Though of the same era as her Swedish compatriots Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, talented and beautiful leading lady of stage and screen Viveca Lindfors never achieved their superstar status due in large part to working in movies that inadequately displayed the full extent of her ability and charismatic personality. Still, she earned accolades and awards from critics and film societies around the world, including two awards from the prestigious Berlin Film Festival.
Born Elsa Viveca Torstensdotter Lindfors in Uppsala, Sweden, she learned to act at the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm. She made her Swedish film debut in Snurriga Familjen (1940). For the next six years, she would appear in more films and establish a stage career. Moving to Hollywood in 1946, she contracted herself to Warner Bros. studios and two years later starred opposite Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Don Juan (1948); however, in 1947, she appeared in Night Unto Night, Ronald Reagan's first starring role, but the film was not released until 1949. The following year, she debuted in her first French film, Singoalla. She made her first Broadway appearance playing the lead in Anastasia. Other memorable stage roles include Miss Julie (1955), Brecht on Brecht (1961), and I Am Woman (1973), a one-woman show.
For her filmwork, Lindfors won her first Best Actress Award from the BFF in 1951 for Die Vier im Jeep (Four in a Jeep). Her second BFF Best Actress Award was for her role in Huis Clos (No Exit) (1962). In her personal life, Lindfors was renowned for her numerous romantic liaisons -- this in a decade when such behavior was considered shocking. She claims to have married the first of her four husbands just to prove that a promiscuous woman could indeed marry a decent man.
Unlike many actresses for whom the aging process marks the death of their careers, Lindfors grew gracefully into her latter years, gaining a dignified beauty and an even more commanding presence in such films as Welcome to L.A. and Robert Altman's A Wedding (1978). In 1985, she made her debut as a screenwriter and director with Unfinished Business. Lindfors made her final film appearance in Henry Jaglom's Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995). She died in October that year of complications from rheumatoid arthritis in her home town of Uppsala.