We know that it tolls for all of us, eventually; but which chronometer do we consult to tell the time of departure? Say, for instance, you pass away on this day, 29 August, in London; make it late in the evening. Does that mean Americans will recognize your death as having occurred on the 29th? I guess this calendric reprieve won’t make much difference to the party chiefly involved; but I was wondering about it when I saw that the death of Ingrid Bergman was recorded as 30 August 1982 on the Internet Movie Database, but as 29 August on the official Ingrid Bergman website, and pretty much everywhere else, for that matter. Now, the IMDb is based in Bristol, England, or at least originated there. So, I don’t know just how to account for this discrepancy, or why this much-relied on site does not change the date, which, according to the biographies posted there, is not even recognized by its users.
Certain is that Ms. Bergman was born on this day, 29 August, back in 1915. Certain is also that her Hollywood career came to a screeching halt when the aforementioned gossip columnist Louella Parsons reported in the fall of 1949 that the actress was expecting a child, and that her husband had nothing to do with it. Bergman (last discussed here portraying the adulterous Laura Jesson in a radio adaptation of Noel Coward’s Still Life) had fallen in love with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, and their romance and its issue were so hotly debated in the US, leading a senator to denounce Bergman as a “powerful influence of evil,” that production-code conscious Hollywood closed its lots to her at the height of her career.
Prior to her exile, Bergman was last heard on US radio in two celebrated dramatic roles: as Anna Christie on the Ford Theater (21 January 1949), prophetically billed as the “story of a lost woman who came searching for a new life in a home she had never seen”; and as Nora in a telescoped version of Ibsen’s A Doll House (13 February 1949), produced, no less, by the Episcopal Actors Guild.
Bergman did not return to Hollywood until 1956, but was heard again on US radio as early as January 1954, on the theater program Stage Struck, in an episode discussing “Why Young Actors Try to Break Into the Theatre.” Why, you wonder? Here’s to independent spirits.