Remembering Ingrid Bergman at 100

The term ‘classic Hollywood beauty’ could have been created to describe Ingrid Bergman, born 100 years ago this month. Bergman, whose birth and death (1982) fell on the same day (August 29), collected numerous awards throughout her career including four Golden Globes, three Oscars, two Emmys, and a Tony.

Pia  (L) and Ingrid Bergman, around 1963.  (Photo provided by Pia Bergman.

Pia (L) and Ingrid Bergman, around 1963. Photo provided by Pia Bergman.

Several events are planned to celebrate Bergman’s life.

“The Museum of Modern Art is hosting a film retrospective in New York, beginning on August 29th,” said Bergman’s daughter, Pia Lindström, a respected television journalist, theater critic, and current radio host on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (seewww.pialindstrom.com). “I will introduce three of her films: ‘Casablanca,’ ‘Notorious,’ and ‘Autumn Sonata’ and my sisters will also introduce films. An Ingrid Bergman stamp will be released in both Sweden and the U.S. and I will go to Washington, DC, on September 9th for the stamp ceremony.”

Named after a princess from her native Sweden, Bergman was the darling of Hollywood for much of her early career, until suffering the wrath of the American public and press after ‘abandoning’ her adopted country and returning to Europe with director Roberto Rossellini. The couple produced three children, Isabella, Ingrid, and Roberto Jr., giving step-siblings to Pia – Bergman’s daughter from the earlier marriage to Petter Lindström.

Bergman’s family will also be traveling to Sweden to celebrate their mother’s life.

“We are all going to Stockholm where the Royal Dramatic Theatre is having a celebration of my mother’s 100th birth date,” said Lindström. “They will show a new documentary about her, and Liv Ullman will host the evening.”

Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Borgart in Casablanca - Warner Bros.

Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Borgart in Casablanca – Warner Bros.

Lindström was two years old when her parents left Sweden for America, settling in Rochester, New York, with her father while her mother worked in Hollywood. The family eventually reunited in California as Bergman’s celebrity status grew. Unfortunately, Pia’s father didn’t easily accept his wife’s fame.

“I don’t think he was prepared for what would happen to her in Hollywood – to see us constantly photographed and his family privacy invaded,” said Lindström.

Pia was ten when Bergman headed to Italy in 1949 with Rossellini. She only saw her mother twice in the following 8 years, and the public of the early 1950s didn’t take kindly to Bergman’s abandonment of her family.

“Mama played the ‘good girl’ in many of her films and was perceived as a vulnerable, natural, country beauty, without pretense, not as a seductive vamp who would betray her husband,” said Lindström.

Her departure to Europe to make films in Italy also irritated the U.S. film studios since, according to Lindström, they viewed it“as professionally snubbing Hollywood.”

But Bergman had no career misgivings. “She was very happy that she was doing what she loved. She fell in love and always said she had no regrets.”

Eventually, Hollywood embraced Bergman again, presenting her with a second Oscar for “Anastasia” in 1956 (and a third in1974 for “Murder on the Orient Express.”) Today, she is regarded as one of the most celebrated actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Era, revered for her natural beauty and talent.

Ironically, Lindström says her favorite Bergman film is “Autumn Sonata” (1978).

“The story is about a mother who has a musical gift, and leaves her daughter to pursue her career,” she explained. “If you have an exceptional gift, do you use it and go where that talent takes you? Or, do you stay at home and nurse your children through chickenpox and take them to baseball games? It addressed a theme that runs through many lives.”

Lindström believes that her mother’s death at the age of 67 on the same day she was born was more than just coincidence.

“I believe she chose that date to die,” she said. “There is a kind of symmetry to it, the sort of thing she would have liked. I find it fitting, a closing of the circle of her life.”

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 600 magazines and newspapers. Follow @TinseltownTalks

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