The Stars Fell on Venice to Honor Ingrid Bergman on the First Anniversary of Her Death
They came to Venice from all over the world—stars, friends and family—to honor the late Ingrid Bergman, who died a year ago after a long struggle with cancer. The occasion: a benefit for cancer research and the Italian Red Cross. Among the many guests were Gregory Peck, Walter Matthau, Audrey Hepburn, Roger Moore, Charlton Heston, Prince Albert of Monaco and such Old Hollywood stalwarts as Claudette Colbert and Olivia de Havilland. "The last time I saw Ingrid was in 1979 at a tribute for Alfred Hitchcock," recalled De Havilland. "Ingrid was very sick, but she was still beautiful—she had an incredible luminescence. Since there wasn't a seat at Hitch's table, she knelt down to talk to him."
For five days, the guests wined, dined and fondly recalled Bergman and the impact she had on a generation of actresses through her work in such films as Notorious, Spellbound and Casablanca. For some the memories were whimsical. Matthau, who co-starred with Bergman and Goldie Hawn in 1969's Cactus Flower, remembers that Bergman was nervous as they began, so they all decided to go out to lunch. "She had three martinis," says Matthau, "and I remarked how well she held her liquor. She said, 'Ya, isn't it terrible? Hitch calls me The Sponge.' If I'd had three martinis, I would have taken the afternoon off."
The highlight of the Venice festivities was a concert on Aug. 30, a year and a day after Bergman died on her 67th birthday. It was held at La Fenice, Venice's oldest theater, and featured an 80-piece orchestra playing selections from Bergman's movies while a multi-image slide show flashed across a screen. Pia Lindstrom, 44, Bergman's daughter, introduced a remarkable home movie showing Ingrid as a child with her parents in Sweden, then choked up after she explained that her mother always kept the film with her because it was the only picture she had of her own mother, who died when Ingrid was 3.
Ingrid's children plainly feel the same sense of loss. Said Roberto Rossellini, 33, a son by the second of Bergman's three marriages: "It's only been a year, but it seems as if my mother died just yesterday. It's very hard to lose a mother—it shouldn't happen to anybody."
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