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Vintage postcards, stars and stories.

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  • 05/01/14--23:00: Gina Palerme
  • French actress and singer Gina Palerme was the toast of the London music halls in the 1910s. In the next decade she played in numerous French silent films, and finished her career in the Moulin Rouge and other Paris cabarets.

    Gina Palerme and Roy Royston in Bric-a-brac
    British postcard by J. Beagles & Co, London, no. 240 C. Photo: Rita Martin. Publicity still for the stage production Bric-a-brac (1915) with Roy Royston.

    Gina Palerme, Roy Royston
    British postcard by J. Beagles & Co, London, no. 240 E. Photo: Rita Martin. Publicity still for the stage production Bric-a-brac (1915) again with Roy Royston.

    The Glamour of the French Cocotte

    Gina Palerme was discovered by a British entrepreneur. She debuted as Toinette in the musical comedy The Quaker Girl (Lionel Mockton, 1911) at the Adelphi Theatre.

    Her début was followed by appearances in West-end productions like The Dancing Mistress (1912), Betty (1914), Platons Les Capucines (1914), Bric-a-Brac (1915), Vanity Fair (1916), La Petite Chocolatière (1917), Finsbury (1917), and The Girl for the Boy (1919).

    Until 1919 Palerme was the toast of the London music hall. Cecil Beaton enthusiastically wrote about her: “Gina Palerme brought the glamour of the French cocotte to London. Her off-stage appearances were as sensational as her stage escapades...sometimes she wore a velvet tam-o'-shanter and men's riding breeches while relaxing in the richly ornate gilt of her Maida Vale drawing-room.”

    The National Portrait Gallery holds beautiful photos from those years, made by the famous photographer Bassano and by his colleagues Rita Martin and The Dover Street Studios Ltd .

    Gina Palerme
    British postcard, no. 10273 E. Photo: The Dover Street Studios Ltd, London.

    Gina Palerme
    British postcard. Photo: Wrather & Buys, London.

    Gina Palerme
    British postcard in the Arcadian Series, no. A 39. Photo: Dover Street Studios.

    Horror Comedy

    Gina Palerme returned to France in 1919.

    In the early 1920s she played in various silent French films like L’éternel féminin/The Eternal Female (Roger Lion, 1921), Margot (Guy du Fresnay, 1922), L’idée de Françoise/Françoise's Idea (Robert Saidreau, 1923) in which she played the title role of the foreseeing Françoise, and the Halevy & Meilhac adaptation Frou-Frou (Guy du Fresnay, 1923).

    La bataille/The Battle (1923) was co-directed by Edouard-Emile Viollet and Hollywood star Sessue Hayakawa who also played the male lead, together with his wife Tsuru Aoki.

    Palerme also appeared with Hayakawa and Aoki in the American version of La bataille, The Danger Line (1924).

    In the horror comedy Au secours!/Help! (Abel Gance, 1924) she co-starred with the great comic Max Linder. It was his last surviving work;

    Her final film was La clé de voute/The Keystone (Roger Lion, 1925), which Palerme produced herself. It was a drama about a young female factory worker who gives away her child, but always repents.

    After this film Gina Palerme quitted the cinema. From then on, she would only work in such French cabarets as the Moulin Rouge and the Concert Mayol.

    More information about Palerme was not to be found on the net.

    Gina Palerme
    British postcard. Photo: Rita Martin.

    Gina Palerme
    French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 57.

    Gina Palerme
    French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 94.

    Sources: John Culme (Footlight Notes), National Portrait Gallery, and IMDb.

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  • 05/02/14--23:00: Maria Schell
  • Pretty, wide-eyed Austrian leading lady Maria Schell (1926-2005) became one of the first film idols to the European post-war generation. With her ‘smile under tears’ she appeared in dozens of German and Austrian popular films, but she also starred in British, French, Italian, and Hollywood productions.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. F 27. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Ringpress / Vogelmann.

    Maria Schell
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 74. Photo: Ufa / Vogelmann.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-75. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Columbia Film.

    Maria Schell
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 24. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by UFA, no. CK-225. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Sam Lévin / UFA. Collection: Egbert Barten.


    Margarete Schell was born in Vienna in 1926 as the daughter of the Swiss author Ferdinand Hermann Schell and Austrian actress Margarete Schell Noé. She was the older sister of the actors Immy, Carl, and Maximilian Schell.

    Her family had to escape from the Nazi regime in 1938, and she received a dramatic training in Zurich, Switzerland. To pay her studies she worked as a secretary.

    Billed as Gritli Schell, she made her screen debut at 16 in the Swiss-filmed drama Steibruch (Sigfrit Steiner, 1942).

    It would be six years before she'd appear before the cameras again in Der Engel Mit der Posaune (Karl Hartl, 1948). This Austro-German production was simultaneously filmed in an English-language version, The Angel With the Trumpet (Anthony Bushell, 1950), which brought her to the attention of international filmgoers.

    In the 1950s Maria often played the sweet and innocent Mädchen in numerous Austrian and German films. She starred opposite Dieter Borschein popular melodramas like Es kommt ein Tag/A Day Will Come (Rudolf Jugert, 1950) and Dr. Holl (Rolf Hansen, 1951).

    With O.W. Fischershe formed one of the 'Dream Couples of the German cinema' in romantic melodramas like Bis wir uns wiedersehen/Till We Meet Again (Gustav Ucicky, 1952), Der träumende Mund/Dreaming Lips (Josef von Báky, 1953), and Solange Du da bist/As Long As You're Near Me (Rolf Hansen, 1953).

    She also starred in British productions like The Magic Box (John Boulting, 1951) with Robert Donat, and The Heart of the Matter (George More O'Ferrall, 1953) opposite Trevor Howard.

    Maria Schell
    British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 185. Photo: Associated British Pathé.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 831. Photo: NDF / Schorchtfilm.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 1970. Photo: CCC Film / Herzog-film / Grimm. Publicity still for Liebe/Love (Horst Hächler, 1956).

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, no F 7. Photo: CCC-Film / Herzog-Film / Grimm. Publicity still for Liebe/Love (Horst Hächler, 1956).

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3063. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC-Film / Herzog-Film.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 038. Photo: Fama-Film / National.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 2230. Photo: Columbia. Publicity still for Gervaise (René Clément, 1956).

    Maria Schell, Horst Hächler
    German card by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 69. Photo: Ringpress. Maria Schell and director/writer/producer Horst Hächler were married from 1957 till 1965. They met during the production of Die Letzte Brücke/The Last Bridge (Helmut Käutner, 1954), for which he was the assistant director. Maria Schell played in two films directed by her husband, Liebe/Love (1957) and Raubfischer in Hellas/As the Sea Rages (1959). Their son, Oliver Hächler, is now known as the actor Oliver Schell.

    Best Roles

    In 1954, Maria Schell won a Cannes Film Festival award for her dramatic portrayal of a German nurse imprisoned in wartime Yugoslavia in Die letzte Brücke/The Last Bridge (Helmut Käutner, 1954).

    Two years later, she claimed a Venice Film Festival prize for her role in Gervaise (René Clément, 1956). In this adaptation of Emile Zola’s L’Assommoir she played one of her best roles as a hardworking laundress surrounded by drunks.

    Other important films were Robert Siodmak’s thriller Die Ratten/The Rats (1955), and Luchino Visconti’s romantic Fyodor Dostoyevski adaptation Le Notti bianche/White Nights (1957), with Schell as the young and innocent girl in love with Jean Maraisbut loved by Marcello Mastroianni.

    Hollywood called and Maria Schell was contracted to star as Grushenka opposite Yul Brynner in The Brothers Karamazov (Richard Brooks, 1958), a messy adaptation of another classic novel by Dostoyevsky.

    This was followed by roles in the Gary Cooper Western The Hanging Tree (Delmer Daves, 1959), the remake of Edna Ferber's Cimarron (Anthony Mann, 1961), and The Mark (Guy Green, 1961), opposite Academy Award nominee Stuart Whitman.

    Then she returned to Germany for the family drama Das Riesenrad/The Giant Ferris Wheel (Géza von Radványi, 1961), again with O. W. Fischer.

    O.W. Fischer, Maria Schell
    With O. W. Fischer.
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, nr. F 44. Photo: Klaus Collignon.

    Dieter Borsche, Maria Schell
    With Dieter Borsche. German postcard by F.J. Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 560. Photo: Filmaufbau Schorchfilm. Publicity still for Es komt ein Tag/A Day Will Come (Rudolf Jugert, 1950).

    Maria Schell, Franco Andrei
    With Franco Andrei. German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. I 103. Photo: Sohler / Magna / London-Film. Publicity still for Tagebuch einer Verliebten/The Diary of a Married Woman (Josef von Báky, 1953).

    Jean Marais and Maria Schell in Le notti bianche
    With Jean Marais. Photocard. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/ White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957).

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Ufa. Photo: Rank. Still from Le notti bianche/White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957).

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 2754. Photo: Rank-Film. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957).


    In 1963, dissatisfied with the diminishing value of the characters she was called upon to play, Maria Schell retired.

    But in 1969 she made a come-back with the witty French comedy Le Diable par la queue/The Devil By The Tail (Philippe de Broca, 1969) opposite Yves Montand.

    Then followed two horror films by cult director Jesus Franco, Der Heisse Tod/ 99 Women (1969), and Il Trono di fuoco/Throne of the Blood Monster (1970), starring Christopher Lee.

    Among her later assignments were Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg, 1976), Superman: The Movie (Richard Donner, 1978), Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo/Just A Gigolo (David Hemmings, 1978) with David Bowieand Marlene Dietrich.

    On TV she portrayed the mother of Nazi-architect Albert Speer (Rutger Hauer) in Inside the Third Reich (Marvin J. Chomsky, 1992). She also played Mother Maria in the TV sequel to Lilies of the Field called Christmas Lilies of the Field (Ralph Nelson, 1982), and she did guest appearances in popular crime series like Der Kommissar (1969-1975) starring Erik Ode, Kojak (1976) starring Telly Savalas, Derrick (1977-1978), and Tatort (1975-1996).

    Besides being a film star; Maria Schell appeared in plays in Zurich, Basel, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, at the Salzburg Festival, and she went on provincial tours from 1963.

    Among the plays she performed were such classics as Shakespeare's Hamlet, Goethe's Faust, and such modern classics as Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

    With her brother Maximilian SchellMaria only appeared in one film, the thriller The Odessa File (Ronald Neame, 1974).

    In 2002 Maximilian made a documentaryabout her called Meine Schwester, Maria/My Sister, Maria, in which he documented how her mental health deteriorated along with her finances during her later years.

    In 2005 Maria Schell died at age 79 of heart failure in her sleep. She was twice married, first to film director Horst Hächler and later to another film director, Veit Relin.

    She was the mother of actor Oliver Schell, and of actress Marie-Therese Relin, who is married to Bavarian playwright Franz Xaver Kroetz, and has three children.

    In 1974 Maria Schell was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Germany's Cross of Merit), and in 1977 the Filmband in Goldfor her impressive contributions to the German cinema.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. FT 21. Photo: Bavaria / Schorcht / Gabriele. Publicity photo for Rose Bernd (Wolfgang Staudte, 1957).

    Maria Schell
    Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3752. Photo: M.G.M.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 420. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

    Maria Schell
    German postcard by WS Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 68. Photo: Joe Niczky.

    Scene from The Hanging Tree with Gary Cooper and Maria Schell. Source: Psychodad 1860 (YouTube).

    Scene from Le Notti Bianche with Maria Schell and Marcello Mastroianni. Source: Nataniel Costard (YouTube).

    Maria Schell: The actress that can smile while crying. Video tribute by Yamsala (YouTube).

    Sources: Stephanie D'Heil (Steffie-line), Guy Bellinger (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia, AbsoluteFacts.nl, and IMDb.

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  • 05/03/14--23:00: Robert Hossein
  • French director, writer and actor Robert Hossein (1927) was generally cast as a tough guy beside such gorgeous actresses as Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Marina Vlady. He is most famous though as Michèle Mercier's husband in the wildly popular Angélique series of the 1960s.

    Robert Hossein
    Spanish postcard by Postalco, Barcelona, no. 21/2. Photo: Unifrance Film.

    Robert Hossein
    French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 470. Photo: Sam Lévin.


    Robert Hossein was born as Robert Hosseinoff in Paris in 1927. He was the son of Aminollah (André) Hossein, a French orchestra conductor and composer of Persian-Azeri descent, and Anna Minevskaya, a Jewish comedy actress from Kiev.

