Actress Ingrid Bergman has the dubious distinction of being born and dying on the same date. The charming and sometimes unaffected actress, who enraptured audiences with her courage though scandal and turmoil, was born August 29, 1915 in Stockholm, Sweden. Bergman decided to become an actress after finishing her formal schooling. She did not have an affinity for the stage, but instead found her true calling in film acting. She was discovered by famed American film producer, David O. Selznick, who signed the Swedish actress to a contract with United Artists studios. Her first American film was a remake of a Swedish motion picture, Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939); in it she successfully reprised the role of Anita Hoffman, she had played while in Sweden. Bergman was about to take took Hollywood by storm and from 1939 to 1982, appeared in over forty feature films. Her most memorable film credits include: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Spell Bound (1945), Notorious (1946), Stromboli (1950), Good Bye Again (1961), and A Walk in the Spring Rain (1970).
Her film career often mirrored her personal life, early film roles saw her cast as a sweet woman, who was dominated by men, then she took on characters that were of an independent nature, and finally, she evolved into a woman of insight and strength. She was the winner of the three best lead actress Oscars, first in 1945 for Gaslight (1944), 1957 for Anastasia (1956), and 1975 for Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Her Academy Award best actress nominated films were For Whom the Bells Toll (1943), The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), Joan of Arc (1948), and Hostsonaten (1978). These Academy Award winning motion pictures followed the growth of her practiced and personal development. The public could not get enough of the talented actress, enthralled and obsessed with her every move. Bergman will always be remembered as Humphrey Bogart’s love interest, Lisa Lund, in the legendary, Casablanca (1942).
In 1948, the so called “scandal of the century” hit, Bergman was at the peak of her Hollywood popularity, when she began a torrid love affair with director Roberto Rossellini, while filming, Stromboli in Italy. Bergman became pregnant with Rossellini’s child and bore a son out of wedlock. The problem was that at the time of the affair Bergman was married to another man, Peter Lindstrom. This was a scandal of unbelievable proportions, the media had a field day, and Bergman’s image of the whole some, virtuous woman was all but destroyed. Her marriage to Lindstrom was shattered and ended in divorce. Soon after she married Rossellini but the damage had already been done. Their union would produce two more children. Sadly in 1957, this marriage also ended in divorce.
Bergman’s career was damaged by the scandal but she survived and went on to have other great successes in film, television, and stage. The last role before her death, Bergman played famed Israeli Prime Minster, Golda Meir in the 1982, television mini-series, A Woman Called Golda and for which she was posthumously awarded a best actress, Emmy Award. On August 29, 1982, (her sixty-seventh birthday) Bergman died after a long battle with breast cancer at her London apartment. She had battled the disease for eight years, having undergone mastectomies in 1974 and 1978. At her bedside when she passed was her third husband, Lars Schmidt. Even though the pair had divorced in 1975, they remained close friends. No public funeral was held for Bergman, a small service for family was held at a London area crematory. Per her final wishes, Bergman’s body was cremated, some of her ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Sweden and the remainder were buried next to her parents at the Northern Cemetery (Norra Begravingsplatsen) in Solna, Sweden. The unassuming grave is found in section Kv 11F, space 228/11573 and her epitaph simply reads, (in script) Ingrid, 1915-1982.
www.michaelthomasbarry.com, author of Fade to Black Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950