the Academy Best Actress Award.

Career Depths

Ingrid was now a much loved public figure and it appeared a perfect example of righteous womanhood. It appeared that she could do no wrong although in reality she had had a passionate affair with the photographer Robert Capa as well as with the movie director, Victor Fleming.

Her wholesome public image took a major knock in 1950 when she appeared in 'Stromboli', filmed in Italy. She fell in love with the director Roberto Rossellini and, both married, they sought divorces in order to marry each other. Before they got married Ingrid gave birth to their son, Roberto, in 1951. The conservative American public expressed outrage and Ingrid decided to remain in Italy where she married Rossellini and in 1952 had twins, Isotta and Isabella.

She made two more films with Rossellini, 'Europa '51 in 1952 and 'Viaggio in Italia' in 1954. They were not well received in America, although praised by the critics. It is ironic that in many of the movies which made her famous, Ingrid portrayed adultery in a romantic way, but when it occurred in her own life, the public pilloried her.

Ingrid and Rossellini eventually drifted apart and Ingrid stayed in Europe to work with Jean Renoir in a light romance, 'Elena et les Hommes', now generally regarded as a brilliant work of art, but cooly received at the time.

Career Comeback

In 1956 Ingrid came back into public favor with 'Anastasia' and won a second Academy Award for Best Actress. She returned to America, still a major star after an absence of seven years and with Hollywood again at her feet.

Ingrid was able to pick and choose her roles and in 1958 she appeared in 'Indiscreet', co-starring with Cary Grant and also another successful film in the same year, 'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness'. She married again in 1958, to Lars Schmidt, a theatrical producer from her native Sweden, and for the remainder of her career she divided her time between the theatre, and film and television work. In the early 1960's she worked closely with Lars Schmidt in theatrical productions such as 'The Turn of The Screw' and 'Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life' and she became a welcome regular on London's West End stage. She co-starred in 1965 with Sir Michael Redgrave in 'A Month in the Country' and in 1973 with Sir John Gielgud in 'The Constant Wife'.

Ingrid's third Academy Award was for Best Supporting Actress in 'Murder on the Orient Express' in 1974. In 1975 her marriage to Lars Schmidt ended and she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She refused to stop doing what she loved best, which was acting and in 1978 she gave an inspiring performance as a concert pianist struggling to decide between career and family, in 'Autumn Sonata', for which she received her seventh Academy Award nomination. Her last appearance was in 1982, another brilliant performance, on television, as Golda Meir, in 'A Woman Called Golda'.


Ingrid Bergman died peacefully on 29th August, 1982, at the age of 67. It was her birthday.

Ingrid Bergman's career won her three Oscars and the adoration of millions of people. When she first started in Hollywood her natural style, seeming not to act, was in direct contrast to the more formal acting styles current at the time. She was a breath of fresh air in a stylised world and she reaped the benefits. The so-called scandal of her Rossellini years passed long ago and she is now remembered as one of the most beautiful and talented actresses that Hollywood has ever seen.

Ingrid Bergman Academy Awards

Three Wins:
Best Actress ... Gaslight (1944)
Best Actress ... Anastasia (1956)
Best Supporting Actress ... Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Actress ... For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
Best Actress ... The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)
Best Actress ... Joan of Arc (1948)
Best Actress ... Autumn Sonata (1978)


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Ingrid Bergman Filmography

Landskamp (uncredited)
The Surf
Swedenhielms Family
Walpurgis Night
På solsidan
Die vier Gesellen
A Woman's Face
En enda natt
Escape to Happiness ... aka "Intermezzo: A Love Story"
Adam Had Four Sons
Rage in Heaven
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Murder in Thornton Square
Saratoga Trunk
The Bells of St. Mary's
Arch of Triumph
Joan of Arc
Under Capricorn
No Greater Love
The Lonely Woman
Giovanna d'Arco al rogo
Paris Does Strange Things
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness