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Vintage postcards, stars and stories.

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  • 02/12/14--23:00: Evelyn Laye
  • Evelyn Laye (1900–1996) was one of England's most popular stars of musical revue and operetta during the 1920s. She did a few screen appearances in both London and Hollywood, including in the classic musical Evensong (1934).

    Belgian postcard by S.A. Cacoa et Chocolat Kivou, Vilvoorde. Photo: Artistes Associès.

    British postcard by A Real Photograph, no. 25 3151/2. Caption: "A Joyous Birthday. May this birthday bring along, Every joy for which you long."

    British postcard by De Reszke Cigarettes, no. 21. Photo: Gaumont-British.

    Going Up

    Elsie Evelyn Lay was born in Bloomsbury, London, in 1900. Her parents, Gilbert Laye and Evelyn Stewart, were both actors and Evelyn was already treading the boards at the age of two.

    Her father managed the Palace Theatre in Brighton and this was where Evelyn first made a name for herself as Chinese servant Nang-Ping in Mr. Wu in 1915. Her London stage debut followed in 1916 in the revue Honi Soit at the East Ham Palace in 1916.

    The first few years of her career she mainly played in musical comedy and operetta, including the aviation musical Going Up (1918-1919). She had her first West End success in 1920 with The Shop Girl, in which she was backed by a chorus of real guardsmen as she sang The Guards’ Parade.

    Among her other successes during the 1920s were Phi-Phi (1922), Madame Pompadour (1923) - her first show for C.B. Cochran, Betty in Mayfair (1925-1926), Merely Molly (1926-1927), Blue Eyes (1928) and Lilac Time. Cochran called her ‘the fairest prima donna this side of heaven’.

    In the cinema she made her debut in the British comedy thriller The Luck of the Navy (Fred Paul, 1927).

    She married the comedian Sonnie Hale in 1926. Laye received widespread public sympathy when Hale left her for the actress Jessie Matthews in 1928. She subsequently wed actor Frank Lawton in 1934, with whom she remained married until his death in 1969.

    In 1929, Evelyn Laye made her Broadway debut in the American première of Noël Coward's Bitter Sweet. Her song I'll See you Again became her trademark signature piece.

    Her performance attracted the attention of film producer Samuel Goldwyn, who promptly brought her to Hollywood. She appeared in such early Hollywood film musicals as One Heavenly Night (George Fitzmaurice, 1931).

    I.S. Mowis at IMDb: “The ridiculously contrived story and silly dialogue made this one of the worst flops of 1931, not helped by the wooden performance of Laye's co-star, John Boles. Although New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall, in his review reserved sole praise for Laye's singing and performance, Goldwyn washed his hands of the whole affair and Evelyn returned to England.”

    British card.

    British Raphael Tuck & Sons' Real Photograph postcard, no. 72. Photo: Gaumont-British.

    Princess Charming

    Back in London, Evelyn Laye continued acting in pantomimes such as The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. She also appeared to great acclaim in the British film musicals Waltz Time (Wilhelm Thiele, 1933) co-starring Fritz Schulz, Princess Charming (Maurice Elvey, 1934) and Evensong (Victor Saville, 1934) with Fritz Kortner.

    She did another film in Hollywood, the film operetta The Night Is Young (Dudley Murphy, 1935), with Ramon Novarro. But again without success.

    During the second half of the 1930s, Laye was a ‘ravishing’ Helen of Troy in Helen!, appeared with the young John Mills in Give Me A Ring, co-starred with Viennese tenor Richard Tauber in Paganini, and returned to Broadway in 1937 with Jack Buchanan and Adele Dixon for Between The Devil. The show made history when it was presented for one night at the National Theatre in New York on the occasion of President Roosevelt’s birthday, thereby becoming the first American Command Performance.

    She spent most of the war years as entertainments director of the Royal Navy, performing frequently for the troops. After the Second World War, she had less success, but in 1954, she returned to the West End in the musical Wedding in Paris.

    She also acted several times opposite husband Frank Lawton, including in the TV sitcom My Husband and I (1956). Other stage successes included Silver Wedding (1957) with Lawton, The Amorous Prawn (1959) and Phil the Fluter (1969).

    Later films include the horror film Theatre of Death (Samuel Gallu, 1967) starring Christopher Lee, the drama Say Hello to Yesterday (Alvin Rakoff 1970) as the mother of Jean Simmons, and the unsuccessful drama Never Never Land (Paul Annett, 1980) starring Petula Clark. She also did a good deal of television work.

    Laye was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1973 for her services to drama. One of her last plays was Noel Coward's Semi-Monde (1987-1988), at the Royalty Theatre in London, with fellow cast members Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench.

    At the age of 92, she made her farewell tour of Britain with the nostalgia show Glamorous Nights At Drury Lane, and received standing ovations. Later that year, she was paid a tribute at the London Palladium, led by actor John Mills

    Evelyn Laye died in a nursing home in Pimlico, Central London from respiratory failure in 1996. She was 95.

    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 871. Photo: Gaumont-British.

    British Real Photograph postcard, no. 83. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Sources: I.S. Mowis (IMDb), AllMusic, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 02/13/14--23:00: Martine Carol
  • One of the French cinema's most beautiful women was Martine Carol (1920–1967). During the early 1950s the French sex symbol was a top box office draw as an elegant blonde seductress in many films. Her private life was filled with turmoil including a suicide attempt, drug abuse, a kidnapping, and a mysterious death.

    Martine Carol
    Yugoslavian postcard by Studio Sombor, no. 314.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 132. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 210 H. Photo: Lucienne Chevert, no. 456.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 690. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Martine Carol
    Vintage card. Photo: still for Lucrèce Borgia/Lucretia Borgia (Christian-Jaque, 1953).

    Anti-Semitic Propaganda

    Martine Carol was born in 1920 as Maryse Louise Mourer in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, France.

    A chance meeting with comedian André Luguet steered her toward a career in the theatre. Trained by René Simon, she made her 1940 stage debut with Phèdre, billed as Maryse Arley.

    She subsequently caught the eye of film director Henri-Georges Clouzot who hired her for his film Le Chat/The Cat, based on the novel by Colette, but the project was scrapped.

    She made her first film appearance in the anti-Semitic propaganda film Les Corrupteurs (Pierre Ramelot, 1941), but she first attracted attention in La ferme aux loups/Wolf Farm (Richard Pottier, 1943), which takes advantage of her photogenic beauty and ease in front of the camera despite a limited acting ability.

    Throughout the 1940s she was a pin-up goddessand support actress in films like the comedy Voyage surprise (Pierre Prévert, 1947) and Les amants de Vérone/The Lovers of Verona (André Cayatte, 1949).

    She also appeared on the stage of the Theatre of the Renaissance. In 1947 a torrid affair with actor Georges Marchal, who was married to actress Dany Robinat the time, ended disastrously and she attempted suicide by taking an alcohol/drug overdose and throwing herself off a bridge into the Seine River. She was saved by a taxi driver who accompanied her there. Ironically, the unhappy details surrounding her suicide attempt renewed the fascination audiences had with Martine up until that time.

    She was also kidnapped by gangster Pierre Loutrel (aka ‘Crazy Pete’), albeit briefly and received roses the next day as an apology.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 357. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 364. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 564. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Martine Carol
    Dutch postcard by DRC, no. F192-657, posted in 1958.

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by Kunst un Bild. Berlin, no. A 1146. Photo: Allianz-Film. Publicity still for Madame du Barry/Madame Dubarry (Christian Jacque, 1954).

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 432. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Taunting, Kittenish Sexuality

    In 1950 Martine Carol scored her first huge film success with the French Revolution epic Caroline Cherie/Dear Caroline (Richard Pottier, 1950) - no doubt prompted by her semi-nude scenes and taunting, kittenish sexuality - and she was off and running at the box office.

    Her film romps were typically done tastefully with an erotic twinge of innocence and gentle sexuality plus an occasional bubble bath thrown in as male bait. She continued spectacularly with an array of costumed teaserssuch as Adorables créatures/Adorable Creatures (1952), Lucrèce Borgia/Sins of the Borgias (1953), Madame du Barry (1954), and Nana (1954), all guided and directed by second husband Christian-Jacque, whom she married in 1954.

    Martine later divorced the director due to professional conflicts and long separations. She also starred in Belles de Nuit/ Beauties of the Night (René Clair, 1952) opposite Gérard Philipe, and in the last comedy directed by Preston Sturges, Les Carnets du Major Thompson/The Diary of Major Thompson (1955), based on the best-seller by Pierre Daninos.

    One of her last major roles was as the title character in Lola Montés (Max Ophüls, 1955), the tragic and true story of the great adventurer, circus attraction and lover of various important men.

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-2. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Gérard Décaux/Ufa.

    Martine Carol
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (Dutch licency holder for Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof), no. 3611. Photo: Sam Lévin / Unifrance Film.

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4064. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for The Stowaway (Ralph Habib, Lee Robinson, 1958).

    Martine Carol,  Ivan Desny
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H. Minden/Westf., no. 1719. Photo: Gamma / Union / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Lola Montez (Max Ophüls, 1955) with Ivan Desny.

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden-Westf., no. 1723. Photo: Gamma / Union / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Lola Montès (Max Ophüls, 1955).

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 5. Photo: Collignon.

    Severe Decline

    By the mid 1950s, Brigitte Bardothad replaced Martine Carol as the national Sex Siren, and the voluptuous blonde's career went into a severe decline.

    Although such mature roles as Empress Josephine in Austerlitz/The Battle of Austerlitz (Abel Gance, 1960) and Contessa Vitelleschi in Vanina Vanini (Roberto Rossellini, 1961) followed, nothing revived audience interest.

    Depressed, she turned alarmingly reclusive while a third marriage to French doctor Andre Rouveix also soured by 1962. Problems with substance abuse and a severe accident in the 1960s also curtailed her career dramatically.

    Her last film was Hell Is Empty (John Ainsworth, Bernard Knowles, 1963). Production was briefly halted due to her illness. This is why the film has two directors. Although filmed in 1963 it was not released until 1967. (By the time of the release of the film, two of the leading ladies, Patricia Viterbo and Martine, were already dead.)

    Martine Carol’s last marriage to fourth husband Mike Eland, an English businessman and friend of first husband Steve Crane, seemed hopeful, but in 1967, she died of cardiac arrest at age 46 in the bathroom of a hotel in Monaco. Her husband discovered her.

    Newspapers hinted at a possible drug overdose but nothing was ever proven. She was initially buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery of Paris. But her grave was violated (some media reported that she had been interred with her jewels). Martine Carol was then buried in the Grand Jas Cemetery of Cannes.

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no.58. Retail price: 50 Pfg. Photo: G.B. Poletto / Ufa.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Edition du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 320. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard by Edition du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 321. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Martine Carol
    French postcard, no. 651. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

    Martine Carol
    German postcard by ISV, no. D 9. Photo: Farabola.

    Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 02/14/14--23:00: Studio Lorelle
  • Lucien Lorelle (1894-1968) was one of the great photographers of the early twentieth century. In his Studio Lorelle, he portrayed all the great French artists of his time.

    Brigitte Helm
    Brigitte Helm. French postcard by Cine-Europe, no. 339. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Publicity still for L'Argent/The Money (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928).

    Brigitte Helm
    Brigitte Helm. French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 338. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris. Publicity still for L'Argent/The Money (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928).

    Brigitte Helm
    Brigitte Helm. French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 337. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris. Publicity still for L'Argent/The Money (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928).

    Sought After Portraitist

    Lucien Lorelle was born in Paris, France in 1894. He was a volunteer in the French infantry and aviation during World War I and later received the Croix de Guerre and the Légion d’Honneur for his bravery.

    In 1920 he started to work as a photographer at the famous portrait Studio G.L. Manuel Frères.

    In 1927, Lucien founded with his brother-in-law the Studio Lorelle, which focused entirely on studio portraits. Many young photographers went to work and study photography here, including Czech photographer Jaroslav Rössler, German photographer Erna Wagner-Hehmke and Rose Nadau.

    Lorelle soon became a sought after portraitist. To his studio came famous artists like Jean Cocteau and Tamara de Lempicka, and international film stars like Louise Brooks, Jean Murat, Käthe von Nagy, Marie Glory and Brigitte Helm.

    In 1935 he sold the Studio Lorelle and founded the Studio Lucien Lorelle. This studio did advertising campaigns for Galeries Lafayette (with Cassandre), Perrier, Philips, Cinzano, Chanel, Shell etc.

    Lorelle had already done a postcard campaign with film stars for Campari at Studio Lorelle. Campari was a client which he had taken with him from Studio G.T. Manuel Frères.

    Though Lorelle dreamt of becoming a painter, photography monopolized his time, and the paintings he did complete, he systematically destroyed.

    Jean Murat
    Jean Murat. French postcard. Photo: Studio Lorelle, Paris.

    Dolly Davis
    Dolly Davis. French postcard by Editions Cinemagazine, no. 515. Photo: Studio Lorelle.

    Pierre Richard Willm
    Pierre Richard Willm. French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 609. Photo: Studio Lorelle.

    Brigitte Helm
    Brigitte Helm. French postcard in the Europe series, no. 66, ca. 1932. Photo: Studio Lorelle.

    René Lefevre
    René Lefèvre. French postcard by Editions A.N., Paris, no. 770. Photo: Studio Lorelle / Film Pathé-Natan.


    In 1946, Lucien Lorelle was one of the 15 founders of the Groupe des XV, an association which promoted photography as art and drew attention to the preservation of French photographic heritage.

    The group (also including Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis and René Jacques) organized from 1946 to 1957 annual exhibitions in various galleries.

