Ingrid Bergman’s grandson recalls growing up with the ‘Casablanca’ star, how she endured romantic scandal

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EXCLUSIVE: Justin Daly has always known his grandmother was special and he now hopes younger movie buffs will discover "one of the greatest actresses who ever lived."

Ingrid Bergman, the three-time Oscar winner who always had Paris with Humphrey Bogart in 1943's "Casablanca" and later left Cary Grant breathless in 1946’s "Notorious," passed away in 1982 on her 67th birthday from cancer. Despite being ill for eight years, the actress starred as a concert pianist in 1978’s "Autumn Sonata" and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in her last film, 1982’s "A Woman Called Golda."

And it was Bergman who inspired Daly to pursue filmmaking. He directed 2018’s "The Big Take" and is currently working on a new film titled "Hide Out." He spoke to Fox News about growing up with the Hollywood icon, what her final years were really like and how she coped with the scandal that led to her being condemned on the floor of the United States Senate.

Director Justin Daly attends the World Premiere of "The Big Take" at Metrograph on September 5, 2018, in New York City.
(Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images)

Fox News: When did you realize that your grandmother, Ingrid Bergman, was different?
Justin Daly: Growing up, I didn’t realize Ingrid, who I called "nonna," was this world-renowned actress. I knew that in her apartment, she had a table in her living room where there were three Academy Awards and several Golden Globes. It was quite the collection. I knew she was an actress of some sort. I would visit her backstage growing up when she was doing theater. And I knew she had been very successful. But really, the moment I realized there was something different about her was at her funeral.

It was 1982 and I had arrived with my mother, father and brother. When we got out of the car, there were hundreds of photographers waiting. I remember they surrounded us. And one of the cameras hit me on the head. I was a child so I started to cry. 

But in the middle of all this chaos, I could sense that she wasn’t just my grandmother. She belonged to everyone else. She belonged to the world.  Growing up, I didn’t see her as the actress from "Casablanca." She had a beautiful face of course, but I just knew her as my grandmother.

Justin Daly says he still has fond memories of growing up with late Hollywood actress Ingrid Bergman.
(Photo courtesy of Justin Daly)

Fox News: How was Ingrid Bergman as a grandmother?
Daly: She was very elegant, a grand dame, who had a sophisticated way of dressing. Whenever she walked into a room, she was the center of attention. But at the same time, she was very playful. She loved telling jokes. She would get down to your level, even as a child, and really enjoy your company. She loved cartoons and comedy. 

We got along very well. She was very affectionate with me. If I was hurt, she would comfort me until I felt better. We did things together. We walked together. I have pictures of her and in many of them, we’re just hugging.

Actress Ingrid Bergman in a scene from the movie "On the Sunny Side."
(Photo by Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

Fox News: You must have many wonderful memories of Ingrid. Which one is your favorite?
Daly: I remember we were in New York City and she said, "I’m going to take you to the toy store. You can have anything you want from the store. I will buy it for you." And I don’t know why, but for some reason, I chose this tall, plastic gorilla that was like 20 pounds. I said "this!" proudly.

Justin Daly said his grandmother Ingrid Bergman loved to play and enjoyed cartoons.
(Photo courtesy of Justin Daly)

I remember she looked at me very carefully and said, "This is what you want? Are you sure?" And I was like, "Absolutely, this is great!" *laughs*. And sure enough, she bought it. It’s a favorite memory because I just remember her reaction and how funny it is now. Looking back at it, I feel like maybe she wanted to steer me in a different direction, but didn’t want to break her promise. 

I also have this one memory when I was dressed in this cowboy outfit. I must have been five years old or something. And she would not give me a toy gun for my holster. Instead, she gave me a toothbrush. We walked to Central Park and I remember somebody took a photograph of our walk. And there I was with my toothbrush.

But really, I just remember her being so playful with me. I also remember how we were backstage for one of her performances and she’s just putting makeup on my face and playing with my hair before she goes on stage. When she performed, she was serious and stood very tall. She was graceful and elegant with this incredible poise that commanded a room.

Ingrid Bergman made sure she kept her Swedish roots alive despite her Hollywood fame.
(Photo courtesy of Justin Daly)

And she never forgot her Swedish roots. On Christmas, she would have everyone get up, hold hands and dance around her home to this very sweet, Christmas song in Swedish. My mother even dressed me in traditional attire. I have incredible memories of our family just spending time together and having fun. 

Fox News: It’s interesting because on-screen, Ingrid Bergman was this glamorous actress. But it sounded like she wasn’t afraid to let her hair down.
Daly: People still get surprised how much fun she loved to have. And she never forgot her roots. She famously arrived in Los Angeles with one suitcase. She wore makeup in her films, but she was never heavily made up. She embraced this natural beauty. She presented herself in a different way. 

The longest screen kiss in motion picture history was exchanged between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in the film "Notorious", directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
(Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Fox News: Your grandmother endured a major scandal in 1950 when she had a son with director Roberto Rossellini before she could obtain a divorce from her husband, Dr. Peter Lindstrom. How did she cope with the backlash?

Director Roberto Rossellini and actress Ingrid Bergman were married from 1950 until 1957.
(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Daly: Oh yes, it was a huge scandal at the time. Even the Senate tried to denounce her as a moral threat. The fact is, she fell in love… [And] the press took it out on her. It really affected her career. People said and wrote many cruel things about her. Her films were boycotted.

She was incredibly disappointed. It was heartbreaking for her. There’s no doubt she was hurt. Career-wise, she paid a high-price. But she didn’t want to repent for falling in love. She was with my grandfather for [nearly] 10 years after that. And she waited a long time before she returned to Hollywood because she wanted to come back on her own terms.  

But over the years, people continued to adore her. And I think they fell in love with her all over again. There were definitely challenges in her personal life, but I think acting, the work she did, was the great love of her life. It’s apparent when you see her on the screen.

Ingrid Bergman’s first Hollywood film was David O. Selznick’s "Intermezzo: A Love Story" released in 1939.
(Photo by Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images)

The minute she appears in any scene your eyes immediately go to her before she even does anything. And you can’t stop looking at her. And there wasn’t a lot of technique there. She was simply being true to herself. She was beautiful and photogenic, but she also possessed this natural style of acting that was way ahead of [Marlon] Brando, in my opinion.

Fox News: How would you describe her final years?
Daly: Busy *laughs*. She just kept working. She loved acting and the people she connected with in that world. She only slowed down because of her health, but she loved working. Her favorite film of hers was "Joan of Arc." My personal favorite would be "Notorious." She would totally commit to a role and that always fascinated me. I didn’t really understand that until I began studying films myself.

Justin Daly says he hopes younger movie buffs will discover his grandmother’s contributions to Hollywood.
(Photo courtesy of Justin Daly)

Fox News: How would you want your grandmother to be remembered?
Daly: I would just like people to remember her. I think [younger] audiences remember "Casablanca," but I don’t think they know her other films as well. She wasn’t your typical Hollywood blonde. And I’m not just saying this because I’m her grandson and I’ve always been proud of her, but she’s truly one of the greatest actresses who ever lived. Her films prove that.

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