Ingrid Bergman biography

Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish actress who was highly regarded for her roles in influential films, such as Casablanca (1942), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and Anastasia (1956).

Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

 She is the second most decorated Hollywood actress, with three Oscars, after Katherine Hepburn. Bergman was considered to have tremendous acting talent, an angelic natural beauty and the willingness to work hard to get the best out of films. She was also a very versatile actress, fluent in five languages and appearing in a range of films, plays and TV productions.

Early life Ingrid Bergman:

Ingrid was born in Stockholm, Sweden on August 29, 1915. Her mother was German (of Jewish extraction) and her father Swedish. Her mother died when she was three, and her father passed away when she was 12. After this tragic loss, she went to live with her unmarried aunt who died just six months after Ingrid moved in. She was then brought up by her Uncle Otto and Aunt Hulda.

From an early age, she was interested in acting. Even with her father (a camera enthusiast), she had compiled some early motion picture videos. When she was 17, she attended the Royal Dramatic Theater School in Stockholm. She made her début on the stage but was more interested in working in films. Her first minor speaking role came in 1935 when she played a maid in a low budget Swedish film “Munkborgreven”

In the late 1930s, she made her big break into Hollywood. She had starred in a Swedish production of “Intermezzo” (1936)  the story of a violinist who has an affair with his daughter’s violin teacher. Bergman played the role of the violin teacher. The director David Selznick was so impressed with Bergman’s role that he bought the rights to have the film remade in Hollywood and chose Bergman to play the lead role. The film Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) was a commercial and critical success, leading Selznick to sign Bergman for a seven-year deal.

She was catapulted to global fame through her role in the 1942 film Casablanca. She played Ilsa, the wife of Victor Lazlo (played by Paul Henreid. Humphrey Bogart played Rick Blaine.) The film was produced at an important time (1942) and was made with a motivation to foster public opinion in the US against the Nazi’s. The film was a huge commercial and critical success –  and even 60 years later it is considered one of the greatest and most influential films ever produced. Bergman never considered the film to be her best role. But, she felt that the film seemed to capture something, almost mystically important. Despite a long and distinguished film career, she observed that it was Casablanca that people always wanted to talk about.
“I feel about Casablanca that it has a life of its own. There is something mystical about it. It seems to have filled a need, a need that was there before the film, a need that the film filled.”

Chandler, Charlotte (2007). Ingrid: Ingrid Bergman, A Personal Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 19, 21, 294

She followed this great success with just one more film in 1943 For Whom the Bell Tolls. The book’s author, Ernest Hemingway personally chose Ingrid Bergman – stating to Ingrid – “You are Maria”. She received her first Oscar nomination for this role.

Bergman was choosing her films carefully, only doing a limited number, but each film was a great commercial success, making her one of the hottest properties in Hollywood.

“I’ve never sought success in order to get fame and money; it’s the talent and the passion that count in success.”

“The Last Word – A Treasury of Women’s Quotes,” by Carolyn Warner, (1992)
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