    Lorelle continued to portray all the famous French artists of his time including Annabella, Martine Carol, Danielle Darrieux, Gérard Philipe, Jean Marais, Michel Simon and Jean Gabin.

    In 1949 Lucien Lorelle published La Photographie publicitaire, co-written with Donald Langelaan. He also wrote books like Le Portrait photographique (1950) and Le Livre de la couleur directe (1951). His books were translated in many languages.

    In 1952, he founded Central Color, a professional colour photography laboratory, involved with various international projects, including the Tour de France, L’Oréal and Giorgio Armani.

    In 1957 he stopped with the Studio Lucien Lorelle and focused on writing. He was the author of many surreal photographic works and literary tributes combining text, drawings and photographs. He also was devoted to teaching photography. His other hobbies included painting, writing and poetry.

    In the 1960s Lucien Lorelle handed over the presidency of Central Color to his daughter Françoise Gallois, who deceased in 2003. Lucien Lorelle himself died in 1968.

    Pauley ad for Campari
    Pauley. French postcard for Campari. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Dès que je bois du Campari, Oh! mes amis, quel appetit!" (Ever since I drink Campari, oh my friends, what an appetite!).

    Marie Glory, publicity for Campari
    Marie Glory. French postcard for Campari. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "J'aimais un Campari... plusieurs!" (I would like 'Campari'... several!)

    André Roanne. publicity for Campari
    André Roanne. French postcard for Campari. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Qui dit Campari, dit appétit!" (Who saysCampari, saysappetite!)

    Marcelle Chantal, publicity for Campari
    Marcelle Chantal. French postcard for Campari. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Paris sans Campari, n'est pas Campari."  (Paris without Campari isn't Paris.)

    Georges Milton pub Campari
    Georges Milton. French postcard for Campari. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: "Au travers d'un Campari, Tout est gai, tout est joli." (With a Campari, all is gay, all is nice).

    This is the sixth post in a series on film star photographers. Earlier posts were on the Reutlinger Studio in Paris, Italian star photographer Attilio Badodi, the German photographer Ernst Schneider, Dutch photo artist Godfried de Groot and on Milanese photographers Arturo Varischi and Giovanni Artico.

    Sources: LucienLorelle.com, Melissa Demiguel (Bella Online), and Wikipedia (French). See also: dovima_is_devine_II's set of Lorelle's surrealistic photos on Flickr and see an interesting surrealistic impression with two photographs of Brigitte Helm from L'Argent at Bits & Bites.

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  • 02/15/14--23:00: Fritz Rasp
  • German film actor Fritz Rasp (1891–1976) appeared in 104 films between 1916 and 1976. He excelled in dark roles: villains, rapists, traitors. His most notable film parts were Der Schmale (The Thin Man) in Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), Meinert in Tagebuch einer Verlorenen/Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), and J. J. Peachum in Die 3-Groschen-Oper/The Threepenny Opera (1931).

    Fritz Rasp
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1738/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

    Typecast as the Villain

    Fritz Heinrich Rasp was born in Bayreuth, Germany in 1891. He was the thirteenth child of the county surveyor Daniel Rasp and his wife Auguste Rasp-Grähl.

    Fritz studied acting at the Theaterschule Otto Königin in München (Munich). Rasp debuted on the stage in 1909, as Amandus in Max Halbe's scandalous play Jugend (Youth) as the Münchner Schauspielhaus, and in 1914 he went on to work with the famous Max Reinhardt at the Deutschen Theater in Berlin.

    In 1916 he made his film debut in the silent comedy Schuhpalast Pinkus/Shoe Palace Pinkus (Ernst Lubitsch, 1916) starring Lubitsch himself and Ossi Oswalda. It was part of the Sally series of films featuring Lubitsch as Sally, a sharp young Berliner of Jewish heritage. After leaving school, the self-confident young man goes to work in a shoe shop and soon becomes a shoe tycoon.

    Rasp also appeared in the fairy-tale Hans Trutz im Schlaraffenland/Hans Trutz in the land of plenty (Paul Wegener, 1917). After his military service (1916-1918), he started to work for Max Reinhardt again.

    His breakthrough as a screen actor came in 1922, when he played one of the main characters in Fred Sauer’s film adaptation of the play Jugend/Youth.

    During the early 1920s he appeared in such silent films as Zwischen Abend und Morgen/Between Evening and Morning (Arthur Robison, 1923) starring Werner Krauss, the expressionist film Schatten – Eine nächtliche Halluzination/Warning Shadows (Arthur Robison, 1923) with Alexander Granach, and Ein Sommernachtstraum/Wood Love (Hans Neumann, 1925), an adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream starring Werner Krauss, Valeska Gert and Alexander Granach.

    Filmportal.de: “While he was extremely versatile on stage, the screen actor Fritz Rasp – lean and tall with a narrow mouth and sunken eyes – is quickly typecast as the villain, a role which he often managed to subvert by adding layers of irony and psychological depth to his characters.”

    A beautiful example is his part as Fredersen's spy Der Schmale (The Thin Man) in Fritz Lang's expressionist epic Metropolis (1927). The classic science-fiction film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel (Joh Fredersen, the master of Metropolis) and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Many of the scenes in which Rasp appears were part of the Metropolis footage long believed lost until their recovery in 2008.

    His role in Metropolis was soon followed by supporting parts in other masterpieces of the Weimar cinema, such as Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney/The Love of Jeanne Ney (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1927), and Spione/Spies (Fritz Lang, 1928).

    He also appeared in very popular entertainment films like Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Robison, 1927) starring Liane Haid and Willy Fritsch, and Schinderhannes/The Prince of Rogues (Kurt Bernhardt, 1928) starring Hans Stüwe.

    In 1929 Rasp appeared again in two classic films. He played the rapist Meinert opposite American silent star Louise Brooks in Tagebuch einer Verlorenen/Diary of a Lost Girl (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929). He reunited with Fritz Lang for the Science Fiction film Frau im Mond/Woman in the Moon (Fritz Lang, 1929) in which he played an evil American.

    Fritz Rasp, Hilde von Stolz
    German collectors card. With Hilde von Stolz.

    Nazi Era

    Fritz Rasp started the sound era with more great films. He played the thief Grundeis in the children film classic Emil und die Detektive/Emil and the Detectives (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1931) based on the novel by Erich Kästner, who also contributed to the film's script, written by Billy (then: Billie) Wilder.

    Another notable role was J. J. Peachum in the musical Die 3-Groschen-Oper/The Threepenny Opera (G. W. Pabst, 1931), loosely based on the musical theatre success by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

    He also appeared in popular films of the time like Der Zinker/The Squeaker (Martin Frič, Karel Lamač, 1931) with Lissi Arna, and Der Hexer/The Sorcerer (Martin Frič, Karel Lamač aka Carl Lamac, 1932) with Paul Richter, both German screen adaptations of Edgar Wallace thrillers.

    In Paris, he played in the American German language drama Tropennächte/Tropical Nights (Leo Mittler, 1931) starring Dita Parlo. The film was one of five multi-language versions of the American film Dangerous Paradise (1930) made by Paramount at the Joinville Studios in Paris. These were made in the years following the introduction of sound film, before the practice of dubbing became widespread.

    During the Nazi era he only got small roles in films like the comedy Onkel Bräsig/Uncle Bräsig (Erich Waschneck, 1936) and the mystery Der Hund von Baskerville/The Hound of the Baskervilles (Karel Lamač aka Carl Lamac, 1937), an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes's story The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

    In 1943, he reunited with director Georg Wilhelm Pabst for the drama Paracelsus (G.W. Pabst, 1943) based on the life of Paracelsus (Werner Krauss).

    After the war he first appeared in Eastern Germany in productions by the DEFA. He also performed on the stages of Berlin.

    Later he was seen in West-German light entertainment films like the mystery Das schwarze Schaf /The Black Sheep (Helmut Ashley, 1960) starring Heinz Rühmann and based on the Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton.

    Rasp also played in the popular Edgar Wallace adaptations of the 1960s, such as Der rote Kreis/The Crimson Circle (Jürgen Roland, 1960), Die seltsame Gräfin/The Strange Countess (Josef von Báky, 1961) and Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee/The Puzzle of the Red Orchid (Helmut Ashley, 1962) starring Christopher Lee.

    In 1963 he was honoured for his work in the German cinema with the Filmband in Gold award. One of his last films was the sweet crime comedy Lina Braake (Bernhard Sinkel1975), in which Lina Carstens and he played revolting seniors who rob a bank.

    Fritz Rasp died in 1976 in Gräfelfing, Germany. He was 85. His wife was Charlotte Petermann.

    Fritz Rasp
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6828/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

    Sources: Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.

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  • 02/16/14--23:00: Vivien Leigh
  • Extraordinarily beautiful British actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) won two Academy Awards for playing ‘Southern belles’: Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). On stage she starred – often with her husband, Laurence Olivier - in parts that ranged from the heroines of Noel Coward and George Bernard Shaw comedies to Shakespearean characters like Ophelia, Juliet and Lady Macbeth.

    Vivien Leigh
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 321. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1950.

    Fire Over England

    Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley in Darjeeling, India, to Ernest Hartley, a British Officer in the Indian Cavalry, and Gertrude Robinson Yackje. In 1917, her father was relocated to Bangalore, while Vivian and her mother stayed in Ootacamund.

    At age six, Vivian was sent to a convent school in England. In addition to taking the usual classes, Vivian studied violin, piano, cello, and ballet, and participated in school plays. A friend there was the future actress Maureen O'Sullivan, to whom she expressed her desire to become 'a great actress'.

    In 1931 her father helped her enrol at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art(RADA) in London. She met Herbert Leigh Holman, known as Leigh, a barrister thirteen years her senior. Despite his disapproval of ‘theatrical people’, they were married in 1932, and upon their marriage she terminated her studies at RADA.

    In 1933, she gave birth to a daughter, Suzanne, but felt stifled by her domestic life. Her friends suggested her for a small part in Things Are Looking Up (Albert de Courville, 1935), which marked her film debut.

    She engaged an agent, John Gliddon, who recommended her to film director and producer Alexander Korda, but he rejected her as lacking potential. Cast in the play The Mask of Virtue in 1935, Vivien Leighreceived excellent reviews followed by interviews and newspaper articles. Korda, who attended her opening-night performance, admitted his error and signed her to a film contract.

    Laurence Oliviersaw Leigh in The Mask of Virtue, and a friendship developed after he congratulated her on her performance. While playing lovers in the film Fire Over England (William K. Howard, 1937), Olivier and Leigh developed a strong attraction, and after filming was completed, they began an affair. Olivier was at that time married to the actress Jill Esmond.

    Vivien Leigh
    British postcard in the Picturegoer series, London, no. 1124b. Photo: Paramount.

    Vivien Leigh
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 747. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Vivien Leigh
    Belgian postcard by Les Editions d'Art L.A.B., Bruxelles (Brussels), no. 1040. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Publicity still for Gone With The Wind (1939). This postcard was given to us by Gill4kleuren.

    Fire Over Atlanta

    Vivien Leigh played Ophelia to Olivier's Hamlet in an Old Vic Theatre production. They began living together, as their respective spouses had each refused to divorce. Leigh appeared with Conrad Veidtin the spy thriller Dark Journey (Victor Saville, 1937), and with Robert Taylor and Maureen O'Sullivan in A Yank at Oxford (Jack Conway, 1938). During production of the latter she developed a reputation for being difficult and unreasonable, and Korda instructed her agent to warn her.

    Her next role was in St. Martin's Lane/Sidewalks of London (Tim Whelan, 1938) with Charles Laughtonand Rex Harrison. Laurence Olivier travelled to Hollywood to play Heathcliff in Samuel Goldwyn's production of Wuthering Heights (William Wyler, 1939), leaving Vivien Leigh in London. She was offered the secondary role of Isabella, but she refused it, saying she would only play Cathy, a role already assigned to Merle Oberon.

    Leigh's American agent was the London representative of the Myron Selznick Agency, and in 1938, she asked that her name be placed in consideration for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in David O. Selznick's (Myron’s brother) production of Gone with the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming) an epic adaptation of the bestseller by Margaret Mitchell. David O. Selznick watched her films, and from that time she became a serious contender for the part. Leigh travelled to Los Angeles, ostensibly to be with Olivier.

    When Myron Selznick, who also represented Olivier, met Leigh, he felt that she possessed the qualities his brother was searching for. Myron took Leigh and Olivier to the set where the burning of the Atlanta Depot scene was being filmed, and introduced Leigh. The following day, Leigh read a scene for Selznick, who organised a screen test and wrote to his wife, "She's the Scarlett dark horse and looks damn good. Not for anyone's ear but your own: it's narrowed down to Paulette Goddard, Jean Arthur, Joan Bennett and Vivien Leigh".

    Filming proved difficult for Leigh; director George Cukor was dismissed and replaced by Victor Fleming, with whom Leigh frequently quarrelled. Her role opposite Clark Gable brought Leigh immediate attention and fame. Among the ten Academy Awardswon by Gone with the Wind was a Best Actress award for Leigh, who also won a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.

    Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for Gone with the Wind (1939).

    Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in Gone With The Wind
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for Gone with the Wind (1939) with Clark Gable.

    Adulterous Nature

    In 1940, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh were married. Leigh hoped to star with her husband and made a screen-test for Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940). Selznick noted that she didn't seem right as to sincerity or age or innocence, and he subsequently cast Joan Fontaine. He also refused to allow her to join Olivier in Pride and Prejudice (Robert Z. Leonard, 1940), and Greer Garsontook the part Leigh had envisioned for herself.

    Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn Leroy, 1940) was to have starred Olivier and Leigh; however, Selznick replaced Olivier with Robert Taylor, then at the peak of his success as one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's most popular male stars. Leigh's top billing reflected her status in Hollywood, and the film proved to be popular with audiences and critics.

