Ingrid Bergman: A Silver Screen Star

Early Life

Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 29, 1915. She was the daughter of Friedel Bergman, her native German mother, and Justus Samuel Bergman, her Swede father. After the death of her mother when she was three, her father raised and took care of her. However, her father’s death when she was twelve brought her to the care of her unmarried aunt. Six months later, her unmarried aunt died because of heart disease. With this, she eventually lives and spent her teenage years with her uncle and his family.

Ever since a child, Ingrid Bergman always wanted to be an actress, although her father wanted her to be an opera star. In 1933, she received a scholarship at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. It was a state-sponsored theatre school, where the American actress, Greta Garbo, had earlier earned a similar scholarship. During her summer break, Bergman left the Royal Dramatic Theatre after being hired in a Swedish film studio. In 1935, she got a small role in a Swedish comedy film ‘Munkbrogreven’ (The Count of the Old Town). She had also starred in many Sweden films, including ‘Intermezzo’ in 1936, ‘En kvinnas ansikte,’ and ‘Die vier Gesellen’ in 1938.

Life in Hollywood

In the 1936 Swedish film, ‘Intermezzo’ directed by Molander, Bergman played the leading role of a piano teacher who had an affair with a famous violinist. Her exceptional performance captured the attention of David Selznick, a Hollywood film producer. Selznick bought the right to remake ‘Intermezzo’ in Hollywood, with Bergman in the starring role. In 1939, Bergman was transitioned to Hollywood upon Selznick’s request. Selznick offered Bergman a seven-year contract after the success of ‘Intermezzo: A Love Story.’ During the seven years, Bergman had made two movies with Selznick and various films in some other stage productions.

In 1941, Bergman’s role in the films ‘Rage in Heaven’ and ‘Adam Had Four Sons’ helped her to establish a pure persona. Her natural beauty and angelic face had won the affection of American audiences. Later in the same year, in the film ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,’ Bergman has initially been cast as Dr. Jekyll’s fiancée. However, Bergman approached the movie director, Victor Fleming, asking for a role switch. She told Fleming that she wanted to take a more diverse role; hence, she switched roles with her co-actress, Lana Turner. With this, Lana had the role of Dr. Jekyll’s fiancée, and Bergman as a barmaid named Ivy Peterson. The role switching was a challenging activity for both Turner and Bergman, for these were different from the usual role they’re playing.

Bergman’s most famous role came in 1942 when she played as Ilsa Lund in a successful film, Casablanca. It was a wartime romance film starring Ingrid Bergman as the leading lady of Humphrey Bogart. Later in the same year, Bergman again starred in a movie adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, ‘For whom the Bell Tolls.’ She portrayed the role of the leading lady, Maria, in which Bergman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

In 1943, Bergman won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a Victorian housewife in the film ‘Gaslight.’ Also, she was once again nominated for the same award in 1945 for her role in The Bells of St. Mary’s but lost to Joan Crawford.

In the following years, Bergman worked with an English film director, Alfred Hitchcock. Bergman’s performance in two of Hitchcock’s films, Spellbound in 1945 and Notorious in 1946, was considered by many as Bergman’s finest performance. Bergman’s career in Hollywood was undoubtedly flourishing, not until a scandal tinted her pure persona. In 1949, Bergman wrote to Roberto Rossellini, an Italian film director, indicating her interest in partaking in his film, Stromboli. During this film’s production, Bergman and Rossellini had an affair. Their affair caused outrage from the fans, denouncing that it was immoral, considering they were both married at the time. Bergman was married and had a child with Petter Lindstrom, a neurosurgeon, while Rossellini was married to Marcella de Marchis, a costume designer. In 1950, their affair caused Bergman’s pregnancy, so they sought a divorce from their former partners.

Later in the same year, Bergman and Rossellini married and lived in Italy to run away from the fan’s outrage in America. In 1952, the couple released Europa ’51, the same year Bergman bore their twin daughters Isabella and Isotta. It was in 1956 when Bergman worked with other filmmakers, aside from her husband. She collaborated with a French director, Jean Renoir, in his film ‘Elena et Les Hommes’ (Elena and Her Men).

In that same year, Bergman returned to Hollywood for her role in the historical-drama ‘Anastasia,’ directed by Anatole Litvak. Her return to Hollywood revived her career and gained her popularity in America once again. However, she divorced with Rossellini in 1957. One year after her divorce with Rossellini, she married a Swede theatrical producer, Lars Schmidt. In 1975, Bergman and Schmidt divorced.

In 1959 up to the year 1978, Bergman continued to star on films including, Turn of the Screw (1959), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and Autumn Sonata (1978).


In 1974, Bergman found out that she had a breast cancer. Despite battling cancer along with her failing health, she managed to finish the film Autumn Sonata in 1978. In her last movie in 1982, she portrayed the role of Prime Minister Golda Meir in the film ‘A Woman Called Golda.’ Her last role as Golda Meir had won an Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award.

After seven years of battling with breast cancer, she died at the age of 67, on her birthday on August 29, 1982.