Ingrid Bergman, the unaffected Swedish girl whose film roles enchanted two generations, won three Academy Awards during her career.
The commitment Bergman showed to her craft never waned, from her first part as an extra in a 1933 Swedish film, where she earned $1, to her final performance, as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, in the 1981 television production “A Woman Called Golda.”
Bergman came to Hollywood in 1939 as an unknown Swedish ingenue – producer David O. Selznick caller her his “healthy Swedish cow.” At 5 feet 8 inches, big-boned and blue-eyed, she was a strapping woman who refused to conform to Hollywood image-making. She wore the same dress to the Academy Awards ceremony two years running.
In her first nine years in Hollywood, she made 14 movies. Married, with a small daughter, she tried to live as privately as possible, but her work enthralled the public. When she cropped her hair to play Maria in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” thousands of women rushed out for haircuts.
She eventually made 44 movies, countless stage appearances and two television roles in her 48 years in show business, in a career spanning two continents and five languages.
Her Academy Award-winning films followed the evolution of her professional and personal maturity—from “Gaslight,” in 1944 to, as a tormented Victorian wife, to “Anastasia,” in 1956, where she played an amnesiac Russian grand duchess who comes into her own, to “Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974, where she portrayed an aging and insular Swedish missionary.
In 1948, at the peak of her career, she faced what at the time was called “the scandal of the century.” Although married to Swedish doctor Petter Lindstrom and with a young daughter, Pia, Bergman fell in love with Italian director Roberto Rossellini and became pregnant with his child.
It was a scandal of unimaginable proportions, in an era when stars, even in married roles, were clad in pajamas and consigned to twin beds.
After her son with Rossellini was born out of wedlock, the condemnation reached a crescendo. On the floor of the U.S. Senate, Colorado Sen. Edwin C. Johnson called Bergman “brazen” and demanded that she be banned for “moral turpitude.” A movie mogul visited Bergman in Italy and suggested she could return to Hollywood if she gave up Rossellini, put her son in an orphanage and apologize to Americans on the radio.
By 1958, Rossellini and Bergman, who married after her divorce from Lindstrom, had split and fought bitterly over custody of their son and twin daughters.
|1943||Best Actress||For Whom the Bell Tolls||Nomination|
|1945||Best Actress||The Bells of St. Mary's||Nomination|
|1948||Best Actress||Joan of Arc||Nomination|
|1974||Best Supporting Actress||Murder on the Orient Express||Win|
|1978||Best Actress||Autumn Sonata||Nomination|