Set against the backdrop of World War II, the 1942 Oscar-winning film Casablanca is still a romantic classic. Actors Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman sizzle on screen as star-crossed lovers Ilsa Lund and Rick Blaine, whose whirlwind romance is torn apart by Germany’s invasion of Paris in 1940. Bergman and Bogart give such fiery and passionate performances that some, including Bogart’s wife, suspected the pair had a romantic relationship off-screen too. Did these two Hollywood icons ever date in real life? The answer might surprise you.
Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart had obvious chemistry in ‘Casablanca’
By December 1941, Bogart’s character, Rick, is a jaded expatriate nursing a broken heart at his popular nightclub in Casablanca, French Morocco. Refugees fleeing Europe congregate there, hoping to obtain visas that will see them safely to the United States. Rick comes into possession of two such documents the night his former lover inexplicably walks back into his life — with her husband.
Ilsa had ended her relationship with Rick when she discovered that her husband, whom she thought was dead, had been found alive. Even as Rick planned his and Ilsa’s escape from the German occupation, she knew she had to return to her husband. Ultimately, Rick and Ilsa come to terms with the fact that their forbidden love was never meant to be.
The fireworks and tears that follow their unexpected reunion are heartwrenching to watch. The way Bogart and Bergman kiss and argue passionately while gazing into each other’s often-brimming eyes makes it easy to believe they could have been lovers in real life.
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman had a surprising off-screen relationship
As intense as the chemistry between Bergman and Bogart was on film, it wasn’t love. Not only did they never date, but they barely spoke to each other after the cameras stopped rolling.
“Off-screen, Bergman and Bogart, they really didn’t have much chemistry at all,” Isenberg revealed.
“What was it Bergman often said? ‘I kissed him, but I never knew him,'” Mason added.
“That’s a famous, famous quote, and I think it’s a wonderful one. I think it says a lot,” Isenberg replied.
Isenberg’s book revealed that Bogart snubbed Bergman’s dinner invitations, preferring to drink and play chess alone. “He was going through a nasty period with his wife — actress Mayo Methot — and there were a lot of gin-fuelled rages,” Isenberg wrote.
IMDb reports that Bogart’s wife, his third at the time, “continually accused him of having an affair with Ingrid Bergman, often confronting him in his dressing room before a scene was to be shot. Bogart would come onto the set in a rage.”
Ironically, the only thing Bogart and Bergman seemed to share was a mutual dislike of the film, according to actor Geraldine Fitzgerald. “The whole subject at lunch was how they could get out of that movie. They thought the dialogue was ridiculous and the situations were unbelievable.”
Like their ‘Casablanca’ characters, the actors were unlucky in love
On-screen, the pair seemed made for lasting love, but in real life, nothing could be further from the truth. Both actors had numerous affairs and three divorces. By the time she had signed on to act opposite Bogart, Bergman was known for having flings with co-stars, including Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper, according to Reel Rundown. Bogart had cheated on his wives, but never with his leading ladies — not yet, anyway.
Methot, whose jealousy of Bergman made shooting Casablanca difficult for Bogart, need not have worried about the Swedish beauty. In 1944, Bogart met 19-year-old Lauren Bacall on the set of To Have and Have Not, and they quickly became involved in an illicit affair. A year later, the 45-year-old Bogart divorced Methot and married Bacall. They had two children and remained married until he died in 1957.
As scandalous as that was, Bogart’s Casablanca co-star outdid him. During her marriage to her first husband, neurosurgeon Petter Linstrom, Bergman had an affair with Roberto Rossellini, who was also married. She left her husband and daughter for the famed Italian film director. The resulting pregnancy and out-of-wedlock birth of her lover’s son nearly ended her career. People reported that “the affair scandalized the nation, leading Bergman to being blacklisted in Hollywood — and even denounced on the Senate floor as a ‘powerful influence for evil.'”
“You used to be a great star,” Bogart reportedly told her. “What are you now?”
“A happy woman,” she answered.
Bergman married Rossellini in 1950 and made her American comeback in the 1956 film Anastasia, for which she won an Oscar, according to IMDb. After having two more children, including actor Isabella Rossellini, the couple divorced in 1957. Bergman’s third and final marriage, to writer and producer Lars Schmidt, lasted 20 years, ending in divorce in 1978.