Best Actress Bracket Game: Ingrid Bergman Vs. Katharine Hepburn
We’re down to just four competitors battling for the crown in our Best Actress bracket game. All four of our semi-finalists have won multiple Oscars. In the first of our two semi-final matches, we have two legendary actresses whose respective careers spanned decades. Both Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn peaked early, faced challenges over which they ultimately triumphed. In today’s write-up, we’re going to focus on the final stages of their acting careers.
But first, let’s find out who was the last actress to join our final four:
Voting was down yesterday. I don’t know if you guys had better things to do on the Friday before President’s Day or if this particular match-up just didn’t excite readers as much as previous contests. Those who did cast votes, did so overwhelmingly in favor of Jodie Foster who beat Hilary Swank with just over 75% of the votes. So our final four consists of Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster.
Following her second Ocar win for Anastasia, Bergman appeared in a few more movies. In 1958, she reunited with Cary Grant for Indiscreet. Through much of the sixties and seventies, Bergman appeared on stage in productions like Hedda Gabler and The Constant Wife. In 1969, she starred opposite Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn in the romantic comedy, Cactus Flower. And in 1974, she won her third Oscar, this time in the supporting category, for Murder on the Orient Express.
Director Sidney Lumet approached her for the part of Princess Dragomiroff, but Bergman refused. She wanted the smaller role of Greta Ohlsson, a Swedish missionary. Lumet realized he wasn’t going to change her mind:
“She had chosen a very small part, and I couldn’t persuade her to change her mind. She was sweetly stubborn. But stubborn she was… Since her part was so small, I decided to film her one big scene, where she talks for almost five minutes, straight, all in one long take. A lot of actresses would have hesitated over that. She loved the idea and made the most of it. She ran the gamut of emotions. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Bergman made her final film appearance in Ingmar Berman’s 1978 drama, Autumn Sonata playing a pianist who reuintes with her daughter played by Liv Ulmann. The parellels to Bergman’s own relationship with her eldest daughter Pia were obvious.
The following year, Bergman hosted the AFI’s Life Achievement Award Ceremony for Alfred Hitchcock. She had remained friends with the legendary director who she said in her autobiography was very touched by the honor. Hitchcock died the following year. Bergman was also ill. She had breast cancer and she was slow in seeking out treatment.
Her health was rapidly deteriorating while she starred in her final acting job, a television mini-series about the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. She was awarded an Emmy, her second, posthumously for A Woman Called Golda.
Katharine Hepburn’s back-to-back Oscar wins in the late sixties revitalized her career. She continued making movies into the 1970’s, but they weren’t especially memorable. More and more, Hepburn turned to the small screen. In 1973, she was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in The Glass Menagerie. In 1976, Hepburn returned to Broadway with A Matter of Gravity.
Hepburn only attended one Oscar ceremony during her decades-spanning career. In 1974, she was their to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to Lawrence Weingarten. She was greeted with a standing ovation.
She won her fourth and final Oscar for On Golden Pond in 1981. Director Mark Rydell remembers Hepburn baking cookies for the cast and crew. But she could be stubborn. After agreeing to a casual wardrobe of sweaters and pant, Hepburn showed up to the set dressed like a Hollywood movie star. when the director couldn’t change her mind, he announced to the crew that they would break for ten minutes while Hepburn went to wardrobe. Hepburn stormed off the set and costar Henry Fonda worried that she might not return. But ten minutes later, she came back wearing the appropriate clothes.
In 1994, Hepburn made her final film appearance in the 1994 remake of the movie Love Affair.