Ingrid Bergman – Sweden’s Illustrious Gift to Hollywood.

Day 114 of Colourisation Project – August 29

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Born this day, 29 August 1915 in Stockholm, Sweden, internationally renowned actress Ingrid Bergman, one of Hollywood’s elite was dubbed ‘Sweden’s illustrious gift to Hollywood.’ She starred in over 50 films, both European and American, winning three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and the Tony Award for Best Actress. She is ranked as the fourth greatest female star of American cinema of all time by the American Film Institute.

Ingrid Bergman

Publicity Still – Ingrid Bergman c 1941 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi 

Bergman, who once said, ‘if you took acting away from me, I’d stop breathing,’ started her film career in Sweden in 1932 at the age of 17. She took her craft seriously and in a career that spanned 5 decades, she acted in five different languages; Swedish, English, German, French and Italian.

Bergman is probably best remembered for her role as Ilsa Lund in the wartime romance, Casablanca (1942), co-starring Humphrey Bogart. It proved to be Bergman’s most famous and enduring role. The film was such a box office success at the time, it guaranteed Bergman a place in the hearts of American audiences… at least for 10 years or so. To use her own words Bergman saw her image plummet ‘from saint to whore and back to saint again.’

Her entry into Hollywood came four years earlier with a reprisal of her 1936 Swedish film, Intermezzo. She was scouted by David O. Selznick, who bought the rights to remake the film in Hollywood with Bergman in the lead role. United Artists’ decision to do the remake, paid off handsomely. Intermezzo: A Love Story, (1939) was a hit and so was Bergman. When Selznick informed the 23-year-old Bergman that she would need to change her name, cap her teeth and pluck her eyebrows, she threatened to return to Sweden. Feeling she had worked too hard to establish herself as an actress in Europe under her real name, she steadfastly refused.

With her raw beauty and talent for acting, Hollywood was spellbound (pun intended), but Bergman was under contract to go back to Sweden to film En Enda Natt (1939 Only One Night) and Juninatten (1940 June Night). Back in the US she appeared in three films in 1941, all well-received including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde opposite Spencer Tracy.

Bergman was on her way. She received her first Best Actress Academy Award for the 1944 film Gaslight, co-starring with Charles Boyer, followed by a nomination for Best Actress Academy Award in 1945 for The Bells of St. Mary’s, in which she played a nun opposite Bing Crosby.

Two Alfred Hitchcock thrillers followed: Spellbound (1945), with Gregory Peck and Notorious (1946) opposite Cary Grant. Many consider Notorious, which was one of the biggest hits of the year to be her finest work and one of her greatest performances.

Bergman’s versatility came to the fore in her return to Broadway in 1946, playing Joan of Arc for a run of 25 weeks in the play Joan of Lorraine, to much acclaim and a Tony Award for Best Actress. In 1948, she starred in the film version of this play, Joan of Arc and again she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

In 1949, her world was to change dramatically. Her wholesome, married, squeeky clean image was to come unstuck when she became involved with Italian director, Roberto Rosellini while working on Stromboli (1950). The public outcry that erupted (sorry) put paid to her career in the States. Bergman was still married to Petter Lindstrom at the time, although their marriage had not been happy for many years. Rossellini was also married though separated from his wife. Bergman fell pregnant and gave birth to a son, Roberto, before the couple were able to first divorce their respective spouses and then marry in 1950.

Pilloried from one coast to the other, the moral outrage that Bergman had to endure was grossly unfair. Denounced as immoral, her behaviour was too much for American sensibilities at the time. Conservative up-tights such as Colorado Senator Edwin Johnson went as far as condemning Bergman publicly and in Congress as ‘a horrible example of womanhood and a powerful influence for evil.’ His fellow members of Congress censured her and declared her a persona non grata. Such was America in the early 1950s!

Bergman’s sudden and disastrous fall from grace grew into an international scandal. Stromboli was met with great opposition when it was released. It was banned and boycotted in many US cities. Exiled from Hollywood, Bergman lived in Italy with Rossellini and made five more movies with him between 1950 and 1955; Europa ’51 (1952) Giovanna d’Arco al Rogo (1954), La Paura (Fear 1954), Siamo Donne (We, the Women 1953), and Viaggio in Italia (Journey to Italy 1954). They also had two more children, twin daughters Isabella and Isotta.

In 1956, she made the film Elena et les Hommes with French director Jean Renoir. This film partially resurrected her career in the eyes of international audiences, although she had enjoyed success in Italy with her Rossellini films.

After a seven years exile, and with her marriage to Rosellini coming to an end, she returned to Hollywood in 1956 to star in Anastasia, opposite Yul Brynner. Suddenly Bergman went from shunned to esteemed in a triumphant return to Hollywood. It’s true that you just can’t keep a good woman down; Bergman received another Oscar for Best Actress. Her career rejuvenated, Bergman began to regain much of her former  popularity in America especially after divorcing Rosellini in 1957.

However it was not until 1972 that some level of moral sanity prevailed when Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois entered an apology into the Congressional Record for the attack on Bergman made by the Senator from Colorado twenty-two years earlier.

In 1958 Bergman married Lars Schmidt, a theatrical entrepreneur from a wealthy Swedish shipping family, a marriage which lasted 17 years until 1975 when they too divorced.

Over the next decade, Ingrid worked in films, television and on the stage. She was awarded an Emmy in 1959 for the television miniseries adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. She made her London theater debut in 1965 with the play A Month in the Country. She also starred in the play More Stately Mansions back in the States in 1967.

In 1974, she won a Best Supporting Actress Award for the film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, which also featured other Hollywood greats, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall and Sean Connery.

In 1975 Bergman found out that she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Despite her failing health, she continued to work on what was to be her last film, Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata in 1978, for which she received a 7th Academy Award nomination. Her last acting role was in the 1982 television miniseries, A Woman Called Golda (1982), for which she won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir. To prepare for this role Bergman spent hours studying old newsreels to master Golda Meir’s mannerisms.  She even traveled to Israel and interviewed those who had known her. She was 66 years old at the time. Frequently ill during the filming, Bergman died four months after the filming was completed.

Bergman was convinced by her children to write her autobiography warning her that she would otherwise only be known through rumors and innuendo if she did not tell her own story. In 1980 Ingrid Bergman: My Story, was published and it became a best seller.

It was through this autobiography that she revealed an affair in 1944 (when she was touring in Europe to entertain American soldiers), with war photographer, Robert Capa. I’m glad she waited until 1980 to let that out of the bag….can you imagine the moral indignation that would have evoked?

Bergman died in 1982 on her 67th birthday at home in London after a seven-year battle with cancer. With her at the end was her third ex-husband, Lars Schmidt. Her funeral was held in the Swedish church in West London to the violin strains of ‘As Time Goes By’. Her remains were cremated and her ashes were scattered off the coast of Sweden except for a small portion, which were kept to be interred in the Norra Begravningsplatsen cemetery next to her parents’ ashes in Stockholm.

For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Bergman has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6759 Hollywood Blvd.

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One Response to Ingrid Bergman – Sweden’s Illustrious Gift to Hollywood.

  1. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks. She’s unmatched for her combination of sheer womanly beauty and acting power. Regards Thom.

    Liked by 1 person

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