    She and Olivier mounted a stage production of Romeo and Juliet for Broadway. The New York press publicized the adulterous nature that had marked the beginning of Olivier and Leigh's relationship, and questioned their ethics in not returning to England to help with the war effort; and the critics were hostile in their assessment of the production. The couple had invested almost their entire savings into the project, and its failure was a financial disaster for them.

    Next they filmed That Hamilton Woman (Alexander Korda, 1941) with Olivier as Horatio Nelson and Leigh as Emma Hamilton. The film was popular in the United States and an outstanding success in the Soviet Union. The Oliviers returned to England, and Leigh toured through North Africa in 1943, performing for troops before falling ill with a persistent cough and fevers. In 1944 she was diagnosed as having tuberculosis in her left lung. But after spending several weeks in hospital, she appeared to be cured.

    When she suffered a miscarriage, she fell into a deep depression. This was the first of many major breakdowns related to bipolar disorder. She was well enough to resume acting in 1946, in a successful London production of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, but her films of this period, Caesar and Cleopatra (Gabriel Pascal, 1945) and Anna Karenina (Julien Duvivier, 1948), were not great successes.

    In 1947 Olivier was knighted, and Vivien Leigh accompanied him to Buckingham Palace for the investiture. She became Lady Olivier, and after their divorce, per the style granted the divorced wife of a knight, she became, socially, Vivien, Lady Olivier.

    Vivien Leigh
    British postcard by Real Photograph, no. 261.

    Vivien Leigh
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 8.(This postcard was printed in an edition of 100.000 cards. The price was 75 kop.).

    Vivien Leigh
    Dutch postcard, no. AX 283. (Foto-archief Film en Toneel) Photo: Warner Bros.

    Romantic, Emotionally Fragile, and Tragic

    Vivien Leigh played the role of Blanche DuBois in the West End stage production of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. Like Blanche, Leigh was romantic, emotionally fragile, and tragic. After a run of 326 performances, she was also engaged for the film version opposite Marlon Brando. The film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1952) had glowing reviews, and she won a second Academy Awardfor Best Actress, a BAFTA Award and a New York Film Critics Circle Awardfor Best Actress.

    In 1953, Leigh travelled to Ceylon to film Elephant Walk with Peter Finch. Shortly after filming commenced, she suffered a breakdown, and Paramount Pictures replaced her with Elizabeth Taylor. Olivier returned her to their home in England, where between periods of incoherence, Leigh told him that she had been having an affair with Finch. She gradually recovered over a period of several months.

    Noël Coward was enjoying success with the play South Sea Bubble, with Leigh in the lead role, but she became pregnant and withdrew from the production. Several weeks later, she miscarried and entered a period of depression that lasted for months.

    In 1960, she and Olivier divorced, and Olivier married the actress Joan Plowright. Vivien’s new partner Jack Merivale proved to be a stabilizing influence for her. Though she was still beset by bouts of depression, she continued to work in the theatre and in 1963 won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Tovarich.

    She also appeared in the films The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961, José Quintero) opposite Warren Beatty, and in the all-star Ship of Fools (1965, Stanley Kramer).

    After many long years of battling manic depression and several outbreaks of tuberculosis, Vivien Leigh's body gave out. She died in London in 1967.

    Vivien Leigh screentests for Gone with the Wind. Source: VivienLeighCom (YouTube).

    Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor dance the farewell waltz in Waterloo Bridge (1940). Source: TheEagle54 (YouTube).

    Trailer of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Source: British Film Institute (YouTube).

    Sources: Brian McFarlane (Encyclopedia of British Film), Leigh Milla (Vivien-Leigh.com), Robert Ortiz (Find A Grave), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 02/17/14--23:00: Pero Alexander
  • German actor Pero Alexander (1921) played in a dozen Heimat films and other light entertainment pictures of the 1950s.

    Pero Alexander
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. T 616. Photo: Berolina / Constantin / Wesel. Still from Wenn der vater mit dem Sohne/If the Father and the Son (Hans Quest, 1955).

    Tawdry White Slavery Melodrama

    Pero Alexander was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1921. His birth name was Hans Eduard Pfingstler and in his early films, he was sometimes featured as Peter Alexander.

    In 1952 he made his film debut in Straße zur Heimat/The Way Homewards (Romano Mengon, 1952) starring Angelika Hauff.

    Soon followed supporting roles in more Heimat films like Wetterleuchten am Dachstein/Storm Clouds Over Dachstein (Anton Kutter, 1953) with Marianne Koch, and Einmal kehr' ich wieder/Once I'll Return (Géza von Bolváry, 1953) with Paul Dahlke.

    His first leading part was in the drama Maria Johanna (1953), which was directed by Swedish film star Signe Hasso and her former husband Harry Hasso.

    Alexander had a small role in the white slavery melodrama Mannequins für Rio/They Were So Young (Kurt Neumann, 1954), a German-American co-production starring Johanna Matz, Scott Brady and Raymond Burr.

    Hal Erickson wrote at AllMovie: "Filmed on location in Rio De Janeiro, They Were So Young is a tawdry 'white slavery' melodrama, elevated by a first-rate cast and excellent production values."

    Other films were the musical comedy Sonne über der Adria/Sun Over The Adria (Karl Georg Külb, 1954) and the Heinz Rühmann comedy Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne/Like Father Like Son (Hans Quest, 1955).

    Pero Alexander
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden. Photo: Hansa / Allianz-Film / Betzler. Still from Einmahl kehr' ich wieder/Once I'll Return (1953).

    Pero Alexander
    German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, no. FK 1727. Photo: Wesel / Berolina / Constantin Film.


    In the second half of the 1950s, Pero Alexander played more supporting parts, such as in Mädchen ohne Grenzen/A Girl Without Boundaries (Géza von Radványi, 1955), starring Sonja Ziemann and Ivan Desny, Das Schloß in Tirol/Castle in Tyrol (Géza von Radványi, 1957) starring Karlheinz Böhm and Erika Remberg, and Vater, Mutter und neun Kinder/Father, Mother and Nine Children (Erich Engels, 1958).

    He played a romantic lead opposite Heidi Brühlin Vater, unser bestes Stück/Father, Our Best Piece (Günther Lüders, 1957) and then played in the crime dramas Das Nachtlokal zum Silbermond/5 Sinners (Wolfgang Gluck, 1959) and Orientalische Nächte/Nights in the Orient (Heinz Paul, 1960), both starring Marina Petrova.

    Hal Erickson writes at AllMovieabout Das Nachtlokal zum Silbermond/5 Sinners: "Dark, moody and pessimistic, 5 Sinners, has the flavor, if not the substance of the classic film noir, but perhaps because of its tawdry ambiance, the film was frequently shown in grind houses specializing in 'nudies.'"

    In the early 1960s, he played his last film roles in Hohe Tannen/High Pines (August Rieger, 1960), Treibjagd auf ein Leben/Hunt For A Life (Ralph Lothar, 1961), and Das Mädchen auf der Titelseite/The Girl on the Front Page (Fritz Bornemann, 1961).

    During the 1960s he incidentally appeared on TV like in the Austrian crime series Spiel um Schmuck/Gambling for jewellery (1966), directed by and starring Curd Jürgens.

    We could not find more biographical online information on Pero Alexander.

    Pero Alexander
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden. Photo: Hansa / Allianz-Film / Betzler. Still from Einmahl kehr' ich wieder/Once I'll Return (Géza von Bolváry, 1953).

    Austrian postcard by HDH Verlag, Wien (Vienna) (llicency holder for Ufa, Berlin). Photo: Bavaria-Film / Hansa-Film / Günter Matern.

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Filmportal.de and IMDb.

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  • 02/18/14--23:00: Heinz Rühmann
  • Actor, director and producer Heinz Rühmann (1902-1994) was one of Germany's most popular film stars and played in more than 100 films over nearly 70 years. He was a favourite actor of Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels but also of Anne Frank. She pasted his postcard on the wall of her room in her family's hiding place during the war, where it can still be seen today.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 8247/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Fox / Badal.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6341/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Deutsche Lichtspiel-Syndikat (DLS). Publicity photo for the comedy Der Stolz der 3. Kompanie/The Pride of the Third Company (Fred Sauer, 1932).

    Mean Son

    Heinrich Wilhelm Rühmann was born in Essen, Germany, in 1902. He was born as one of three children (he had two sisters) to Hermann and Margarethe Rühmann. After his parents had divorced in 1916, his father committed suicide.

    In 1919 Heinz decided to take acting lessons and six months later he got his first theatre engagement at the Lobe and Thalia theatre.

    His first film part was in the silent film Das Deutsche Mutterherz/The German Mother's Heart (Géza von Bolváry, 1926) as a mean son who beats his mother (Margarete Kupfer).

    After the introduction of the sound film, Ufa Producer Erich Pommer engaged the young actor for Die Drei von der Tankstelle/Three Good Friends (Wilhelm Thiele, 1930). His cheeky and cheerful role in this successful film operetta at the side of the dream couple Willy Fritschand Lilian Harvey led to immediate stardom.

    Rühmann was signed on by the Ufaand in the following years, he became one of the busiest comedians of the German cinema. His successes included Der Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht/Looking for His Murderer (Robert Siodmak, 1931) and Der Stolz der 3. Kompanie/The Pride of the Third Company (Fred Sauer, 1932).

    According to Filmportal.de, Rühmann predominantly played roguish, street-smart characters who get on in their life by small cheatings and cheekiness but meet their fate and all contradictions surrounding it with indifference.

    He found ideal complementing film partners in the comedians Theo Lingenand Hans Moserin such films as Meine Frau, die Hochstaplerin/My Wife, the Fraud (Kurt Gerron, 1931), Man braucht kein Geld/No Money Is Needed (Carl Boese, 1932) and 13 Stühle/13 Chairs (E.W. Emo, 1938).

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6564/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berkin. Photo: Tobis-Schmoll.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 189/1. Photo: Elite-Cinema. Publicity still for Heimkehr ins Glück/Return to Happiness (Carl Boese, 1933).

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin / Ross Verlag. Photo: Cine-Allianz. Collection: Miss Mertens.

    Jewish Wife

    Although Heinz Rühmann never supported the Nazi regime, his career survived – and flourished - only after he divorced his Jewish wife, Maria Bernheim. She married the Swedish actor Rolf von Nauckhoff and thus got the departure permission to Sweden. Rühmann supported her financially during the war and she survived the Holocaust. After the war the couple explained on German television that pressure by the Nazis had forced them to separate.

    Two films which marked the height of his career in this period were Der Mustergatte/Model Husband (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1937) and Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war/The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (Karl Hartl, 1937). In the latter he starred as the reserved but smart partner of Hans Albers.

    In 1938, he directed his first film Lauter Lügen/Many Lies (1938) starring Hertha Feiler, who later became his second wife. Hertha had a Jewish grandfather, a fact that caused Rühmann again problems with the Nazi cultural authorities. However, he retained his reputation as an apolitical star during the entire Nazi era.

    Also from 1938 on, he produced his own films as well as films by other directors with the production company Terra. Among those films were Der Florentiner Hut/The Leghorn Hat (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1939), Kleider machen Leute/Fine feathers make fine birds (Helmut Käutner, 1940) and Quax, der Bruchpilot (Kurt Hoffmann, 1941).

    From 1938 to 1943 he also played at the Preussische Staatstheaterin Berlin and was awarded Staatsschauspieler (National Actor) in 1940.

    One of his most popular and best films was Die Feuerzangenbowle/The Fire-Tongs Bowl(Helmut Weiss, 1944), a nostalgic and very funny comedy about mistaken identities. The premiere of Die Feuerzangenbowle was forbidden by the Nazi film censor for 'disrespect for authority', according to Wikipedia. Through his good relationships with the regime, however, Rühmann was able to screen the film in public. He brought the film to the Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze for a private screening for Hermann Göring and others. Afterward, Göring was able to get the ban on the film lifted by Adolf Hitler.

    He was a favourite actor of both Adolf Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. In August 1944, Goebbels put Rühmann on the Gottbegnadeten list of indispensable actors and thus was spared having to take part in the war effort. At the end of the war he was forced to witness the rape of his wife Hertha Feiler by Russian soldiers in his Berlin villa.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3535/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra. Probably a publicity still for Quax, der Bruchpilot (Kurt Hoffmann, 1941).

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3852/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3227/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa / Baumann.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3774/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Working Prohibition

    After the Second World War, Heinz Rühmann's career had a tough start. First he was confronted with a working prohibition by the Allies. He toured the part of Germany occupied by the Soviets with his own production of Der Mustergatte/Model Husband and in 1947 he staged the play in Munich and Berlin.

    In that year, he also founded the film company Comedia together with Alf Teich. They had a critical success with Berliner Ballade/The Berliner (Robert A. Stemmle, 1948), a satiric look at life in postwar Berlin, but Comedia went bankrupt in 1952.

    Producer Gyula Trebitsch helped him get a comeback as an actor with Keine Angst vor grossen Tieren/No Fear for Big Animals (Ulrich Erfurth, 1953) . Subsequently his roles became more and more tragicomic.

    He established himself again as a star with the title role of the internationally acclaimed Der Hauptmann von Köpenick/The Captain from Köpenick (Helmut Käutner, 1956). The Oscar nominated film told the true story of a Prussian cobbler, Wilhelm Voigt, who dressed up as an army officer and took over the town hall in Köpenick. In the days of the German Empire, the army had an almost sacred status, and this cobbler embarrassed army officers and civil servants, who obeyed him without questioning.

