Swedish acting legend Bibi Andersson, a frequent collaborator of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, died aged 83 on Sunday in Stockholm, The New York Times reported. Andersson had reportedly been ailing for many years and had suffered a stroke in 2009 that paralysed one side of her body, AFP said.
Born Berit Elisabeth Andersson in November 1935, Andersson first worked with Bergman on a soap commercial in 1951. Her first credited movie role was the Swedish comedy Dum-Bom (1953), said New York Times.
She began her collaboration with Bergman with a one-scene role in Smiles of a Summer Night (1955). She went on to feature in the Swedish filmmaker’s medieval era-set The Seventh Seal (1957), in which she played a timid mother who is part of an acting troupe. She teamed up with him again in Wild Strawberries (1957), where she played both Sara, the ageing protagonist’s romantic interest in his youth, and a hitchhiker in the present day, and Brink of Life (1958), for which she won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival.
Her breakthrough performance was in Bergman’s Persona (1966), where she played a young nurse who starts identifying with a troubled patient played by Liv Ullmann. “...until Persona he [Bergman] put me in uncomplicated roles, symbolising simple, girlish things. I used to be called ‘a professional innocent,” the actress told The New York Times in an interview in 1977.
Persona won Andersson the award for best actress at the 4th Guldbagge Awards, Sweden’s top film awards, and also was also nominated for a BAFTA for best foreign actress. Andersson earlier won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in Vilgot Sjoman’s Swedish drama The Mistress (1962).
Andersson made her Hollywood debut with the Western Duel At Diablo (1966). More notable American projects followed, including John Huston’s The Kremlin Letter (1970), Anthony Page’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977) and Robert Altman’s Quintet (1979).
The actress also had a fruitful career in theatre, where her credits included the Broadway production Full Circle (1973) and The Night of the Tribades (1977). Among her last films was Ferran Audi’s The Frost (2009), where she played a mother coming to terms with her son’s death.
Andersson is survived by her husband Gabriel Mora Baeza, her daughter Jenny Grede Dahlstrand and sister Gerd Andersson.
Tributes for the actress poured in on Twitter.