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Articles on this Page
- 08/27/17--22:00: _Nicole Besnard (192...
- 08/28/17--22:00: _Francine Mussey
- 08/29/17--22:00: _Mireille Darc (1938...
- 08/30/17--22:00: _Il tamburino sardo ...
- 08/31/17--22:00: _Elton John
- 09/01/17--22:00: _Vom Werden deutsche...
- 09/02/17--22:00: _Basil Gill
- 09/03/17--22:00: _Estella Blain
- 09/04/17--22:00: _New and rare from D...
- 09/05/17--22:00: _Blanche Montel
- 09/06/17--22:00: _Triboulet (1923)
- 09/07/17--22:00: _Isobel Elsom
- 09/08/17--22:00: _Vom Werden deutsche...
- 09/09/17--22:00: _Sandrine Bonnaire
- 09/10/17--22:00: _René Poyen
- 09/11/17--22:00: _Maria Fromet
- 09/12/17--14:00: _The Blue Diamonds: ...
- 09/12/17--22:00: _Maurice Chevalier
- 09/13/17--22:00: _Arme Thea (1919)
- 09/14/17--22:00: _Mina
- 09/15/17--22:00: _Aimé Simon-Girard
- 09/16/17--22:00: _Conny Froboess
- 09/17/17--22:00: _Jean Toulout
- 09/18/17--22:00: _Magda Schneider
- 09/19/17--22:00: _Louis Davids
- 08/27/17--22:00: Nicole Besnard (1928-2017)
- 08/28/17--22:00: Francine Mussey
- 08/29/17--22:00: Mireille Darc (1938-2017)
- 08/30/17--22:00: Il tamburino sardo (1915)
- 08/31/17--22:00: Elton John
- 09/01/17--22:00: Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst, Part 5
- 09/02/17--22:00: Basil Gill
- 09/03/17--22:00: Estella Blain
- 09/04/17--22:00: New and rare from Didier Hanson
- 09/05/17--22:00: Blanche Montel
- 09/06/17--22:00: Triboulet (1923)
- 09/07/17--22:00: Isobel Elsom
- 09/08/17--22:00: Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst, Part 6
- 09/09/17--22:00: Sandrine Bonnaire
- 09/10/17--22:00: René Poyen
- 09/11/17--22:00: Maria Fromet
- 09/12/17--14:00: The Blue Diamonds: Riem de Wolff (1943-2017)
- 09/12/17--22:00: Maurice Chevalier
- 09/13/17--22:00: Arme Thea (1919)
- 09/14/17--22:00: Mina
- 09/15/17--22:00: Aimé Simon-Girard
- 09/16/17--22:00: Conny Froboess
- 09/17/17--22:00: Jean Toulout
- 09/18/17--22:00: Magda Schneider
- 09/19/17--22:00: Louis Davids
German postcard. Photo: Prisma. Publicity still for La Beauté du diable/Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950).
Beauty and the Devil
Nicole Suzanne Fernande Besnard was born in 1928 in Grenoble, France. After spending part of her childhood in Grenoble, her family moved to Paris during the war.
She became a student of Beatrix Dussane at the Conservatory of dramatic art of Paris. Besnard also entered at the Cours Simon.
She made her film debut in the girls reformatory drama Au royaume des cieux/The Sinners (Julien Duvivier, 1949) with Serge Reggiani.
Then followed the Faust adaptation La Beauté du diable/Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950), with Gérard Philipe and Michel Simon alternating as Faust and Mephistoles. Besnard played the adorable gypsy girl Marguerite, who finally redeems Faust.
Her other films include Ils étaient cinq/They Were Five (Jacques Pinoteau, 1951) with Jean Carmet, Leguignon guérisseur/Leguinon, Healer (Maurice Labro, 1954) and the German musical An der schönen blauen Donau/At The Beautiful Blue Danube (Hans Schweikart, 1955) with Hardy Krüger.
French postcard by Editions P.I. / Editions du Musée Grévin., Paris, no. 4. Publicity still for La Beauté du diable/Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950) with Gérard Philipe. Captions: Voyage de noces a Venise (Honeymoon in Venice).
Passion for antique furniture
In 1958, Nicole Besnard abandoned the cinema and the theatre to devote herself to her passion for antique furniture.
Her final film was the filmed operetta L'Auberge en folie/The inn gone mad (Pierre Chevalier, 1957) with Basque singer Rudi Hirigoyen and Geneviève Kervine. Besnard only had a small supporting part in it.
Besnard went to work for an antique dealer in Paris. She had a daughter, Brigitte, with Ole Fredrik Christian Bornemann, a lawyer, journalist and author of detective novels.
Nicole Besnard died of lung problems in Porspoder in Britany, where she had lived the past 15 years, to be close to her daughter. She was 89.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1309. Photo: Unionfilm / Vogelmann. Publicity still for An der schönen blauen Donau/At The Beautiful Blue Danube (Hans Schweikart, 1955).
Sources: Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 101. Photo: C. Prochazka, Vincennes.
Francine Mussey was born in the 18th arrondissement of Paris as Marcelle Fromholt in 1897. She made her debut in the silent film L'épave/The Pavement (Lucien Lehmann, 1920), opposite actors Marcel Bonneau and Jean-François Martial.
In the French silent film La maison du mystère/The House of Mystery (Alexandre Volkoff, 1923), she co-starred with Russian film star Ivan Mozzhukhin and Charles Vanel. Henry Miyamoto at IMDb: "An art film shot as a serial. An imaginative wedding scene shot in silhouette, begins a tale of murder blackmail and romance covering a period of about 18 years, ending around 1923. The film had the MOMA audience breaking out into applause at the end of each chapter, starting from about chapter 3. At the June 28, 2003 showing at the Gramercy Theatre in New York, only 2 people left of the 150 people who came to see the film, and they came back to see the end of the film. A remarkable feat since the film ran over 7 hours."
Francine Mussey played in Germany opposite Ernst Verebes in Der Mann im Sattel/The Man in the Saddle (Manfred Noa, 1925). She appeared in the classic epic Napoléon vu par Abel Gance/Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927) which tells the story of Napoleon's early years. The film runs for five and a half hours and is now seen as one of the greatest masterpieces of the silent cinema.
Mussey would go on to appear in a number of films throughout the 1920s and into the sound film era of the early 1930s. In Germany she played a supporting part in Die Frau die nicht nein sagen kann/The Woman Who Couldn't Say No (Fred Sauer, 1927) starring Lee Parry, Gustav Fröhlich and Hans Albers.