    Other big hits were the thriller Es geschah am hellichten Tag/It Happened in Broad Daylight (Ladislao Vajda, 1958) and the satire Der brave Soldat Schwejk/The Good Soldier Schweik (Axel von Ambesser, 1960) based on the novels by Jaroslav Hašek.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 213, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3555, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

    Heinz Rühmann, Ingeborg Körner
    German postcard by K & B / Filmwelt Berlin Archiv für Film-Geschichte, no. 57. Photo: Deutsche London Film / T. von Mindszenty. Publicity still for Keine Angst vor grossen Tieren/No Fear for Big Animals (1953) with Ingeborg Körner.

    Heinz Rühmann
    German collectors card by Lux.

    Germany's Most Beloved Actor

    Heinz Rühmann played such popular character roles as the title role in Mein Schulfreund/My School Chum (Robert Siodmak, 1960) and as father Brown in Das schwarze Schaf/The Black Sheep (Helmut Ashley, 1960).

    He was an ensemble member at the famous Vienna Burgtheater from 1960 to 1962. In Hollywood he played a supporting role in Ship of Fools (Stanley Kramer, 1965).

    From 1968 on, Rühmann mainly worked for TV productions. Twelve times he was voted Germany's most beloved actor and he won a large number of awards.

    He also published several books: Heinz Rühmann erzählt vom Geschenk der Weisen und andren Begebenheiten (1978), his memories Das war's (1982) and the photo biography Ein Leben in Bildern (1987).

    He gave his farewell performance in In weiter Ferne, so nah!/Faraway, So Close! (Wim Wenders, 1993).

    Heinz Rühmann died in 1994 in Aufkirchen, Germany. He was married three times, with Maria Herbot (1924-1938), Hertha Feiler (1939-1970; her death) and Hertha Droemer (1974-1994; his death).

    He was the father of Peter Rühmann (mother: Hertha Feiler) and the grandfather of actress Melanie Rühmann.

    Heinz Rühmann
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2642, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress. Publicity still for Hokuspokus oder: Wie lasse ich meinen Mann verschwinden...?/Hocuspocus (Kurt Hoffmann, 1966).

    Heinz Rühmann, Liselotte Pulver
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2662, 1966. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress. Publicity still for Hokuspokus oder: Wie lasse ich meinen Mann verschwinden...?/Hocuspocus (Kurt Hoffmann, 1966).

    Scene from Die Drei von der Tankstelle/Three Good Friends (Wilhelm Thiele, 1930). Source: Ein Lied Geht Um die Welt (YouTube).

    Heinz Rühmann sings one of the most popular lullabies La Le Lu to Oliver Grimm in Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne/Like father like son (Hans Quest, 1955).

    Sources: Filmportal.de, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), IMDb and Wikipedia.

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  • 02/19/14--23:00: Franca Parisi
  • Beautiful and elegant Franca Parisi (1933) is an Italian actress who appeared in German and Italian films of the 1950s. During the 1960s she was mainly cast as a sexy but second rate Sophia Loren in low-budget Italian adventure and horror films.

    Franca Parisi
    Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam (Dutch licency holder for Universum-Film Aktien-gesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof), no. 1086. Photo: Ufa/Film-Foto. Publicity still for Scampolo (Alfred Weidenmann, 1958).

    Sexy Girlfriend

    Franca Parisi, also known as Franca Parisi Strahl and Margaret Taylor, was born in 1933 in Palermo, Italy.

    She attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and appeared in supporting parts in such Italian films as Il prezzo dell'onore/Pride (Ferdinando Baldi, 1953), the religious Il figlio dell'uomo/The son of man (Virgilio Sabel, 1954) and L'angelo bianco/The white angel (Raffaello Matarazzo, 1955) starring Yvonne Sanson.

    She also appeared in German co-productions like Die heilige Lüge/Sacred Lie (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1954), the Heimatfilm Heidemelodie/Melody of the Moors (Ulrich Erfurth, 1956) and the tearjerker Die Heilige und ihr Narr/The Saint and Her Fool (Gustav Ucicky, 1957).

    She then appeared in two successful Romy Schneider films, the last part of the Sissi-trilogy, Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin/Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress (Ernst Marischka, 1957) and Scampolo (Alfred Weidenmann, 1958) in which she appeared as the sexy girlfriend of Paul Hubschmid.

    Franca Parisi
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: Berolina / Constantin / Wesel.

    An Overcooked Pizza Roll with Eyes

    Franca Parisi started the 1960s with the entertaining low-budget horrorfilm Seddok, l'erede di Satana/Atom Age Vampire (Anton Giulio Majano, 1960), produced by Mario Bava.

    According to Cavett Binion at AllMovie this is a “less-stylish variant on Franju's classic Les Yeux Sans Visage, (which) borrows heavily from that film's plot to tell the tale of a scientist who employs a radical new procedure to restore the beauty of a young hoochie-koochie dancer disfigured in a car accident.

    All goes well after the bandages come off... but (…) the young lass begins transforming into a monster - which, despite the title, is not really a vampire, but more like something resembling an overcooked pizza roll with eyes.” Franca appeared as the beautiful assistant of the mad scientist.

    Next she co-starred in the adventure films Capitano di ventura/Rampage of Evil (Angelo Dorigo, 1961) with Gérard Landry, and L'ammutinamento/White Slave Ship (1961) starring Pier Angeli.

    Franca Parisi
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1367. Photo: Berolina / Constantin / Wesel. Publicity still for Die heilige Lüge/Sacred Lie (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1954).

    Biblical Epic

    Franca Parisi appeared as Margaret Taylor in the Biblical epic Il vecchio testamento/The Old Testament (Gianfranco Parolini, 1962) starring bodybuilder Brad Harris, and in the Peplum I dieci gladiatori/The Ten Gladiators (Gianfranco Parolini, 1963).

    In the second half of the 1960s she often appeared on TV in series as Le avventure di Laura Storm/The Adventures ofLauraStorm (1965) and Le inchieste del commissario Maigret/The investigationsofInspector Maigret (1966) with Gino Cervias Maigret.

    She also worked in the theatre, although she generally played supporting parts as the second or third woman. Franca Parisi continued to work in the Italian theatre and the cinema till the end of the 1960’s.

    Her last films were the Greek-Italian romantic drama O lipotaktis/The Mandrake (Christos Kefalas, 1970) and Armida, il dramma di una sposa/Armida, the drama of a wife (Bruno Mattei, 1970) in which she played the title role.

    In the early 1970s she appeared again as Margaret Taylor in small parts in British TV series like Z Cars (1973) and Doctor at Sea (1974).

    Franca Parisi then retired. She had been married to Austrian actor Erwin Strahl, with whom she co-starred in Die heilige Lüge/Sacred Lie (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1954).

    English leader and first scenes of Seddok, l'erede di Satana/Atom Age Vampire (1960). Source: Wowvidfreak99 (YouTube).

    Trailer of Scampolo (1958). Source: www.ischia.org (YouTube).

    Sources: Cavett Binion (AllMovie), Mymovies.it (Italian) and IMDb.

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  • 02/20/14--23:00: Fernandel
  • Actor and singer Fernandel (1903–1971) was for more than forty years France's top comedy star. He was perhaps best-loved for his portrayal of Don Camillo. His horse-like teeth and shy manner became his trademark.

    Mexican Collectors card, no. 276.

    French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 9. Photo: Star.

    French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 573. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    French postcard by PSG, offered by Corvisart, Epinal no. 443. Photo: Nisak.

    Popular, Common, Likable

    Fernandel was born as Fernand Joseph Désiré Contandin in Marseille, France, as the son of a music-hall entertainer. His brother Fransined would become an actor too.

    Fernandel began performing while still a child. In his teens he supported himself in a variety of jobs while gaining experience as an amateur comedian and singer. In 1922 he turned professional, soon becoming popular in vaudeville, operettas, and music-hall revues. He married with Henriette Manse in 1925.

    His film debut was in Le blanc et le noir/White and Black (Robert Florey, Marc Allégret, 1930) at the side of Raimu. Marc Allégret was also the director of his first successful film La meilleure bobonne (Marc Allégret, Claude Heymann, 1930).

    Very popular was his serious role in the screen adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's Le Rosier de Madame Husson/The Virgin Man (Bernard-Deschamps, 1932).

    Writer/director Marcel Pagnol used his immense talent and great sensitivity in a series of films: as a half-witted in Angèle (1934), Regain/Harvest (1937), Le Schpountz/Heartbeat (1938), La Fille du puisatier/The Well-Digger's Daughter (1940), and later as a scrupulously honest schoolteacher in Topaze (1951).

    Fernandel became a typical actor of the comedy genre: popular, common, likable and with a concealed grain of drama. For more than four decades and in nearly 150 films he was French most popular comedy star.

    French postcard by Viny, no. 25. Photo: Star.

    French postcard, Serie P 35.

    Postcard. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 129. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 114. Photo: Roger Forster.

    French postcard by O.P., Paris, no. 115. Photo: R. Tomatis.

    Don Camillo

    Fernandel was perhaps best-loved for his portrayal of Don Camillo, the humorously indomitable priest of a little Italian parish at war with the village 's communist mayor, Peppone (played by Gino Cervi) in the popular film series of the 1950s.

    Director Julien Duvivier first brought the books by Giovanni Guareschi to life in Le Petit monde de Don Camillo/The Little World of Don Camillo (1951) and Le Retour de Don Camillo/The Return of Don Camillo (1953).

    With other directors Fernandel made La Grande bagarre de Don Camillo/Don Camillo's Last Round (Carmine Gallone, 1955), Don Camillo Monseigneur/Don Camillo: Monsignor (Carmine Gallone, 1961), and Don Camillo en Russie/Don Camillo in Moscow (Luigi Comencini, 1965).

    Among his other successes were L'auberge rouge/The Red Inn (Claude Autant-Lara, 1951), Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs/Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Jacques Becker, 1954) and La Vache et le Prisonnier/The Cow and I (Henri Verneuil, 1959).

    He also appeared in Italian and American films. His first Hollywood motion picture was Around the World in Eighty Days (Michael Anderson, 1956) in which he played David Niven's coachman. His popular performance in that film led to starring with Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg in the comedy Paris Holiday (Gerd Oswald, 1958).

    In addition to acting, Fernandel also directed or co-produced several of his own films. In 1970 Fernandel started with the shooting of the sixth Don Camillo film, Don Camillo et les contestastaires/Don Camillo and the Youth of Today, directed by Christian-Jaque. After a few weeks he had to stop because of poor health.

    Shortly afterwards Fernandel died from lung cancer. He is buried in the Cimetière de Passy, Paris, France. Fernandel and his wife Henriette had three children, including actor Franck Fernandel and actress Josette Contandin.

    French postcard by editions O.P., Paris, no. 49. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

    French postcard by Editions Chantal, Rueil. Photo: D.U.C.

    French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 304. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2919, 1967. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Unifrancefilm.

    German postcard by Progress, no. 1.973, 1964. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Le diable et les dix commandements/The Devil and the Ten Commandments (Julien Duvivier, 1962).

    German postcard by Progress, no. 2994, 1967. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Le voyage du père/Father's Trip (Denys de La Patellière, 1966) with Lilli Palmer.

    Sources: Volker Boehm (IMDb), Wikipedia, AllMovie, and IMDb.

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  • 02/21/14--23:00: Dorothy Wilding
  • Dorothy Wilding (1893-1976) was a noted English society photographer with studios in London and New York. Wilding photographed many British film stars in the 1920s and 1930s, but was also the first woman to be appointed as the Official Royal Photographer.

    Madeleine Carroll
    Madeleine Carroll. British postcard by Real Photograph, London in the Picturegoer series, no. 352a. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    Madeleine Carroll
    Madeleine Carroll. British postcard by Real Photograph, London in the Picturegoer series, no. 352b. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    Brightly Lit Linear Compositions

    Dorothy Frances Edith Wilding was born in 1893. She was the last of a large family of 10 children who lived near Gloucester.

    Unwanted by her parents, Dorothy was passed on to a childless aunt and uncle in Cheltenham, aged just four. She wanted to become an actress or artist but this career was disallowed by her uncle, so she chose the art of photography.

    One day she saw a camera in a shop window in Cheltenham, and according to her memoirs she thought: ‘If they won’t allow me to be an actress, or paint portraits, I’ll do it through the camera instead’.

    At the age of 16 Wilding taught herself the art of photography, from lighting to retouching. She finally persuaded her family to let her move to London. She began her photographic career as an apprentice to Bond Street photographer Marian Neilson.

    By 1915 she had saved enough money to lease a studio in George Street, Portman Square. She took her first pictures by artificial light, designing a system of tracks that fixed to the ceiling for her two 1,000 watt lamps with pale blue reflectors.

    In the 1920s and 1930s, she photographed several film stars including Jessie Matthews, Diana Wynyard, Anna May Wong, Madeleine Carroll, Ivor Novello, Maurice Chevalier, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

    According to the National Portrait Gallery website, she is best known for her brightly lit linear compositions photographed in high key lighting against a white background. The success of the Wilding Look was clearly based upon her superb lighting techniques, her high standard of retouching and finishing, and her society connections.

    She portrayed such celebrities as Noël Coward, Cecil Beaton, George Bernard Shaw, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Aldous Huxley, and Barbara Hutton. By 1929 she had already moved studio a few times, and employed seven assistants.

    Ivor Novello
    Ivor Novello. British postcard in the Picturegoer series by real Photograph, London, no. 39c. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    Matheson Lang
    Matheson Lang. British postcard in the Picturegoer series, no. 87A. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    A Sitting Booked For A Mrs. Simpson

    Dorothy Wilding shot her first British Royal Family portrait of the 26-year-old Prince George (later Duke of Kent) in 1928. Six years later Wilding was selected to take the official engagement photographs of Prince George before his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece.

