Ingrid Bergman

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Biography of Ingrid Bergman who is considered one of the five most important stars in the history of cinema.

She was the first winner of the Tony Award for best actress. More than any other, she received 3 Oscars (7 nominations for the Award) and 5 Golden Globes.

During her performances, she worked in five languages: Swedish, German, English, Italian and French. She worked in film, theater and television.

Ingrid Bergman’s main merits

Ingrid Bergman brought her charm to Sweden, Germany, the United States, Canada, England, Italy, France, Spain and Israel.

The list of films starring Ingrid Bergman is simply endless, from the time she started at age 16 in her native Sweden, until she died at 67, in 1982.

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman at age 27. Credit: Ica Barbu

There were almost 50 years of stellar performances that filled with admiration all those who enjoyed her beauty and talent.

Without a doubt, she was one of the sweetest, most beautiful and charming faces that the golden Hollywood of the 1940s had the honor of showing to the world.

Ingrid Bergman’s childhood and family life

Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm (Sweden) on August 29, 1915.

Her father Samuel Bergman was a small Swedish businessman dedicated to photography; and passionate about art and cinema.

Her mother, Friedel Adler, had been born in Hamburg (Germany).

Opera Stockholm
Stockholm Opera House. Credit: Pixabay

When Ingrid was still a 3-year-old, her mother Friedel died.

When she was left alone with her father, she developed a very intense emotional relationship with him.

Ten years later, her father also passed away. Ingrid was taken in by one of his sisters.

Unfortunately, this aunt also passed away within a few months. Another paternal uncle, Otto Bergman, received her at home.

There she met the love of her aunt Hulda and the whole family, something Ingrid desperately needed at the time.

In 1932, she graduated from the Institute, with very good grades. By then, she was still shy and lonely.

Ingrid Bergman’s first steps as an actress

Remembering her father’s hobby, she had decided to be an actress.

She had already taken the first steps in cinema as an extra, but her real goal was to dedicate herself fully to the theater.

Her first opportunity to act was given by Greta Danielsson, an old friend of her father’s. Greta Danielsson offered her a role as an extra, in a play.

In 1933, when Ingrid told her uncle Otto that she wanted to be an actress, he objected, because at that time it was frowned upon that a girl from a good family was an actress.

Ingrid insisted on her desire to appear for an audition at the “Royal Dramatic Theater”; She promised her uncles that if she was not accepted, she would never try again.

Theater Stockholm
Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm. Credit: wikipedia

She was immediately chosen from hundreds of applicants. Each applicant had to represent three pieces.

When Ingrid’s turn came, after her first performance, without waiting for her to do the other two, the judges told her that she could withdraw; and, without further ado, they called the next one.

Believing that she had done so badly that they didn’t even want to give her another chance, she ran home, her eyes filled with tears.

Fortunately, one of her friends immediately went to tell her that she had been accepted. She flew off and ran the whole time until she picked up her acceptance slip.

Years later, she met one of the members of that jury and asked him why they had interrupted her reading so soon.

He said to her, “We loved your safety and your impertinence. We talked to each other and saw no need to waste time. We knew you were fabulous and that you had an innate talent. Your future as an actress was assured”.

Ingrid Bergman saw the dream of being an actress come true

Her uncles Otto and Hulda respected her decision to be an actress and supported her to enter the “Royal Dramatic Theater” in Stockholm.

This happened ten years after the divine Greta Garbo had studied as an intern at the same prestigious academy.

Ingrid Bergman became a happy, open and relaxed person. Because being an actress was exactly what she wanted.

Her first film was “Munkbrogreven” (“The Earl of the Old City“) by Edvin Adolphson, in 1935.

It was a romantic comedy set in the narrow streets of Stockholm’s old town.

Ingrid did not yet have that beauty that later astonished the world, but some very beautiful features were already beginning to appear on her face.

In 1936, she starred in the first version of “Intermezzo” by Gustav Molander.

It is a romantic melodrama that was an event in its time and a great triumph for the emerging Swedish cinema, for its director and, above all, for Ingrid Bergman, who was flooded with offers from Hollywood.

Ingrid Bergman
Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman in the movie “Intermezzo”. Credit: Vimeo

Ingrid Bergmann married a dentist

In 1937, she married the dentist Petter Lindström, with whom she had her daughter Pía.

