Nine-year-old Rosemaria Baker sat entranced, staring up at Ingrid Bergman’s perfect features and glowing, alabaster complexion on the giant movie screen. Ingrid’s face seemed to barely move, and yet she so convincingly conveyed her confusion and fear as the gas lamps on the stairs flickered and sounds from the attic caused Ingrid to doubt her sanity. Olivia Baker, Rosemaria’s mother, sat beside her, completely enraptured by the charismatic actress and her villain of a husband who was trying to drive her insane. Neither Rosemaria nor Olivia moved or spoke as the story unfolded until, finally, Joseph Cotton stepped in to expose the malicious Charles Boyer as a scheming liar and fraud.
Rosemaria sighed contentedly as the credits rolled, but she was ready to leave. Hunger pangs reminded her that her mother had promised to take her to McDonald’s for lunch. Olivia, still enthralled by the movie, took her daughter’s hand and led her out into the sunlight. She had allowed Rosemaria to skip school and come with her to the budget theater in Simi Valley that periodically showed classic movies. The theater was close to their neighborhood, and Olivia spent many an afternoon losing herself in a world of movie make-believe. If she found out that one of her favorites was showing somewhere else in the LA area, she would sometimes make a special trip to see it. After all, as an actress herself, this was really research, not just entertainment. Ingrid Bergman was Olivia’s idol and ideal. She didn’t fool herself into thinking that she was as beautiful as Ingrid. With her auburn hair, green eyes, and freckles, Olivia knew she couldn’t compete with Ingrid’s stunning, Nordic good looks, but she felt confident that as an actress she had that same subtle acting technique through which she could portray any emotion effortlessly, without resorting to cheap theatrics.
They walked to their car in the parking lot, and Olivia strapped her daughter into the back seat. She spoke to Rosemaria in a voice tinged with regret. “Ingrid was twenty-nine when she made that film and had made other movies before that one. I’m already thirty and I still haven’t done anything important after seven years of knocking on doors.”
“It’s not too late, Mama,” Rosemaria piped up. She knew only too well how desperately her mother wanted to make it as an actress. “You’ll be beautiful for a long, long time still.”
Olivia bent over and kissed her daughter on the top of her head. “Thank you, my sweet girl. All I can do is keep trying.”
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