Wednesday 16 April 2014

Ingrid Bergman at Stromboli

She played the wife of an anti-Nazi hero in Casablanca (1942), her most famous role.  She played a woman driven close to madness in Gaslight (1944), a role for which she won an Oscar.  But it was her role as a Lithuanian who marries an Italian POW to escape an internment camp in Stromboli (1949) that gave her the most publicity.  During the making of Stromboli, she had an illicit affair with the film's director, Roberto Rossellini.  Pregnant with his child, she was banned from Hollywood, not to return for several years.

The Swedish beauty, Ingrid Bergman, named after Princess Ingrid of Sweden, was born to a Swedish father and German mother.  Her mother died when she was only 3 and she was raised by her father.  Always knowing she wanted to be an actress, she tested the waters in her late teens.  

Ingrid married a Swedish dentist named Petter Lindstrom in 1938 and they had a daughter together. However, the two were separated much of the time due to her movie roles.  Bergman's big breakthrough came with the film Casablanca in 1942, in which she fell in love with Humphrey Bogart's character, Sam.  In 1944, Bergman starred in Gaslight, a role for which she won an Oscar.  

Bergman had always admired the Italian director Roberto Rossellini.  She wrote a letter to him, suggesting that she star in one of his movies.  Although the director's studio later went up in flames, the letter somehow remained intact, and Rossellini responded positively.  It was on a volcanic island, Stromboli, where the Italian director and the Swedish beauty met.  And volcanic was the best way to describe their relationship.    

Rossellini believed in neo-realism.  For the film "Stromboli", Bergman was required to live on the primitive island without modern conveniences.  In one scene, she had to climb to the top of the volcano in sandals, her feet scorched by the hot lava sands.  During the filming, the two fell madly in love.  It was during this time that photographer Gordon Parks, was invited by Bergman to take some photographs on the set.  One day, while the actress sat down for a rest, three elderly Italian women walked by and stared at her.  The picture said it all.

The film "Stromboli" was released in February of 1950.  The same month, Ingrid Bergman gave birth to an out of wedlock son, Robertino Rossellini.  Back in the United States, Ingrid Bergman was denounced on the Senate floor by Edwin Johnson.  She was officially a "persona non grata" and retreated into exile in Italy. Two years after the birth of Bergman's son, she gave birth to twin girls, also fathered by Rossellini.  It would be over six years before Bergman would be accepted back into Hollywood, with the release of "Anastasia". The Swedish actress and her Italian husband would divorce the following year.

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