    Robert was trained at René Simon's acting school. He laboured away as actor/director with the legendary Theatre Grand Guignol in Montmartre, then spent several years on the ‘legitimate’ stage.

    He made his first film appearance in a bit part in Les souvenirs ne sont pas à vendre/Sextette (Robert Hennion, 1948) with Martine Carol, and he had his breakthrough with the classic Film-Noir Du rififi chez les hommes/Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955) as a slightly sadistic drug-addict.

    The role of the jaded criminal stuck with him in the coming decades. Hossein also started directing with the thriller Les salauds vont en enfer/The Wicked Go to Hell (Robert Hossein, 1956) in which he co-starred with his wife, Marina Vlady.

    The film was based on a play by Frédéric Dard whose novels and plays went on to furnish Hossein with much of his later film material such as the Film-Noir Toi... le venin/Blonde in a White Car (Robert Hossein, 1958), in which he again co-starred with Vlady, and with her sister Odile Versois.

    Wikipedia notes: “Right from the start Hossein established his characteristic trademarks: using a seemingly straightforward suspense plot and subverting its conventions (sometimes to the extent of a complete disregard of the traditional demand for a final twist or revelation) in order to concentrate on ritualistic relationships. This is the director's running preoccupation which is always stressed in his films by an extraordinary command of film space and often striking frame compositions where the geometry of human figures and set design is used to accentuate the psychological set-up of the scene. The mechanisms of guilt and the way it destroys relationships is another recurring theme, presumably influenced by Hossein's lifelong interest in the works of Dostoyevski.”

    Robert Hossein
    French postcard by Editions P.I., offered by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 906. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Robert Hossein
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 949. Photo: Studio Bernard & Vauclair.

    Robert Hossein
    Austrian postcard by Kellner-Fotokarten, Wien, no. 1311. Photo: publicity still for Méfiez-vous, fillettes!/Good Girls Beware! (Yves Allégret, 1957).

    Marina Vlady, Robert Hossein
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1842, 1963. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Publicity still for La liberté surveillée/Provisional Liberty (Henri Aisner, Vladimír Vlcek, 1958) with Marina Vlady.

    Unashamedly Melodramatic Frameworks

    As a director Robert Hossein had some modest international successes with films like Le vampire de Düsseldorf/The Vampire of Dusseldorf (Robert Hossein, 1965), but he was much singled out for scorching criticism by the critics and followers of the Nouvelle Vague for the unashamedly melodramatic frameworks of his films.

    The fact that he was essentially an auteur director with a consistent set of themes and an extraordinary mastery of original and unusual approaches to staging his stories, was never appreciated. He was not averse to trying his hand at widely different genres and was never defeated, making the strikingly different spaghetti western Une corde, un Colt/The Rope and the Colt (Robert Hossein, 1969) and the low-budgeted but daringly subversive period drama J'ai tué Raspoutine/Rasputin (Robert Hossein, 1967) starring Gert Fröbe.

    However, because of the lack of wider success and continuing adverse criticism, Hossein virtually ended his film directing career in 1970, and concentrated on the theatre where his achievements were never questioned.

    However, in 1982, he directed the film adaption of Victor Hugo’s classic literary masterpiece, Les Misérables (Robert Hossein, 1982) with Lino Venturaas Jean Valjean.

    James Travers writes in his review at Films de France: “The film’s exceptional production values are enhanced by Hossein’s own stylised approach, which gives the film a sense of authenticity and surprising modernity.”

    Robert Hossein
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 32/71. Retail price: 0,20 M.

    Robert Hossein, Michèle Mercier
    Romanian mini-card. With Michèlé Mercier in one of the Angelique films.

    Robert Hossein
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 277. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968).

    Robert Hossein
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Publicity still for Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967).


    Robert Hossein’s most famous role was as Michèle Mercier's husband Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the historical romance/adventure Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964) and its four sequels.

    Other films in which he appeared were Crime et châtiment/Crime and Punishment (Georges Lampin, 1956) starring Jean Gabin, Madame Sans-Gêne (Christian-Jaque, 1961) opposite Sophia Loren, and the Marquis de Sade adaptation Le vice et la vertu/Vice and Virtue (Roger Vadim, 1963) with Catherine Deneuve.

    In the 1970s and 1980s he played opposite Jean Paul Belmondo in police thrillers like Le Casse/The Burglars (Henri Verneuil, 1971) and Le professionnel/The Professional (Georges Lautner, 1981).

    He also appeared opposite Brigitte Bardot in one of her last films, Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme.../Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) (Roger Vadim, 1973), and he was excellent as a Catholic priest who falls in love with Claude Jade and becomes a communist in Prêtres interdits/Forbidden Priests (Denys de La Patellière, 1973).

    One of his most famous starring roles was as a pianist in the musical epic Les Uns et les Autres/Bolero (Claude Lelouch, 1981). In the theatre he directed popular historical vehicles involving large sets and numerous actors. Among his latest creations were Danton and Celui qui a dit non (Those Who Said No), a play on Charles de Gaulle and the French resistance.

    At the age of 72, Hossein again played romantic love-scenes in a film, now with Audrey Tautou in Vénus beauté (institut)/Venus Beauty Institute (Tonie Marshall, 1999). He still regularly appears on TV and in films.

    Robert Hossein was married three times: first to Marina Vlady (he has two sons with her, Pierre and Igor), later to Caroline Eliacheff (with whom he has a son, Nicholas). He is currently married to actress Candice Patou, with whom he has one son, Julien.

    Trailer Angélique Marquise des Anges (1964). Source: Oldiestrailers (YouTube).

    German Trailer for Une corde, un Colt (1969). Source: r6dw6c (YouTube).

    Theatrical Trailer Le Professional (1981). Source: Classic Full Movie & Theatrical Trailer Collection (YouTube).

    Scene from Les Misérables (1982)> Source: Gérard Roche (YouTube)

    Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Darius Kadivar (The Iranian), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 05/04/14--23:00: Sybil Thorndike
  • British actress Sybil Thorndike (1882–1976) was a distinguished theatrical tragedienne, who toured internationally in Shakespearean productions. Bernard Shaw wrote Saint Joan specially for her, and she starred in it with great success. Her over six-decade career allowed for a gallery of masterful portrayals, both classic and contemporary. However, she would not evolve into a film star. In later years, Thorndike played a number of queens, dowagers and old crones with finesse, such as in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) with Marilyn Monroe. Many critics consider her as one of the greatest actresses of the 20th century.

    Sybil Thorndike
    British card.

    Not a classic beauty by any stretch

    Agnes Sybil Thorndike was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, in 1882. Her parents were Arthur Thorndike, a minor canon of Rochester Cathedral, and Agnes Macdonald. Sybil was the eldest of four children. One younger brother, Frank, was killed in WWI action, a tragedy that left her father inconsolable. He himself would die a few months later.

    Sybil was educated at Rochester Grammar School for Girls, and first trained as a classical pianist, making weekly visits to London for music lessons at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She gave her first public performance as a pianist at the age of 11, but in 1899 was forced to give up playing owing to piano cramp.

    At the instigation of her brother, the author Russell Thorndike, she then trained as an actress. Russell would later become a novelist and his sister's biographer.

    Gary Brumburgh at IMDb: “Not a classic beauty by any stretch, Dame Sybil had sharp features, prominent cheek bones and a pronounced chin that gave her a rather severe look. At age 21 she and her brother began professionally in a touring company guided by actor-manager Ben Greet.”

    She made her first stage appearance in Greet's 1904 production of William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. She went on to tour the USA in Shakespearean repertory for four years, playing some 112 roles.

    In 1908, she was spotted by the playwright George Bernard Shaw when she understudied the leading role of Candida in a tour directed by Shaw himself. There she also met her future husband, Lewis Casson. They were married in 1908, and had four children: John (1909–1999), Christopher (1912–1996), Mary (1914–2009) and Ann (1915–1990). Thorndike was survived by her four children and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren when she died.

    Sybil joined Annie Horniman's company in Manchester (1908–09 and 1911–13), went to Broadway in 1910, and then joined the Old Vic Company in London (1914–18), playing leading roles in Shakespeare and in other classic plays.

    Sybil Thorndike
    British card.

    Saint Joan

    After the war, Sybil Thorndike played Hecuba in Euripides'The Trojan Women (1919–20), then from 1920–22, she and her husband starred in a British version of France's Grand Guignol directed by Jose Levy.

    She made her film debut in Moth and Rust (Sidney Morgan 1921), with Malvina Longfellow. The next year, she appeared in a large number of silent films, including versions of Bleak House (H.B. Parkinson, 1922), The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Esmeralda (Edwin J. Collins, 1922), Macbeth (H.B. Parkinson, 1922), The Merchant of Venice (Challis Sanderson, 1922) and The Scarlet Letter (Challis Sanderson, 1922).

    She returned to the stage in the title role of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan in 1924, which had been written with her specifically in mind. The production was a huge success, and was revived repeatedly until her final performance in the role in 1941. In 1927, she appeared in a short film of Saint Joan made in the DeForest Phonofilm process, an excerpt of the play by George Bernard Shaw.

    The following year she played Nurse Edith Cavell in the silent British war film Dawn (Herbert Wilcox, 1928). Cavell was a nurse who risked her own life by rescuing British Prisoners of War from the Germans. When Cavell was captured and sentenced to be executed, it sparked international outrage, even from neutral nations. Dawn was one of the most controversial British films of the 1920s. The film was censored because of what objectors considered its brutal depiction of warfare and anti-German sentiments. Pressure was exerted by both the German Ambassador and the British Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain to prevent the film being passed for exhibition.

    Both Thorndike and Casson were active members of the Labour Party, and held strong left-wing views. Even when the 1926 General Strike stopped the first run of Saint Joan, they both still supported the strikers. As a pacifist, Thorndike was a member of the Peace Pledge Union and gave readings for its benefit.

    She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1931. During World War II, Thorndike and her husband toured in Shakespearean productions on behalf of the Council For the Encouragement of the Arts, before joining Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson in the Old Vic season at the New Theatre in 1944.

    Sybil Thorndike
    British card. Photo: publicity still for Uncle Vanya (1963).

    There Was an Old Woman

    Among Sybil Thorndike’s notable film roles were General Baines in Major Barbara (Gabriel Pascal, 1941), Mrs. Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1948), Queen Victoria in Melba (Lewis Milestone, 1952) and the witty Queen Dowager in The Prince and the Showgirl (Laurence Olivier 1957) with Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier, for which she was awarded the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress.

    In the theatre, she continued to have success in such plays as N. C. Hunter's Waters of the Moon at the Haymarket in 1951-52. She also undertook tours of Australia and South Africa, before playing again with Laurence Olivier in Uncle Vanya at Chichester in 1962.

    She made her last film appearance in a film version of Uncle Vanya (Stuart Burge, 1963) featuring Anthony Hopkins.

    Thorndike made her farewell appearance with her husband in a London revival of Arsenic and Old Lace at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1966.

    Her last stage performance was at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, Surrey, in There Was an Old Woman in 1969, the year Lewis Casson died.

    Her final acting appearance was in the TV drama The Great Inimitable Mr Dickens (Ned Sherrin, 1970), with Anthony Hopkins. The same year she was made a Companion of Honour. She and her husband (who was knighted in 1945) were one of the few couples who both held titles in their own right.

    In 1976 Dame Sybil Thorndike died in London, England at the age of 93. Her ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey.

    Scene from The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Source: serdarzzt (YouTube).

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

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  • 05/05/14--23:00: Paul Azaïs
  • French film actor Paul Azaïs (1903-1974) appeared in 112 films between 1929 and 1966. As the nice guy who is always there for a helping hand or a good laugh, he appeared in several films by Max Ophüls and Raymond Bernard or supported comedy stars like Fernandel and Louis de Funès.

    Paul Azaïs
    French postcard by EPC, no. 231. Photo: Studio.

    The most powerful anti-war film ever made

    Paul François Robert Azaïs was born in Paris, France in 1903.

    He began his career as an extra at the Chatelet theatre before getting small roles in operettas and music hall shows.

    Thanks to his stage experience, he was offered a small role in the first all-talking feature, Les Trois Masques/The Three Masks (André Hugon, 1929). Les Trois Masques was filmed in England because none of the French film studios had yet been wired for sound.

    In 1932, he played a small part in the French crime film Fantômas (Pál Fejös, 1932) starring Jean Galland as the popular pulp character Fantômas, a super criminal. It was loosely based on the original Fantômas novel by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre.

