The Woman Who Risked Everything For Love—Ingrid Bergman
I met Ingrid Bergman in London for the first time since she left Hollywood to make Stromboli for Roberto Rossellini and never came back.
A much thinner Ingrid but a completely fascinating cosmopolite discussed with me the news that rocked the world seven years ago when I revealed for the first time that the Swedish actress was expecting a child by Rossellini, her Italian director.
I feared she might hold against me the fact that I had broken the news, but she seemed genuinely glad to see me and embraced me when I walked into the room to greet her.
She adores her children, her sturdy six-year-old Roberto who was born in Rome before she was divorced from Dr. Peter Lindstrom, and her winsome twin daughters. Dr. Lindstrom fought the divorce tooth and nail and refused to let her marry Rossellini although mutual friends pleaded with the Swedish doctor to free her.
Ingrid made a point of letting me know that she is very happy, despite the troubles that so grievously beset her when she left everything for the man she loved and apparently still loves.
“My three children are such a blessing,” she said. “They have been living at our country place outside of Rome and recently they have had a wonderful vacation at the seashore in Cannes.
All three are having expert care with Roberto’s sister and his first wife to look after them. You see Roberto’s little boy by his first marriage is with my children and they get along beautifully.”
At that she excused herself for a moment and brought in photographs of her own three children.
“The twins are so different,” she said. “Isabel has straight dark hair, while Ingrid is more blonde and has curly hair. Aren’t pee they sweet?” she asked me proudly. “They are indeed,” I told her, “and little Roberto is very handsome.”
If there is any bitterness in her soul she doesn’t show it. She talks about Rossellini and her babies with real affection and pride. She told me that the children are being brought up as Catholics, in Rossellini’s religion. “I think it is such a wonderful thing for them to have the faith which Catholicism teaches,” she said.
“And what about Pia?” I dared to ask her. “I’ll show you her picture,” she said. “She is seventeen and such a young lady—and I think very attractive.” Pia, or Jenny as she calls herself in America, is not estranged from Ingrid and writes to her mother regularly in spite of reports to the contrary. Time has obviously softened the blow that at one time threatened to completely estrange Ingrid and her young daughter by Dr. Peter Lindstrom.
“Then you are in communication with Pia?” I asked her. “But of course,” she said. “She writes me and I write to her.” At the time Ingrid left the United States there were many reports that the unhappy Pia had put her mother right out of her life. Since that time Dr. Lindstrom has remarried and is reconciled to losing the glamorous actress who did so much to finance his education as a brain surgeon.
When Ingrid was in Hollywood, the most popular actress of the day, I wouldn’t have dared to be as frank with her as I was the day I talked with her in London. In some subtle way she has changed and is much less reserved than she was when she was the toast of the world as an actress.
“Are you happy?” I asked her again. “Very,” she said. “I only hope Dr. Lindstrom is as happy with his new wife as I am with my husband and my new family. I hold no bitterness against Dr. Lindstrom and wish him only the best of everything.”
“You will see Pia when you come to the United States,” I said to her.
“But I’m not going to the United States,” she replied. “All those rumors that I am traveling to New York are false. I have no intention of doing a live-television show for Ed Sullivan. He will film some scenes of me in Anastasia and that’s as far as I expect to go.
“When I finish Anastasia here in London I’ll leave at once for Paris to prepare for my stage play, Tea And Sympathy. I study every chance I get—every free moment when I am not before the cameras. My French is fair but it’s not grammatically perfect enough to speak in a dramatic play.
“It’s true I spoke four languages when I appeared in Joan Of Arc,” went on Ingrid. “French, Italian, English and Swedish. But I had music back of every word I spoke!” At this she laughed and said, “I can’t have the French critics panning my bad French in Tea And Sympathy.”
Still a beautiful woman
The day I visited Ingrid she was dressed in black slacks which accentuated her slimness. The round girlish face is gone but the schoolgirl complexion remains. Her cheeks are pink and she uses no rouge or makeup. She is still a very beautiful woman, so animated and so fresh looking. Neither has she lost that well-scrubbed appearance.
With us all the time we talked in her suite at the Savoy was Rossellini’s niece Fiorella, a dark-eyed Italian girl who finds being with her aunt by marriage a very exciting experience.
“Fiorella is Roberto’s sister’s daughter,” Ingrid explained when she introduced us. “She is staying with me while I am in London and keeping me company.”
“Where is your husband?” I asked her. “He was due in today but he telephoned me that he was delayed in Rome so I expect him tomorrow,” she replied. “We talk every day and he misses me as I miss him when we are of necessity separated.”
“I saw your indignant denial in the American newspapers that you and your husband are divorcing,” I said to her.
“It’s too ridiculous to discuss!” she replied. “It started in a Swedish newspaper written by one writer who has always taken delight in writing unkind things about me. Other newspapers copied the story. I can’t blame columnists if they read such an article and repeat it again in their newspapers, but I do blame the Swedish journalist who started it without verifying the truth of such a malicious story about my private life. I know from bitter experience it does no good to demand a retraction, which I could very well have done.”
This was the only time any tinge of annoyance crept into Bergman’s voice. And she quickly laughed that off and changed the subject.
“I do want you to see the motion picture I made in Paris,” she said. “It’s called Elena And The Men. At least, that’s what they call it in France. It reminds me of Sarotoga Trunk which was always one of my favorite pictures.”
“Have you any plans ever to return to America?” I asked.
“No, I have no immediate plans,” she said. “I expect to be in Paris a long time—I mean I hope to be and I shall have my children there with me while I am in Tea And Sympathy. I expect to take a house when we move there in October.”
She took me into her bedroom and showed me other photographs of her three little ones, such healthy children.
“I suppose they speak only Italian,” I said. “No, they speak a little English and Swedish,” Ingrid replied. “I want them to be accomplished linguists. Today that’s an important part of everyone’s education.”
Ingrid had never met Helen Hayes until they were brought together at Elstree Studios, where Helen is playing the Grand Duchess in Anastasia, and Ingrid is portraying her niece—supposedly the Czar’s daughter. “I was so glad to meet her. Like all actresses I had a profound admiration for Helen Hayes’ ability as an actress and now I like her tremendously as a warm, sweet human being.
“She sent me these,” said Ingrid pointing to a bowl of roses on top of which was a painted egg with the Russian crest of the Czars.
Her fame again is climbing
I always liked Ingrid, from the moment I met her when she came to our ranch and saw her first orange growing on a tree, and was like a child. She sent the orange to Pia in Sweden and when it arrived it was as black as tar.
She was so carefree that day, so lovely and so delighted with the contract David Selznick had given her after she made such a favorable impression in Interlude that I was completely captivated by her charm.
Her rise was so rapid and she stood for the greatest and best in artistry as well as the highest in womanhood.
This last year, after a bad time in her acting career, she has again regained a certain amount of her fame and is again climbing high.
And, in my opinion she will never let anything break up her marriage. Rossellini, an impassioned, ardent Italian, gave her what Dr. Lindstrom (cold and not as responsive) failed to do.
Not that my conscience will allow me to say she did right, but Ingrid had much on her side and in her favor that has never been printed.
I have no intention of moralizing on Ingrid’s flight into the arms of Rossellini.
Fundamentally I believe Ingrid to have the right instincts and I know she has suffered at the scandal that has been associated with her name since she defied society and its conventions. I believe that she has paid dearly for her impulsive elopement.
—BY LOUELLA PARSONS
Ingrid Bergman will soon be seen in the 20th Century-Fox film Anastasia and Warners’ The Night Does Strange Things.
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 1956