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The Affair That Ended Ingrid Bergman’s Hollywood Career

Nowadays, Ingrid Bergman is commonly recognized as one of the most preeminent actresses in Old Hollywood history. However, there was a time during the peak of the actress’s success when she was essentially banished from Hollywood for an affair that she had committed alongside Italian director Robert Rossellini. Join Facts Verse as we explore the affair that ended Ingrid Bergman’s Hollywood career.


If you ask any Hollywood historian, Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses of her time. Having appeared in such classic and iconic films as Casablanca, the actress is remembered as one of Old Hollywood’s greatest stars. Because of Ingrid’s grand legacy, it’s hard to believe that there could ever have been a time when the public turned against her. However, this is exactly what happened, and it occurred at the height of Ingrid’s Hollywood career.

Ingrid was born in Sweden in 1915, and started her acting career in her home country. After starring in several Swedish pictures, Ingrid slowly began taking off in the European film industry. From there, the actress was eventually able to turn her success in Europe into success in Hollywood. Ingrid’s opportunity to branch out into Hollywood roles came when she was given the chance to reprise a role that she had played in the Swedish film Intermezzo for it’s American adaptation. Ingrid gladly accepted the opportunity, and the rest is history! However, success in America didn’t come entirely without it’s battles for Ingrid, and once she found her initial success it would briefly be cut short by controversy.

It was in the late 1930s that Ingrid was brought over to America with the opportunity to become a Hollywood star in the Americanized version of the Swedish film Intermezzo, which the actress had previously starred in. Famed producer David O. Selznick was producing the adaptation, and he was reported to have had some qualms about the decidedly foreign-looking Ingrid Bergman. According to the late producers’ son, David had made an unsuccessful bid to try to either have Ingrid replaced or to have her made-over to look more like traditional Hollywood beauties of the time. Some of the many issues that David was said to have taken with Ingrid’s appearance included her being too tall, as well as her having bushy eyebrows. He also hated her name, saying that it sounded “too German” for American audiences.

When presented with the criticisms of producer David O. Selznick, Ingrid simply balked. She held her ground, and the rest of the film’s creative team thankfully stood beside her. Ingrid was allowed to act in the film the way that she was, the same as she had done in the Swedish original. Those that backed Ingrid believed that her natural looks and charm would be a selling point in the eyes of American audiences, not a detriment. As it turns out, they were right!

Ingrid’s turn in the American adaptation of Intermezzo turned out to be a major success with both critics and audiences, and Ingrid subsequently found her new Hollywood career taking off like wildfire! After appearing in several more Hollywood pictures, Ingrid took on what has arguably become the actress’s most iconic role. Of course, we’re talking about her appearance alongside Humphrey Bogart in the classic 1942 film Casablanca.

Before coming to America, Ingrid had married a Swedish neurosurgeon by the name of Petter Lindström. The two had a daughter together, named Pia. When Ingrid left Sweden to film the American adaptation of Intermezzo, she left her family behind. However, she brought them overseas with her once she decided to stay in Hollywood. Ingrid continued rising in prominence after her turn in Casablanca, and was a household name in America by the end of the 1940s. However, her fame was soon going to turn against her.

In 1949, Ingrid first came into contact with Roberto Rossellini. Ingrid had become obsessed with the Italian director’s work, and subsequently wrote him a letter asking to be cast in one of his features. Roberto was notorious for having affairs with his actresses, despite the fact that the director was married. Contrastingly, Ingrid was known as a virginal saint in the eyes of American audiences.

After Ingrid wrote to Roberto, he cast her in his feature film Stromboli. While filming the feature, Ingrid and Roberto became entangled in a passionate love affair. When the public caught wind of the affair, they were shocked that the innocent and pure Ingrid would allow herself to be sullied in such a way. The controversy nearly ended the actress’s career for good! If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support. As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

At the time that actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini became involved in an extramarital affair, affairs were not at all uncommon in Hollywood. In fact, Roberto was known to have been involved in multiple affairs before meeting Ingrid. However, the seemingly innocent appearance of Ingrid made American audiences react differently to the news that she had cheated on her spouse. After Ingrid’s affair with Roberto was made public, the American populace turned against her. Pretty soon, Ingrid found herself out of work and eventually decided to marry Roberto and move with him to his home country of Italy.