    Azaïs had a bigger role in the box office hit Les Gaietés de l'escadron/Fun in the Barracks (Maurice Tourneur, 1932), a French comedy starring Raimu, Jean Gabin and Fernandel.

    Perhaps his most interesting film was Les Croix de Bois/Wooden Crosses (Raymond Bernard, 1932). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Les Croix de Bois may well be the most powerful anti-war film ever made; certainly it is the grimmest and most uncompromising. Starting with an impressionistic shot of a gloomy hillside studded with white grave markings, the film delineates the hopelessness and horror of war in such explicit terms that at times it's nearly impossible to watch.”

    Among Azaïs’ other films were Raymond Bernard's Les Misérables (1933), Pension Mimosas (Jacques Feyder, 1935) starring Françoise Rosay, and Divine (Max Ophüls, 1935). The most notable thing about Divine is that it is the only film for which the celebrated writer Colette supplied an original screenplay.

    Azaïs often played the good guy in his films, always ready for support, a good laugh or a helping hand. He was a devoted ‘knight’ to Annabella in Anne-Marie (Raymond Bernard, 1936)) and to Edwige Feuillère in Sans lendemain/Without Tomorrow (Max Ophüls, 1939).

    Also interesting is the French drama Tempête sur l'Asie/Storm over Asia (Richard Oswald, 1938), starring Conrad Veidt. Director Oswald had left Austria as it became an increasingly hostile working environment in the years leading up to the Anchluss. It was Oswald’s last film in Europe, before he moved to the United States and made three films in Hollywood. Conrad Veidt was similarly an exile from Germany, and had settled in Britain.

    Paul Azaïs
    French postcard by EPC. Photo: Daniel Chacun.

    Paul Azaïs
    French postcard by Editions Chantal, Rueil, no. 559. Photo: U.F.P.C.

    The wheel turns

    Paul Azaïs career reached its top during the first years of the French occupation by the Germans.

    He played in some of the best comedies of the era, produced by the Nazi-run Continental studio, such as Narcisse (Ayres d'Aguiar, 1939) with Rellys, Ne le criez pas sur les toits/Do not shout it from the rooftops (Jacques Daniel-Norman, 1943) and the entertaining farce Adrien (Fernandel, 1943), the latter two both starring Fernandel.

    Unfortunately, Azaïs had a bicycle accident in 1943 which caused him a skull fracture and had him in a coma for 20 days. After recovering, he suffered severe memory problems, but Azaïs eventually started to work again although in minor parts.

    After the war, Azaïs continued to play supporting parts in French films like the dramas Au grand balcon (Henri Decoin, 1949) with Pierre Fresnay, and Retour à la vie/Return to Life (Georges Lampin, André Cayatte, Henri-Georges Clouzot and Jean Dréville, 1949).

    He had small roles in such classics as the Guy de Maupassant adaptation Le Plaisir/House of Pleasure (Max Ophüls, 1951) and Casque d'or/Golden Marie (Jacques Becker, 1952) featuring the young Simone Signoret.

    Azaïs played the lead in the crime comedy Le Roi du bla bla bla/The King of the Bla Bla Bla (Maurice Labro, 1951) starring Azaïs and Louis de Funès as the gangsters Bébert and Gino.

    He reunited with Louis de Funès in Tourments/Agonies (Jacques Daniel-Norman, 1954) but now as a security guard (Azaïs) and a private detective (De Funès). Azaïs had a small part in another film featuring De Funès, the French comedy drama L'impossible Monsieur Pipelet/The Impossible Mr. Pipelet (André Hunebelle, 1955), also starring Michel Simon.

    Aware of the precariousness of the entertainment business, he founded in May 1957 the association La Roue rourne (The wheel turns), which assisted needy actors. He invested in this cause until the end of his days.

    Paul Azaïs died in 1974 in Paris, aged 71. During his life he was honoured as Chevalier de l’Ordre international du Bien Public, and received both the Grand Prix Humanitaire de France, and the Médaille d’Or du Mérite National.

    Paul Azaïs
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 59. Photo: Studio Piaz.

    Paul Azaïs
    French postcard, no. 528.

    Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), James Travers (Films de France), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.

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  • 05/06/14--23:00: Jean Gaven (1922-2014)
  • On 5 May 2014, French actor Jean Gaven has died. He appeared in more than sixty films between 1945 to 1996.

    Jean Gaven (1922-2014)
    French postcard by Editions P.I., presented by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 910. Photo: Studio Vallois, Paris.

    Histoire d'O

    Jean Gaven was born in Saint-Rome de Cernon, France in 1922.

    Gaven played leading and supporting roles on stage, screen and television.

    Among his best known films are Si tous les gars du monde/If All the Guys in the World (Christian-Jacque, 1955), the SM erotic film Histoire d'O/The Story of O (Just Jaeckin, 1975) and the massive hit L'été meurtrier/One Deadly Summer (Jean Becker, 1983) with Isabelle Adjani.

    French TV audiences loved him in title role of the series Maurin des Maures/The illustrious Maurin (Jean Canolle, Claude Daggers, 1970).

    Gaven had been married to actress Dominique Wilms since 1957.

    Jean Gaven was 92.

    Dominique Wilms
    Dominique Wilms. French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 28G. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

    Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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    Last Monday, 4 May 2014, Soviet actress Tatyana Samoylova died. She was called 'the Russian Audrey Hepburn'. Samoylova is best known for her title role in Anna Karenina (Aleksandr Zarkhi, 1967), based on the famous novel by Leo Tolstoy. Ten years earlier, she had had her breakthrough with Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957), which won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival of 1958 - the first Russian film ever to do so. Tatyana Samoylova was 80.

    Tatyana Samoylova (1934-2014)
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 08345, 1969. This postcard was printed in an edition of 500,000 cards. Retail price was 6 kop. Photo: publicity still for Anna Karenina (Aleksandr Zarkhi, 1967).

    The Cranes Are Flying

    Tatyana Samoylova or Tatiana Samojlova was born Tatiana Evgenievna Samoilova (Татья́на Евге́ньевна Само́йлова) in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia in 1934. Her father, Yevgeni Samojlov, was a notable Russian actor, Her mother, Zinaida Ilyinichna, was Jewish.

    Young Samoylova studied music under the tutelage of her mother. During the Second World War, she escaped from the siege of Leningrad with her parents, and moved to Moscow. There she studied ballet and graduated from the Ballet School of Stanislavsky Theatre.

    She was invited by Maya Plisetskaya to join the ballet school of Bolshoi Theatre, but she chose to be a dramatic actress. From 1953-1956 she studied at Shchukin Theatrical School, then at State Institute of Theatrical Art (GITIS), graduating in 1962, as actress. While a student, Samojlova made her film debut in Meksikanets/The Mexican (Vladimir Kaplunovskiy, 1955) with Daniil Sagal.

    Samoylova shot to fame with the leading role as Veronika in Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957) opposite Aleksey Batalov as Boris. The film tells a love story set during the early years of World War II. In spite of the initial cold reception by the Soviet officialdom, the film was loved by public in Russia and internationally. It became the first and only Russian film to be awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival.

    Samoylova won a Special Mention at Cannes and was nominated for Best Foreign Actress BAFTA Film Award in 1959. She received many offers internationally, and was invited to work in Hollywood, but the Soviet government forced her to decline any jobs outside the Soviet Union.

    In 1958, she made her stage debut at the Vakhtangov Theater in Moscow. She also appeared in another film by Kalatazov, Neotpravlennoye pismo/The Letter That Was Never Sent (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1959) with Evgeniy Urbanskiy.

    Original Russian trailer for Letyat zhuravli/The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957). Source: Ramil Orion (YouTube).

    Anna Karenina

    During the 1960s, Tatyana Samoylova's career stagnated due to overall stagnation in the USSR under Leonid Brezhnev.

    In 1960 she lost her job with Mayakovsky Theatre in Moscow, and was practically unemployed for several years.

    However, she did co-star in the Italian-Russian war film Italiani brava gente/Attack and Retreat (Giuseppe De Santis, 1964) with Arthur Kennedy. A chronicle of the unheralded and unsuccessful invasion of the Soviet Union by the Italian army during World War II.

    Her next success came with the title role in Anna Karenina (Aleksandr Zarkhi, 1967), an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Leo Tolstoy. Samoylova starred as Anna Karenina opposite her ex-husband Vasili Lanovoy as Count Vronsky.

    Dan Pavlides at AllMovie: "After several previous attempts by foreign directors who miss the mark, this Russian film version of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina most accurately follows the Tolstoy novel and remains superior to all other versions to date."

    During the 1980s and 1990s, Tatyana Samoylova had a lengthy pause in her film career. She made a comeback in several TV series in the 2000s.

    Samojlova was designated People's Actress of Russia (1993). In 2007 she was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 29th Moscow International Film Festival.

    She was married four times, to Solomon Shulman, Vasili Lanovoy (1954-1958), Valeri Osipov (1959-1968), and to Edward Mashkovich (1968-1973). With Mashkovich, she had a son.

    On 3 May 2014, the eve of her 80th birthday, Tatyana Samoylova was taken to a Moscow hospital in serious condition with coronary heart disease and hypertension. She died, one day later. Tatyana Samoylova was 80.

    Tatyana Samoylova (1934-2014)
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 3156, 1968. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Uhlenhut. Publicity still for Anna Karenina (Aleksandr Zarkhi, 1967) with Vasili Lanovoy.

    Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Dan Pavlides (AllMovie), T Online (German), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 05/08/14--23:00: Christine Kaufmann
  • When she was seven Christine Kaufmann (1945) made her film debut in an adaptation of Im weißen Rößl/The White Horse Inn (1952). The girl with the sad eyes gained international recognition when she played the demanding role of a teenaged rape victim in Town Without Pity (1961). While playing the heroine of the big-budget Taras Bulba (1962), Kaufmann fell in love with her co-star, Tony Curtis. Today she is known as 'Germany's most beautiful grandmother'.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/60.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-321. Photo: Klaus Collignon / Ufa.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 157.


    Christine Maria Kaufmann was born in Lengdorf, Styria in what is now Austria, in 1945. Her father was a German Luftwaffe officer and her mother a French doctor who gave up her practice to help further Christine's career.

    She grew up in München (Munich) and trained as a ballerina at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz and later at the Staatsopernballett(Munich Opera). She started her film career at the age of seven with a small role in the musical Im weißen Rößl/White Horse Inn (Willi Forst, 1952).

    The film which brought her fame was Rosen-Resli/Rose-Girl Resli (Harald Reinl, 1954), when she was only nine. The film was a gigantic success in post-war Germany and she moved millions of Germans to tears.

    Soon she appeared in such films as Der schweigende Engel/The Silent Angel (Harald Reinl, 1954), Wenn die Alpenrosen blüh'n/When the Alpine Roses Bloom (Hans Deppe, Richard Häussler, 1955) with Hertha Feiler, and Ein Herz schlägt für Erika/A Heart Beats for Erika (Harald Reinl, 1956) with Grethe Weiser.

    She gained international recognition when she played alongside Carla Gravina in Primo Amore/First Love (Mario Camerini, 1958), and with Steve Reeves in the Peplum Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei/The Last Days of Pompeii (Mario Bonnard, Sergio Leone uncredited), 1959), and with Kirk Douglas in Town Without Pity (Gottfried Reinhardt, 1961).

    She won the Golden Globe that year as the Most Promising Newcomer for the latter film. The press of the period was less concerned with Kaufmann's histrionic skills than with the revealing bikini which she wore in her early scenes.

    That year she also appeared opposite Gert Fröbe in the interesting thriller Via Mala (Paul May, 1961), and with Jean-Paul Belmondo in Un nommé La Rocca/A Man Names Rocca (Jean Becker, 1961).

    The following year she appeared in the uneven escape film Escape from East Berlin (Robert Siodmak, 1962) opposite Don Murray, but she turned down the title role of Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962).

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen. Retail price: 10 Pfg. Photo: Lantin / Panorama Film.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2986. Photo: Erwin Schneider.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 1436.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard, no. 10. Photo: Melodie.


    Christine Kaufmann was 17 when she met Tony Curtis on the set of the big budget epic Taras Bulba (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) in Argentina. Curtis divorced his wife Janet Leigh and married Kaufmann in 1963. They appeared together in the frothy Universal comedy Wild and Wonderful (Michael Anderson, 1964).