For Warner Bros, she co-starred with Jean Gabin in the sound film La foule hurle (Jean Daumerie, Howard Hawks, 1932). It was the alternate language version of The Crowd Roars (Howard Hawks, 1932) with James Cagney and Joan Blondell. Her last film was the French comedy L'âne de Buridan/Buridan's Donkey (Alexandre Ryder, 1932) starring René Lefèvre, Colette Darfeuil and Mona Goya.
Only 35, Francine Mussey died in 1933 in Paris. She committed suicide by ingesting poison. She was married to rowing ace Jean-Pierre Stock. Cinémagazine (April 1933): "The loss of her child a little more than a year ago, and the discouragement of this continual struggle that is cinema have led to this fatal Resolution".
Trailer La Maison du mystère/The House of Mystery (1923). Source: Flicker Alley (Vimeo).
Source: Cinémagazine (French), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/331. Photo: Gérard Decaux.
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 473. Photo: Sam Levin.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/197. Photo: Gérard Decaux.
Mireille Darc was born Mireille Aigroz in Toulon, France in 1938. Her Swiss father was a gardener and her French mother worked in a grocery shop. At fourteen, she decided to go to the Conservatoire d'art dramatique de Toulon (Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Toulon), and in 1959 she went to Paris, for she intended to become a member of the Comédie Française.
But the energetic and adventurous Darc worked first as a mannequin and a television performer. She was spotted for TV by director Claude Barma and debuted in his La Grande Brétèche/Great Bretèche (1960). Her first leading TV role came the following year with Hauteclaire (Jean Prat, 1961).
She decided to become a film actress, and she made her film debut in a small role alongside Jean-Paul Belmondo in the ‘policier’ Les Distractions/Trapped by Fear (Jacques Dupont, 1960).
In the comedy Pouic-Pouic (Jean Girault, 1963) she had a bigger part as Louis de Funès’ daughter. Opposite Jean Gabin, she played his former-maid-turned-hooker in Monsieur (Jean-Paul Le Chanois, 1964) and she starred as a spy opposite Lino Venturain the action comedy Les Barbouzes/The Great Spy Chase (Georges Lautner, 1964).
In 1964, she also made her stage debut opposite Philippe Noiretand Bernard Blierin the play Photo finish, written by Peter Ustinov. She also recorded a few EP’s.
Darc had her breakthrough with the psychological thriller Galia (Georges Lautner, 1965). Together with director George Lautner, she would make a total of thirteen films, including the terrific Film Noir parody Ne nous fâchons pas/Let's Not Get Angry (Georges Lautner, 1966).
Her most famous film of the 1960s is Jean-Luc Godard’s classic comedy-drama Week End (1967). It tells the story of a young couple (Darc and Jean Yanne), who set out to visit their parents in the countryside one week-end, and find themselves falling upon an incredible traffic jam and a subsequent nightmarish odyssey with car crashes, anarchy and cannibalism.
At Films de France, James Travers calls Week End“a deeply disturbing picture of a world that is in the process of disintegration as the forces of capitalism and socialist revolution lock horns and tear the established order apart. The film is best remembered for its ten minute long sequence in which the camera tracks slowly along a seemingly interminable traffic jam in a country lane, whose peace is ruined by the unending blare of irate klaxons - a chilling visual metaphor for where our society may be heading.”
It was through Mireille Darc’s insistence that she would make a film with Jean-Luc Godard that the director was able to secure the comparatively large budget for Week-End. Darc was under contract with a film production company and refused to make another film until she had appeared in a film directed by Godard. As a result, Week End is the best known and most commercially successful of Godard’s political films, and some regard it as one of the most important films of the 1960s.
Romanian postcard by Filmului Acin.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 436.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.
In 1968, Mireille Darc met and fell in love with Alain Delon on the set of Jeff (Jean Herman, 1969). Their love affair would last for fifteen years. (However, some sources claim they separated in 1978).
After Jeff, they appeared together in several more films: Borsalino (Jacques Deray, 1970), Madly/The Love Mates (Roger Kahane, 1970), Il était une fois un flic/There Was Once a Cop (Georges Lautner, 1971), Les seins de glace/Icy Breasts (Georges Lautner, 1974), Borsalino and Co. (Jacques Deray, 1974), L'Homme pressé/The Hurried Man (Edouard Molinaro, 1977), Mort d'un pourri/Death of a Corrupt Man (Georges Lautner, 1977), Pour la peau d'un flic/For a Cop's Hide (Alain Delon, 1981) and the television series Frank Riva (2003-2004).
Mireille Darc was most successful with her roles in comedies like the international hit Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire/Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1972) starring Pierre Richard. She also co-starred as Richard's girlfriend in the sequel, Le Retour du grand blond/The Return of the Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1974). A sensation was her ultra-sexy dress in these amiable and enjoyable spy comedies.
In the early 1970s, Darc was very popular film star and sex symbol in France, but the following decade was a troublesome period for her. In 1980, she had an open-heart operation and the painful experience lead her to write a documentary film. She switched from acting to directing, choosing subjects such as organ transplants, prostitution, and prisons for women.
In 1983 she was seriously injured when the car in which she was riding collided with a truck. She sustained many injuries from the accident and her acting career was interrupted. She quit film acting, to focus on photography and her stage work. For television she directed the moderately successful TV film La Barbare/The Savage (Mireille Darc, 1989) with Murray Head.
During the 1990s, she appeared in several popular TV series including Les coeurs brûlés/Burnt Hearts (Jean Sagols, 1992-1994). In 2005 she published her memoirs, Tant que battra mon coeur/Until My Heart is Beating, and that same year, Jacques Chirac awarded her the Légion d'honneur.
For the first time, she appeared on stage opposite Alain Delon in Sur la route de Madison/The Bridges of Madison County (2007), directed by Anne Bourgeois. The play is an adaptation of the novel by Robert James Waller and the film by Clint Eastwood.
Mireille Darc has been married twice: first to journalist and writer Pierre Barret (1983-1988 - his death) and since 2002 to architect Pascal Desprez. She is the godmother of author Romain Sardou. Darc last screen appearance was in the TV film Le grand restaurant II (Gérard Pullicino, 2011) with Pierre Palmade.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 123.
French postcard by Corvisart, Epinal.