    In 1935 a sitting booked for a Mrs. Simpson on a Friday found Wilding away from the studio at her country cottage. She had to direct the shoot down the telephone to her leading deputy camera operator.

    Wallis Warfield Simpson was the future Duchess of Windsor, and she was accompanied to the studio by Edward, Prince of Wales at a time when the relationship was not mentioned in the British press. A hand-coloured image from this session would later appear on the cover of Time magazine, marking Wallis as 'Woman of the Year'.

    A further important series of Royal Sittings were also taken in her absence when Wilding was based in America. This sitting was eventually followed by the famous Wilding portrait of the newly ascended Elizabeth II that was used for a series of definitive postage stamps of Great Britain used between 1952 and 1967, and a series of Canadian stamps in use from 1954 to 1962.

    A previous portrait sitting of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, wife of George VI, had turned into a double portrait of the royal couple and was adapted for the 1937 Coronation issue stamp.

    That portrait led to Wilding being the first woman to be appointed as the Official Royal Photographer for the 1937 Coronation.

    John Gielgud
    John Gielgud. British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 762A. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    John Gielgud
    John Gielgud. British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 762. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    Clearly Ahead Of Their Time

    In 1937, Dorothy Wilding also opened a second photo studio in New York. There she photographed Fannie Hurst, Tallulah Bankhead, Gracie Fields and Gertrude Lawrence at the time of her appearance in Pygmalion.

    In 1940, a German bomb destroyed her London studio. She went to New York with her ailing husband, designer Rufus Leighton-Pearce, who she had met in the 1920s when he created a revolutionary art deco design for her studio. He died there and she dedicated much her time to building her US business.

    In the 1940s and 1950s her subjects included Dame Barbara Cartland, Dame Daphne du Maurier, Sir John Gielgud, Harry Belafonte, Yehudi Menuhin, William Somerset Maugham, and Yul Brynner.

    She is also known for her pictorial style nude photographs which include the dancer Jacques Cartier and the artist's model Rhoda Beasley photographed shortly before her early tragic death.

    John Chillingworth: “Her 1930s commercial and advertising images were clearly ahead of their time, preceding 1960’s eroticism by 30 years!”

    Wilding’s relationship with the Royal family, as their favoured photographer, continued right up until 1958 when she decided to sell her Bond Street studio, aged 65. She had closed the 56th Street, Manhattan, studio in 1957.

    Her autobiography In Pursuit of Perfection was published in 1958. After her retirement Wilding faded from the public consciousness, and she passed away in a nursing home in 1976. At the time her death hardly got even a line of obituary.

    Her surviving archives were presented to the National Portrait Gallery by her sister Mrs. Susan Morton and formed the basis of a major NPG retrospective exhibition and catalogue in 1991, The Pursuit of Perfection.

    Elizabeth Allan. British postcard. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    Yvonne Arnaud
    Yvonne Arnaud. British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, no. 378A. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    Dorothy Dickson
    Dorothy Dickson. British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no T4a. Photo: Dorothy Wilding.

    This is the seventh post in a series on film star photographers. Earlier posts were on the Reutlinger Studio in Paris, Italian star photographer Attilio Badodi, the German photographer Ernst Schneider, Dutch photo artist Godfried de Groot, Milanese photographers Arturo Varischi and Giovanni Artico and on the French Studio Lorelle.

    Sources: John Chillingworth, National Portrait Gallery, Stamp Online, and Wikipedia. See also the Flickr set on Wilding by dovima_is_devine_II.

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  • 02/22/14--23:00: Blanchette Brunoy
  • French actress Blanchette Brunoy (1915-2005) appeared in over 90 film and television productions between 1936 and 1998. She is possibly best-remembered for her roles in Jean Renoir's La Bête Humaine (1938), Jacques Becker's comedy-thriller Goupi mains rouges (1943), and Marcel Carné's La Marie du port (1950).

    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 12.

    An Abundance Of Authentic Gallic Atmosphere

    Blanchette Brunoy was born Blanche Bilhaud in Paris in 1915. She was the daughter of a physician, Marcel Bilhaud, and the niece and goddaughter of writer Georges Duhamel. Thanks to him, she discovered the theatre.

    As a young girl she studied acting at the Conservatoire de Paris under André Brunot. One of her first film roles was an uncredited bit part in Un mauvais garçon/Counsel for Romance (Jean Boyer, 1936) featuring Danielle Darrieux and Henri Garat.

    She played a victim of Jules Berry in the French-Italian film drama Le voleur de femmes/The Woman Thief (Abel Gance, 1936). On stage, she participated in the creation of the Chevaliers de la table ronde/Knights of the Round Table by Jean Cocteau in 1937.

    On screen, she became known as Colette’s heroin Claudine in Claudine à l’école/Pauline at school (Serge de Poligny, 1937). She played the supporting part of Flore in the classic La Bête Humaine/The Human Beast (Jean Renoir, 1938), based on the novel by Émile Zola, and starring Jean Gabin and Simone Simon.

    More supporting parts followed in Cavalcade d'amour/Love Cavalcade (Raymond Bernard, 1940), written by Jean Anouilh. First she often played the type of the sweet young woman and later that of the balanced, calm and devoted wife or the petty bourgeois mother.

    During the occupation of France by the Nazis, she starred in films like Au Bonheur des Dames/Shop Girls of Paris (André Cayatte, 1943) opposite Michel Simon, and Le Voyageur sans Bagages/The traveler without luggage (1943), directed by famous stage author Jean Anouilh who adapted it from his own 1936 play.

    Her most popular role was ‘Goupi-Muguet’ in Goupi Mains Rouges/It Happened at the Inn (Jean Becker, 1943), a subversive detective story with a literary style about a murder among a scruffy family of peasants known as the Goupis.

    Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Nearly plotless, Goupi Mains Rogues offers an unforgettable cast of characters and an abundance of authentic Gallic atmosphere.”

    Blanchette Brunoy
    French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 34. Photo: Studio Piaz.

    Blanchette Brunoy
    French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 89. Paris. Photo: Films Eclair Journal.

    Blanchette Brunoy
    French postcard by Editions P.I,, Paris, offered by Les Carbines Korès, 'Carbopolane', no. 89. Photo: Éclair Journal.

    Controversial Subject Matter

    After the war, Blanchette Brunoy co-starred with Pierre Fresnay in Vient de paraître/Just out (Jacques Houssin, 1949). Then she played one of her best-known parts as the mistress of Jean Gabin in the romantic drama La Marie du port/Marie of the Port (Marcel Carné, 1950), based on a novel by Georges Simenon.

    James Travers at French Film Guide:“Partly on account of its controversial subject matter, but mainly because Carné's style of cinema was going out of fashion, La Marie du port was ill-received by many critics on its first release. Whilst it may not match the excellence of the director's pre-WWII films, it is nonetheless a work of great merit - well-scripted, attractively shot in the stark poetic realist style of Carné's earlier films, and with some nuanced performances from a talented cast.”

    In the drama Tourments/Agonies (Jacques Daniel-Norman, 1954), Blanchette Brunoy and Tino Rossi played a couple who have adopted a little boy whose real mother (Jacqueline Porel) assigns a ruthless private detective (Louis de Funès) to kidnap the kid.

    Later films include the comedies Les Veinards/The Lucky (Philippe de Broca, Jean Girault, 1963), and Bébert et l'omnibus/Bebert and the Train (Yves Robert, 1963).

    An interesting experiment is Françoise ou La vie conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage: My Days with Françoise (André Cayatte, 1964), telling the story of a marriage break-up told from the man's (Jacques Charrier) point of view, and the film's companion piece, Jean-Marc ou La vie conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage: My Days with Jean-Marc (André Cayatte, 1964), which tells the story from the woman's (Marie-José Nat) point of view.

    That year, Brunoy also appeared in L'Enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot/Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno, directed, written and produced by Henri-Georges Clouzot, and starring Romy Schneider. In 1964, the film remained unfinished when Clouzot suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized, but 45 years later, in 2009, it was presented as a semi-documentary by Serge Bromberg. Bromberg had made his 94 minutes documentary with material selected from 15 hours (185 reels) of found scenes. In 2010 it received the César Award for Best Documentary.

    From then on, Blanchette Brunoy worked mostly for television and the stage. In 1984, director Edouard Molinaro asked her for a part in L'Amour en douce/Love on the Quiet (Edouard Molinaro, 1985) with Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Béart.

    One of her last film parts was in the crime comedy ...Comme elle respire/White Lies (Pierre Salvadori, 1998) starring Marie Trintignant.

    In 2005, Blanchette Brunoy died in Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence of old age. She was 89. Brunoy was married to the actors Robert Hommet (?–1958) and Maurice Maillot (1961–1968), until their deaths.

    Blanchette Brunoy
    French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 20. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Blanchette Brunoy
    French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 106. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), James Travers (French Film Guide), Christian Grenier (DVD Toile.com) (French), Cinémemorial (French), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 02/23/14--23:00: Tora Teje
  • Swedish stage actress Tora Teje (1893-1970) starred in several classics of the Scandinavian silent cinema.

    Tora Teje
    Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/14. Photo: publicity still of Tora Teje in Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (Victor Sjöström, 1920).


    Tora Teje was the stage name of Tora Adelhejt Sylwander-Johansson. She was born in the St. Mary Magdalene parish in the Södermalm quarter of Stockholm, Sweden in 1893.

    Tora studied at Dramatens elevskola, the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm, from 1908 to 1911.

    During her whole career - apart from the years 1913-1922, she was engaged at Dramaten, the Royal Dramatic Theatre, where she played many leading roles.

    She played the title roles of Jean Racine's Phaedraand Euripides'Medea, Indra's daughter in August Strindberg'sEtt drömspel/A Dream Play, Nina Leeds in Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude and Christine Mannon in O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Elektra.

    In the cinema, Tora Teje had her breakthrough with the romantic comedy Erotikon (1920) by Mauritz Stiller. It is based on the 1917 play A kék róka by Ferenc Herczeg. The story deals with a professor (Anders de Wahl) who is obsessed by the sexual life of bugs, but doesn’t notice his wife (Teje) is courted by two men. One of the two (Lars Hanson)  is – unjustly - jealous of the other. The film became a commercial success and was sold to 45 markets abroad.

    Two years later, Teje played a kleptomaniac, indicated as ‘Modern Hysteric’, in Benjamin Christensen's Häxan/Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922). Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatized sequences that are comparable to horror films.

    Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Beginning in a deceptively sedate fashion with a series of woodcuts and engravings (a technique later adopted by RKO producer Val Lewton), the film then shifts into gear with a progression of dramatic vignettes, illustrating the awesome power of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. So powerful are some of these images that even some modern viewers will avert their eyes from the screen."

    With Christensen's meticulous recreation of medieval scenes and the lengthy production period, the film was the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever made, costing nearly two million Swedish kronor. Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden, the film was banned in the United States and heavily censored in other countries for what were considered at that time graphic depictions of torture, nudity and sexual perversion

    Tora Teje
    Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1092/7. Photo: publicity still of Tora Teje in Karin Ingmarsdotter (Victor Sjöström, 1920).

    Oh God, we had fun!

    Previously, Victor Sjöström had directed her in two films, Karin Ingmarsdotter/Karin, Daughter of Ingmar (1920) and the Gothic drama Klostret i Sendomir/The Monastery of Sendomir (1920).

    Karin Ingmarsdotter/God's Way (1920) is the second part in Sjöström's large-scale adaption of Selma Lagerlöf's novel Jerusalem, following Ingmarssönerna/Sons of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström, 1919),  and depicting chapter three and four from the novel. Teje played the title role as the daughter of Ingmar (Victor Sjöström). The critical reception of the film was unenthusiastic and Sjöström decided to not film any more parts. Eventually the suite was finished by Gustaf Molander in 1926.

    Klostret i Sendomir, based on a  story by Franz Grillparzer, deals with a 17th century monk (Tore Svennberg) who tells two visitors about a mighty count who discovers that his unfaithful wife has a longstanding affair with her own cousin and that even his daughter is not his own.  He had to use all his resources to build the monastery where they are now staying.  At the end of the film it is revealed that the monk is in fact the count himself.

    Teje also acted in Familjens traditioner/Family Traditions  (Rune Carlsten, 1920) with Gösta Ekman and Mary Johnson.

    She had the lead in Norrtullsligan/The Nurtull Gang (Per Lindberg, 1923) about low-paid female clerks who go on strike, and acted in 33.333 (Gustav Molander, 1924) with Einar Hanson as the winner of lottery ticket.

    Her last silent performances were as Marguerite Gauthier in Damen med kameliorna/The Lady with the Camelias (Olof Molander, 1925), based on Alexandre Dumas fils’ famous play and with Uno Henning as Armand Duval, and as Signe Rosenkrans in the August Strindberg adaptation Giftas/Getting Married (Olof Molander, 1926), again with Henning.

    After years on stage Teje returned one time to the screen in 1939, acting opposite Victor Sjöström in Gubben kommer/The Old Man is Coming, based on Gösta Gustaf-Janson’s novel.

    From 1913 to 1948 Teje was married to court photographer Herrman Sylwander. Together they had a son, actor and stage director Claes Sylwander, who, in his memoirs Oh Gud, vad vi haft roligt!/Oh God, we had fun!, tells about himself and about his mother.

    Tora Teje died in 1970 in Stockholm. She was 77.

    Einar Hanson
    Einar Hanson. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 955/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Richard Oswald-Film A.G., Berlin.

    Uno Henning
    Uno Henning. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1940/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney/The Love of Jeanne Ney (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1927).

    Sources:  Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia (Swedish and English), and IMDb.