    She briefly retired from films to geve birth to two daughters, Alexandra (1964) and Allegra (1966). The pair divorced in 1968.

    Kaufmann resumed her career in Germany, which she had interrupted during her marriage. The TV mini-series Wie ein Blitz/Like A Flash (Rolf von Sydow, 1960) became a huge success. On TV she also appeared in Krimis like Der Kommissar (1972) and Derrick (1977).

    For the cinema she often worked with director Werner Schroeter and his star Magdalena Montezuma in such films as Der Tod der Maria Malibran/The Death of Maria Malibran (1971), Willow Springs (1973), Goldflocken/Gold Flakes (1976) and Tag der Idioten/Day of the Idiots (1981) with Carole Bouquet.

    She also acted in several films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder like the TV film Welt am Draht/World on Wire (1973), Lili Marleen (1981) and Lola (1981).

    Other international films were the Giallo Enigma rosso/Virgin Killer (Alberto Negrin, 1978) with Fabio Testi, the cult favourite Bagdad Café/Out of Rosenheim (Percy Adlon, 1987), and the comedy Haider lebt - 1. April 2021/Haider Lives - a April 2021 (Peter Kern, 2002).

    In 1995, after posing nude for PlayboyMagazine at the age of 54, she was nicknamed 'Germany's most beautiful grandmother'.

    Christine Kaufmann regularly appears in TV series and also has her own line of cosmetics that sells well in Germany. She has written several books about beauty and health, as well as two autobiographies.

    She lives in München and Hamburg.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 302. Photo: Klaus Collignon / Ufa.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/61.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Starpostkarten-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 1013. Photo: Lothar Winkler.

    Christine Kaufmann
    German postcard by Kolibri Fotokarte, Minden/Westf., no. 2396. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Monsieur Cognac/Wild and Wonderful (Michael Anderson, 1964).

    Scene of Taras Bulba (1962). Source: GSMovieMoments (YouTube).

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

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  • 05/09/14--23:00: Rudi Carrell
  • Tonight is the Grand Final of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark. 26 countries will be in the Grand Final. The Netherlands are represented this year by The Common Linnets a.k.a. Ilse de Lange and Waylon with the country song Calm after the Storm, which we really like. 54 years ago television show master, actor and singer Rudi Carrell (1934-2006) was the Dutch participant. He ended 12th out of 13. After his breakthrough in the Netherlands, Carrell went to Germany and gained enormous popularity there on television. He was the first presenter to attract a TV audience of 20 million Germans, one quarter of the total population. He also acted in several German films. After his death, Carrell was hailed as the greatest TV entertainer in Europe.

    Rudi Carrell
    Dutch postcard.

    Rudi Carrell
    Dutch postcard.

    Entertainer, Magician and Ventriloquist

    Rudi Carrell was born as Rudolf Wijbrand Kesselaar in Alkmaar, the Dutch cheese capital, in 1934. He was the eldest of four children of Andries Kesselaar and his wife Catharina Houtkooper.

    His father was an entertainer with the stage name André Carrell, his grandfather was a comic. By the time Rudi was 17, he was an accomplished magician and ventriloquist. In 1953 Rudi was deputising for his father when André had double booked himself.

    Rudi made an effortless transition from stage to studio and in 1959 he hosted his own TV show, the Rudi Carrell Show.

    In 1960 he represented the Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Wat een geluk/How Lucky and finished 12th out of 13 scoring just 2 points.

    He had more luck as a show master. In 1963 he won the Nipkov Award of the Dutch TV critics and in 1964 an episode of the Rudi Carrell Show won the prestigious Silver Rose at the Montreux Television Festival.

    This episode was shot on an artificial, uninhabited island, where Robinson Crusoe (Carrell) and his monkey Friday get a visit from a mermaid, played by singer Esther Ofarim.

    The success of the show led him to Germany in 1965, where he would host the Rudi Carrell Show and many other shows until 2002. His work ranged from game shows, through comedy, variety, and current affairs. His timing and his perfect mastery of the script made him the darling of German audiences.

    His show was also pretty popular in some other European non-German speaking countries like Slovenia.

    Rudi Carrell
    Dutch postcard.

    Rudi Carrell and Esther Ofarim
    Dutch postcard by Int. Filmpers, Amsterdam, no. 1178. Photo: Phonogram. Still from the episode of the Rudi Carrell Show which won the Silver Rose award of the Montreux television festival 1964. Carrell as Robinson Crusoe who gets a visit from mermaid Esther Ofarim.

    Rudi Carrell
    Dutch postcard by Phonogram / Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (SPARO), no. 1210. Photo: still from the episode of the Rudi Carrell Show that won the prestigious Silver Rose of the Montreux Television Festival 1964. Robinson Crusoe (Carrell) and his monkey Friday.

    Cross-dressing Farces

    Rudi Carrell acted in several German films. He was the lead in a series of cross-dressing farces: Wenn die tollen Tanten kommen/When the Mad Aunts Are Coming (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1970) with Ilja Richter, Tante Trude aus Buxtehude/Aunt Trude From Buxtehude (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1971) with Theo Lingen, and Die Tollen Tanten schlagen zu/The Mad Aunts Strike Out (1971, Franz Josef Gottlieb).

    Other slapstick comedies were Rudi, benimm dich/Behave, Rudi (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1971) with Chris Roberts, Hochwürden drückt ein Auge zu/Reverend Closes an Eye (Harald Vock, 1971) starring schlager singer Roy Black, and Crazy - total verrückt/Crazy - Completely Mad (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1973) opposite former teen idol Cornelia - Conny - Froboess.

    In those film comedies he was called ‘Der Rudi’, as he was in real life referred to in every pub and café.

    The comedies attracted good audiences, but after 1973 he only incidentally made a film, including Starke Zeiten/Heavy Times (Rolf Olsen a.o., 1988).

    He was also a pop singerwith a number of hits. Wann wird`s mal wieder richtig Sommer?/When Will It Be A Real Summer Again? became a big hit in 1975. It was based on the American hit song City of New Orleans by Steve Goodman and made famous by Arlo Guthrie.

    Helen Shapiro and Rudi Carrell
    With Helen Shapiro. Dutch postcard by Sparo (Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam). Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1966. Photo: Columbia.

    Rudi Carrell
    Dutch postcard by Hercules, Haarlem, no. 852.

    Rudi Carrell
    Dutch postcard by Art Unlimited, Amsterdam, no. B 1753, 1993. Photo: Dirk de Herder, 1962.


    A sketch on Rudi’s Tagesshow/Rudi's Daily Show (1984) provoked a serious diplomatic incident with Iran. A crowd of women threw bras and knickers at a mock-up of the Ayatollah Khomeini, at that time Iran’s spiritual as well as lay leader. The outrage in Tehran brought thousands on to the streets, led to the expulsion of two German diplomats, the closure of the Iranian consulates in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt, the cancellation of flights between Bonn, then the West German capital, and Tehran.

    An intervention from the then Dutch Foreign Minister stopped the scene being repeated on Dutch television. Carrell came under threat from fundamentalists, until he officially apologized in 1987.

    He received many awards in the Netherlands and Germany, amongst others the Bundesverdienstkreuz (the only award given by the Federal Republic of Germany, for extraordinary achievements in politics or culture) in 1985.

    Although living and working in Germany for 40 years he always spoke with a heavy Dutch accent. He smoked 60 cigarettes a day, and in 2005 he had lung cancer diagnosed. In a farewell TV appearance in 2006 he was presented with Germany’s highest TV award, the Golden Camera.

    He also received the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany's Cross of Merit, for his achievements in German-Dutch relations in 1985, and he was given the Honorary Rose at the Festival of Montreux for his lifetime achievements in 2001.

    Rudi Carrell died in 2006 in Bremen, Germany. He had been married three times. His wives were Truus de Vries (1957-1973) with whom he had two children, Annemieke and Caroline; Anke Bobbert (1974-2000) with whom he had a son, Alexander; and Simone Felischak (2002-2006).

    Rudi Carrell
    German card by Süddeutscher Rundfunk, Stuttgart. Photo: Hugo Jehle.

    Rudi Carrell
    German postcard by Westdeutschen Rundfunk, Köln. Photo: R. Rutgers.

    Rudi Carrell
    German postcard by Thomas Klinger, München. Photo: Bayerischer Rundfunk.

    Rudi Carrell sings the song Wat een geluk/How Lucky at the 1960 Eurovision Song Contest. Source: huelezelf (YouTube).

    Sources: Times Online, Wikipedia, Birth Television Archive and IMDb.

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  • 05/10/14--23:00: René Louis Lafforgue
  • Colourful French singer, composer and author René-Louis Lafforgue (1928-1967) was also a well-known actor in film, theatre and television. Only 39, the popular singer-songwriter died in a car crash on the road from Albi to Castres.

    René Louis Lafforgue
    French postcard by Pathé. Photo: Studio Harcourt / Pathé.

    Bonjour sourire!

    René-Louis Lafforgue was born in San Sebastian, Spain in 1928 in a family of anarchist activists of Basque origin. During the Spanish civil war, his family went in exile in France.

    In WWII, he participated in the French Resistance with his brother Sylvain. In 1944, the 16-years old Sylvain was killed fighting for freedom.

    After the war, René Louis did several jobs, and finally became a singer-songwriter. He appeared in the shows of Georges Brassens, and performed with him at the Olympia.

    In 1948, stage director Charles Dullin hired him as an actor. The following year, he toured around Europe with the mime artist Marcel Marceau.

    He made his film debut in a bit part in Sous le ciel de Paris/Under the sky of Paris (Julien Duvivier, 1951) with Brigitte Auber. With his curls and small moustache he was very recognizable.

    In 1954, he won the Grand Prix of the French Chanson in Deauville, which marked the beginning of his fame. Lafforgue wrote and performed such popular songs as Julie la Rousse (1956) and Poseur de rails (Platelayer) (1957).

    He sang his songs in films like Bonjour sourire!/Hello smile! (Claude Sautet, 1956) and the comedy Julie la rousse/Julie the Redhead (Claude Boissol, 1959), which was based on his hit song.

    René Louis Lafforgue
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. 855. Photo: Bernard et Vauclair, Paris.

    The Lovers of Teruel

    René-Louis Lafforgue played one of the leading parts in the film La pendule à Salomon/The Salomon Pendulum (Vicky Ivernel, 1960).

    Two years later he starred again in the musical Les amants de Teruel/The Lovers of Teruel (Raymond Rouleau, 1962), opposite Ludmilla Tchérina. He was also the co-author of this special film.

    Michael Smith at IMDb: “The Lovers of Teruel is the best film I have ever seen. Saw it about 15 times. It is the kind of film one can see over and over - like a great opera. Every frame is perfectly composed. The first time I saw it, 44 years ago, I sat through it twice because of the music by Mikos Theodorakis. Great acting from the entire cast. Great story - emotionally wrenching.” 

    In 1962, Lafforgue created the cabaret ‘L'École buissonnière’ in Paris, where young talents as Guy Bedos, Paul Préboist and Pierre Louki performed. The cabaret in Saint-Germain de Prez became a favourite venue for anarchists and pacifists, for whom he hosted many festivals.

    He continued to appear in films, such as in the horror comedy La grande frousse/The Big Scare (Jean-Pierre Mocky, 1964) with Bourvil, and in La communale/Public School (Jean L'Hôte, 1965) with Robert Dhéry.

    His last screen appearance was in the Canadian TV series L'éventail de Séville/The range of Seville (René Wheeler, Paul-Jacques Bonzon, 1968). During the production of this series, in 1967, René-Louis Lafforgue was killed in a car accident on highway 118, between Albi and Castres. He was only 39 years.

    After his death, the cabaret L'École buissonnière was managed by his wife, Claudie.

    René Louis Lafforgue sings Julie La Rousse. Source: Holdabaum (YouTube).

    Sources: Dr. Tony ShawMichael Smith (IMDb), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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  • 05/11/14--23:00: Tilly Lus
  • Tilly Lus (1888-1971) was one of the great tragedy actresses of the Dutch theatre. She also appeared in five silent films.

    Tilly Lus
    Dutch postcard by Weenenk & Snel, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: Willem Coret.

    Booed by the audience

    Tilly Lus was born as Mathilda Gerardina Barbier in Zaandam, The Netherlands, in 1888.

    She was a member of the actors family Barbier and a daughter of actress and dancer Johanna Catharina Peternella Barbier (1848-1927), widow of stage manager / actor / prompter Wilhelmus Hermanus Lus (1834-1882).

