In Hollywood films there are either actors or stars — seldom does the twain meet. There were a few exceptions, of course, and one was Ingrid Bergman.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here to stage a small celebration of Bergman, the actress AND the star.
The young Swedish actress had already made her mark in Swedish films before producer David O. Selznick signed her and brought her to America. Within a few years she was a board certified STAR. Her name on the marquee put butts in the seats.
This year Casablanca is celebrating its 70th anniversary. It always makes the list of the top 10 movies of all time. Bergman’s performance in it is flawless. In the early forties Ingrid Bergman starred opposite almost everyone of the screen’s top leading men –Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, and Bing Crosby.
Bored with the kind of films she was being offered in America and eager to be part of the new wave of cinema that was starting in post war Europe, she wrote to Italian director Roberto Rossellini, suggesting they work together. He cast her in 1950′s Stromboli, and the rest as they say in history.
Stromboli is a volcano on a small island of the same name on the coast of Italy.
Bergman’s affair with Rossellini was something volcanic as well. Many actresses have affairs with their directors or co-stars. News of these directly feed the rumor mills. But in the case of Bergman and Rossellini, the affair reached scandalous proportions. Ingrid became pregnant and asked her husband at the time, Peter Lindstrom, for a divorce so that she could marry Rossellini. Lindstrom refused.
Bergman and Lindstrom had been married since 1936, and had one daughter, Pia (who as an adult worked for a while in television in New York City). While Ingrid had toiled as an actress in Hollywood, Lindstrom had gone to medical school in Rochester, N. Y. He then moved to San Francisco where he did his internship.
In 1949 it became evident that Lindstrom intended to hurt and humiliate his wife for her infidelities. Robertino Rossellini was born on February 2, 1950, and was instantly, internationally famous as Ingrid Bergman’s out of wedlock, love child.
Of course Lindstrom eventually granted Bergman the divorce. She and Rossellini married and had twin daughters. She continued to star for him in films in Europe. She had been vilified in the United States and told never to return.
But return she did, in triumph. She had portrayed Anastasia in the 1956 film of the same title, and won her second Best Actress Academy Award.
For 25 more years her star continued to shine. She won a Best Supporting Oscar for a bit in Murder on the Orient Express. She won an Emmy and then a second one (posthumously) for portraying Golda Mier (see below) on a TV mini series. She wrote an autobiography.
She was a star. She was internationally famous. Her private life was known to millions. But she was also a great actress. She had starred in films and on stage and had acted in many languages, Swedish, English, German, French, and Italian.
She died much too soon at the age of 67 of breast cancer.