Trailer for Pouic-Pouic (1963). Source: Joebodnar (YouTube).
Mireille Darc sings Helicopter, written by Serge Gainsbourg. Source: Johnxxx2000 (YouTube).
Sources: Mireille Darc (Tant que battra ma cœur - French), James Travers (Films de France), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.
Italian postcard for the film Il tamburino sardo (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915), with Vittorio Petrungaro as the boy and Telemaco Ruggeri as the captain. Caption: The captain wrote with a pencil on a paper, leaning onto the little window.
Italian postcard for the film Il tamburino sardo (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915). Caption: Not taking care of his wound that caused him a very strong pain, he continued to run.
Italian postcard for the film Il tamburino sardo (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915). Caption: Killed! the captain whispered, biting his fist.
The Little Drummer Boy
Il tamburino sardo/The Little Drummer Boy (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915) is based on the 1889 story of the same name of the series Cuore (Heart) by Edmondo De Amicis.
During the Italian Risorgimento, in the countryside of Verona, a Sardinian boy meets Italian soldiers and becomes their mascot (the little drummer boy). It happens just before a big battle with the Austrian army.
During the battle, the Italian soldiers are surrounded by the Austrian enemy, and trapped in an abandoned house. The captain sends the drummer boy, small and agile, across the enemy lines to get help.
The boy succeeds with great difficulty, despite being shot by the enemy. Afterwards the captain visits a hospital and notices the boy's leg is amputated.
A doctor tells his leg could have been saved if he hadn't run like madman. The captain realises that the boy has been a hero. Vittorio Petrungaro plays the boy and Telemaco Ruggeri the captain.
In 2011 the Milanese cinematheque Cineteca Italiana restored a tinted print of Il tamburino sardo (1915).
Italian postcard for the film Il tamburino sardo (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915). Captain: He managed to pass unobserved behind the Austrians.
Italian postcard for the film Il tamburino sardo (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915). Caption: The walls and the floor were splattered with blood, corpses lay through the doors.
Italian postcard for the film Il tamburino sardo (Vittorio Rossi Pianelli, 1915). Captain: It was then that this rude soldier exclaimed with sweet and affectionate voice: I am just a captain, but you are a hero.
Sources: European Film Gateway and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by Muziek Parade, Bussum, no. AX 7212.
Dutch postcard by Muziek Parade, Bussum, no. AX 7297.
Gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads
Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in the Pinner area of London, in 1947. He was the eldest child of Stanley Dwight, a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, and the only child of Sheila Eileen (née Harris). He was raised in a council house by his maternal grandparents, in Pinner. His parents did not marry until he was 6 years old, when the family moved to a nearby semi-detached house.
Both of Dwight's parents were musically inclined, his father having been a trumpet player with the Bob Millar Band, a semi-professional big band that played at military dances. Elton learned to play piano at the age of 4. Only 11, he won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and for the next five years, he attended Saturday classes at the Academy in central London.
By 1962 he and his friends formed a band called Bluesology. By day, the 15 years-old ran errands for a music publishing company. His nights, he divided between solo gigs at a London hotel bar and working with Bluesology.
His father tried to steer him toward a more conventional career, such as banking. At age 17, he left Pinner County Grammar School just prior to his A Level examinations to pursue a career in the music industry. His parents divorced and his mother married Fred Farebrother, whom Elton affectionately dubbed "Derf".
In 1966, the band became musician Long John Baldry's supporting band, and played 16 times at the legendary Marquee Club. Dwight met his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, in 1967, after they had both answered an advert by the A&R manager for Liberty Records for songwriters. Six months later Dwight was going by the name Elton John (merging the names of two members of Bluesology: saxophonist Elton Dean and Long John Baldry). For two years they wrote songs for other artists, including Lulu, and John also worked as a session musician for artists such as the Hollies and the Scaffold.
In 1969 his debut album, Empty Sky, was released. The formula for this and subsequent albums was gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads. In 1970 the single Your Song from his second album Elton John reached the top ten in the UK and the US. It was his first hit single. The album soon became his first hit album, reaching number four on the US Billboard 200 and number five on the UK Albums Chart. John and Taupin then wrote the soundtrack to the film Friends and then the album Madman Across the Water.
American card by Fotofolio, NY, NY, no. P 287. Photo: Terry O'Neill, 1975.
British card by Rocket Record, no. 6434.
British card by Rocket Record.
Glam Rock Star
1970–1976 is Elton John's most commercially successful period, but is also held in the most regard critically. In 1972, he released Honky Château with the hit singles Rocket Man and Honky Cat. It became John's first US number one album, spending five weeks at the top of the Billboard 200.
It began a streak of seven consecutive US number one albums. The pop album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player came out at the start of 1973 and reached number one in the UK, the US, Australia among others. The album produced the hits Crocodile Rock, his first US Billboard Hot 100 number one, and Daniel.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, released in October 1973, gained instant critical acclaim and topped the chart on both sides of the Atlantic, remaining at number one for two months. It temporarily established John as a glam rock star. It contained the hits Bennie and the Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Candle in the Wind.
In 1974, a collaboration with John Lennon took place, resulting in Lennon's appearance on Elton John's single cover of the Beatles'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Lennon is credited as Dr. Winston O'Boogie. The song was used for the film All This and World War II (Susan Winslow, 1976). John also released the album Caribou (1974), which featured The Bitch Is Back and the orchestrated Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.
Pete Townshend of the Who asked John to play a character called the 'Local Lad' in the film of the rock opera Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975). In the film, he is shown performing the song Pinball Wizard while playing a pinball machine integrated with a miniature piano keyboard.
The 1975 autobiographical album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy debuted at number one in the US, the first album ever to do so, and stayed at the top for seven weeks. John revealed his previously ambiguous personality on the album, with Bernie Taupin's lyrics describing their early days as struggling songwriters and musicians in London. Someone Saved My Life Tonight was the hit single from this album. His next album, the rock-oriented Rock of the Westies, again entered the US albums chart at number 1.
In 1976, the live album Here and There was released. A few months later it was followed by the Blue Moves album, which contained the single Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. His biggest success that year was Don't Go Breaking My Heart, a duet with Kiki Dee that topped both the UK and US charts. In November 1977, Elton John announced he was retiring from performing.
French postcard, no. A026.
French postcard by Humour à la Carte, Paris, no. 3260.
French postcard, no. A105.