    As a child on stage, Tilly already performed on stage. In 1907, she played the leading character Kleine Jan (Lottle John) in Herman Heijermans'neo-romantic fantasy play Uitkomst (Outcome), which was booed by the audience at the premiere in de Hollandsche Schouwburg.

    She also played for the stage company Die Haghe Players, directed by Eduard Verkade.

    Eduard Verkade
    Eduard Verkade. Dutch postcard by Weenenk & Snel, Den Haag. Photo: Willem Coret. Collection: Egbert Barten.

    Missing Films

    During the era of the silent cinema, she played in five Dutch films, which are all missing now.

    IMDb and Wikipedia mention three films, including two productions for the Film-Fabriek Anton Nöggerath (Anton Nöggerath film factory).

    De bannelingen/The exiles (Leon Boedels, Caroline van Dommelen, 1911) was based on a novel by Oscar Wilde about a group of 19th century nihilists that wants to change the system in czaristic Russia.

    The second film was Don Juan (Leon Boedels, 1913) featuring Willem van der Veer. An advertisement conserved at the Eye Film Institute states that the latter film was an "enormous success".

    Her third film is the first Dutch horror thriller Het Geheim van het Slot Arco/The Secret of Arco Castle (Maurits Binger, Jan van Dommelen, 1915).

    In this Hollandia Filmfabriek production, filmed in Austria, Lus co-starred opposite Jan van Dommelen.

    Film in Nederland (Film in the NL), a site by Eye - Film Institute Netherlands also mentions: De paardrijdster/The Equestrienne (Maurits H. Binger, 1912), produced by Binger's company Maatschappij voor Artistieke Cinematografie, a precursor of his Filmfabriek Hollandia.

    Her final film appearance was in a film insert for the play 't Speldenraapstertje (The little needle girl), a romantic comedy in three acts and an epilogue. The epilogue was the film insert, projected on a screen. Director Willy Mullens filmed this insert produced by his company Haghe Film for the stage company Het Princesse-Tooneel.

    Jan van Dommelen
    Jan van Dommelen. Dutch postcard by E & B. Photo by HAP Film / Bens Film, Den Haag. Publicity still for the film Schakels (Maurits Binger, 1920), based on a play by Herman Heijermans.

    Great intensity and truthfulness

    In the following decades, Tilly Lus became one of the most renowned performers of the Dutch stage.

    According to the Dutch Theaterencyclopedie: "She was a major tragedienne, and was characterized by great intensity and truthfulness".

    In the 1930s, she worked for the theatre company Centraal Tooneel and played in this period regularly with another legendary Dutch stage actress, Mary Dresselhuys.

    Her most famous roles include Hannele in Gerhart Hauptmann's Hannele's Hemelvaart (Hannele's Ascension), Tsjie Moe in De gele mantel (The Yellow jacket), Mademoiselle in Jacques Deval's play Mademoiselle (1932), Harriet in Ludwig Biro's Masks and the title role in Renee Jeanne by Nora Jonuxi.

    Her final role was Maria in Een familie in Nazareth (A Family in Nazareth) by Leonore Coffe and William Joyce Cowen at the Centraal Tooneel. In 1933 Lus was appointed Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (Knight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau).

    On 9 May 1940 she performed for the last time on stage. After the war she did not want to play anymore.
    Since 1915, she was married to famous Dutch actor and director Cor Ruys. They had six children, including actress Louise Ruys.

    In 1971, Tilly Lus died in The Hague at the age of 83.

    Sources: Film in the Netherlands (Dutch), Theaterencyclopedie (Dutch), DBNL (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch) and IMDb.

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  • 05/12/14--23:00: Jester Naefe
  • Beautiful, Austrian born actress Jester Naefe (1924-1967) had a short film career in the German cinema with highlights in the late 1940s and the mid 1950s. Because of her roles and her sexy looks the press labelled her the ‘German Marilyn Monroe’.

    Jester Naefe
    German card by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 2975.

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by ISV, no. C 4. Photo: Divina / Gloria / Grimm.

    Tumultuous Marriage

    Jester-Helene Naefe was born in 1924 in Vienna, Austria. She was the daughter of a truck driver, Herbert Naefe.

    At the age of 16, Jester went to Berlin to follow acting lessons at the Ackermann Theater School. Soon she appeared on stage in the Breslauer Schauspielhaus in Breslau and in the Intimen Theater in Hamburg.

    In 1948 producer-director Rolf Meyer gave her her first film part in the short film Sie sind nicht gemeint/You Were Not Meant (Answald Krüger, 1948) with Erik Ode.

    This debut was soon followed by more secondary roles in Diese nacht vergess ich nie/I'll Never Forget That Night (Johannes Meyer, 1949) with Gustav Fröhlich, Der bagnosträfling/The Prisoner (Gustav Fröhlich, 1949) with Paul Dahlke, Wer bist du, den ich liebe?/Who Is This Person I Love? (Géza von Bolváry, 1949) with Iván Petrovich, and Das fräulein und der vagabund/The Girl and the Tramp (Albert Benitz, 1949) with Hardy Krüger.

    In 1949 she married the rich, Hungarian business entrepreneur Alfred Tauszky. Jester stopped making films to concentrate on family life.

    The marriage was tumultuous: Tauszky slapped her in public during a reception in Bad Oldesloe. In 1951 the couple had to leave Hamburg for Rome, when Tauszky was prosecuted for tax evasion.

    Naefe and Tauszky had two daughters, Vivian (1952) and Silvia (born 1953). In 1953 Tauszky deserted his family and fled to Caracas, Venezuela. Jester returned with her daughters to Germany, first to Hamburg, later to München (Munich).

    Jester Naefe
    German card by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1528. Photo: Filmaufbau / Deutsche London / Lilo-photo. Still from Mamitschka (Rolf Thiele, 1955).

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag. Collection: Meiter.

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. I 413. Photo: Filmaufbau / Deutsche London / Czerwonski. Publicity still for Mamitschka (Rolf Thiele, 1955).

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 2151. Photo: Czerwonski / H-D-Film / Deutsche London.

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1454. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC-Film / Allianz. Publicity still for Stern von Rio/Star from Rio (Kurt Neumann, 1955).

    Sand, Love and Salt

    Jester Naefe took up her film career in 1954 and the flamboyant beauty would make twelve films in the following three years.

    Among these films were Die Kleine Stadt will schlafen gehen/The Little Town Will Go to Sleep (Hans H. König, 1954), Le destructeur/Das bekenntnis der Ina Kahr/Confession of Ina Kahr (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1954), co-starring with Curd Jürgens, Stern von Rio/Star from Rio (Kurt Neumann, 1955) with Willy Fritsch, and Die Goldene Brücke/The Golden Bridge (Paul Verhoeven, 1956) with Paul Hubschmid.

    Her most famous role was as Lydia in the remake of the 1932 film operetta Der Kongress tanzt/Congress Dances (Franz Antel, 1955).

    In 1957, during the shooting of the Italian-German coproduction La Ragazza della salina/Sand, Love and Salt (František Cáp, 1957) in Portoroz, Yugoslavia, she had a fighting scene with lead actress Isabella Corey. During the scene, she fell and hit the back of her head on a rock.

    She soon started getting bad headaches, and the headaches were followed by temporary paralysis. Despite her illness she finished the film, co-starring Marcello Mastroianni.

    Easter 1958 her illness seemed vanished, and she went to the USA for a TV show. Hollywood star Gregory Peck reportedly called her ‘one of the most attractive and beautiful women of the world’.

    In 1959 she was treated again at a Munich hospital, and her illness was diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. Jester Naefe had to retire from the film business.

    In the 1960s when the medical bills consumed all of her earnings, she retired to live with her mother, in her modest home in Wolfratshausen in Upper Bavaria.

    After a long and painful period of illness she died in 1967 in Geretsried, near Wolfratshausen, forgotten by her colleagues and the public. She was only 42 although the obituaries gave her age as 37.

    Her daughter Vivian Naefe is now a celebrated film and TV director.

    Jester Naefe
    German card by Lux.

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 2027. Photo: Rhombus / Herzog-Film / Czerwonski. Publicity still for Lumpazivagabundus/Gentleman-vagabond (Franz Antel, 1956).

    Jester Naefe
    German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 1907. Photo: Bavaria / Schorcht / Betzler. Publicity still for La ragazza della salina/Sand, Love and Salt (Frantisek Cáp, 1957).

    Sources: Philippe Pelletier (CinéArtistes.com), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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  • 05/13/14--23:00: Marie Laforêt
  • Marie Laforêt (1939)is a French singer and actress of Armenian descent. After her first film appearance in the drama Plein Soleil (1960) opposite Alain Delon she became very popular and interpreted many roles in the 1960s. As a singer she is best loved for Marie douceur, Marie colère, her version of the Rolling Stones hit Paint it black.

    Marie Laforet
    French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 69.

    Marie Laforêt
    German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/344. Photo: Gérard Decaux.

    Marie Laforêt
    French postcard by PSG, no. 931. Photo: P. de Mervellec.

    The Girl with the Golden Eyes

    Marie Laforêt was born as Maïténa Doumenach in Soulac-sur-Mer in the Gironde in 1939. Her parents were of Armenian origin.

    Marie’s career began accidentally in 1959 when she stepped in for her sister at the last minute in the French radio talent contest Naissance d'une étoile (Birth of a star) - and won.

    Director Louis Malle then cast her in the film he was shooting at the time, Liberté (Freedom). The film was eventually abandoned but Marie went on to take the lead female role opposite heart throb Alain Delon in the classic Plein Soleil/Purple Noon (René Clément, 1960), based on the novel The talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.

    That same year she married director Jean-Gabriel Albicocco, who cast her later in some of his own works, including La Fille aux Yeux d'Or/The Girl with the Golden Eyes (1961), based on the Honoré de Balzac story. The film title would become her nickname.

    In her second film, Saint Tropez Blues (Marcel Moussy, 1961), accompanied by a young Jacques Higelin at the guitar, she sang the title song. Immediately she started releasing singles.

    Her first hit was the chirpy folkish Les Vendanges de l'Amour in 1963. In a translated version, the song also gave Marie a top ten hit in Italy, as La vendemmia dell'amore, a year later.

    She also recorded some rock songs, her most famous being Marie-douceur, Marie-colère (1966), a cracking version of the Rolling Stones hit Paint It Black.

    Another popular recording was 1965s girl-groupish A demain, my darling, known by English-speakers as The Sha La La Song and recorded by Marianne Faithfull on her debut album.

    Her later songs offered a more mature, poetic, tender alternative to the light, teenage yé-yé tunes charting in France at the time. Her melodies borrowed more from exotic folk music, especially South American and Eastern European, than from contemporary American and British pop acts.

    Laforêt worked with many important French composers, musicians and lyricists, such as André Popp and Pierre Cour, who provided her with a panoply of colourful, sophisticated orchestral arrangements, featuring dozens of musical instruments and creating a variety of sounds, sometimes almost Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque, other times quite modern and innovative.

    Meanwhile she appeared in several French and Italian films, including Leviathan/Dark Journey (Léonard Keigel, 1962) with Louis Jourdan, À cause, à cause d'une femme/Because, Because of a Woman (Michel Deville, 1963) with Jacques Charrier, La chasse à l'homme/Male Hunt (Edouard Molinaro, 1964) opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Le soldatesse/The Camp Followers (Valerio Zurlini, 1965) starring Anna Karina.

    She also appeared opposite George Hamilton in the American comedy Jack of Diamonds (Don Sharp, 1967).

    Marie Laforêt
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 125. Photo: Ufa.

    Marie Laforet
    French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 871. Photo: Studio Vauclair, Paris.

    Marie Laforet
    Belgian postcard by Editions Decker, Brussels, no. A 110.

    Marie Laforet
    Italian postcard by Diesse / Cristo San Pietro in Corte, Monticello.

    Marie Laforet
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

    The Exile of Carlos Gardel

    At the end of the 1960s, Marie Laforêt had become a rather distinctive figure in the French pop scene. Her music stood out, perhaps too much for her new label CBS Records, which expected of her more upbeat, simpler songs. Marie fell out with the record company’s bosses over her choice of material, which they felt not to be sufficiently commercial. She was interested in making more personal records, but finally gave in.

    Although her most financially successful singles (Viens, Viens, a 1973 cover of a British hit, and Il a neigé sur Yesterday (1977), a ballad written by Michel Jourdan about the break-up of the Beatles) were released in the 1970s, Marie progressively lost interest in her singing career.

