10 Career-ending Affairs


Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini

A happy Ingrid Bergman and her husband, Roberto Rossellini, in May 1953 ©Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images
A happy Ingrid Bergman and her husband, Roberto Rossellini, in May 1953 ┬ęBert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images

Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman set the American press on fire with her skills, unconventional beauty and delivery; stories of how gracious and charming she was with everyone from producers to crew on set abounded.

By 1942, after making several films on both sides of the pond, she'd made "Casablanca," her most famous film (although not her personal favorite, it turns out). She made "For Whom the Bell Tolls" at Hemingway's personal request, and in 1944 George Cukor's "Gaslight" before moving into a trio of Hitchcock pictures, one of which -- "Spellbound" -- earned her an Oscar nomination.

But her next best actress nomination for 1948's "Joan of Arc" came with scandal attached: It was around this time that news of her affair with married Italian director Roberto Rossellini first broke. Married since she was 21 (to a dentist who eventually moved to San Francisco when her career really exploded), Bergman had become quite a fan of Rossellini's over the years. She wrote to him first in 1949 -- a famous letter of admiration offering to make a film together -- and she appeared in his 1950 picture "Stromboli," which is when they fell in love [source: Bergman].

When Bergman became pregnant with Rossellini's child while the two were still married to their respective spouses, everyone from Ed Sullivan to the U.S. Senate managed to denounce her -- although Steve Allen, notably, publicly made sure to disavow any such judgments -- and eventually she split the country altogether, moving to Italy for a very loud divorce and custody battle over the child she and her dentist husband had together. Bergman and Rossellini were married in May 1950, and by 1952 their most famous child, Isabella Rossellini, was born, along with a twin sister, Isotta [source: Bergman].

Was this a career-ender? Certainly in Hollywood, and given the furious trajectory of her very busy schedule up to that point, she'd have kept making as many films as possible. It's interesting to wonder, though, whether the Senate would have seen fit to offer an opinion on the situation if she'd been a man -- or if the rest of America, for that matter, would have flipped out quite so intensely.