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Forbidden romance

Manila, Philippines – MORE FROM VF – Highspeed continues lifting items from “Vanity Fair’s” special edition, “Hollywood Scandal, Sex, and Obsession.” Yesterday, this column dwelt on sex symbols Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe. This time the “Spotlight” is on “forbidden romance.”

The copy of VF’s special issue was given to me by jetsetting friend Ricky Lo of “Star,” as has been earlier acknowledged.

‘THE UNFORGIVEN’ – The focus is on Ingrid Bergman.

America first saw Ingrid Bergman in “Intermezzo,” a movie of 1939 in which she plays a young pianist who captivates a very married concert violinist. She was 24 and suddenly a star, her meadowy beauty mesmerizing the world. Within a decade she’d added a nun and a saint to her screen credits, not to mention “Casablanca.” In Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious” (1946), she soared as the dissolute daughter of a Nazi who martyrs herself for freedom – or was it love? Who would have guessed that “Notorious” would become her middle name?

“Immoral,” my mother said of Bergman, when I saw “Intermezzo” for the first time. Ingrid?! By midcentury American mores, yes, indeed. In 1949, while postwar America was busy making babies – in wedlock! – Bergman, who was married to Dr. Petter Lindstrom, with whom she had a daughter, Pia, fell in love with the married Italian neo-realist director Roberto Rossellini and became pregnant while filming “Stromboli” with him in Italy. There, she gave birth to their son, Robertino, divorced Lindstrom, married Rossellini, and had twin daughters Isabella and Ingrid. Over here, outrage. On the floor of the United States Senate, Bergman was denounced as “a powerful influence of evil.” Having martyred herself to love – or was it freedom? – she absented herself from America. “Ilsa could be forgiven in ‘Casablanca,’” she would say, “Alicia could be forgiven in ‘Notorious,’ but Ingrid in Rome could not.” The passion ran its course, and in 1957, after Rossellini had begun an affair with the Indian screenwriter Sonali Das Gupta, he and Bergman separated. She returned to Hollywood to play a woman who can’t remember her past in “Anastasia,” and was awarded the second of her three Academy Awards. (Laura Jacobs)

(Ms. Bergman is regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses and stars, adored and respected. She was “The Forgiven” after all. – RC)

‘THE TABOO’ – Here’s a touching white-black romance, when such liaison was forbidden.

One night in Malibu, Sammy Davis, Jr. found himself on the floor of a friend’s car, hiding under a blanket. For the sixth night in a row, amid threats, rumors, and innuendo, he was secretly seeing his girlfriend, the buxom blonde actress Kim Novak. In the racially charged 50s, even an African-American singer, dancer, Broadway actor, and nightclub crooner as renowned as Davis couldn’t publicly date a white woman. And Harry Cohn, the vindictive, Mob-connected head of Columbia Pictures – the studio that had manufactured Novak’s stardom and lavender highlights – didn’t much like the prospect of his box-office darling, fresh off production of “Vertigo,” involved in any kind of relationship, and certainly not with a black man.

Davis and Novak had met in late 1957 at a small party. Soon, gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen was reporting the burgeoning romance in a poorly disguised blind item. As the reports of their affair revved up, Cohn allegedly had thugs threaten to break Davis’ legs and put out his one remaining eye. (He had lost his left one in a car accident three years before.) To abate Cohn’s wrath, Davis hastily married an African-American dancer, Loray White. “I think I was naïve and vulnerable and inexperienced at the time,” says White, now 76. They divorced less than 18 months later.

“Kim really was the great love of his life” says Burt Boyar, who co-authored Davis’ two memoirs, “Yes I Can” and “Why Me?” They were afforded a final good-bye, in 1990, when Novak covertly visited Davis in the hospital shortly before his death. Even after years apart, Novak and Davis met in private – just as they always had. (Jaime Lalinde)