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Swedish actor and international star, Ingrid Bergman* (1915-1982), was in kinship care as a teenager. 

Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden to German-born Friedel Adler Bergman and Swedish Justus Samuel Bergman. 

Ingrid was only three years old when her mother died. Justus raised his daughter for the next nine years with the help of his sister Ellen, whom Ingrid called Mama. Being a photographer, Justus also owned and ran a camera shop and took many photos and home movies of his daughter. “During her childhood,” writes David Smith, “Bergman may have been the most photographed person in Sweden.” 

Ingrid was twelve when her father died of stomach cancer. When her father died, Ingrid was left in the care of her aunt Ellen for a few months, until her aunt’s death nine months later. The teenager then went to live with an uncle.

“It was an incredibly sad childhood, but when she started acting, the sadness lifted,” says [Isabella] Rossellini, Bergman’s daughter (Smith 2015). 

Ingrid Bergman began working in film as an extra while still at school at the Lyceum for girls in Stockholm. She then attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm and played her first speaking part in 1935, as a maid in Munkbrogreven (The Count of Monk’s Bridge). She followed this up with a role in a film directed by Gustav Molander and went on to make nine films (including one in Sweden and one in Germany) over the next six years. 

Bergman was sponsored to migrate to America by the David O. Selznick Organisation in 1939. By 1946 she was an international star. She worked with all the major film directors including George Cukor and Alfred Hitchcock in America and with Roberto Rossellini and Ingmar Bergman in Europe. 

A documentary of Bergman’s life was made by Stig Bjorkman in 2015, Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words.  

It is the story of the legendary Swedish actor, who won three Oscars, performed in five languages, starred in movies across six decades and six countries, forged a theater career, conquered television, and also managed to marry three times, survive a notorious scandal, and bear four children (Basinger).


Basinger, Jeanine. “Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words: A Full Picture of a Life.” The Criterion Collection, 16 August 2016. 

Smith, David. Ingrid Berman: The Life, Career and Public Image. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2012. 

Smith, Julia Llewellyn. “Isabella Rossellini on Inrid Bergman’s painful final days.” The Telegraph, 25 August 2015. 

 Image available here.