Ingrid Bergman is one of the best-loved stars ever to grace the big screen. From her earliest roles before she could speak English through some of the greatest films in history… from a scandal that would have killed most careers to a comeback that saw her once again lovingly embraced by her public… from Casablanca
through A Woman Called Golda
… Ingrid Bergman kept us riveted.
Ingrid Bergman in 1940 (Wikimedia Commons/A L Whitey Schafer)
Bergman's notable achievements were many, but one of the greatest was her Academy Awards record. She occupies a tiny niche, one that only three other actors share – she won three Oscars. Only Katharine Hepburn surpassed Bergman, Walter Brennan, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, with four Oscars. And Bergman was nominated for even more, keeping herself in the running for an Academy Award during almost every decade from her American breakthrough in the 1940s until her death 30 years ago, on August 29, 1982. Today, we celebrate Ingrid Bergman's life with a look at her movies that were honored by the Academy.
Bergman's first Oscar nomination came early in her career and didn't result in a win, though she's said to have thought it would be the movie she'd be remembered for. Nominated for Best Actress for 1944's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Bergman starred opposite Gary Cooper (who was nominated for Best Actor, but also didn't win). The Hemingway adaptation was a hit and a financial success, though Hemingway himself wasn't a fan, and Bergman's performance as the vulnerable refugee Maria is among her best.
Bergman's next Oscar nomination came the very next year and resulted in a win, and it was for one of the films that we do, indeed, immediately think of when we hear her name. Gaslight was scary and thrilling, so effective that its title became a common expression for the form of psychological abuse Bergman's character endured.
The mid-1940s were very good to Bergman – 1946 brought yet another Oscar nomination, this time for her starring role in The Bells of St. Mary's. Playing opposite Bing Crosby, Bergman played the devout Sister Benedict. The movie was so popular, and Bergman's performance so beloved, that it unfortunately helped set her up for the devastation of the sex scandal that would follow a few years later, in which Bergman fell in love with director Roberto Rossellini and had his child while still married to her previous husband. Bergman's fans imagined her to be as saintly and perfect as Sister Benedict, and when it turned out that she was human like the rest of us, the public was probably more shocked than they would have been otherwise.
There aren't many roles that could have made the coming scandal even worse… but Bergman took one of them. 1948's Joan of Arc placed Bergman in the role of one of the most devout women of all time, further cementing her public image as a woman above reproach. The film was still in theaters when news of Bergman's affair broke, hurting it at the box office. But her performance was strong regardless of what her fans thought of her personal life, and she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.
Bergman worked in Italy for years after the scandal, but eventually she returned to Hollywood – and her return in 1956 was triumphant. Anastasia, her comeback movie, placed her in a lead role along with Yul Brynner and brought her second Academy Award win, again, for Best Actress.
1975 saw Bergman win her third and last Oscar, for Best Supporting Actress in Murder on the Orient Express. Bergman was the movie's only Oscar winner, though she starred with many other greats: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins and more.
Bergman's final Oscar nomination was for a movie that saw her return to her native language: Ingmar Bergman's Swedish-language classic Autumn Sonata. Just a few years before her death, she demonstrated that her remarkable talent hadn't faded a bit.
But wait! There's one missing, you say? No, we've listed all of the Ingrid Bergman performances that the Academy singled out for recognition. And no, Casablanca wasn't among them. It seems unbelievable now that there was no Oscar nod for Bergman (though the movie itself did win Best Picture) in the movie that, for many of us, is her definitive role. But her career was still young, and her star still on the rise… and it's not the first time we've been surprised by an Oscar miss, nor will it be the last.
Still, we can't bring ourselves to skip it. So even though Ingrid Bergman was never nominated for an Oscar (or any other award) for Casablanca, here's one for good measure… one of our favorite scenes from all of movie history.
Written by Linnea Crowther