Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On this day in 1942, Ingrid Bergman signed on for Casablanca

Ingrid Bergman signed with Warner Bros. to play Ilsa, opposite Humphrey Bogart, in Casablanca (1942). Bergman was under contract with David O. Selznick, but he allowed her to do Casablanca in exchange for the right to use Warner Bros.' Olivia de Havilland in another film.

Bergman was born in Sweden, orphaned at a young age, and raised by family. After high school, she attended the Royal Dramatic Theater School and just a year later was landing lead roles in Swedish films. Her performance in Intermezzo (1936) so impressed David O. Selznick that he invited her to Hollywood to reprise her role in the U.S version. In 1937, she married a Swedish dentist, and the couple had a daughter.

In Hollywood, she soon won acclaim for roles in films like For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943); Gaslight (1944), for which she won an Oscar; and Notorious (1946). Her career came to a sudden halt in 1949, however, when she left her husband for Italian director Roberto Rossellini. She and Rossellini married the following year and had three children, one of whom is actress and model Isabella Rossellini.

Bergman's desertion of her family provoked an outcry in an America already concerned about the scandalous behavior of Hollywood stars. No U.S. studio would touch her, but she starred in Italian films directed by her husband-none of which were successful. After seven years, she pulled off an unexpected comeback, appearing in Anastasia (1956) as an amnesiac refugee who claimed to be the daughter of the late Czar. She won an Academy Award and continued to appear in U.S. films. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1974 for Murder on the Orient Express. She died in 1982 after a long battle with cancer.

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