Oct. 1943
Candid on Ingrid
By Sidney Skolsky

Ingrid Bergman became a Hollywood actress because of a song. David Selznick was told to see the Swedish motion picture, Intermezzo. “You’ll want to buy it because of a song in it,” Selznick was told. He got a print of the picture, and after running it, said, “I like the story too. I’ll buy the picture. Wait a minute! That actress in it is great. I’ll buy her too.”

She was born in Stockholm, Sweden on Aug. 29, 1916*. She is tall – five feet six inches – and she is slender – weighs 120 pounds – and she doesn’t smoke, and she doesn’t drink, but she did learn to chew gum.

When she first arrived here, English was difficult for her. She would read a book or a scenario with a dictionary. Now she speaks English fluently and well. She speaks it much better than Mike Curtiz, who directed her in Casablanca. She leans forward when she speaks.

She converses fluently in Swedish, German, and French. At the celebrated Stockholm Lyceum, a shool for girls, she specialized in languages, music, and the drama. At fifteen, she wrote a school play which, when presented with her in the leading role, brought her to the attention of the director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre School. She was appearing in Swedish films before the end of her first term.

Unlike even Garbo, she did not pose for “cheesecake” photographs when she started in Hollywood. She has never worn a bathing suit for any kind of photograph, either still or motion picture. Yet on the beach she will wear a bathing suit as brief as the law allows.

In most of her pictures she uses only the slightest bit of make-up. She has consistently refused to have her eyebrows reshaped or lipstick applied to her mouth in such a way to change its shape.

However, she was more than willing to take a haircut for the role of Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls. She had wanted that part before Paramount had purchased the book and after they had started filming the picture. They started with another actress playing Maria.

In March 1941, she had gone to June Lake for a skiing vacation, when she received a message that Ernest Hemingway was in San Francisco en route to China and wished to see her. She left at once by plane from Reno to San Francisco. Mrs. Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, met her there and introduced her to her husband. Hemingway stared at her, as if frightened he had made the wrong choice. Then he smiled and said, “I guess I didn’t need to be worried.”

She had an autographed copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls inscribed, “For Ingrid Bergman, who is the Maria of the story.” But Paramount didn’t pay attention to Hemingway’s choice. They had been filming the picture for weeks when director Sam Wood returned from location and told the Paramount executives: “There is only one actress to play Maria – Bergman!”

“But we couldn’t get her”, said the Paramount executives. Sam Wood got her on the phone and asked, “What’s the difficulty in getting you to play Maria?” “None,” answered Bergman. “No one ever bothered to ask me.”

She was then asked, and she accepted. Whereupon she went on one of the longest and most difficult location trips. She spent several months in the Stanislaus National Forest. She wore a man’s shirt and pants and rope-soled shoes. Her peaches and cream complexion was changed to a light Spanish olive. She was out of contact with everyone and resided in a log cabin, outside of which was placed a studio dummy, dressed as a Spanish sentry, guarding the entrance to her cabin.

She is easy to get along with on the set. She is a thoroughly simple, direct and honest person. She enjoyed working with Gary Cooper, for unlike scenes with most actors, she did not have to take off her shoes so she wouldn’t tower over him.

Her next picture is Saratoga Trunk and her leading man is again Cooper and the director is again Sam Wood. Her role of Clio in that picture required her to wear a black wig and thus her slowly growing blonde tresses were not a problem.

She likes to wear slacks, but never wears them away from home. On the street she believes a woman should look utterly feminine.

She is married to Dr. Peter Lindstrom and she has no shyness about discussing her family, although she believes her personal doings should not be mixed with her career. They have a five year old daughter, Pia, who derives her name from Peter, Ingrid and Aron, the husband’s middle name. She looks like a miniature of Ingrid.

When visiting New York, she registers at a hotel as Mrs. Peter Lindstrom. Once, after buying gloves in Saks Fifth Avenue, she told the salesgirl to have them mailed to Mrs. Peter Lindstrom. “Oh, I thought you were Ingrid Bergman,” the girl said. “No,” said Ingrid, “I am Mrs. Lindstrom. Many people have made that mistake.”

She cannot abide ostentation, flash, show-off or display in anyone. She utterly dislikes the Hollywood set which makes constant use of the word “darling”, or the now popular catch phrase, “she couldn’t be nicer.”

Her contributions to the American war effort have been steady but unpublicized. Many times she has made recordings for broadcast to Sweden for the O.W.I. It was in her contract with David Selznick that she could go back to Sweden once a year. The war, of course, prevented that, so when her vacation time came last December she went to a Swedish farm in Minnesota and for a week helped the women in the kitchen, ate Swedish food and talked Swedish.

She is fascinated by American slang and will use a new word at the first opportunity. She is very interested in American politics but refuses to discuss them. She spends hours knitting sweaters for the Coast Guard.

She is a forthright person and doesn’t act like an actress. One day at the studio she hooked bumpers with another car. A studio policeman found her tugging and heaving with all her might and she practically had the cars untangled before he assisted her. “Darndest thing I ever saw,” the studio policeman said. “First film star I ever knew that didn’t mind getting her hands dirty, or didn’t cuss out the other fellow for leaving his car in the way.”

Her ambition is to play Jeanne D’Arc on the screen. She rarely goes to a nightclub, but when she does she enjoys it. She is a good dancer.

She goes to bed early. She generally reads in bed and listens to the radio. She never has any trouble falling asleep. She sleeps with all the windows open and she dislikes blankets. She usually sleeps in the nude. She believes most women try to look too fancy in bed.


*Actual birthday – Aug. 29, 1915.

Below are photos from this article; click on thumbnails for larger photo.

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