Lasting impact on British culture
Elton John kept recording and had several other hits throughout the 1980s, including Nikita which featured in a music video directed by Ken Russell. Along with Tim Rice, Elton John wrote the songs for Disney's animated film The Lion King (Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, 1994). Both John's songs Can You Feel the Love Tonight and Circle of Life became hits.
John also achieved success in musical theatre, both in the West End and on Broadway, composing the music for the stage version of The Lion King (1997), Aida (1999) and Billy Elliot the Musical (2005). In 2000, he and Tim Rice teamed again to create songs for the animated film The Road to El Dorado (Bibo Bergeron, Don Paul, 2000).
On 6 September 1997, he performed a new version of Candle in the Wind, in tribute to Princess Diana at her funeral, with new lyrics specially written by Bernie Taupin. The song became the fastest and biggest-selling single of all time, eventually selling over 33 million copies worldwide.
Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, is an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Having been named a Order of the British Empire in 1996, John was made a Knight Bachelor by Elizabeth II for "services to music and charitable services" in 1998. John received five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards – winning two awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music and the first Brits Icon in 2013 for his "lasting impact on British culture", an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, a Disney Legends award, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.
Elton John announced he was bisexual in 1976 and he has been openly gay since 1988. In 2005 he entered into a civil partnership with filmmaker David Furnish, the first day that civil unions between homosexuals were legal in England and Wales. After same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in 2014, he wed Furnish on 21 December 2014. His husband made the documentary Elton John: Tantrums & Tiaras (1997). Elton John and David Furnish have two sons, both born via surrogate: Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John (2010) and Elijah Joseph Daniel John (2013). The godmother of his sons is Lady Gaga.
Elton John is a champion for LGBT social movements worldwide. He has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. In 1992, he decided that all profits from his singles would be donated to AIDS charities and formed the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The foundation has become one of the world's largest nonprofit AIDS organisations. In 1993 it began hosting the annual Academy Award Party, which has since become one of the highest-profile Oscar parties in the Hollywood film industry. Since its inception, the foundation has raised over US $200 million.
In 2006, Elton John was estimated to have sold 250 million albums during his career. From 1970 till 2009, he has had at least one charted Billboard hit every year.
Trailer for Friends (Lewis Gilbert, 1971). Title song: Elton John. Source: Paulo Moreira (YouTube).
Elton John performs Pinball Wizard in Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975). Source: Umbrella Entertainment (YouTube).
Elton John and Kiki Dee sing Don't Go Breaking My Heart. Source: EltonJohnVEVO (YouTube).
Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.
Luciano Albertini in Der Mann auf dem Kometen (1925). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 129. Photo: Phoebus-Film. Publicity still for Der Mann auf dem Kometen/The Man on the Comet (Alfred Halm, 1925).
Leni Riefenstahl in Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü (1929). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 130, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü//The White Hell of Piz Palü (Arnold Fanck, G. W. Pabst, 1929).
Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit(1925). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no, 131, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit/Ways to Strength and Beauty (Nicholas Kaufmann, Wilhelm Prager, 1925). Capture: Morgen (Morning).
Max Schreck in Nosferatu (1922). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 134. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for the first German horror film, Nosferatu (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1922).
Paul Wegener and Lyda Salmonova in Der verlorene Schatten (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 134. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der verlorene Schatten/The Lost Shadow (Rochus Gliese, 1921).
Anita Dorris and Paul Wegener in Svengali (1927). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 135, group 43. Photo: Terra Film. Publicity still for Svengali (Gennaro Righelli, 1927).
Willy Fritsch, Gerda Maurusand Gustl Stark-Gstettenbauer in Frau im Mond (1929). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden Deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 138, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Frau im Mond/Woman in the Moon (Fritz Lang, 1929).
The Old Glass House of the Eiko Film Studio. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 139, group 43. Photo: Eiko.
Small set for a society drama in the old glass house of the Eiko Film studio. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 140. Photo: Ufa.
Heinrich George and Brigitte Helm in Metropolis (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture, picture no. 143, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Caption: "Heinrich George plays the scene".
Ungarische Rhapsodie (1928). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 146, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ungarische Rhapsodie/Hungarian Rhapsody (Hanns Schwarz, 1928). Caption: "Harvest on a giant estate in Hungary as a backdrop for the film Hungarian Rhapsody".
For the film Anna Boleyn a tournament set is built at the Tempelhof studio. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 149. Photo: Union-Messter-Film. Set for Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920).
And as it later appeared in the film. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 150, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Set for Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920).
Paul Richter in Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 151, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (Fritz Lang, 1924). Caption: The artistic studio forest in the film Nibelungen. Paul Richter as Siegfried.
Model Der heilige Berg (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 153, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Model for the film Der heilige Berg/The Holy Mountain (Arnold Fanck, 1926).
Ufa Studio Set. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no, 158, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Caption: "Lighting of a small studio scene."
Emil Jannings during the shooting of Der letzte Mann (1924). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 160, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der letzte Mann/The Last Laugh (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1924). Caption: The Last Laugh is filmed, with a fixed camera.
The unchained camera on rails. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 161. Photo: Ufa.
The unchained camera on the chassis. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 162, group 43. Photo: Ufa.
Hermann Thimig and Ossi Oswalda in Die Puppe (1919). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, no. 164, Group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die Puppe/The Doll (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919). Caption: From the film Die Puppe. Trick shot. Ossi Oswalda appears in Hermann Thimig's dream.
See also Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
To be continued next Saturday!
Basil Gill and Constance Collier. British postcard by J.J. Samuels, London, no. 4-8-102. Photo: Bassano.
British postcard issued with Sarony Cigarettes, no. 67 of a second series of 42 Cinema Stars. Photo: Gaumont. Publicity still for High Treason (Maurice Elvey, 1929).
The handsomest man on the stage
Basil Gill was born in 1877 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. He was a son of the Rev. John Gill, of Cambridge.
For approximately two years until May 1894, he taught art at The Grammar School, Wallington, U.K. before leaving for a post in Switzerland.
His first stage appearance was in The Sign of the Cross, Wilson Barrett's most successful play, in Bury, Lancashire in 1897. The following year he appeared in this play in London. He then toured Australia and the USA with The Sign of the Cross and Ben-Hur. American newspapers called him 'the handsomest man on the stage'.
In 1903 Gill joined Herbert Beerbohm Tree's company at His Majesty's Theatre, London, and played several important roles in plays of William Shakespeare. He left the company in 1907.
