Ingrid Bergman & The Affair That Shocked The World

Ingrid Bergman Affair That Shocked The World
August 29, 2020 - 19:15 / Lucas Anderson

Ingrid Bergman's personal life generated a press and social frenzy in the late 1940s. The star of Hollywood's biggest hits had entered a romance with Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini while she was a married mother. The affair, which grew into an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, was decried for its moral transgressions, but Bergman battled the press and raised a family with Rossellini — though their eventual marriage ended in another divorce. Here's how their relationship, and the scandal it provoked, came to be.

Today, Ingrid Bergman is remembered as an icon of Hollywood classics such as Casablanca, Hitchcock favourites including Notorious, and art films like Autumn Sonata. But at the height of her stardom, the actress's personal life also frequently made headlines.

The press chronicled Bergman's romances, divorces, and marriages throughout her illustrious career. But her affair with Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini in the late 1940s sent the entertainment world in a frenzy. Here's how it went down.

Ingrid Bergman's affair with Roberto Rossellini

At age 21, the Swedish actress had married dentist Petter Lindström, her first husband. A year later, in 1938, the couple welcomed a daughter, Pia — who, today, is 81 years old.

Then, in the 1940s, Bergman rose to A-list stardom in Hollywood with leading roles in some of the decade's biggest titles. With this success came low-key affairs, as Bergman was later identified as having been with actor Gregory Peck, war photographer Robert Capa, and director Victor Fleming. But she remained married to Lindström during this period.

It took until the late 1940s for the actress's personal life to make extreme headlines, notably when she began an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. In 1949, Bergman had travelled to Italy to shoot what became a classic trilogy of Italian art films with Rossellini — but the pair fell for each other.

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini in 1953.

Bergman and Rossellini's overseas romance prompted outcry and scandal in the U.S., as Hollywood's leading lady was a married mother and was famous for her saintly on-screen persona. Rossellini was also known for pursuing his leading women, as he'd done the same with Italian film star Anna Magnani years earlier.

Bergman was eventually forced to answer the rumours, decrying the "persistent, malicious gossip, that has even reached the point where I am made to appear as a prisoner," in a statement that acknowledged her impending divorce from Lindström. 

The press frenzy worsened when news broke that the couple was pregnant out of wedlock. Famously, in 1950, Bergman was even denounced by a U.S. Senator as a "powerful influence for evil" amid the scandal and its perceived moral transgressions. 

Bergman and Rossellini's first film, Stromboli, was released in 1950, and their first child, Renato, arrived shortly after the premiere. Bergman divorced Lindström after Renato's birth, and married Rossellini a few months later. The couple then welcomed twin daughters Isotta Ingrid and actress Isabella Rossellini in 1952.

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini with their three children.

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini's romance ended in divorce

Though the affair and eventual marriage dominated the headlines, it ended in another divorce for Bergman seven years later. This time around, the tables had turned since Bergman's first divorce: Rossellini had initiated an affair with screenwriter Sonali Das Guptas, which led him and Bergman to divorce in 1957. 

Bergman would marry her third and final husband, Lars Schmidt, in 1958. She died on her 67th birthday in 1982. All four of her children—three of whom were fathered by Rossellini—survive today.