Oscar Scandals: Bergman, Ingrid–From Rossellini to Anastasia

gaslight_1The impact of seemingly irrelevant–offscreen–factors on winning the Oscar was abundantly clear in the case of Ingrid Bergman.

Bergman’s career was severely damaged after she left her husband, Dr. Peter Lindstrom, and her daughter Pia, and went to Italy to work with director Roberto Rossellini. Bergman’s s adulterous affair with Rossellini, and her bearing a child out of the wedlock, shocked the film community.

After all, Bergman had been advertised as one of Hollywood’s most “normal” and “wholesome” star, living an idyllic family life.

By that time, she had won a well deserved Best Actress at her second nomination, in 1944, for George Cukor’s suspenseful thriller-melodrama, Gaslight.

Bergman’s screen roles, particularly Sister Mary Benedict in The Bells of St. Mary’s, in 1945, and in some of Hitchcock’s movies (Spellbound in 1945), perpetuated that image.

444y0cjdypcBergman’s affair with Rossellini, while officially married to another man, made her the subject of a most vicious campaign. Fan magazines, the church, and even school organizations condemned her, and there was serious talk of boycotting her films in the United States.

Free-Love Cultist, Common Mistress

Senator Edwin C. Johnson denounced Bergman on the Senate floor as “a free-love cultist,” and “common mistress,” “a powerful influence for evil,” and “Hollywood’s apostle of degradation,” demanding that she be barred forever from the country on grounds of “moral turpitude.”

For almost a decade, Bergman was “persona non grata” in the United States. Unfortunately, none of the pictures that she made with Rossellini was commercially successful. Neither artist benefited much from their professional collaboration; Bergman’s star charisma was somehow foreign to Rossellini’s neorealistic style that, among other things, relied on the use of nonprofessional actors. Soon the marriage itself was in troubled waters.

spellbound_1_bergmanHowever, in 1955, producer Darryl Zanuck came to the rescue, offering Bergman the lead in Anastasia, as the amnesiac refugee who’s passing as Tzar Nicholas and Alexandra’s surviving daughter. This was done against the advice of Fox’s executives who believed that the American public had not forgiven Bergman yet. But with Zanuck’s insistence and a new publicity campaign, which now sold Bergman as a courageous woman who sacrificed her career and family for true love, her image began to change.

 

 

 

 

murder_on_the_orient_express_ingrid_bergman_1Hollywood Fairy Tale

Bergman’s comeback story reads like a Hollywood fairy tale. Ed Sullivan, the noted TV host, flew to London, where Anastasia was shooting to interview her, though not before soliciting his viewers’ opinion concerning her return to America. Many believed that it was Sullivan’s popular show that turned the tide of public opinion to Bergman’s favor.

Bergman’s reputation was restored with a second Oscar as Best Actress for Anastasia, though she did not accept it in person.

Bergman returned to the United States in 1959, when the Academy asked her to be a presenter on the show.

In 1974, Bergman won her third Oscar, in the Supporting Actress category, for a tiny part (basically one scene) in Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express.

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