In order for Ingrid to continue her brilliant artistic career, Peter stayed at home in charge of Pía.

Later, in the United States, Petter Lindsdtröm became a brilliant brain surgeon.

Petter encouraged her to agree to work on a film in Germany, and even accompanied her.

There Ingrid met Minister Goebbels, who tried unsuccessfully to convince her to collaborate with the Third Reich, since she was half German and knew the language well.

Goebbels offered her a contract to participate in three films. Ingrid only shot one, because she did not like what she saw of Nazism and returned to Sweden.

Metro Goldwin Meyer decided to hire her

The enterprising North American producer David O. Selznick (producer of the legendary film “Gone with the Wind”) after seeing the film “Intermezzo”, sent an emissary of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer to Stockholm.

This emissary was to buy the rights to the story of “Intermezzo“. He also carried with him a long contract for Miss Bergman.

Ingrid Bergman accepted the contract and came to the United States in May 1939, to perform the version of Intermezzo, in English.

Ingrid was already a star in Sweden and demanded producer Selznick not to change her name or image.

These changes were mandatory for European actresses who came to Hollywood.

The huge triumph of “Intermezzo” in the United States, with the English actor Leslie Howard, made “Bergman” one of the idols of a whole generation of romantic young people.

Her experience in theater allowed her to obtain considerable independence and success in show business.

In the United States, her fame was at a similar height to that of Greta Garbo (Swedish) and Marlene Dietrich (German).

Fed up with good characters, in 1941 Ingrid Bergman insisted on playing the prostitute Ivy Patterson, instead of the role she had been assigned in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll” by Victor Fleming.

This character, Ivy Patterson was a flirtatious and easy woman. In the film, Ivy was martyred and terrified by Spencer Tracy’s magnificent Mr. Hyde.

Bogart and Bergman
Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in the movie “Casablanca”. Credit: Screenrush

In 1942, she starred alongside Humphrey Bogart in one of the films that made film history: “Casablanca“, released in 1943.

Cinematographer Arthur Edeson got in this film the most beautiful close-ups in the history of cinema: those in which Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) asks drummer Sam to play “As Time Goes By” again.

In 1943, she played a brilliant role in the movie “For Whom the Bell Tolls” which she starred opposite Gary Cooper.

The film is set in the Spanish Civil War, and based on the Ernest Hemingway novel.

This film had nine Oscar nominations, although it didn’t win any, this time.

Bergman and Gary Cooper
In the movie “For Whom the Bell Tolls” with Gary Cooper. Credit: Macfadden Publications

However, the following year, in 1944, Ingrid Bergman received the Oscar for best actress, for her role in “Light that Dying“, a film by director George Cukor.

Ingrid’s partner was actor Charles Boyer.

She made an unforgettable interpretation of the sweet wife who almost went crazy, because of her ambitious husband who tries to make her believe that she suffers from delusions.

This Oscar award was already becoming a custom, for Ingrid Bergman, due to her magnificent performances.

In 1945, she received her third consecutive Oscar nomination.

This time for the movie “The Bells of Santa Maria“, a Christmas drama starring a beautiful nun (Ingrid Bergman) and a more than sympathetic priest (Bing Crosby).

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman in the movie “The Bells of Santa Maria”. Credit: Trailer screenshot

In that same year, she became one of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous blondes, with three films: “Spellbound” (1945), with Gregory Peck; “Notorious” (1946), with the incomparable Cary Grant; and “Tormented” (1949), with Joseph Cotton.

The fourth candidacy for the Oscars was delayed until 1948, in the category of best actress, for her role in “Joan of Arc“, directed by Víctor Fleming.

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman in the movie “Joan of Arc”. Credit: Alberto Mateos, Camino de Esmaús

Ingrid Bergman fell in love with Roberto Rossellini

The year 1949 was terrible for Ingrid Bergman, even more so for her husband Petter Lindström, who adored her.

It all started when Ingrid, who was a great admirer of Italian realism, received a proposal from the already famous director Roberto Rossellini, to participate in a film in Italy.

Rossellini was determined to hire her and traveled to the United States to convince Petter and Ingrid.

Rossellini reached an agreement with the two of them; and the actress moved to Italy with the idea of ​​returning in a few months.