He was regarded as a matinee idol and also played romantic parts in modern plays. But Gill continued to perform in Shakespeare's plays during his career. The accomplished actor received numerous reviews commenting on the clarity and quality of his voice.
British postcard by Beagles & Co, London, no. 400A. Photo: Lizzie Caswall Smith. Basil Gill as Ferdinand in the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare.
British postcard by Beagles & Co, London, no. 400B. Photo: F.W. Burford.
A mini-boom in Shakespeare adaptations
Basil Gill made his film debut in the silent historical film Henry VIII (Will Barker, 1911). In this film he appeared with Arthur Bourchier and Herbert Beerbohm Tree, on whose version of William Shakespeare and John Fletcher's play the film was based. The film's success sparked a mini-boom in Shakespeare adaptations.
From then on the popular matinee idol played romantic leads and character roles in period drama on screen from 1911. He appeared in such silent films as On the Banks of Allan Water (Wilfred Noy, 1916), the drama Missing the Tide (Walter West, 1918) starring Violet Hopson, and The Rocks of Valpre (Maurice Elvey, 1919).
In 1926, Gill appeared in two short films made in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process, Santa Claus (George A. Cooper, 1926) as the title character, and Julius Caesar (George A. Cooper, 1926) as Brutus.
He co-starred with Madeleine Carroll in the comedy The School for Scandal (Thorold Dickinson, Maurice Elvey, 1930), the first sound film adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The School for Scandal. It is also the only feature-length film shot using the unsuccessful Raycol colour process.
Gill appeared in many more films, including The Wandering Jew (Maurice Elvey, 1933) starring Conrad Veidt as the Jew who urges Roman authorities to crucify Jesus and release Barabbas. As a punishment, he is condemned by God to wander the Earth for many centuries. His final film was The Citadel (King Vidor, 1938) with Robert Donat.
Basil Gill died in 1955 in Hove, East Sussex, England. He was married to actress Margaret von Cavania.
British postcard by H. Dunn & Co, London, no. A. 511. Photo: Caswall Smith.
British postcard by Rotary, no. 1199 E. Photo: F.W. Burford.
Sources: Shakespeare & The Players, Wikipedia and IMDb.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 41. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 1027. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Big vintage card. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Estella Blain was born as Micheline Estellat in Paris in 1930.
In 1953 she married the actor Gérard Blain. The following year they appeared together in the film Les fruits sauvages/Wild Fruit (Hervé Bromberger, 1954). She played a young girl who accidentally kills her alcoholic father and with a group of rebellious youngsters she finds refuge in an old, deserted village. Estella and Gérard divorced in 1956, but she kept his name.
She played one of the sexy schoolgirls in Les collégiennes/The Twilight Girls (André Hunebelle, 1957) with Agnès Laurent and Catherine Deneuve in her first, small film role.
Blain worked again with director Hervé Bromberger at La bonne tisane/Good Medicine (Hervé Bromberger, 1958) in which she played a young idealistic nurse on her first tour of duty, who is horrified by the carelessness of her colleagues and the doctors.
She was quite busy in this period. In the routine spy thriller Le fauve est lâché/The Beast Is Loose (Maurice Labro, 1959) she starred opposite tough guy Lino Ventura. In Les dragueurs/The Chasers (Jean-Pierre Mocky, 1959), she was one of the girls chased by Jacques Charrier and Charles Aznavour.
In the thriller Des femmes disparaissent/The Road to Shame (Edouard Molinaro, 1959) she played a victim of white-slave trade who is saved by her car mechanic fiance, played by Robert Hossein. At Films de France, James Travers reviews: “an all too obvious imitation of the American gangster movie, although Molinaro does manage to evoke the essence of classic film noir very effectively in some sequences. The problem with the film is that it is too much of a pastiche, with very little substance to it – no real characterisation, a threadbare plot, and interminable, badly choreographed, fight scenes. On the plus side, Art Blakey’s marvellous jazz score gives the film a touch of stylish modernity, an innovation which thriller directors of the time were quick to emulate”.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 977. Offered by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 703. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 802. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard. Photo Studio Harcourt, Paris.
A Zombie-like Killing Machine
In 1959 Estella Blain also had a son, Michel Blain-Estellat, who later became an actor and director. For him she wrote the series Un enfant nommé Michel/A child named Michael in which he performed the title role.
During the 1960s, her film career went downhill. She played in such mediocre international productions as the Italian adventure film I pirati della costa/Pirates of the Coast (Domenico Paolella, 1960) starring Lex Barker, and the German operetta Im weißen Rößl/The White Horse Inn (Werner Jacobs, 1960) starring Peter Alexander.
Her best known role was a supporting part as the poisonous Madame De Montespan in Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (Bernard Borderie, 1966), the third in the series of five films adapted from the stories by Anne and Serge Golon featuring Michèle Mercier.
As a singer she had two melancholic hit songs in 1965, Solitude (Dim Dam Dom) and Il ne faut pas (It is not necessary), which she had both written and composed herself. Blain also played a singer in the dark, surrealistic horror film Miss Muerte/The Diabolical Dr. Z (Jesus Franco, 1966). Miss Muerte is an exotic dancer who becomes a zombie-like killing machine, who lures and kills victims with razor-sharp and poisoned fingernails while clad in a skull-mask and a revealing bodysuit.
At IMDb, reviewer Jens Kofoed-Pihl names it “one of the best, creepiest and most stylish from the Godfather of Eurosleaze” (cult film maker Jesus Franco) and “a masterpiece of the macabre!” Robert Pirsching at AllMoviecalls it “One of Franco's most entertaining films”.
However, at the end of the decade Blain was only incidentally seen on TV and in the theatre, although she had a small part in the film comedy A Flea in Her Ear (Jacques Charon, 1968) starring Rex Harrison. Her last film role was in the dark satire Le mouton enragé/Love at the Top (Michel Deville, 1974) starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider.
Estella Blain died on 1 January 1982 in her home in Port-Vendres, France. Lonesome and depressed about the failure of her film career she committed suicide with a gunshot. She was only 51.
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1085. Photo: Sam Lévin, Paris.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2964, 1967. Photo: publicity still for Le fauve est lâché/The Beast Is Loose (Maurice Labro, 1959) with Estella Blain and Philippe Mareuil.
Trailer of The Diabolical Dr Z (1966). Source: MontagTheMagician (YouTube).
