Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

As a shy, young orphan in Sweden, Ingrid Bergman dreamed of becoming an actress. She started appearing in films while still a teenager, eventually rising to stardom. Her film Intermezzo (1936), in which she played a classical pianist in love with a married violinist, brought her to the attention of independent producer David 0. Selznick. Many foreign stars were happy to come to America and be remade by Hollywood, but Ingrid would have none of it. When Selznick brought her to the States to star in an American version of Intermezzo (1939), she insisted on maintaining her natural hair color, eyebrows, and makeup. Selznick saw the publicity value in her position and sold her as a natural, fresh-faced heroine. Intermezzo was a hit, but Ingrid soon chafed at being typecast as a good girl. When Selznick loaned her to MGM to costar with Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) she fought to switch from the leading lady role to the sluttish barmaid originally earmarked for Turner. The switch was made and she walked off with the film. But, despite her attempts to vary her roles, her typecasting as “St. Ingrid” continued, thanks largely to her performances as a World War ll resistance fighter in Casablanca (1942) and as a nun in The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945). However, her reputation was changed forever when she and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, both married to other people, fell in love while filming Stromboli (1949) in Europe. The affair triggered an international scandal, particularly when they had a child out of wedlock. Suddenly St. Ingrid was vilified on the floor of Congress and exiled from Hollywood. It wasn’t until the marriage was on its last legs that 20th Century-Fox asked her to star in Anastasia (1956). The same audiences who had rejected Bergman now welcomed her back. She moved gracefully into mature roles, still radiating that essential goodness and emotional truth that had made her a star. She also returned to the stage in classics by Eugene O’Neill and George Bernard Shaw. Ingrid scored a particular triumph when she finally joined forces with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman for Autumn Sonata (1978). Even as her health was declining, she courageously took on the role of Golda Meir in the television miniseries A Woman Called Golda (1982), winning an Emmy for what would be her final performance.