The Messed-Up Truth About The 1950s Film Industry

Women were expected to maintain a certain studio-approved persona in both their public and private lives, a standard men were not held to as closely. Ingrid Bergman, who had an affair with Roberto Rosselini while she was married, had a baby out of wedlock in 1950, and was ostracized by Hollywood afterwards.

Bergman became interested in Rosselini after seeing two of his films, and according to the New Yorker, she wrote him offering to act for him. She went to Italy to work with him on the film “Stromboli” in 1950. At the time she was married to Peter Lindström, and the two had a daughter, but she fell in love with Rosselini and moved in with him. She was pregnant with his child before her divorce from Lindström was finalized, and this scandal prompted outcry and outrage in America. 

Bergman was pilloried in the press, and there were calls for a boycott of her works (per the New York Times). While she didn’t intend to return to Hollywood, since she was enamored of Rosselini, who didn’t want her to work with anyone else, the damage to her career was not insignificant. Much of her work following was with Rosselini, and as her daughter, Isabella, said in a Newsweek interview, “Mother spoke five languages and had a full career in English, a full career in Swedish, a full career in French and German, which is very unusual.” Clearly, her career path would have been quite different without the moral outrage of America that led her to turn her back on Hollywood.

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