Estella Blain sings Solitude (1968). Source: Orgasmo Sonoro (YouTube).
Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Robert Firsching (AllMovie), DB du Monteil (IMDb), Jens Kofoed-Pihl (IMDb), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
Vera Kholodnaya. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Vera Kholodnaya. (1893-1919) was the first star of the Russian silent cinema. Only 26, the ‘Queen of Screen’ died of the Spanish flu during the pandemic of 1919. Although she worked only three years for the cinema, she must have made some forty short and feature films. The Soviet authorities ordered to destroy many of the Kholodnaya features in 1924, and only five of her films still exist.
Vera Kholodnaya and Vitold Polonsky. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Vitold Polonsky (1879-1919) was one of the most popular actors in pre-Revolutionary Russian cinema.
Vera Kholodnaya,Vladimir Maksimov, Olga Rakhmanova and Pyotr Chardynin in Molchi, grust'... molchi/Still, Sadness... Still... (Pyotr Chardynin, Cheslav Sabinsky, 1918). Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.
This is probably the final scene of Molchi, grust'... molchi/Still, Sadness... Still... (Pyotr Chardynin, Kharitonov, 1917). The alternative title is A Tale of Precious Love (Skazka lyubve dorogoi). The card depicts the final scene where Paola (Vera Kholodnaya) dies - which the Russian press compared to the death of Trilby. She is surrounded on the right by her partner, the musical clown Lorio (Pyotr Chardynin), and by her lover, the painter Volyntsev (Vladimir Maksimov), on the left. In the back the painter's mother (Olga Rakhmanova). The statues refer to the artist's studio. Only the first part of this film survives. At the time it was a huge success in Russia.
Maria Orska. German postcard by Photochemie no. K 1684. Photo: Mocsigay, Hamburg. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Maria Orska (1893-1930) was a Russian-Jewish actress of the German stage and screen in the 1910s and 1920s.
Maria Orska. German postcard by Photochemie, no. K 1486. Photo: Willnger, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Feodor Chaliapin as Mephisto. Russian postcard, no. 496. Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin (Russian: Фёдор Ива́нович Шаля́пин) (1873–1938) was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large, deep and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.
Ossip Runitsch and Vera Kholodnaya. Russian postcard, no. 73. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Russian actor, producer and stage director Ossip Runitsch(1889-1947) was one of the biggest stars of Russian silent cinema and one of the first iconic figures of Russian cinematograph.
Vera Kholodnaya. Russian postcard, no. 135. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Vera Kholodnaya. Russian postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Vera Kholodnaya and Vitold Polonsky in U kamina (1917). Russian postcard, no. 126. Photo: publicity still for U kamina/By the fireplace (Pyotr Chardynin, 1917). Collection: Didier Hanson.
Vera Kholodnaya, 1917. Russian postcard, 1917. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Sources Yuri Tsivian (Silent Witnesses: Russian Films 1908-1919) and IMDb.
French postcard. Photo: Film Gaumont.
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 11. Photo: Gerschell, Paris.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 269. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères.
Sensibility, Seductiveness and Freshness
Rose Blanche Jeanne Montel was born in Tours, France in 1902. When she was only 11, she was already engaged by filmmaker Alfred Machin to play a young Dutch girl, Kaatje, in La fille de Delft/A Tragedy in the Clouds (Alfred Machin, 1914). The film was shot at the Belgium Pathé studio of Chateau Karreveld at Molenbeek-Saint-Jean near Brussels.
Montel then worked in scenography until she met Gaumont film director Louis Feuillade, who was impressed by her sensibility, her seductiveness and her freshness. He directed her in various short films but also in long running serials like Barrabas (1919) with Édouard Mathé, Les deux gamines/The Two Girls (1921), and L'orpheline/The orphan (1921), often starring Sandra Milovanoff.
From the early 1920s on, Montel had leading parts in La fille des chiffoniers/The Girl of the Dust Bin (Henri Desfontaines, 1922), Son altesse/Her Higness (Henri Desfontaines, 1923), and Une vieille marquise très riche/An old very rich marchioness (Emilien Champetier, 1923).
It was followed by L'éveilleur d'instincts/The awakening of instincts(Emilien Champetier, 1925) with Armand Bernard, La vocation d'André Carel/The Vocation of André Carel (Jean Choux, 1925) with Michel Simon, Le roi de la pédale/King of the pedal (Maurice Champreux, 1925), and her last silent film La ronde infernale/The infernal round (Luitz-Morat, 1928) starring Jean Angelo.
Montel's first sound film was L'Arlésienne (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1930) and she remained quite active in the early 1930s in films such as the comedy Flagrant délit/Flagrante delicto (Hanns Schwarz, George Tréville, 1931), Clair de lune/Moonlight (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1932) with Henri Garat, and the drama L'enfant du miracle/The Miracle Child (D.B. Maurice, 1932).
Then followed parts in Miquette et sa mère/Miquette and Her Mother (Diamant-Berger, 1933) with Montel as Miquette, Les bleus du ciel/The Blue Ones of the Sky (Henri Decoin, 1933) with Albert Préjean, and La maison du mystère/The house of the mystery (Gaston Roudès, 1933).
In Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1933, she played Constance opposite Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artganan. Other films were L'aventurier/The Adventurer (Marcel L'Herbier, 1934) starring Victor Francen, and Durand bijoutier/Durand Jeweller (Jean Stelli, 1938). In addition to these films Montel played smaller roles in various French films of the 1920s and 1930s. In those two decades she was also an acclaimed stage actress.
Belgian postcard by Nels / Ern. Thill, Bruxelles / Alliance Cinematographiques Européenne. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Flagrant Délit (Hanns Schwarz, Georges Tréville, 1931). Flagrant Délit was an alternate-language version of Einbrecher/Burglars (Hanns Schwarz, 1930) with Lilian Harvey and Willy Fritsch.
French postcard by Nels / Alliance Cinématographiques Européenne. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Flagrant Délit (Hanns Schwarz, Georges Tréville, 1931).
French postcard by Nels / Alliance Cinématographiques Européenne. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Blanche Montel and Henri Garat in Flagrant Délit (Hanns Schwarz, Georges Tréville, 1931).
French postcard by Nels / Alliance Cinématographiques Européenne. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Blanche Montel and Henri Garat in Flagrant Délit (Hanns Schwarz, Georges Tréville, 1931).