    She moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1978, where she opened an art gallery and abandoned music more or less altogether. She incidentally appeared in films, including the fairy-tale adaptation Le petit poucet/Tom Thumb (Michel Deville, 1972) and the action comedy Flic ou voyou/Cop or Hood (Georges Lautner, 1979) featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo.

    In the 1980s, she concentrated on her acting career, appearing in such French and Italian films as the comedy Les diplômés du dernier rang (Christian Gion, 1982) with Michel Galabru, another Belmondo actioner Les morfalous (Henri Verneuil, 1984) and the little seen masterpiece Tangos, l'exil de Gardel/Tangos, the Exile of Gardel (Fernando E. Solanas, 1985) dedicated to Carlos Gardel, the legendary Argentinian tango star.

    She also played regularly on TV as in the popular mini-series La piovra 3/The Octopus 3 (Luigi Perelli, 1987) starring Michele Placido.

    Laforêt eventually released some music singles, but they were not popular. She made a comeback, however, in 1993 with an album (her last) for which she wrote the lyrics.

    In the 1990s, she again continued to work as an actress, both on stage and on screen in such films as the romance Dis-moi oui.../Say Yes To Me (Alexandre Arcady, 1995) with Jean-Hugues Anglade, and the Sci-Fi film Tykho Moon (Enki Bilal, 1996) with Julie Delpy.

    She has performed in a number of plays in Paris over the years, acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. In September 2005 she sang once again, going on tour in France for the first time since 1972. Every concert was sold out.

    Her most recent film is the comedy-drama Les bureaux de Dieu/God’s Offices (Claire Simon, 2008) about dedicated social workers who devote their long shifts to helping pregnant women.

    Marie Laforêt still resides in Geneva and has obtained Swiss citizenship. She is the mother of writer-director Liza Azuelos, with whom she worked on the film Ainsi soient-elles/That’s How Women Are (Liza Azuelos, Patrick Alessandrin, 1995) with Vincent Cassel and Thomas Kretschmann.

    Marie Laforet
    French postcard by PSG, presented by Corvisart, Epinal, no. 474. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Marie Laforet in Le Petit Poucet
    French postcard by Librairie Hachette, Paris, no. 2. Photo: Parc Film Navarre & associes. Publicity still for Le Petit Poucet/Tom Thumb (Michel Boisrond, 1972).

    Marie Laforet sings Ivan, Boris & Moi on French TV in the Sacha show (1968) with among the dancers Sacha Distel and Jean Yanne. Source: cyclopede (YouTube).

    Marie Laforêt sings Viens viens, Source: mauricizf (YouTube).

    Marie Laforet sings je voudrais tant que tu comprennes in Surprise Partie (1997).

    Sources: Ready Steady Girls, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 05/14/14--23:00: Susi Nicoletti
  • Bavarian-born actress Susi Nicoletti (1918–2005) was an eminent stage actress of the Burgtheater in Vienna. Today she is best remembered for her supporting roles in dozens of German film comedies of the 1940s and 1950s.

    Susi Nicoletti
    German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3935/1. Photo: Wien Film / Hämmerer.


    Susi Nicoletti was born as Susanne Emilie Luise Adele Habersack in Munich in 1918. Her parents were actress Consuella Nicoletti, and Ernst Habersack, boss of a shipping company. From 1921 to 1927, she lived with her parents in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Back in Munich, she made her stage debut at age 13 at the Kammerspiele in Munich and became solo dancer for the Munich Opera two years later. Around that time she joined the cabaret Die weißblaue Drehorgel. She also got acting training by Magda Lina.

    Between 1936 and 1940, she was engaged by the Nürnberg city theatre. In 1939, she was offered her first film role in the short Schwarz und Blond/Black and Blond (Philipp von Zeska, 1939) with O.W. Fischer.

    It was followed by a role in Mutterliebe/Mother Love (Gustav Ucicky, 1939).

    In 1940 she moved to Vienna, where she became an ensemble member of the Burgtheater. She continued to appear in such German films as the comedy Oh, diese Männer/Oh, Those Men (Hubert Marischka, 1941) as the daughter of Georg Alexander and Grethe Weiser, the romantic drama Sommerliebe/Summer Love (1942) starring Winnie Markus, and Der zweite Schuß/The second shot (Martin Fric, 1943), in which she played the female lead.

    Susi Nicoletti
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3001. Photo: Vogelmann / Paula Wessely-Film / Columbia.

    Susi Nicoletti
    German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2025. Photo: Schorchtfilm. Publicity still for Die Liebe Familie/Dear Family (Helmut Weiss, 1957).

    Comedian Harmonists

    After the war, Susi Nicoletti continued her stage and film career. In 1946 she also began to perform at the Salzburg Festival.

    Among the first post-war films were Das singende Haus/The Singing House (Franz Antel, 1947) and Philine (Theo Lingen, 1949).

    She often played in comedies, such as Es schlägt 13/It strikes 13 (E.W. Emo, 1951) with Theo Lingen, Hallo Dienstmann/Hello Porter (Franz Antel, 1952) with Hans Moser and Paul Hörbiger, Mariandl (Werner Jacobs, 1961) with Conny Froboess, and the TV film Mein Freund Harvey/My Friend Harvey (Kurt Wilhelm, 1970) opposite Heinz Rühmann.

    One of her best films was the Thomas Mann adaptation Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull/Confessions of Felix Krull (Kurt Hoffmann, 1957) starring Horst Buchholz.

    From the mid-1950s on, Susi Nicoletti taught acting and dance at the prestigious Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. Among her students were Senta Berger, Erika Pluhar, Ute Lemper,Heidelinde Weis, Pia Douwes and Albert Fortell.

    After her retirement at the Burgtheater in 1992 she continued her stage career at the Theater in der Josefstadt.

    In the late 1990s she stopped teaching at the Max Reinhardt seminar. Her final films were Comedian Harmonists (Joseph Vilsmaier, 1997), the story of the famous, Weimar male sextet, and Am anderen Ende der Brücke/On the Other Side of the Bridge (Mei Hu, 2002) starring Nina Proll.

    In 2005, Susi Nicoletti died in Vienna of complications after heart surgery, aged 86.

    She was twice married. Her first husband was film businessman Ludwig Ptack. Her second husband, Ernst Häussermann, who had passed away in 1984, was an actor and director of the Burgtheater and the Theater in der Josefstadt. Their son, daughter and grandchildren live in the United States.

    In 1977 she was awarded with the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class.

    Susi Nicoletti
    German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden / Westf., no. 1989. Photo: Wien-Film / Deutsche London.Publicity still for Sonnenschein und Wollkenbruch/Sunshine and cloudburst (Rudolf Nussgruber, 1955).

    Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • 05/15/14--23:00: Dawn Addams
  • British actress Dawn Addams (1930-1985) launched her film career in Hollywood and later appeared in many European films of the 1950s and 1960s as an icy, unobtainable beauty. She worked with major directors like Otto Preminger, Charles Chaplin and Fritz Lang, but despite this she had a rather undistinguished film career, in which second-rate pictures outnumbered far the quality ones.

    Dawn Addams
    French postcard by Edition du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 693. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

    Dawn Addams
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3862. Photo: Georg Michalke / Ufa.

    Dawn Addams
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 2270. Photo: Halsman / Imperial-Translux / Herzog-Film.

    Dawn Addams
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 2240. Photo: Vivienne / Imperial-Translux / Herzog-Film. Publicity still for Der Rommel-Schatz/Il tesoro di Rommel/Rommel's Treasure (Romolo Marcellini, 1955).

    Dawn Addams
    French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 563, offered by Les carbones Korès 'Carboplane'. Photo: United Artists. Publicity still for The Moon is Blue (Otto Preminger, 1953).

    More Decorous Than Substantial

    Victoria Dawn Addams was born in Felixstowe, England, in 1930. She was the daughter of Captain James Ramage Addams, a R.A.F. officer, and Ethel Mary Addams-Hickie. Her mother died when she was young, and Dawn spent her early life in Calcutta, India.

    She studied acting in London and started her career working for a travelling theatre company. In 1949 she made her London debut in the farce Charley’s Aunt. Her beauty and physique soon attracted the attention of talent agents.

    In 1950 she left for Hollywood to star in MGM movies. Her film debut was a supporting part in Night Into Morning (Fletcher Markle, 1951), an intimate drama about alcoholism starring Ray Milland.

    She also appeared in the film noir The Unknown Man (Richard Thorpe, 1951) with Walter Pidgeon, the Victorian thriller The Hour of 13 (Harold French, 1952) opposite Peter Lawford, and Plymouth Adventure (Clarence Brown, 1952) with Spencer Tracy - the story of the Mayflower in its historic voyage across the Atlantic to the New World.

    In 1952, Addams auditions for a role in Limelight (Charlie Chaplin, 1953). Although she doesn’t get the part (it goes to Claire Bloom), she becomes friends with Charlie and Oona Chaplin

    Her roles were more decorous than substantial. Probably her best Hollywood film was the risqué (for its time) comedy The Moon Is Blue (Otto Preminger, 1953) starring William Holden, David Niven and Maggie McNamara. She also appeared in a supporting part in the German version, Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach (Otto Preminger, 1953), with Hardy Krüger, Johannes Heesters and Johanna Matz. She is the only player who appears in both versions because most of her dialog is on the telephone, thus it can easily be dubbed into German. The Moon is Blue helped to end the system of self-censorship of Hollywood films, which had been in place since 1934.

    In 1953 Dawn also embarked on a USO tour to help entertain the troops in Korea, followed by a small but heavily publicized role as Richard Carlson's model girlfriend in the Sci-Fi film Riders to the Stars (Richard Carlson, 1954).

    Dawn Addams
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 173. Photo: Fried Agency / Ufa.

    Dawn Addams
    Belgian collector's card, no. 68.

    Dawn Addams
    German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 25. Photo: Klaus Collignon.

    Dawn Addams
    French postcard by St. Anne, Marseille. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Dawn Addams
    French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 1068. Photo: Sam Lévin.

    Was Her Beauty Too Smooth?

    Dawn Addams returned to Europe to continue her film career. In Italy she starred in the sensational war film Mizar/Frogwoman (Francesco De Robertis, 1954). Thanks to her lofty family lineage, she moved in the best social circles. During the production of Mizar she met the Prince of Roccasecca de Volsci, Don Vittorio Massimo, and married him. They settle at his castle in Scorona, 20 miles outside Rome.

    In the following years she appeared in several second-rate pictures but also played in a few quality films including Charles Chaplin's bitter comedy A King In New York (1956), "wherein Dawn had her best role as an American commercial actress", according to Hal Erickson at AllMovie.

    She played opposite Laurence Harvey in the war film The Silent Enemy (William Fairchild, 1958), and opposite Brigitte Bardot in Voulez-vous danser avec moi?/Come Dance with Me! (Michel Boisrond, 1959).

    The following year she starred in the thriller Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse/The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960), the last film of director Fritz Lang.

    Despite this she had an undistinguished film career, in which second-rate pictures far outnumbered the quality ones. “Was her beauty too smooth or were her acting talents limited or both?”, asks reviewer Guy Bellinger on IMDb.

    In the early 1960s Dawn appeared in a some more good films, including The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (Terence Fisher, 1960) starring Paul Massie and Christopher Lee, the Gustave Flaubert adaptation L’éducation sentimentale/Sentimental Education (Alexandre Astruc, 1962) with Jean-Claude Brialy, the swashbuckler La tulipe noire/The Black Tulip (Christian-Jaque, 1964) starring Alain Delon, and the swinging-sixties-London-cheesecake Ballad in Blue (1964, Paul Henreid), top-billing soul singer Ray Charles as himself.

    From then on she mostly appeared on television, for example in series like Danger Man (1964), The Saint (1963-1966) - which starred Roger Moore as Simon Templar, the sitcom Father Dear Father (1971-1973), the campy sci-fi serial Star Maidens (1977), the soap opera Crossroads (1977), and finally Triangle (1983), a series about the crew and passengers of a North Sea ferry, on the triangular route between Felixstowe, Gothenburg and Amsterdam.

    Her last feature film was the B-film The Vault of Horror (Roy Ward Baker, 1973).

    She was married twice. From 1954 till 1971 she was married to Don Vittorio Emanuele Massimo. They had one son, Prince Stefano Massimo (1955). After their separation they had a much publicized feud about their son. In 1974 Addams married Jimmy White.

