Was Ingrid Bergman Actually Publicly Censured By the U.S. Senate for Having an Affair?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Ingrid Bergman was publicly censured in the United States Senate over her adultery.

Ingrid Bergman was one of the most striking and effective actresses of her time (or heck, any time, really).

The Swedish actress is perhaps best known for her starring role opposite Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca…

but she starred in many films, winning a Best Actress Academy Award in 1945 for Gaslight…

In 1949, she wrote to the famed Italian Director Roberto Rossellini to express interest in working with him on a film.

He then cast her in the Italian film Stromboli…

While working on the film in 1949, the two fell in love (even though both were married, and Bergman had a young daughter in the United States). Bergman also became pregnant with Rossellini’s child, giving birth to a son in February of 1950.

As you might imagine, this news did not exactly go over well in the United States.

However, HOW BAD it went is really quite depressing.

Her husband (a Swedish dentist named Petter Lindstrom who had, by this time, become an American citizen) used the press to score points against his wife BEFORE the news broke in December of 1949 that she was pregnant with another man’s child.

On March 14, 1950, Senator Edwin C. Jackson (D – Colorado) took the floor of the Senate to rail against both Bergman and Rossellini…

Mr. President, now that the stupid film about a pregnant woman and a volcano has exploited America with the usual finesse, to the mutual delight of RKO and the debased Rossellini, are we merely to yawn wearily, greatly relieved that this hideous thing is finished and then forget it? I hope not. A way must be found to protect the people in the future.

When Rossellini the love pirate returned to Rome smirking over his conquest, , it was not Mrs. Lindstrom’s scalp which hung from the conquering hero’s belt’ it was her very soul. Now what is left of her has brought two children into the world – one has no mother; the other is illegitimate. Even in this modern age of surprise, it is upsetting to have our most popular but pregnant movie queen, her condition the result of an illicit affair, play the part of a cheap chiseling female to add spice to a silly story which lacks appeal. To bolster the box-office take, Stromboli simply has to have a private scandal on the part of the leading lady. the vile and unspeakable Rossellini sets an all-time love in shameful exploitation and disregard for good public morals.

His main position was to argue that the Senate establish some sort of ground rules for the morals of the actors and directors of Hollywood (I know, it’s as crazy as it sounds). He continued to note that Bergman had committed “assault on the institution of marriage. She is one of the most powerful women on earth today – and, I regret to say, a powerful influence for evil.” (yes, he actually called her a “powerful influence for evil”)

Finally, he ended with…

under our law no alien guilty of turpitude can set foot on American soil. Mrs. Petter Lindstrom has deliberately exiled herself from a country which was so good to her. If out of the degradation associated with Stromboli, decency and common sense can be established in Hollywood, then Ingrid Bergman will not have destroyed her career for naught. Out of her ashes may come a better Hollywood. Since both of these alien characters are guilty of moral turpitude, they cannot set foot on American soil under our immigration laws.

While his proposed bill never went to a vote, Bergman still took the hint and stayed in Italy for the next seven years (as while she might not have been deported, she certainly WOULD have been detained).

Finally, I suppose enough time passed and she returned to the American screen in triumph with the success of her 1956 picture, Anastasia…

for which she once again won the Academy Award for Best Actress!

She did not come to the States to accept, but in 1958 she showed up to present the Academy Award for Best Picture.

She would later win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express.

In 1972, Senator Charles H. Percy (R – Illinois) made her re-acceptance by America somewhat official by officially apologizing to Bergman on behalf of the US Senate and recorded in the Congressional Record.

The legend is….


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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One Response to “Was Ingrid Bergman Actually Publicly Censured By the U.S. Senate for Having an Affair?”

  1. The picture following this line – “Bergman also became pregnant with Rossellini’s child, giving birth to a son in February of 1950.” – made me laugh out loud at 4.30 am, due to its incongruity. Thanks a lot Brian!

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