The Beautiful Nivernaise
A highlight among her silent films was La belle Nivernaise/The Beauty from Nivernais (Jean Epstein, 1924).I
n the documentary series Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (1995), Kevin Brownlow and David Gill interviewed Blanche Montel. She tells ironically how surprised she was, that after she was asked to play the female lead in La belle Nivernaise, she found out that the Nivernaise was not a beautiful young girl but a very old and ugly boat.
This quite naturalist film on life aboard a barge precedes Jean Vigo's better known L' Atalante.
Between 1927 and 1934 Montel was married to film director Henri Decoin, but she did not play in many of his films.
In the early 1930s she played more often in films by Henri Diamant-Berger. Montel and Decoin had one son, Jacques (1928-1998). After she had divorced Henri Decoin she had an affair with Jean-Pierre Aumont, until 1940 when Aumont fled to the United States.
Blanche Montel's last performance was that of Madame Brown in a film by her ex-husband, L' Homme de Londres/The London Man (Henri Decoin, 1943), a Georges Simenon adaptation. In 1946 she started a new career as an impresario for artists.
After her son Jacques died in 1998, Blanche Montel soon also passed away in 1999 in Luzarches, at the high age of 95.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, in the series Les Vedettes de Cinéma, no. 56.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 2. Photo: Studio Pour Vous.
French postcard, no. 75.
French postcard, no. 76.
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Édition, Paris, no. 1075. Photo: Studio Piaz.
Sources: Wikipedia (French), Cinememorial, CinéArtistes and IMDb.
Elena Sangro. Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923), 3th and 4th episode.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923), 3th and 4th episode.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923), 3th and 4th episode.
Delirium of Love
Triboulet (1923) by Febo Mari was originally released as a six part serial, then reduced to a three-part serial, and finally just one single feature film of 2.500 metres. The six episodes were titled: 1) The King's Buffoon, 2) The King of the Misers, 3) The Mysteries of the Louvre, 4) The Cour des Miracles, 5) The Revenge of the Nameless, and 6) Delirium of Love.
The film was based on the novel of the same title (prob. 1910) by Michele Zevaco. Triboulet (1479–1536) was a historical figure, a jester of kings Louis XII and Francis I of France. He appears in Book 3 of François Rabelais' Pantagrueline chronicles. He also appears in Victor Hugo's Le Roi s'amuse and its opera version, Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, a blend of 'Triboulet' and French rigoler (to laugh), intended to deflect the censorship that Hugo's work had received.
After the defeat of Pavia, king Francesco (or Francis I) (Achille Vitti) dedicates himself to peace, though not disdaining from his notorious love life. At the age of 50 he is tired of Mme de Ferron ('la belle Ferronière'), and gets interested in young Gillette (Elena Sangro).
Gilette is an orphan raised by Triboulet (Umberto Zanuccoli), the king's buffoon, but in reality he is a nobleman called Ferrial. Gillette loves Manfred (Giovanni Schettini), the king of the Cour des Miracles (the Paris slums). Manfred saves Gillette from the clutches of Francis. Francis is in reality Gilette's father by a former mistress, Margentina (Tina Ceccaci Renaldi), now a mad and visionary woman.
Hurt in one of his actions, Manfred is saved and cured by an Italian couple, who travel with their servant Spadacappa. While in bed, immobilised, Gillette is abducted and locked up in a convent. Barely healed, Manfred descends the Louvre to free her. The palace takes fire and the king is lucky to escape save and sound. Other adventures follow, in which Manfred discovers the Italian couple are his parents, who have come to France to find him.
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923).
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Cines/UCI. Publicity still for Triboulet (Febo Mari, 1923), 5th and 6th episode.
Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano, 1923-1931 - Italian), Wikipedia and IMDb.
British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series, no. L.E. 1.
British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series, Cinema Stars, no. CM 51.
Wealthy murder victim
Isobel Elsom was born Isabelle Jeannette Reed in Chesterton, Cambridge, in 1893. She attended Howard College, Bedford England.
Over the course of three decades she appeared in 17 Broadway productions, beginning with The Ghost Train in 1926. In the late 1930s she settled in America.
Her best-known stage role was the wealthy murder victim in Ladies in Retirement (1939), a role she repeated in the 1941 film version. Her other theatre credits included The Innocents and Romeo and Juliet.
Elsom made her first screen appearance during the silent film era and appeared in nearly 100 films throughout her career. She often co-starred with Owen Nares in such romances as Onward Christian Soldiers (Rex Wilson, 1918).
Elsom met her first husband, director Maurice Elvey, when he cast her in his film Quinneys (Maurice Elvey, 1919). They married in 1923. He went on to direct her in eight more films before they divorced.
British postcard by Rotary Photo, London, no. 5.37-1. Photo: Lallie Charles.
British postcard by Rotary Photo, London, no. 5.37-2. Photo: Lallie Charles.
The epitome of opulent, grande dame haughtiness
According to Gary Brumburgh at IMDb, Isobel Elsom was 'the epitome of opulent, grande dame haughtiness'. "What the tiny-framed Elsom lacked in stature, she certainly made up for in pure chutzpah. The matronly actress remained in Hollywood and played a number of huffy bluebloods in both comedies and drama for over two decades, often as a minor Margaret Dumont-like foil".
Her sound film credits include The White Cliffs of Dover (Clarence Brown, 1944), The Unseen (Lewis Allen, 1945), Of Human Bondage (Edmund Goulding, 1946), the fantasy / romantic comedy-drama The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1947), Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin, 1947), The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock, 1947), and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (Peter Godfrey, 1947) with Humphrey Bogart.
Her later films included Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (Henry King, 1955), the Vincent van Gogh biopic Lust for Life (Vincente Minnelli, 1956) starring Kirk Douglas, and 23 Paces to Baker Street (Henry Hathaway, 1956).
Her final films included The Pleasure Seekers (Jean Negulesco, 1964) with Ann-Margret, and the successful musical My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964) featuring Audrey Hepburn. Elsom also appeared opposite Jerry Lewis in four of his late 1950s and early 1960s solo films.
Elsom's television credits included Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1956-1957, 1962-1963, at least 4 appearances), Hawaiian Eye (1961-1962), Dr. Kildare (1963-1964) and My Three Sons (1965).
Elsom's second husband was actor Carl Harbord, from 1942 until his death in 1958. Sometimes she was billed as Isobel Harbord. She had no children. In 1981, Isobel Elsom died in Woodland Hills, California, aged 87.