    In 1985, Dawn Addams died from cancer in London.

    Roger Moore and Dawn Addams in The Saint
    Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 553. Publicity still for The Saint (1963-1966) with Roger Moore.

    Dawn Addams
    German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3960. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Unitalia Film.

    Dawn Addams, Peter van Eyck
    German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2852. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Alfa / Prisma. Publicity still for Geheimaktion Schwarze Kapelle/The Black Chapel (Ralph Habib, 1959) with Peter van Eyck.

    Trailer of Hot Money Girl (1959) with Eddie Constantine. Source: Ourmaninhavanna (YouTube).

    Trailer of The Vampire Lovers (1970) with Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing. Source: Lv99Slacker (YouTube).

    Sources: Collector’s card, Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Guy Bellinger (IMDb), Film Reference, Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 05/16/14--23:00: Vladimir Ivashov
  • Soviet actor Vladimir Ivashov (1939-1994) is best known for his film debut in Ballada o Soldate/Ballad of a Soldier (1960). Despite the worldwide acclaim for this film, and the respect he was offered by his peers for his later roles, stardom eluded him. At the end of his life he had to do hard labour at a railroad yard.

    Vladimir Ivashov
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. M 78052, 1962. Retail price: 8 kop.

    30.1 million tickets

    Vladimir Sergeyevich Ivashov was born in Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia).

    At the age of 19 he was chosen for the lead role in Ballada o Soldate/Ballad of a Soldier (Grigori Chukhrai, 1960). At the time he was a first-year student under Mikhail Romm at Moscow's prestigious VGIK institute.

    Ballada o Soldate tells the relatively simple story of the young Russian soldier Alyosha (Ivashov) who gets a two-day vacation for shooting down several tanks during WW II. He hurries to his native village to see his mother and mend the roof of his house. On the way he meets a pretty young girl (Zhanna Prokhorenko) and helps her get home. He also has some errands from his front fellows and spends precious time to help some other people. After all he finally gets to see his mother for just a few precious moments before he is called back to the front. And he never comes home again.

    The film was produced at Mosfilm and when it was released in the Soviet Union it sold 30.1 million tickets. The film received considerable praise for both its technical craft and its strong, yet subtle story. Viewed from the earnest, young protagonist, Ballad of a Soldier distanced itself from the fierce propaganda which bound other films before it.

    American critics, particularly, hailed it as an instant classic, with the New York Timesoffering it iconic status. At AllMovie, Tom Wiener writes: "This is one of the least horrific war films ever made, which isn't to say that it glorifies combat or ignores suffering. It also contains one of the saddest expressions of motherly love ever spoken, when Alyosha's mother bids him farewell by crying out, 'I didn't wait for your father, but I'll wait for you.'"

    It was in fact the first Russian film to score an American success during the Cold War era. It won also several awards, including theBAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source, the Special jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival of 1960, and was nominated for the Academy Awardfor Best Original Screenplay.

    Vladimir Ivashov
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 11251, 1966. Photo: B. Vilenkjna / Ter-Ovanesova. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 100.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.).

    Weak Heart

    Vladimir Ivashov graduated from the VGIK institute in 1963, and was deluged with film offers.

    He played subsequent film roles in Khokkeisty/The Hockeyplayers (Rafail Goldin, 1964), and Geroy nashego vremeni (Stanislav Rostotsky, 1965). Most were insignificant comedies and unknown in the West.

    There were exceptions. In her 1995 obituary of Ivashov in The Independent, Jeanne Vronskaya writes: "But he left another memorable performance in the lead role of Pechorin, the film directed by Stanislav Rostotski (1967), based on Mikhail Lermontov's Hero of Our Time, in which he plays an aristocratic Russian officer desired by many high-society women." Also interesting is Nass wal Nil, al-/Those People of the Nile (Youssef Chahine, 1968).

    Durin the 1970s he played roles in Korona Rossiyskoy imperii, ili snova neulovimye/Crown of Russian Empire, or the Elusives Again (Edmond Keosayan, 1971), A zori zdes tikhie/The Dawns Here Are Quiet (Stanislav Rostotsky, 1974), Kogda nastupaet sentyabr/When September Comes (Edmond Keosayan, 1975), Brillianty dlya diktatury proletariata/Diamonds for the Proletariat (Grigori Kromanov, 1975), and the ingenious science fiction film Test pilota Pirxa/Test Pilot Pirxa (Marek Piestrak, 1978).

    Ivashov never repeated his early success. He was offered respect by his peers for his work, but the public had virtually forgotten him.

    His later films include Cherez Gobi i Khingan (Vasili Ordynsky, Badrahin Sumhu, 1981), Zhil-byl Pyotr/Once Upon A Time There Was Peter (Sergei Sychyov, 1983), Russkiye bratya/Russian Brothers (Nikolai Fomin, 1991), and Ubiystvo na Zhdanovskoy/The Murder at Zhdanovskaya (Sulambek Mavilov, 1992).

    Towards the end of his life, he found it so difficult to find acting jobs that he worked in a railroad yard loading and unloading freight cars.

    According to his wife, actress Svetlana Svetlichnaya, Ivashov suffered from a weak heart and the labour-intensive railroad work was presumedly responsible for his early death at the age of 55.

    Vladimir Ivashov
    Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 11211, ca. 1964. Photo: Ter-Ovanesova. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 150.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.).

    Sources: Jeanne Vronskaya (The Independent), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Tom Wiener (AllMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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  • 05/17/14--23:00: Rosemary Dexter
  • Rosemary Dexter (1944-2010) was a British film actress of Pakistani origins, who appeared in dozens of Italian films of the 1960s and 1970s.

    Rosemary Dexter
    Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

    For a Few Dollars More

    Rosemary (sometimes Rosemarie) Dexter was born in Quetta, British India (now Pakistan), in 1944. She had a British father and an Anglo-Burmese mother.

    In the early 1950s her family moved to Italy. Dexter entered the film industry in 1963.

    In Rome she met director Ugo Gregoretti who offered her the female lead in his science fiction comedy Omicron (1963) starring Renato Salvatori.

    The following year she played Juliet in the Shakespeare adaptation Giulietta e Romeo/Juliet and Romeo (Riccardo Freda, 1964), according the heroine top billing for the first time in history.

    In Per qualche dollaro in più/For a Few Dollars More (Sergio Leone, 1964), she played Col. Mortimer’s sister in the flashback scene with Peter Lee Lawrence and Gian Maria Volonté.

    She appeared in more Spaghetti Westerns, including El desperado/The Dirty Outlaws (Franco Rossetti, 1967).

    Other films were Desideri d'estate/Summer Wish (Silvio Amadio, 1964) with Gabriele Ferzetti, Oltraggio al pudore/All the Other Girls Do! (Silvio Amadio, 1964), and Un uomo a metà/Almost a Man (Vittorio Seta, 1966) starring Jacques Perrin.

    Robert Firsching at AllMovie about the latter: “The strong supporting cast, including Lea Padovani and Pier Paolo Capponi, brhttp://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Dextering credence to their roles, but it is De Seta's direction, Perrin's controlled performance, and a relatively subtle score by Ennio Morricone which keep this film from becoming as overwrought as it might have become in other hands.”

    Rosemary Dexter, Geronimo Meynier
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2923, 1967. Photo: publicity still for Giulietta e Romeo/Juliet and Romeo (Riccardo Freda, 1964).

    Beautiful Eye Candy

    Rosemary Dexter was a very active film actress until mid-seventies.

    She acted in international productions as The Shoes of the Fisherman (Michael Anderson, 1968) starring Anthony Quinn.

    On TV she guest-starred in Vendetta for the Saint (James P. O'Connolly, 1968), an episode of the popular spy series The Saint, featuring Roger Moore.

    She often played the love interest of the hero or the beautiful eye-candy.

    Later films include the Easy Rider rip-off Cometogether (Tony Anthony, Saul Swimmer, 1971) with Luciana Paluzzi, the Giallo L'Occhio Nel Labirinto/Eye of The Labyrinth (Mario Caiano, 1971) with Adolfo Celi, and the comedy Mio Dio, come sono caduta in basso!/How Long Can You Fall? (Luigi Comencini, 1974) starring Laura Antonelli.

    In 1975, after a photo shoot for the Italian Playboy, she retired from acting.

    Her final film was the fantasy Povero Cristo/Poor Christ (Pier Carpi, 1976) with Edmund Purdom.

    She went to live in the Villa Leopardi in Recanati on recommendation of Count Vanni and his family with whom Dexter was long-time friends.

    In 2010, Rosemary Dexter was found dead in her house in Recanati. She had been suffering from a long illness. Dexter had no relatives and expressed her wish to be cremated after she died.

    El desperado/The Dirty Outlaws (Franco Rossetti, 1967). Source: SpaghettiWesternFLIX (YouTube).

    Sources: Robert Firsching (AllMovie), Matt Blake (The Wild Eye), Tom B. (Boot Hill), Wikipedia (English and German) and IMDb.

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  • 05/18/14--23:00: Albert Finney
  • Dynamic, often explosive, stage and screen star Albert Finney (1936) was one of the working class and provincial actors that revolutionized British theatre and film in the 1950s and 1960s as one of the ‘angry young men’ of the Kitchen Sink Theatre and Free Cinema wave. Although his early fame was later tempered by long absences from major motion pictures, he continues to earn awards and acclaim in a varied five-decade career on stage, films, and television.

    Albert Finney
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1616, 1961. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress. Publicity still for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960).

    Successful Bookmaker

    Albert Finney was born in the working-class town of Salford, England, to Alice Finney-Hobson and Albert Finney, Sr. in 1936. Although he was born working class, his was a relatively privileged upbringing as his father was a successful bookmaker.

    He trained at the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), where his classmates included Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole.

    He began his stage career with the Birmingham Repertory Company playing Brutus in Julius Caesar. He made his London debut in the company's production of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra in 1956.

    Two years later, he earned critical acclaim opposite Charles Laughton in a West End production of Jane Arden's The Party, directed by Laughton.

    He then joined the famed Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for their 100th anniversary season, performing Cassio in Othello (directed by Tony Richardson with Paul Robeson in the lead), reteaming with Laughton for A Midsummer Night's Dream as Lysander and understudying Laurence Olivier's Coriolanus.

    His cinema debut was a small role as Laurence Olivier's son in The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, 1960). His triumphant performance on the London stage as Billy Liar (1960) raised his profile higher.

    Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field
    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1615, 1961-1962. Photo: still from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960) with Shirley Anne Field.

    Angry Young Man Cinema

    Albert Finney's upbringing in Lancashire, a region of mills and smokestacks, exposed him to the kind of social injustice and economic hardship that helped prepare him for his first leading film role as a nonconformist, disillusioned factory worker in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). The film directed by Karel Reisz and produced by Tony Richardson and based on the novel by Alan Sillitoe brought Finney worldwide acclaim.

    Mike Cummings at AllMovie calls the film “a milestone in the development of British realist cinema” and TCM names it “a classic of British ‘angry young man’ cinema”.

    Finney was originally chosen for the title role in Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) after a screen test shot over four days at a cost of £100,000. He later balked at the film's monumental shooting schedule, and did not want to commit to such a long term contract.

    Finney cemented his film stardom with the lead role in the lavish and bawdy Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963), adapted by screenwriter John Osborne from the Henry Fielding novel of the same name. He earned an Oscar nomination for his rakish, startlingly handsome and picaresque hero in this rollicking, uproarious hit which won four Academy Awards.

    Rather than attend the Oscar ceremony in 1964, he went on vacation sailing in the South Seas. When informed that he had been beaten as Best Actor by Sidney Poitier, he offered Poitier his heartfelt congratulations.

    He later would be nominated again for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Dresser (1983), and Under the Volcano (1984). He was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Erin Brockovich (2000). Despite his nominations, he has yet to appear in person at an Oscar ceremony.

    East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1614, 1961. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress. Publicity still from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960).

    Disdainful of his Pretty Boy Image

    In 1963, Albert Finney took Broadway by storm in John Osborne's Luther, helmed by Tony Richardson.

    Then he reteamed with Karel Reisz for Night Must Fall (1964), on which Finney made his debut as producer. In 1965, he formed Memorial Films in association with actor Michael Medwin, responsible for several outstanding films including Lindsay Anderson's If... (1968) and O Lucky Man! (1973).

