From having an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini in 1950, to being denounced on the floor of Congress for her actions, which eventually culminated in winning an Oscar her role in Anastasia, Ingrid Bergman‘s later years are absolutely fascinating.
Spanning 26 years, this era of Bergman sums why she’s recognized as one of the greatest actresses of all time. Looking back, it may have been the peak of Ingrid’s career, but, if you rewind the clock to the beginning 1956, everything in Bergman’s life, both professionally and personally, was in shambles.
It all started in 1949.
Wanting to work with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, Bergman mailed him a letter detailing how she was just dying to make a picture with him. Flattered and amused, Rossellini took the beautiful Swede up on her offer and together Ingrid and Roberto made Stromboli which was released a few months later.
That’s not the only thing they created together, however.
Coinciding with the release of the Stromboli was the birth of Bergman and Rossellini‘s
love child son, Renato Roberto Ranaldo Giusto Giuseppe “Robin” Rossellini. The affair, naturally, caused a giant scandal in the United States, where Bergman ended up public enemy number one.
You see, when Hollywood typecasts you as the perpetual virgin, then you go out and have a child with a man who isn’t your husband, that’ll make A LOT of people angry.
The backlash and vitriol against Bergman got so hateful that for about 5 years, starting in late 1950, she stayed in Italy with her husband continuing the film career that she had lost in America.
Luckily for her, 1956 was the start of her comeback.
By the end of 1955, Rosellini and Bergman were divorced. After 3 kids and 6 years of marriage, they officially divorced in 1957, but, were separated for many years before that.
What would you do if your marriage was breaking down?
Throw yourself into your work, of course.
Released in 1956, Anastasia was the monumental comeback that Bergman was due for. Co-starring alongside Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes, the film was met with rave reviews from American audiences; the same audiences that cursed her name 5 years earlier.
The movie was so successful that Americans (and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) decided to give her a public apology by nominating her performance for an Oscar, which she would, subsequently, go on to win.
Her win in 1956, saw Bergman‘s name back in the hearts and minds of the American people.
It would only be until 1958, however, that Bergman would officially make her first public appearance presenting the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards. Being introduced by Cary Grant, she received a standing ovation from the audience, which symbolized how much they forgave and missed her.
After this career resurgence, Bergman was on roll.
She continued to alternate her work between the United States and Europe while periodically sprinkling in the occasional TV appearance. During this time, she made fantastic films Indiscreet, Goodbye Again and The Yellow Rolls- Royce.
Although this may be an impressive list of films, Bergman would further add to her success by winning ANOTHER Oscar for her role in Agatha Christie‘s Murder on the Orient Express. Ingrid was surprised that she was given the Award considering that her part was only a couple of minutes long.
Nevertheless, the Academy thought she was good enough to earn her second Oscar in the span of 20 years.
Unfortunately, after this picture, Bergman‘s acting roles steadily began to reduce as she got older.
In 1978, Bergman starred in her final cinematic role in the Ingmar Bergman‘s drama Autumn Sonata. The film was a triumph and for her performance, Bergman received her 7th and final Academy Award nomination.
In what would be her final acting role, Ingrid was cast as Golda Meir in the television miniseries about her life, appropriately named, A Woman Called Golda. Her performance once again was lauded, but, sadly Ingrid would pass away before she could receive her second Tony Award in 1983.
Ingrid Bergman was truly a Hollywood legend. Her life, memory, and contributions to cinema have not been forgotten. While she was alive her movies and charisma made her stand out from the typical actress of that time. Fresh-faced, and naturally beautiful, Bergman changed that way Hollywood saw women for the better.
Today, on what would’ve been her 103rd birthday, I look back at Ingrid’s career with joy and satisfaction. She was an incredible woman, and her legacy will be one that we look at in awe.
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