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  • 02/24/14--23:00: Heinz Ohlsen
  • Blonde German actor Heinz Ohlsen (1922-1999) appeared as a young man in a handful of German films of the early war years. Ten years later he continued his career with a few more film roles.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, nr. G 146, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

    The Hitlerjugend Market

    Heinz Ohlsen was born as Heinz Gustav Hans Oehlschlager in Berlin, Germany, in 1922.

    The handsome blonde boy started his career in 1940 with bit parts in the comedies Zwei Welten/Two Worlds (Gustaf Gründgens, 1949) and Der Kleinstadtpoet/Poet of a Small Town (Josef von Báky, 1940) with Paul Kemp.

    The following year he played a young Irishman in the Nazi-made anti-British propaganda film Mein Leben für Irland/My Life for Ireland (Max W. Kimmich, 1941) starring Anna Dammann and René Deltgen.

    Set in an English boarding school, Mein Leben für Irland tells of the Irish revolt against British domination. The sons of Irish rebels are sent to an English school to become good British patriots, but they secretly await the day they can fight for their country’s independence against the British, who are depicted as treacherous oppressors bent on world hegemony.

    Mein Leben für Irland  was aimed largely at the Hitlerjugend market and was directed with assurance by Max Kimmich, who happened to be Joseph Goebbels’ brother-in-law.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3203/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3456/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3562/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

    Love at the Wheel

    That same year Heinz Ohlsen played the son of Willy Fritsch in Leichte Muse/Easy Muse (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1941).

    He appeared opposite another famous actor, Heinrich George, in the romantic drama Schicksal/Fate (Géza von Bolváry, 1942).

    After this film, the film career of the still very young actor would be interrupted for nearly a decade. He probably had to join the German army but there is no information on the internet about this period in his life.

    Eight years later Ohlsen returned to the screen in the short Amor am Steuer/Love at the Wheel (Günther Hassert, 1950) with Sonja Masur.

    The following year he played a supporting part in the crime film Grenzstation 58/Boundary Station 58 (Harry Hasso, 1951) starring Hansi Knoteck and Mady Rahl.

    His last film role was a supporting part in the Heinz Rühmanncomedy Der eiserne Gustav/The Iron Gustav (Georg Hurdalek, 1958). Based on a true event the film shows a coachman taking a journey from Berlin to Paris in 1928.

    Heinz Ohlsen died in 1999. He was 76, but we did not find more information about him.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3242/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz / Tobis.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no A 3697/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

    Heinz Ohlsen
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 107, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

    Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), International Historic Films and IMDb.

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  • 02/25/14--23:00: André Claveau
  • From the 1940s to the 1960s, André Claveau (1911–2003) was a popular singer and film actor in France. He won the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest with Dors, mon amour (Sleep, My Love).

    André Claveau
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 160. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Prince Of The Charm Song

    André Claveau was born in Paris, France in 1911 (some sources say 1915). He was the only son of an upholsterer and as a young boy, he decided to become a cabinetmaker. In 1919, he became an apprentice to the French Compagnie des Arts, founded by André Mare and Louis Süe. He studied woodworking and cabinetmaking, and later continued his training at the Ecole Boulle.

    André worked as a graphic artist and jewellery designer. He created theatre sets (including for L'Hermine by Jean Anouilh), and playbills for such artists as Damia and Jean Lumière.

     His singing career began in 1936, when he participated in the amateur contest Premières Chances (First opportunities) organized by the radio station Le Poste Parisien. He won with the song Chez moi. He was accompanied by the pianist and composer Alec Siniavine who went on to accompany him at subsequent performances.

    During the next six years, Claveau moved on from the third, to the second and to the first part of the program in various music halls. In 1938, he had a hit with the song Quand un Petit Oiseau (When a little bird) and he made his film debut in Champions de France (Willy Rozier, 1938).

    In 1942, during the occupation of France by the Nazis, Claveau was spotted by impresario Marc Duthyl and his reputation grew. He had smash hits with Ah! C'qu'on s'aimait (1941) and Mon chemin n'est pas le votre (1942). His warm voice and charisma allowed him to become the host of a variety show on Radio Paris.

    After the war he was banned for two years off the radio, because of his activities during the war. Claveau returned to the radio as a singer and had several successes such as Une Chanson à la Diable (1949), Marjolaine and Deux petits chaussons.

    Claveau was called the Prince de la chanson de charme (Prince of the charm song). He was also the first to interpret the evergreen Bon anniversaire (Happy birthday), written by Jacques Larue and composed by Louiguy. The song was part of the soundtrack of the film Un jour avec vous/A day with you (Jean-René Legrand, 1951).

    André Claveau
    French postcard by O.P, Paris, no. 117. Photo: Le Studio.

    André Claveau
    French postcard by O.P, Paris, no. 94. Photo: Le Studio.

    Eurovision Song Contest

    Between 1947 and 1955, André Claveau appeared in numerous French films in which he sang his hit songs. Among them were Le destin s'amuse/Fate has fun (Emil E. Reinert, 1947) with Dany Robin, Sous le ciel de Paris/Under the Sky of Paris (Julien Duvivier, 1951) and Cœur-sur-Mer (Jacques Daniel-Norman 1951) with Armand Bernard.

    He also starred in such film comedies as Pas de vacances pour Monsieur le Maire/No Vacation for Mr. Mayor (Maurice Labro, 1951), with Grégoire Aslan and Louis de Funès, and the short film Le Huitième Art et la Manière/The Eighth Art and Way (Maurice Regamey, 1952) with Christian Alers and Louis de Funès.

    In the Franco-Italian comedy-drama Saluti e baci/Love and Kisses (Maurice Labro, Giorgio Simonelli, 1953) a group of singers get together en masse to help those less fortunate than themselves.

    Songs like Moulin Rouge (1953), and La Complainte de la Butte (1955) maintained his popularity through the 1950s. Claveau also performed the song Je t'aime bien pourtant in the classic musical French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1955) starring Jean Gabin and Françoise Arnoul.

    In 1958, he won the third edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. He sang Dors, mon amour (Sleep, My Love) with music composed by Pierre Delanoë and with lyrics by Hubert Giraud. The Swiss entry,Lys Assia came in second. In later years, Claveau was a few times the French vote announcer.

    His final film was Prisonniers de la brousse/Prisoners of the jungle (Willy Rozier, 1960) with Georges Marchal.

    The Yé-yé music wave in the early 1960s affected Claveau’s popularity and his successes diminished.

    At the end of the 1960s Claveau decided to finish his career. He retired completely and never performed again.

    At the age of 91, André Claveau died in Brassac, France in 2003. He was not married and had no children.

    André Claveau
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 295. Photo: Ch. Vandamme, Paris.

    André Claveau
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 556, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane'. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

    André Claveau sings a reprise of Dors, Mon Amour at the Eurovision Song Contest. Source: Huelezelf (YouTube).

    Sources: Dave Thompson (AllMusic), Du temps des cerises aux feuilles mortes (French), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.

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  • 02/26/14--23:00: Peter Lorre
  • Peter Lorre (1904–1964) with his trademark large, popped eyes, his toothy grin and his raspy voice was an American actor of Jewish Austro-Hungarian descent. He was an international sensation as the psychopathic child murderer in Fritz Lang’s M (1931). He later became a popular actor in a two British Hitchcock films and in a series of Hollywood crime films and mysteries. Although he was frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner in the US, he also became the star of the successful Mr. Moto detective series.

    Peter Lorre
    Dutch postcard, no. 850. Photo: Warner Bros.

    Bertold Brecht

    Peter Lorre was born László Löwenstein in 1904 in the Austro-Hungarian town of Ružomberok in Slovakia, then known by its Hungarian name Rózsahegy. He was the first child of Jewish couple Alajos Löwenstein and Elvira Freischberger. His father was chief bookkeeper at a local textile mill. Besides working as a bookkeeper, Alajos Löwenstein also served as a lieutenant in the Austrian army reserve, which meant that he was often away on military manoeuvres.

    When Lorre was four years old, his mother died, probably of food poisoning, leaving Alajos with three very young sons, the youngest only a couple of months old. He soon remarried, to his wife's best friend, Melanie Klein, with whom he had two more children. However, Lorre and his stepmother never got along, and this coloured his childhood memories.

    At the outbreak of the Second Balkan War in 1913, Alajos moved the family to Vienna, anticipating that this would lead to a larger conflict and that he would be called up. He was, at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and served on the Eastern front during the winter of 1914-1915, before being put in charge of a prison camp due to heart trouble.

    As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich in Switzerland at the age of 17. In Vienna he worked with the Viennese Art Nouveau artist and puppeteer Richard Teschner. He then moved to the then German town of Breslau, and later to Zürich.

    In the late 1920s, Peter Lorre moved to Berlin, where the young and short (165 cm) actor worked with German playwright Bertolt Brecht. He made his film debut in a bit role in the Austrian silent film Die Verschwundene Frau/The vanished woman (Karl Leitner, 1929), followed by another small part in the German drama Der weiße Teufel/The White Devil (Alexandre Volkoff, 1930) starring Ivan Mozzhukhin.

    On stage and in the cinema, Lorre played a role in Brecht's Mann ist Mann/A Man's a Man (Bertolt Brecht, Carl Koch, 1930) and as Dr Nakamura in the stage musical Happy End (music by composer Kurt Weill), alongside Brecht's wife Helene Weigel, Oskar Homolka and Kurt Gerron.

    Peter Lorre
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1033A. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

    Fritz Lang

    Peter Lorre became much better known after director Fritz Lang cast him cast in the lead role of Hans Beckert, the mentally ill child murderer in the classic thriller M (1931).

    Later, the Nazi propaganda film Der ewige Jude/The Eternal Jew (Fritz Hippler, 1940) used an excerpt from the climactic scene in M in which Lorre is trapped by vengeful citizens. His passionate plea that his compulsion is uncontrollable, says the voice-over, makes him sympathetic and is an example of attempts by Jewish artists to corrupt public morals.

    M was Lang’s first sound film and he revealed the expressive possibilities for combining sound and visuals. Lorre's character whistles the tune In the Hall of the Mountain King from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1. (Lorre himself could not whistle – it is actually Lang who is heard.)

    The film was one of the first to use a leitmotif, associating In the Hall of the Mountain King with the Lorre character. Later in the film, the mere sound of the song lets the audience know that he is nearby, off-screen. This association of a musical theme with a particular character or situation, a technique borrowed from opera, is now a film staple.

    Lorre’s next role was the German musical comedy Bomben auf Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo Madness (Hanns Schwarz, 1931) starring Hans Albers and Anna Sten. That year he also co-starred in the comedy Die Koffer des Herrn O.F./The Trunks of Mr. O.F. (Alexis Granowsky, 1931) starring Alfred Abel, and Harald Paulsen.

    In 1932 Lorre appeared again alongside Hans Albers  in the drama Der weiße Dämon/The White Demon (Kurt Gerron, 1932) and the science fiction film F.P.1 antwortet nicht/F.P.1 Doesn't Respond (Karl Hartl, 1932) about an air station in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Curt Siodmak had written the story after Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight. It was the last German film that either Siodmak or Lorre, who played a secondary character, would make in Germany before the war.

    Peter Lorre
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1033. Photo: Gaumont British.

    Alfred Hitchcock

    When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Peter Lorre took refuge in Paris, where he appeared with Jean Gabin and Michel Simon in the charming comedy Du haut en bas/High and Low (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1933).

    Then Lorre moved on to London. There Ivor Montagu, Alfred Hitchcock's associate producer for The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), reminded the director about Lorre's performance in M. They first considered him to play the assassin in the film, but wanted to use him in a larger role, despite his limited command of English at the time, which Lorre overcame by learning much of his part phonetically.

    The Man Who Knew Too Much was one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films of Hitchcock's British period. Lorre also was featured in Hitchcock's Secret Agent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1936), opposite John Gielgud and Madeleine Carroll.

    Lorre settled in Hollywood in 1935, where he specialized in playing sinister foreigners, beginning as the love-obsessed surgeon in the horror film Mad Love (Karl Freund, 1935), and as Raskolnikov in the Fyodor Dostoevsky adaptation Crime and Punishment (Josef von Sternberg, 1936).

    He starred in a series of eight Mr. Moto movies for Twentieth Century Fox, a parallel to the better known Charlie Chan series. Lorre played the ever-polite (albeit well versed in karate) Japanese detective Mr. Moto. According to Wikipedia, he did not enjoy these films — and twisted his shoulder during a stunt in Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (Norman Foster, 1939) — but they were lucrative for the studio.

    When the series folded in 1939, Lorre free-lanced in villainous roles at several studios. In 1940, he co-starred with fellow horror actors Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the comedy You'll Find Out (David Butler, 1940), a vehicle for bandleader and radio personality Kay Kyser.

    Peter Lorre
    Postcard (ca. 1970s).

    Sydney Greenstreet

    In 1941, Peter Lorre became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He enjoyed considerable popularity as a featured player in Warner Bros. suspense and adventure films. Lorre played the role of effeminate thief Joel Cairo opposite Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941), a classic film noir based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett.

    The Maltese Falcon was Huston's directorial debut and was nominated for three Academy Awards. Then Lorre portrayed the character Ugarte in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942).

    One of his co-stars in both films was Sydney Greenstreet with whom he made 9 films. Most of them were variations on Casablanca, including Background to Danger (Raoul Walsh, 1943), with George Raft; Passage to Marseille (Michael Curtiz, 1944), reuniting them with Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains, and Three Strangers (Jean Negulesco, 1946).

    Three Strangers was a suspense film about three people who are joint partners on a winning lottery ticket starring top-billed Greenstreet, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and third-billed Lorre cast against type by director as the romantic lead.

    Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “As far as director Jean Negulesco was concerned, Lorre was the finest actor in Hollywood; Negulesco fought bitterly with the studio brass for permission to cast Lorre as the sympathetic leading man in The Mask of Dimitrios (1946), in which the diminutive actor gave one of his finest and subtlest performances.”

    Greenstreet and Lorre's final film together was the suspense thriller The Verdict (1946), director Don Siegel's first film. Lorre branched out into comedy with the role of Dr. Einstein in Frank Capra's version of Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), starring Cary Grant and Raymond Massey.

    Trailer M (1931). Source: Ageless Trailers (YouTube).

    James Bond Villain

    After World War II, Peter Lorre's acting career in Hollywood experienced a downturn, whereupon he concentrated on radio and stage work. An exception was the horror classic The Beast with Five Fingers (Robert Florey, 1946).

    In Germany Lorre co-wrote, directed and starred in Der Verlorene/The Lost One (1951), an art film in the film noir idiom. Hal Erickson: “In keeping with Lorre's established screen persona, this is a tale of stark terror, disillusionment and defeatism. The actor stars as Dr. Rothe, a German research scientist who during WW2 discovers that his fiancée has been selling his scientific secrets to the British. In a fit of pique, he murders her, but is not punished for the crime, which is passed off by the Nazi authorities as justifiable homicide. (...) Not entirely successful, Der Verlorene is still a fascinating exercise in fatalism from one of the cinema's most distinctive talents.”

    Lorre then returned to the United States where he appeared as a character actor in television and feature films, often parodying his 'creepy' image. In 1954, he was the first actor to play a James Bond villain when he portrayed Le Chiffre in a television adaptation of Casino Royale, opposite Barry Nelson as an American James Bond and Linda Christian as the first Bond girl.

    Lorre starred alongside Kirk Douglas and James Mason in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (Richard Fleischer, 1954), and appeared in a supporting role in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Irwin Allen, 1961).

    He worked with Roger Corman on several low-budget films, including two of the director's Edgar Allan Poe cycle (Tales of Terror, 1962 and The Raven, 1963).

    He was married three times: actress Celia Lovsky (1934–1945); actress Kaaren Verne (1945–1950) and Anne Marie Brenning (1953-1964, his death). In 1953, Brenning bore his only child, Catharine.

    In later life, Catharine made headlines after serial killer Kenneth Bianchi confessed to police investigators after his arrest that he and his cousin and fellow Hillside Strangler Angelo Buono, disguised as police officers, had stopped her in 1977 with the intent of abducting and murdering her, but let her go upon learning that she was the daughter of Peter Lorre. It was only after Bianchi was arrested that Catharine realized whom she had met. Catharine died in 1985 of complications arising from diabetes.

    Lorre had suffered for years from chronic gallbladder troubles, for which doctors had prescribed morphine. Lorre became trapped between the constant pain and addiction to morphine to ease the problem. It was during the period of the Mr. Moto films that Lorre struggled and overcame his addiction. Abruptly gaining a hundred pounds in a very short period and never fully recovering from his addiction to morphine, Lorre suffered many personal and career disappointments in his later years.

    His final film was the Jerry Lewis comedy The Patsy (Jerry Lewis, 1964) in which, ironically, the dourly demonic Lorre played a director of comedy films. A few months after completing this film, Peter Lorre died of a stroke in 1964 in Los Angeles. He was 59.

    Scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Source: Mill Creek Entertainment (YouTube).

    Scene from Der Verlorene/The Lost One (1951). Source: CineKarmakar (YouTube).

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Ed Stephan (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 02/27/14--23:00: Hannes Stelzer
  • Austrian actor Hannes Stelzer (1910-1944) was a popular Ufa hero during the Nazi period. He appeared in 18 films, including five for director Karl Ritter. In military service, the Lufwaffe pilot died at the end of World War II.

    Hannes Stelzer
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 215, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann.

    Handsome Rising Film Star

    Hannes Stelzer was born in Graz, Austria in 1910. He was the eldest son of poor, travelling actors. Hannes often had to change schools because of the profession of his parents.

    He had his first theatre experience in Mühlhausen in Thuringia, when his mother proposed her son for a children's dance scene in the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat). On his own initiative he applied successfully for the Vienna drama school at the age of fourteen. He lived in Vienna at the house of an uncle and earned the money for his studies as a carpenter.

    Srelzer made his stage debut as the old Klinkert in Hasemanns Töchter by Adolph L’Arronge, but did it as a volunteer. In 1928 he received his first engagement at the Neues Theater (New Theatre) in Frankfurt am Main, and moved in 1931 to Bremen.

    Here Stelzer played Romeo, but he also had parts in modern plays. After three years, Stelzer got an engagement in Darmstadt at the Landestheater (National Theatre), where he could play the great classical roles.

    In 1935 he was considered for the role of the young Friedrich (Frederic) in the biopic Der junge und alte König/The Young and the Old King (Hans Steinhoff, 1935) with famous actor-producer Emil Jannings as his father. After first committing to the role, he eventually declined it in order to take up another stage engagement.

    However, Emil Jannings was impressed by Stelzer and got him a role as a student of professor Traumulus (Jannings) in the film Traumulus/The Dreamer (Carl Froelich, 1935). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Keeping his tendency to overact in check, Emil Jannings delivers one of his best and subtlest performances in this film.”

    After that, Stelzer’s activity shifted more and more to the cinema. The handsome rising film star played in comedies, costume dramas, and sophisticated contemporary films and quickly became a popular Ufa star.

    Hannes Stelzer
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 1882/1, 1937-1938 (signed in 1939). Photo: Sandau, Berlin / Tobis.

    Hannes Stelzer
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3134/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

    The Idea of a Courageous Hero

    Hannes Stelzer’s looks corresponded to the German ideas of a courageous hero and he celebrated great successes as a tightrope walker in Truxa (Hans H. Zerlett, 1936) opposite La Jana, and as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Eine kleine Nachtmusik/A Little Night Music (Leopold Hainisch, 1939).

    Jan Onderwater at IMDb is not impressed by his performance in Truxa: “Blond haired Hannes Stelzer is a kind of vaudeville-Siegfried staring as if he is constantly amazed at appearing in this film at all; he was right.”

    Other popular films were Der Herrscher/The Ruler (Veit Harlan, 1937) in which he played the son of a great industrialist (again Emil Jannings), the Fyodor Dostoevsky adaptation Der Spieler/The Gambler (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1938) starring Lida Baarová and Albrecht Schoenhals, and in the German version of the French-German circus drama Les gens du voyage/Fahrendes Volk/Travelling People (Jacques Feyder, 1938) in which he played the son of Hans Albers and Françoise Rosay.

    With the outbreak of the Second World War, Stelzer could make less films. He was a pilot in Germany's Luftwaffe and between film roles took on combat missions.

    Still he played starring roles, such as a Luftwaffe pilot in the propaganda film Stukas (1941). Director of the film was Luftwaffe Major Karl Ritter and the two worked five times together. The first had been the WWI epic Unternehmen Michael/Enterprise Michael (1937), followed by Bal Paré (1940) and Über alles in der Welt (1941).

     Stelzer’s final film role was in Ritter's propaganda film Besatzung Dora/The Crew of the Dora (Karl Ritter, 1943), which finished filming in January 1943. In March of that year the film was banned from being released because scenes shot on the Leningrad front, in North Africa, and in western France could not be used, as German defeats and problems on the war fronts made the film untenable.

    Around Christmas 1944, Hannes Stelzer died in a plane crash at the Eastern front near Komárom in Hungary. According to Wehrmacht reports, he crashed when he flew in a snowstorm in a high-voltage line, but probably his plane was shot down by the Soviets.

    Hannes Stelzer was married with the actress Mary Bard, who had died shortly before him.

    Hannes Stelzer
    German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 2696/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

    Hannes Stelzer
    German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin / Ross-Verlag. Photo: Bavaria-Filmkunst.

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Jan Onderwater (IMDb), German Films Poster Collection, Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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  • 02/28/14--23:00: Becker & Maass
  • Becker & Maass was a German studio for portrait and fashion photography in the first decades of the 20th Century. They portrayed dozens of German film stars for magazines and postcards.

    Mia May
    Mia May. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 259/3, 1919-1921. Sent by mail in Germany in 1921. Photo: Becker & Maass / May Film.

    Bruno Kastner
    Bruno Kastner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 346/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass / RF.

    Asta Nielsen
    Asta Nielsen. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 470/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Eva May
    Eva May. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 269/1, 1919-1924 (Film Sterne Film Scene Card). Photo: Becker & Maass Phot.

    A Series of Holland

    Little is known about the Berlin company Becker & Maaß (or Maass), which made so many film star portraits in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

    During the late 1870s, Otto Becker had a studio located at Leipziger Strasse 94 in Berlin. Heinrich Maass name appears in conjunction on cartes de visite dated in the 1890s.

    They founded Becker & Maaß in Berlin in 1902. The studio made a beautiful picture of Geisha girls in Berlin, and they travelled to Holland for a series of photographs. Pictures of a sailors family from the island Marken, farm houses, boys on wooden clogs and girls in traditional clothes were published in magazines like Praktische Berlinerin in 1907-1910.

    They also did landscapes and portraits. Among the celebrities they portrayed were publisher Ernst Rowohlt, author Gerhardt Hauptmann, Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, Dutch playwright Herman Heijermans and stage actor Alexander Moissi.

    Paul Wegener
    Paul Wegener. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 1233. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Publicity still for the play Der Arzt am Scheideweg (The Doctor's Dilemma) by George Bernhard Shaw.

    Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel
    Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel. German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, no. 8594. Photo: Becker & Maass.

    Bruno Decarli
    Bruno Decarli. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8977. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Dagny Servaes
    Dagny Servaes. German postcard by Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8245. Photo: Becker & Maass. Publicity still for Der Bogen des Odysseus. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Paul Hartmann
    Paul Hartmann. German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8766. Photo: Becker & Maass.

    The Modern Film Stars

    Between ca. 1917 and 1933, Marie Böhm was the studio photographer.

    Becker & Maass then focused on portrait photography while the German film industry started booming after WW I.

    The studio photographed many of the new stars of the silent Weimar cinema. Among their customers were the Danish diva Asta Nielsen, her German counterpart Henny Porten, serial queen Mia May, Paul Wegener and women idol Bruno Kastner.

    Many modern young ladies, like Mia’s daughter Eva May, Lotte Neumann, Wanda Treumann and Hanni Weisse, were glamorously portrayed by the studio.

    Hedda Vernon
    Hedda Vernon. German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 232/1. Photo: Becker & Maass / Eiko-Film.

    Ellen Richter
    Ellen Richter. German postcard in the Film Sterne Series by Rotophot, no. 120/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Lotte Neumann
    Lotte Neumann. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 340/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass / Maxim Film.

    Evi Eva
    Evi Eva. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1790/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Lee Parry
    Lee Parry. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3616/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    With A Mouse In Her Hand

    Becker & Maas photographed Controversial dancer-actress Anita Berber was photographed with a mouse in her hand.

    These sepia star portraits quickly found their ways to Berlin magazines and countless postcards. Initially these postcards were published by Verlag Hermann Leiser and Rotophot, and later by Ross Verlag.

    In 1933 the studio was sold to Else Kutznitzki, who probably worked there till 1938. She maintained the studio’s name during this period an focused on fashion and design photography.

    What happened to Otto Becker and Heinrich Maass is not known.

    Theodor Loos
    Theodor Loos. German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser. Photo: Becker und Maass, Berlin. Kaiser und Galiläer (Emperor and Galilean) was not a film but a play by Henrik Ibsen, in which Loos played the part of Emperor Julian.

    Ida Wüst, Bruno Kastner
    Ida Wüst and Bruno Kastner. German postcard by Rotophot, no. 220/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

    Anita Berber
    Anita Berber. German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series. Photo: Becker & Maass. Collection: Didier Hanson.

    Eva May
    Eva May. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 269/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.

    This is the eighth post in a series on film star photographers. Earlier posts were on the Reutlinger Studio in Paris, Italian star photographer Attilio Badodi, the German photographer Ernst Schneider, Dutch photo artist Godfried de Groot, Milanese photographers Arturo Varischi and Giovanni Artico. the French Studio Lorelle and the British 'royal' photographer Dorothy Wilding.

    Sources: John Toohey (Luminous Lint) and Fotografen Wiki (German).

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  • 03/01/14--23:00: Franca Bettoia
  • Italian actress Franca Bettoia (1936) starred in several Italian films of the 1950s and 1960s. She is best known for the chilling sci-fi/horror tale The Last Man on Earth (1964).

    Franca Bettoia
    Italian postcard by Rotalcolour, no. 79.

    Mao Tse Tung

    Franca Bettoia (sometimes written as Bettoja) was born in 1936 in Rome, Italy.

    Her first film appearance was in Un Palco all'opera (Siro Marcellini, 1955). The following year she played a supporting part in the Spanish-Italian production Los amantes del desierto/Desert Warrior (Goffredo Alessandrini a.o., 1956), but the lush desert epic wasn't released until two years later. It starred Riccardo Montalban, the beautiful Carmen Sevillaand Gino Cervi.

    Next Franca appeared opposite Pietro Germi in L’Uomo di paglia/A Man of Straw (Pietro Germi, 1958), and opposite Macha Méril and Jacques Charrierin the French production La main chaude/The Itchy Palm (Gérard Oury, 1960).

    She appeared as a nun in China in Apocalisse sul fiume giallo/The Dam on the Yellow River (Renzo Merusi, 1960), an anti-Communist propaganda film, in which the victory of Mao Tse-Tung's People's Liberation Army is seen through the eyes of an American journalist (Georges Marchal) reporting from the Nationalists' side.

