Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ingrid Bergman And Roberto Rossellini

Ingrid Bergman And Roberto Rossellini, abloid accounts of celebrity drug and sex foibles flood the media today, feeding a national obsession with sleaze. This phenomenon arguably got rolling in the early 1950's with a sex scandal that horrified the staid moral climate of the times, the blatant extramarital affair and subsequent illegitimate pregnancy of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini.

Ingrid Bergman dazzled Americans early in her career. She found a fast track to international success after starring in the Swedish version of Intermezzo in 1936. David O. Selznick was captivated by her talent and charm, and brought her to America to do an English language remake.

Audiences found her to be luminous and magnetic. Her natural beauty was far removed from the dramatically made up faces of familiar European imports like Garbo and Dietrich.

Ingrid Bergman wisely selected her film roles. Intelligent and savvy, she followed one picture after another paired with the biggest co-stars of the day, such as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls. In 1945, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Gaslight.

The American public's adoration of Ingrid Bergman solidified in 1945 when she played a nun opposite Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary's.

Studio publicists generated and controlled star images in those days and Ingrid Bergman was projected as the perfect, wholesome beauty with an admirable personal life to match her unquestioned talent. The audience was fed a picture of family bliss for Bergman and her doctor husband, Peter Lindstrom, and their daughter, Pia. In truth, Ingrid Bergman had affairs with photographer Robert Capa, several directors and leading men over the years, but in the pre-paparazzi days, no one knew. Bergman herself was rather open and kept extensive personal papers.

The trouble that banished Ingrid Bergman from America's affection began in 1948, when she saw Open City, a movie directed by Roberto Rossellini. Bergman was smitten and immediately decided she must work with him. Bergman and her husband met Rossellini and he was a guest in their home for a time.

Rossellini was a reckless Italian playboy. In his book Notorious, The Life of Ingrid Bergman, Donald Spoto relates how Rossellini, in 1931, desired an affair with a comedienne, Assia Noris. Noris refused to have sex before marriage, so Rossellini consented and arranged a huge church wedding, complete with an archbishop, priests and gala celebration. After a year of marriage, Noris and Rossellini drifted apart and she asked for a divorce to marry someone else, at which point he told her to go ahead, as the whole ceremony had been a staged fake! At the time he met Ingrid Bergman, Rossellini was known to be dallying with five other women, including actress Anna Magnani.

The affair began with the filming of Stromboli in Italy in 1949. Ingrid Bergman became pregnant with Rossellini's child, left her husband and daughter and began living openly with the director. Their son was born in February, 1950. Bergman later got a quickie Mexican divorce and they married.

NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook, and guests movie critic Garen Daly and Jeanine Basinger, Professor of Movie Studies at Wesleyan University, provides a comprehensive look at Ingrid Bergman's career and the Rossellini scandal. Daly labels the firestorm of disapproval "the beginning of tabloid journalism".

When the scandal broke in the newspapers, it scorched America's heart and the fervor with which the public once idolized Bergman turned to its polar opposite. Trivia-Library.com excerpted an article by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace, reproduced with permission from "The People's Almanac" series of books, which recounts the hatred and condemnation Bergman faced in the country where she once could do no wrong. The public denunciation even extended to the floor of the U.S. Senate. The article states, "On Mar. 14, 1950, Sen. Edwin C. Johnson of Colorado took to the floor of the U.S. Senate and delivered an extraordinary and impassioned harangue...during Johnson's blistering tirade she was labeled a "free-love cultist" and a "powerful influence for evil."'

Her movies were picketed; countless ministers denounced her from pulpits. The gossip columnists, foremost of which was Louella Parsons, raved against the woman they once adored. America got caught up in celebrity tabloid journalism.

With her name synonymous with evil and immorality, Bergman could not make a film in America for years. The subsequent work she did with Rossellini was not popular. When the furor finally began to fade, she came back to the U.S. and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1957 for Anastasia, but did not accept the award in person. Her career picked up again, but the stigma remained.

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini later had twins, one of whom is the actress Isabella Rossellini. Their marriage was finally annulled and she later married a wealthy Swede. Bergman died of cancer on her birthday in 1982.

In Donald Spoto's book, he quotes Bergman as saying. "I've had a wonderful life. I have never regretted what I did. I regret the things I didn't do."
Title: Ingrid Bergman And Roberto Rossellini
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