The tabloids were responsible for leaking the news that Ingrid and Roberto had started up an affair. The news came along with an even more shocking revelation that made the affair seem doubly salacious in the eyes of the public, and that was that Ingrid had become pregnant with Roberto’s child. Given that Ingrid was already married and had a child with her then-husband, Ingrid’s previous fans were quick to write her off as immoral and uncaring.

After a decade of building up her reputation in Hollywood with hard work and perseverance, Ingrid saw her image tarnished essentially overnight. Sadly, the moralistic and conservative attitudes of the 1950s that Ingrid’s angelic appearance had initially played into had come to destroy her, and she was now viewed as a villainous miscreant.

Ingrid and Roberto married soon after their affair was made public. With little work coming the actress’s way in America after the controversy, Ingrid saw no problem moving with Roberto to his home country of Italy. There, the two were married and had three children, including the one that Ingrid had become pregnant with during their affair. One of these children is actress and model Isabella Rossellini, whom audiences may most memorably recall as the star of and singer of the titular song in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

Sadly, Ingrid didn’t get to take her daughter Pia with her when she left to Italy with her new husband. Petter had been incredibly upset at the revelation that his wife had struck up an affair with the Italian director and subsequently did everything he could to prevent Ingrid from seeing her daughter ever again. In addition to postponing the divorce, Petter also initiated a long and bitter custody battle. Given that much of the general public had so vehemently turned against Ingrid alongside Petter, he didn’t have a very hard time convincing them that she didn’t deserve custody.

Ingrid didn’t get to see her first daughter for seven years as a result of the divorce and ensuing custody battle. According to Isabella, Ingrid spent many of these years visibly distressed about this to the point where it was noticeable even to her.

As Ingrid and Petter battled over custody, American journalists and politicians spoke out about the moral threat of Ingrid Bergman and her attitudes towards sex and marriage. US senators from various states decried the public affair that had destroyed Ingrid’s marriage, saying that she was not the kind of person who belonged on screens in their nation. These sentiments further convinced the public that Ingrid was a negative societal influence, though the witch-hunt against the beloved Swedish actress would eventually end.

In 1956, Ingrid starred in a foreign production named Anastasia that became a huge hit with American audiences. After several years of banishment, it appeared as if the American people had finally decided that Ingrid wasn’t completely evil after all. Either that, or they decided that an actress being evil was no longer something that necessarily had to affect their enjoyment of said actress’s work.

Anastasia took advantage of Ingrid’s vague European looks by casting her in the role of the famous Russian princess. This film was an unlikely success, and even netted Ingrid an Academy Award for Best Actress. After the fervent campaign of hate that Ingrid had fallen victim to over the preceding years, she was understandably hesitant to show her face in Hollywood, instead allowing costar Cary Grant to accept the award in her absence. Perhaps Ingrid assumed the award was a ploy by the Hollywood industry to get her back on American soil so they could burn her at the stake. However, Cary assured her during his acceptance speech in her honor that he and all of his colleagues held no ill will towards her.

Soon after her hit role in 1956’s Anastasia, Ingrid slowly began to accept that she had been welcomed back into Hollywood. She continued her career in the industry for many years before passing away in 1982. Some of the actress’s later career hits include Cactus Flower, as well as Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express. Ingrid divorced Roberto Rossellini in 1957, marrying again the next year to a producer by the name of Lars Schmidt. Ingrid and Lars divorced in 1975, several years before Ingrid’s death.


Despite the incredible amount of controversy that Ingrid Bergman had to deal with during her Hollywood career, she is truly a saint compared to most actors and actresses in the days since Old Hollywood. Comment down below to share what your favorite Ingrid role is besides her iconic turn in Casablanca, or if you were shocked to learn about the callousness of the American film industry (in the 1950s). As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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