Ingrid Bergman was born on the 29th of August, 1915, in Stockholm, Sweden. Bergman starred in a dozen Swedish films before being introduced to the American audience in an English remake of Intermezzo (1939). Her remarkable elegance and beauty only added to the extraordinary talent that Bergman would display on screen, and she quickly became a major star in Hollywood.
Iconic film producer David O. Selznick is often credited with elevating her career, recognizing her skills early on and signing her to a seven-year contract. In that stretch, Bergman not only starred in the film that I consider to be the greatest of all time (as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca; 1942), but also performed in such classics as For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) – for which she received her first Academy Award nomination, Gaslight (1944) – for which she received her first Academy Award, The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) – for which she received her third nomination, Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Joan of Arc (1948) – for which she received her fourth nomination, and Under Capricorn (1949).
On the set of Stromboli (1950), Bergman – married at that time to dentist/neurosurgeon Petter Lindström – met and fell in love with her director, Roberto Rossellini, and the two began an infamous love affair that sprawled the tabloids, creating a scandal that would lead the United States Senate to denounce the actress, as apparently there weren’t more important things for them to focus on at that time (22 years later, the Senate would enter an apology into the Congressional Record for this incident). Bergman would divorce Lindström and return to Italy to marry Rosselini, where they had three children (including actress Isabella Rossellini). In 1956, she returned to American cinema to star in Anastasia, and learned how quickly our nation forgives and forgets those we adore when she won her second Oscar for her performance (Cary Grant accepted the award for her in her absence). In 1959, she starred in the television production of The Turn of the Screw, and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress. She became the third actor/actress to ever win a third Oscar when she won for her supporting performance in Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974; Walter Brennan and Katherine Hepburn were the first to win three Oscars – Hepburn eventually being the only to ever win a fourth for acting – and Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep would go on to win three Oscars after Bergman). Her seventh, and final, Academy Award nomination came for her turn in Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata (1978), which would also be her final performance on the big screen. She died from breast cancer in London, England, on her 67th birthday.
The American Film Institute ranks Ingrid Bergman as the fourth greatest female star of American cinema of all time (as do I). She won many awards in her career, including three Oscars, four Golden Globes, two Emmy’s, a BAFTA, and a Tony, and yet however great she was (and as much as I revere her), I know that for me and for many others she will always be the exquisite, yet tortured, Ilsa Lund.
My Circuit 3 for Ingrid Bergman are:
- Casablanca (1942)
- Notorious (1946)
- Spellbound (1945)
What are your three favorite/best Bergman films? You can view her entire filmography here.