Ingrid Bergman began shooting the film “Stromboli, God’s Land” under Rossellini.

And there was the great earthquake: during filming, crazy love arose with the Italian director.

Ingrid Bergman became pregnant; And, on February 2, 1950, her son Roberto Rossellini was born.

Bergman and Rossellini
Ingrid Bergman and her husband Rossellini. Credit: Mario Tedeschi

The scandal in the United States was huge and both artists were marked by public contempt.

Ingrid Bergman was officially asked to disprove rumors that she was about to divorce and abandon her first daughter, Pia, to marry Rossellini.

She received harsh criticism from the Swedish Lutheran church from Swedish Catholic priests; and, above all, from the different churches in the United States.

Thousands of horrible letters came to her, predicting all sorts of misfortunes. Some remembered her movie Joan of Arc, telling her that she was the one who should be burned at the stake, not as a heroine, but as a witch.

The scandal was of such magnitude that the actress was declared persona non grata on USA soil.

Ingrid Bergmann married Rossellini

She and Petter Lindström decided to separate.

After the birth of her son Roberto, Ingrid Bergman married Rossellini on May 24, 1950.

In 1952, she had two twin daughters with the Italian director: Isabella and Isotta Rossellini Bergman.

During her stay in Italy, Ingrid Bergman worked on five more films, directed by her husband.

These films represented, at that time, public and critical failures. They also led the marriage into an artistic and financial crisis.

In all this time, Rossellini did not allow Ingrid to work with another director.

However, in 1956 he was forced to make an exception and allowed her to work under the orders of the French director Jean Renoir, in the movie “Elena and Her men“.

In this film, Ingrid Bergman shared a cast with Jean Marais, Juliette Greco, and Mel Ferrer.

It was the beginning of a new stage of clamorous successes for Ingrid Bergman.

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman in the movie “Elena and the Men”. Credit: BilbaoArte

Also in 1956, Twentieth Century Fox offered to star in the movie “Anastasia“, sharing with Yul Brinner, and filming in England.

With “Anastasia“, Ingrid Bergman won her second Oscar as best actress.

Her friend Cary Grant offered to collect the award on her behalf, as she was not welcome in the United States.

In 1958, she again teamed up with Cary Grant in a fun and sophisticated comedy, “Indiscreet” (1958), by Stanley Donen.

The separation of the actress with Rossellini was imminent and occurred in 1957.

Ingrid Bergmann’s life after 1958

On December 23, 1958, she married Swedish Lars Schmidt (1917 – 2009), a theater agent in New York.

In 1959, Ingrid Bergman returned to Hollywood to present the “Best Picture Oscar” at the Academy Awards.

Ten years had passed since the great scandal, and she was no longer married to Federico Rossellini; the public greeted her with a closed ovation.

Thereafter, she began to alternate numerous performances in the United States and in Europe: movies, theater and television.

In 1974, she received her third Oscar, this time in the category of “Best Supporting Actress“, for her participation in the movie “Murder on the Orient Express“.

The last years of Ingrid Bergman

The following year she was diagnosed with breast cancer; in that same year she divorced Lars Schmidt.

Two years later, she worked on the film “About Time”, directed by Vincente Minnelli and sharing the limelight with Liza Minnelli.

In this movie, her daughter Isabella Rossellini made her screen debut. Her other daughter, Isotta Rossellini, was on the makeup team.

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann in the movie “Autumn Sonata”. Credit: Screenrush

Her last nomination for the Oscar Awards was received in 1978, for her role in “Höst Sonaten”, by the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.

In late 1981, she moved to Israel for the filming of the television miniseries “A Woman Called Golda” about the life of Israel’s Prime Minister, Golda Meir.

During the nine weeks of filming, she was already in the terminal stage of cancer.

With this work, Bergman received an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe for best actress in a miniseries or TV movie.

She died a few months after filming ended, in London, the day she turned 67, on August 29, 1982.

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman played Golda Meier in the movie “A Woman Named Golda”. Credit: Yoni S. Hamenachem

The lists of films, plays, awards and distinctions she received while alive and after her death are endless.

Her children carried their ashes to the cold waters of the Swedish sea, fulfilling her desire to return to the homeland.

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.


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