    The next year she starred opposite Hollywood star Alan Ladd at the end of his career in Orazi e curiazi/Duel of the Champions (Terence Young, Ferdinando Baldi, 1961), a Peplum (a sword and sandals adventure) set in ancient Rome. The screenplay was written by such prestigious writers as Carlo Lizzani, Giuliano Montaldo and Luciano Vincenzoni (Sergio Leone's usual script writer).

    Georges Marchal
    Georges Marchal. French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 297. Photo: Charles VanDamme, Paris.

    Vampire-like Creatures

    In 1964 Franca Bettoia co-starred with Vincent Price in the horror/science fiction film L'Ultimo uomo della Terra/The Last Man on Earth (Ubaldo Ragone, Sidney Salkow, 1964). This is the first screen version of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, later filmed again as The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971) with Charlton Heston, and as I Am Legend (Francis Lawrence, 2007), starring Will Smith.

    The script was written in part by Matheson, but he was dissatisfied with the result and was therefore credited as Logan Swanson. William Leicester, Furio M. Monetti, and Ubaldo Ragona were the other writers. In the year 1968, Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) wakes up to find a world where everyone else has been infected by a disease that turns them into vampire-like creatures. During the day he gathers his weapons and goes out vampire hunting and by night he locks himself inside his house. One day he finds a beautiful woman (Franca Bettoia) who seems disease free and takes her home but he becomes suspicious when he catches her injecting himself with a serum. She then explains that there are others like her trying to rebuild civilization.

    Next Franca Bettoia was a princess in distress opposite Ray Danton and Guy Madison in the adventure films Sandokan alla riscossa/Sandokan Fights Back (Luigi Capuano, 1964) and Sandokan contro il leopardo di Sarawak/Sandokan Against the Leopard of Sarawak (Luigi Capuano, 1964).

    In 1967 she appeared as Ugo Tognazzi’s lover in the social comedy Il fischio al naso/The Seventh Floor (1967). Tognazzi also produced and directed the film. He plays a successful business man who occasionally develops an unusual physical disturbance: his nose whistles, whenever he breathes. Bettoia and Tognazzi became also lovers in real life and they were married in 1972.

    Franca Bettoia would play in only three more films, who were all of interest. In the comedy Riusciranno i nostri eroi a ritrovare l'amico misteriosamente scomparso in Africa?/Will Our Heroes Be Able to Find Their Friend Who Has Mysteriously Disappeared in Africa? (Ettore Scola, 1968) she appeared as the wife of Alberto Sordi, a rich businessman who is fed up with work, family, society, and goes with a friend (Bernard Blier) to Africa, in search of another friend who had vanished there in mysterious circumstances. They find him as a tribal chief, surrounded with topless, shapely wives.

    In her next film, Touche pas à la femme blanche/Don’t Touch the White Woman (Marco Ferreri, 1974), the stars were Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni and Michel Piccoli. The film tells a page of shame of American history as General George Custer prepared, and later battled, the Indians in the battle of Little Big Horn that was his last stand as a military man. Director Marco ferreri staged his film in a construction site in the centre of Paris. (The site where the Pompidou Center would be erected).

    Franca Bettoia's last film, Teste rasate (Claudio Fragasso, 1993) is a drama about skinheads, in which she played the mother of the lead character played by her son, Gianmarco Tognazzi.

    Franca Bettoia and Ugo Tognazzi, who died in 1990, have also a daughter, film director Maria Sole Tognazzi.

    Ugo Tognazzi
    Ugo Tognazzi. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

    Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 03/02/14--23:00: Ilona Massey
  • Statuesque blonde Ilona Massey (1910-1974) was a Hungarian opera singer who appeared in some Austrian films before she was discovered by Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer. MGM billed her as ‘the new Dietrich’ and showcased her in operettas with popular baritone Nelson Eddy. But somehow her Hollywood career never really took off.

    Ilona Massey
    Dutch postcard, no. AX 176. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Fotoarchief Film en Toneel.

    Ilona Massey
    Dutch postcard. Photo: Republic Pictures.

    She looks like Dietrich, talks like Garbo

    Ilona Massey was born as Ilona Hajmássy in Budapest, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Hungary) in 1910. Her family was poor. Her father was a typesetter who was left an invalid in World War I. Her father inculcated in her a hatred for communism, which she would carry for her entire life.

    As a child she went to work as a dressmaker's apprentice and managed to scrape up money together for singing lessons. She first danced in chorus lines, later earning roles at the Staatsoper Wien (State Opera in Vienna).

    According to Wikipedia, Massey was discovered by Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer of MGM when she sang Aida in Czechoslovakia. Mayer was enchanted by her offstage voice singing the high priestess's aria. After sending an invitation backstage to join him for supper, Mayer was delighted to see that Ilona Hajmássy was a statuesque blonde with movie-star looks, who could sing and dance.

    A Hollywood fabrication? According to IMDb, Massey “submitted her photograph to the Vienna office of MGM and ended up one of 36 European hopefuls to try out Hollywood. Only two succeeded. Ms. Massey and Hedy Lamarr.”

    In fact, she had already starred in the Austrian films Der Himmel auf Erden/Heaven on Earth (E.W. Emo, 1935) starring Heinz Rühmann, and Zirkus Saran/Circus Saran (E.W. Emo, 1935) with Leo Slezak and Hans Moser.

    In Hollywood, MGM billed her as ‘the new Dietrich’, and gave her a supporting part in the musical Rosalie (W.S. Van Dyke, 1937) starring Nelson Eddy and Eleanor Powell. She played the supporting role of a lady-in-waiting to Powell. Unable to speak English at the time, she spoke her lines phonetically.

    Soon she learned to speak the language fluently. Massey played her first starring role opposite Nelson Eddy in Balalaika (Reinhold Schünzel, 1939), based on the 1936 London stage musical of the same name, which had in turn been inspired by a German operetta.

    Roger Fristoe at TCM: “Before Massey was substituted as leading lady, Balalaika had been planned as a vehicle for Eddy and his long-time co-star Jeanette MacDonald.” The film follows the romance of Prince Peter Karagin (Nelson Eddy), captain of the Czar's Cossack Guards, and Lydia Pavlovna Marakova (Ilona Massey), cabaret-cum-opera singer and secret revolutionary, who fall in love on the eve of World War I, are separated by war and ideology, and meet again in 1920s Paris.

    Only the musical's title song At the Balalaika, with altered lyrics, was used in the film. Instead, MGM had music director Herbert Stothart adapt materials it already owned or were otherwise available, or write original material as needed.

    Previewed in December 1938, most American critics agreed: the stars and production were excellent even if the script and plot were not. Frank S. Nugent's review in The New York Times praised Massey's blond good looks and Eddy's competence: "She looks like Dietrich, talks like Garbo... while leaving the bulk of (the score) safely to Mr. Eddy..."

    Critics went on to prophesy a glowing career for Massey but somehow that career would never really take off. Roger Fristoe: “Despite the promise of Balalaika, Massey's career turned out to be a disappointing one that played out in minor film and TV appearances.”

    Ilona Massey and Nelson Eddy in Balalaika
    Hungarian postcard. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Balalaika (1939).

    Ilona Massey and Nelson Eddy in Balalaika
    Hungarian postcard by Athenaeum Color. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Balalaika (1939).

    Ilona Massey, Nelson Eddy
    Belgian collector's card by Kwatta, no. C. 182. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Balalaika (1939).

    A Staunch Conservative Republican

    Ilona Massey co-starred with Alan Curtis in the historical film The Great Awakening/New Wine (1941), a biography of composer Franz Schubert produced by Gloria Pictures Corporation, and released by United Artists. Star Alan Curtis would become her second husband. Like Balalaika, the film was directed by Reinhold Schünzel, who was an exile from Nazi Germany and whose last direction this was.

    Massey appeared as a beautiful singer in the wartime spy-drama International Lady (Tim Whelan, 1941) starring George Brent, and she played Baroness Frankenstein in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Roy William Neill, 1943) with Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi.

    Gary Brumburgh at IMDb gives an indication why her Hollywood career went nowhere: “Massey did not live up to the hype as her soprano voice was deemed too light for the screen and her acting talent too slight and mannered.”

    In 1943, she appeared on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1943. The musical was a huge success and ran for more than 500 performances. Becoming an American citizen in 1946, she remained strongly anti-communist for what she saw as the destruction of her native country.

    In 1947, she co-starred for a third time with Nelson Eddy in the musical Western Northwest Outpost (Allan Dwan, 1947), composed by Rudolf Friml. Northwest Outpost was Eddy’s final film, and was produced by Republic Pictures. It was well received by critics and had a strong box office performance.

    Next she starred in Love Happy (David Miller, 1949), the fourteenth and worst feature starring the Marx Brothers. She played Madame Egelichi, a femme fatale spy who is after Harpo, and her performance inspired Milton Caniff in the creation of his femme fatale spy, Madame Lynx, in the comic strip Steve Canyon. Caniff hired Massey to pose for him.

    On TV, she starred in the adventure weekly Rendezvous (1952). From the end of 1954 on, she hosted DuMont's The Ilona Massey Show, a weekly musical variety show in which she sang songs with guests in a nightclub set, with music provided by the Irving Fields Trio. The series ended after only 10 episodes.

    Massey was a staunch conservative Republican. In 1954 a special subcommittee of the House of Representatives held hearings in Manhattan on communist aggression in Eastern Europe and Massey became their star witness, testifying to the rape, murder and robbery committed by Soviet agents against her Hungarian native land. After the 1956 Hungarian uprising, she picketed in protest when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan visited the US.

    In 1959 she returned one more time to the cinema in the B-film Jet Over the Atlantic (Byron Haskin, 1959) starring Guy Madison. Then she retired and spent her time as a respected Washington socialite. Her film career had been brief: she appeared in only 2 Austrian and 11 American films.

    In 1974, Ilona Massey died of cancer in Bethesda, Maryland at the age of 64. She is buried in Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery near her fourth husband since 1955, Donald Dawson, who had served in the United States Air Force Reserve as a Major General. She had also been married to Nick Szavazd (1935-1936), actor Alan Curtis (1941-1942) and jewellery shop owner Charles Walker (1952-1954), all three marriages had ended in a divorce.

    Ilona Massey
    Dutch postcard.

    Ilona Massey
    Dutch postcard. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 1294a. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Sources: Roger Fristoe (TCM), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Find A Grave, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 03/03/14--23:00: Carlo Wieth
  • Danish actor Carlo Wieth (1885-1943) made his film debut in Ekspeditricen/Salesgirl (August Blom, 1911), in which his wife Clara Wieth plays a salesgirl selling gloves. The scene in which she puts him on tightfitting 'glacé' gloves is considered as one of the first examples of eroticism in the Danish cinema.

    Carlo Wieth
    German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. 1765. Photo: Nordisk.

    Sjöström, Stiller and Dreyer

    Carlo Rossini Wieth was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1885. He was the son of deputy judge Marius Hans Lindegaard Andersen and his wife Jacobine Kirstine Wieth.

    Carlo started out as theatre actor and was active at the Danish Royal Theater for over 20 years. From 1906 to 1917 he was married to Clara Pontoppidan, then Clara Wieth. They divorced in 1917, after which Wieth married Agnes Thorberg.

    After his start at Kinografen with Ekspeditricen/Salesgirl (August Blom, 1911), he played in some 18 films for Nordisk Film. With his somewhat boyish appearance and his fresh but gentle acting style, he soon became a popular actor.

    Between 1913 and 1915 he made nine films in Sweden. There he worked with the famous director Viktor Sjöström on the films Miraklet/The Miracle (1913), Prästen/Saints and Sorrows (1914), Hjärtan som mötas/Hearts That Meet (1914), and Sonad skuld/Guilt Redeemed (1915) with Lili Beck.

    He also worked with the other great Swedish film director, Mauritz Stiller on Pa livets ödesvägar/On the Fateful Roads of Life (1913), Det röda tornet/The Red Tower (1914) and Bröderna/Brothers (1914) starring Gunnar Tolnæs. In 1917 Wieth's film career came to a temporary halt.

    After a three year intermission, Wieth returned to film with the leading role of Captain Filip Vanderdecken in the Danish serial Den flyvende Hollaender/The Flying Dutchmen (Emanuel Gregers, 1920), and a role in Blade af Satans bog/Leaves Out of the Book of Satan (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1921) opposite his ex-wife Clara Pontoppidan and newcomer Karina Bell.

    Carlo Wieth
    Danish postcard.


    For years, Carlo Wieth quitted film again, only returning long after sound had set in. His first sound film was the melodrama Det gyldne smil/The Golden Smile (1935), based on the novel by Kaj Munk and directed by the prolific Hungarian director Pal (Paul) Fejös. After a career in Hungary, Austria and Hollywood, Fejös had settled down at Nordisk in Denmark.

    By now Wieth's film parts were small, and his acting style was theatrical and a bit stiff. Wieth did three films in 1939 including Skilsmissens børn/Children of Divorce (Benjamin Christensen, 1939), and three more in 1942.

    His last role was a leading part in Vi kunde ha' det saa rart/We could have it so good (1942), directed by Christen Jul and Mogens Skot-Hansen. In this Palladium comedy, Wieth is a doctor with three lively children in need of a nanny. The doctor has an affair with another woman, but in the end he realizes nanny Lena is the girl (the story reminds of the Sound of Music).

    Carlo Wieth died in 1943. He and Agnes Thorberg-Wieth had a son, actor Mogens Wieth.

    Lili Beck
    Lili Beck. Swedish postcard by Svenska Biografteatern. Photo: Ferd Flodin, Stockholm.

    Sources: Danske Film Database, Det Danske Film Institute and IMDb.

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