    With hints of autobiography, in 1967 he directed and starred in Charlie Bubbles (1967), a film from a Shelagh Delaney script about the disenchantments of success. The loss of youth was also at the centre of Two for the Road (1967, Stanley Donen), in which he starred with Audrey Hepburn.

    After these productions his film appearances became less frequent. With absolutely no interest in being a ‘personality’ actor and disdainful of his pretty boy image, Finney took pictures for their fun value, hamming his way through the title role of Scrooge (Ronald Neame, 1970), a handsome musicalization of Charles Dickens'A Christmas Carol, and delivering a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a Humphrey Bogart wannabe in Gumshoe (Stephen Frears, 1971), another offering from his production company.

    In 1974, he was only the third choice after Alec Guinness and Paul Scofield to play Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot in the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet, 1974), but author Agatha Christie felt Finney's performance came closest to her idea of Poirot.

    Finney was so well-known for the role that he complained that it typecast him for a number of years. After Murder on the Orient Express, Finney would appear in only one film over the next seven years, playing a small role in The Duellists (Ridley Scott, 1977).

    He directed several plays while associate artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatrefrom 1972-75. As a member of the National Theatre beginning in 1975, he concentrated exclusively on stage acting, portraying the title roles of Hamlet, Tamburlaine the Great, Macbeth and Uncle Vanya, among his varied work.

    Finney was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Awardas Best Actor: in 1964 for playing the title character of Martin Luther in John Osborne's Luther, and in 1968 for Peter Nichols'A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Both plays were adapted to the screen with other actors. Finney was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, where he performed for three seasons in the early 1980s.

    Albert Finney in Alpha Beta by E. A. Whitehead. Royal Court Theatre 1972. Photo: John Haynes. Collection: Performing Arts / Artes Escénicas (Flickr).

    Powerful, Sexually-charged, Rage-filled Performance

    Albert Finney found new cinema success in Alan Parker's harrowing portrait of divorce, Shoot the Moon (1981), giving a powerful, sexually-charged, rage-filled performance as a writer crazed with jealousy that his wife (Diane Keaton) and children seem to be getting along fine without him since his departure.

    After pocketing a reported $1 million to play Daddy Warbucks in the huge hit Annie (John Huston, 1982), he essayed the aging Donald Wolfit-like actor-manager to Tom Courtenay's The Dresser (Peter Yates, 1983), with both actors earning Best Actor Oscar nominations for their work.

    He was perhaps never better as the gruellingly drunk diplomat of Under the Volcano (John Huston, 1984), adapted from Malcolm Lowry's autobiographical novel set in 1930s Mexico. He earned his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination for an extraordinary performance requiring him onscreen almost the entire film.

    Finney reprised his stage role as a deceptive, drunken Chicago gangster in Orphans (Alan J. Pakula, 1987), demonstrating his flair for dialects with an authentic South Side accent.

    Another highlight was his charismatic Irish gang leader in the Coen brothers’ Miller's Crossing (1990). Finney made an appearance as the Judge during the trial at The Wall: Live in Berlin (Ken O'Neill, Roger Waters, 1990), a video recording of the 1990 Berlin benefit concert in which Roger Waters leads an all star cast in performing his famous concept album.

    He offered a masterful performance as the public school teacher-scholar at the centre of a remake of The Browning Version (Mike Figgis, 1994).

    Finney made several television productions for the BBC in the 1990s, including The Green Man (Elijah Moshinsky, 1990), based on a story by Kingsley Amis, the acclaimed drama A Rather English Marriage (Paul Seed, 1998) with Tom Courtenay, and the lead role in Dennis Potter's final two plays, Karaoke (Renny Rye, 1996) and Cold Lazarus (Renny Rye, 1997). In the latter he played a frozen, disembodied head.

    Trailer of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Source: Britfix (YouTube).

    Trailer of Two For the Road (1967). Source: Freakstorm2 (YouTube).

    Big Fish

    Albert Finney essayed a former racing commissioner in the film adaptation of Sam Shepard's Simpatico (Matthew Warchus, 1999), a role particularly well-suited to this breeder of horses and son of a bookie.

    He then found himself in the commercial smash Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000), playing the skeptical, but open-minded California lawyer boss of Julia Roberts’ titular legal assistant whose interest in a cancer cluster case, gradually re-energized him for what becomes the case of his career.

    That same year, he had a cameo in Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, 2000). In 2002, he played Winston Churchill opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the HBO drama The Gathering Storm (Richard Loncraine, 2002), for which he won BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy awards as Best Actor.

    He played the leading role in the series My Uncle Silas (Tom Clegg, Philip Saville, 2001-2003), about a Cornish country gentleman looking after his great-nephew.

    He received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as the senior Ed Bloom, a man whose tendency toward fanciful self-mythologicizing puts him at odds with his disillusioned son (Billy Crudup) in Big Fish (Tim Burton, 2003). Finney also had a voice-over role as Finnis Everglot in Tim Burton's animated film Corpse Bride (Tim Burton, 2005).

    His most recent films were the successful action thriller The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007) starring Matt Damon, the thriller Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007),  with Philip Seymour Hoffman and the 23rd installment of the James Bond series, Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012).

    Albert Finney married four times. His spouses are Jane Wenham (1957-1961), Anouk Aimée (1970-1978), Katherine Attson (1989-1991) and Pene Delmage (2006-present). He has two children: film technician Simon Finney with Jane Wenham, and actor Declan Finney with Katherine Attson.

    He turned down the offer of a C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1980 and a Knighthood in 2000 for his services to drama.

    Trailer of Miller's Crossing (1990). Source: Sparmanator 666 (YouTube).

    Trailer of Big Fish (2003). Source: FilmTrailersChannel (YouTube).

    Sources: Mike Cummings (AllMovie), Volker Boehm (IMDb), TCM Movie Database, Wikipedia, Britmovie and IMDb.

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  • 05/19/14--23:00: Solser & Hesse
  • Piet Hesse (1872-1936) and Abraham (Lion) Solser (1877-1915) were two Dutch comedians of the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Solser & Hesse
    Dutch postcard.

    The Ladies Wip and Snip

    Solser came from a family of stage actors and variety artists. After the death of his brother Michel, he joined the stage company of his father. His sister was variety artist and comedian Adrienne Solser, who starred in several Dutch film comedies of the 1920s.

    With his brother Louis, Lion formed a comic duo that performed in varieties and at fairs. After they split up, Lion formed a comedy duo with Piet Hesse in 1896. It was an immediate success.

    They also had a popular acting company, Het gezelschap Solser & Hesse, and they acted in some of the first Dutch films of the late 19th and early 20th Century.

    Solser & Hesse played in the first Dutch fiction film Gestoorde hengelaar/Disturbed Angler (M.H. Laddé, 1896). Later they also appeared in two short films from 1900 and 1906, both titled Solser en Hesse. All three films are missing.

    For Edison they also made some records. In 1899, Lion married actress Adrienne Willemsens, and he often worked together with her on stage.

    Solser often played roles in drag and with Hesse, he created the ladies Wip and Snip. They probably inspired Jacques van Tol when he later wrote the famous drag act Snip and Snap for Dutch comedians Piet Muyselaar and Willy Walden.

    In 1915, Lion Solser committed suicide at the age of 38.

    Piet Hesse continued their popular duo with Lion's brother Louis. During the late 1920s and 1930s he worked as an impresario and exploited with Simon Delmonte the traveling theatre, Loge Schouwburg.

    Hesse's life partner was Anna Slauderhof. Piet Hesse died in 1936.

    Willy Walden and Piet Muyselaar
    Dutch postcard by L. Nieweg, Amersfoort. Photo: W. Schuurman, Den Haag. Piet Muyselaar and Willy Walden as Snip and Snap.

    Sources: Piet Hein Honig (Acteurs- en kleinkunstenaarslexicon) (Dutch), Film in the Netherlands, Joods Amsterdam (Dutch) and Wikipedia.

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  • 05/20/14--23:00: Rosamund John
  • Grey-eyed, red-headed Rosamund John (1913–1998) was a major English film and stage actress of the 1940s, known for playing gentle mannered women. She played leading roles in such film classics as The Tawny Pipit (1944), The Way to the Stars (1945), and Green For Danger (1946).

    Rosamund John
    Dutch postcard by Hemo. Photo: Eagle Lion.

    Well-bred Heroin

    Rosamund John was born Nora Rosamund Jones in Tottenham in North London in 1913. She also grew up in Tottenham and was educated at the Tottenham Drapers' College. Then she studied at the Embassy School of Acting.

    After a year in France at the age of 19, she returned to London and was introduced by a former history teacher to the actor-director Milton Rosmer, who cast her in small stage roles.

    Billed as Rosamund Jones, she made her film debut as a Scottish girl in his The Secret of the Loch (Milton Rosmer,1934). The film starred Seymour Hicks as a scientist out to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.

    Two years later, she made her first appearance on the West End stage in Anthony and Cleopatra. Spotted by the legendary impresario C.B. Cochran she went on to appear in the revue Home and Beauty. In 1940 she starred opposite Robert Donat in G.B. Shaw's Devil’s Disciple at the Adelphi Theatre.

    After a screen test, Leslie Howard gave John a leading role in The First of the Few (Leslie Howard, 1942). In his 1998 obituary of John in The Independent, Tom Vallance writes: “As the understanding wife of the Spitfire designer R.J. Mitchell, John projected an extremely English combination of reticence, loyalty and gentle determination, and the film was a big success.“

    As a result she went on to make two more films with Howard as producer, The Gentle Sex (Maurice Elvey, Leslie Howard, 1943) and The Lamp Still Burns (Maurice Elvey, 1943) with Stewart Granger. Howard taught her all about filmmaking, but during the production of The Lamp Still Burns he died during a fatal air trip to Lisbon.

    Rosamund John became a popular film and stage actress who was known for playing gentle mannered women. In the comedy Tawny Pipit (Bernard Miles, 1944), she plays a nurse who joins a vicar and convalescing pilot to save rare birds nesting near an English village and ensure that they can hatch undisturbed in the middle of a war.

    Another success was the outstanding film about life on a British bomber station, The Way to the Stars (Anthony Asquith, 1945). She played ‘Toddy’, the compassionate hotel landlady who loses both her husband, RAF pilot Michael Redgrave, and the American airman she later befriends.

    Tom Vallance describes Rosamund John as “one of Britain's most popular film actresses of the Forties, Rosamund John was voted second only to Margaret Lockwood as the country's favourite British female star in 1944” and as “one of the most interesting of the well-bred heroines who dominated the British screen of that time.”

    Rosamund John
    British card.

    Rosamund John
    British card.

    Cleverer and More Offbeat

    After the war, Rosamund John starred in Green for Danger (Sidney Gilliatt, 1946), an inventive murder mystery set in a hospital operating theatre with Alastair Sim as the eccentric police inspector.

    Bruce Eder at AllMovie: “the movie's casting, plotting, and execution served as a prime example of how British studios were going to compete with their higher-budgeted American rivals in the years after the war: by making movies that were cleverer and more offbeat than anything coming out of America”.

    Green for Danger was again a success, but it would be the last of her major films. The psychological thriller The Upturned Glass (1947) was stolen by its star and co-producer James Mason, and, Roy Boulting's Fame is the Spur (Lawrence Huntington, 1947) was not a popular success.

    A film about the effect of warring parents on a child, No Place for Jennifer (Henry Cass, 1949), was a big success for the child star Janette Scott, after which John made only one more major film, Street Corner (Muriel Box, 1953), in which she and Anne Crawford portrayed two policewomen.

    Rosamund John was intensely political. In 1949 she was nominated to be the Actors Representative on the Working Party on Film Production Costs and for many years she was a leading figure with Equity, the British actors trade union.

    In 1950, she married young naval officer and later Labour MP John Silkin. In the following years, John often attended the House of Commons to hear her husband speak. In the 1970s, Silkin became Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It was a long and happy marriage which ended with her husband’s death in 1987.

    John's final film was the B-film Operation Murder (Ernest Morris, 1956), but she had virtually abandoned her acting career for politics and for marriage. Later she made several television appearances including a guest cameo in the TV series Crimes of Passion (1971).

    John was twice married, first to film editor Russell Lloyd, from 1943–1949, and secondly to John Silkin (1950–1987). They had one son, Rory L. F. Silkin (1954). Rosamund John died from natural causes in London in 1998, aged 85.

    Rosamund John
    British card.

    Sources: Tom Vallance (The Independent), Bruce Eder (AllMovie), Patrick Newley (IMDb), BritMovie, AllMovie, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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