British postcard by Rotary Photo, London, no. 5.42-6. Photo: Lallie Charles.
British cigarette card by Wills' Scissors Cigarettes, no. 8. Collection: Manuel Palomino Arjona @ Flickr.
Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Werner Krauss in Geheimnisse einer Seele (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag for the album Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst. Teil I. Der stumme Film (Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld 1935), no. 165. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Geheimnisse einer Seele/Secrets of a Soul (G.W. Pabst, 1926).
Conrad Veidt in Die Brüder Schellenberg (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 165, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die Brüder Schellenberg/The Brothers Schellenberg/ (Karl Grune, 1926). Caption: Conrad Veidt in his double role in the film 'Die Brüder Schellenberg'.
Fritz Rasp at the set of Frau im Mond (1929). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 169, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Set photo of Frau im Mond/Woman in the Moon (1929) directed by Fritz Lang.
Gösta Ekman in Faust, Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 171. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still with Gösta Ekman as the old Faust in Faust, Eine deutsche Volkssage/Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926).
Willy Fritsch in Spione (1928). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture, no, 173, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Spione/Spies (Fritz Lang, 1928).
Ossi Oswalda and Rudolf Forster in Amor am Steuer (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 176, group 43. Photo: Ossi Oswalda-Film. Caption: Ossi Oswalda as chauffeur and Rudolf Forster in Amor am Steuer (Victor Janson, 1921).
Pola Negri in Sappho (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden Deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 179, group 43. Photo: Union-Film. Publicity still for Sappho/Mad Love (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1921). Caption: Artistically composed mass scene from the film Sappho/Mad Love, with Pola Negri at the top of a human pyramid.
Scene from Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 180, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam/The Golem: How He Came Into the World (Carl Boese, Paul Wegener, 1920).
Asta Nielsen in Engelein (1914). German collectors card for the album by Dr. Oskar Kalbus, Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst, Vol. I, Der Stummfilm (Cigaretten Bilderdienst, 1935). Photo: PAGU. Asta Nielsen in Engelein (Urban Gad, 1914).
Dina Gralla in Das Girl von der Revue (1928). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 184, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Das Girl von der Revue/The Girl from the Revue (Richard Eichberg, 1928).
Anny Ondra. German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 186, group 40. Photo: Balázs.
Carola Toelle in Die Schuld de Grafen Weronski (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 69, group 39. Photo: D.L.S. Publicity still for Die Schuld des Grafen Weronski/The debt of Count Weronski (Rudolf Biebrach, 1921).
Lil Dagover in Ungarische Rhapsodie (1928). German collectors card by Ross Verlag for the album Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst. Teil I. Der stumme Film (Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld 1935), picture no. 189, group 41. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ungarische Rhapsodie/Hungarian Rhapsody (Hanns Schwarz, 1928).
Lilian Harvey in Vater werden ist nicht schwer... (1926). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden Deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 192, Group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Vater werden ist nicht schwer.../It's Easy to Become a Father (Erich Schönfelder, 1926).
Gerhard Ritterband in Der Tanzstudent (1928). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden Deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 193. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der Tanzstudent/Because I Love You (Johannes Guter, 1928).
Werner Krauss and Heinerle in Der fidele Bauer (1929). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 194, group 40. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Der fidele Bauer/The Merry Farmer (Franz Seitz, 1929).
Adele Sandrock and Carola Toelle in Die Schuld des Grafen Weronski (1921). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 197. Photo: Maxim-Film. Publicity still for Die Schuld des Grafen Weronski/The debt of Count Weronski (Rudolf Biebrach, 1921).
Margarete Kupfer in Zuflucht (1928). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 198, group 43. Photo: Henny Porten-Film. Publicity still for Zuflucht/Refuge (Carl Froelich, 1928).
Werner Fuetterer and Hans Junkermann in Durchlaucht Radieschen (1927). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 199, group 43. Photo: Eichberg-Film. Publicity still for Durchlaucht Radieschen/Highness Radish (Richard Eichberg, 1927).
Die selige Exzellenz (1927). German collectors card by Ross Verlag in the series Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst - Der Stumme Film, picture no. 200, group 43. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die selige Exzellenz/His Late Excellency (Adolf E. Licho, Wilhelm Thiele, 1927).
This was the last post on Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst.
French postcard in the Collection 91/2 series by Editions Humour à la carte, Paris, no. ST-70.
Sandrine Bonnaire was born in 1967 in the town of Gannat, Allier, in the Auvergne region. She was born into a working-class family, the seventh of eleven children.
Her acting career began at the age of 16 in 1983, when she starred in the film À nos amours/For Our Loves (Maurice Pialat, 1983). She played Suzanne, a sixteen-year-old girl from Paris, who engages in a number of affairs in reaction to her miserable situation at home.
David Anderson reviews at his blog Bunched Undies: "Just when you expect another titillating French romantic drama about young girls and lost innocence, Maurice Pialat takes us on a surprising and highly subjective guided tour of a damaged family’s personal pain. The film is comprised of shifting alliances and points of view, and presents the fragility of family dynamics in ways that range from subtle to harrowing."
The film won the Prix Louis-Delluc for Best Film in 1983 and the César Award for Best Film in 1984. Bonnaire was also awarded the César Award in 1984 for Most Promising Actress.
With Pialat, she also made the romantic crime drama Police (Maurice Pialat, 1985). Written by Catherine Breillat, the film is about a moody, jaded police detective (Gérard Depardieu) who starts to investigate a Tunisian drug ring, falls for a mysterious woman (Sophie Marceau) and is drawn into a shady and dangerous scheme.
Bonnaire’s international breakthrough came when she played the main character, Mona, in Sans toit ni loi/Vagabond (1986), directed by Agnès Varda, for which she won her second César Award. Mona is a vagabond, who wanders through French wine country one winter and fails both physically and morally. The acclaimed film combines straightforward narrative scenes, in which we see Mona living her life, with pseudo-documentary sequences in which people who knew Mona turn to the camera and comment on what they remember about her. Significant events are sometimes left unshown, so that the viewer must piece the information together to gain a full picture.
Then followed the French-Belgian drama La Puritaine/The Prude (Jacques Doillon, 1986) with Michel Piccoli, and another drama with Pialat Sous le soleil de Satan/Under the Sun of Satan (Maurice Pialat, 1987), starring Gérard Depardieu as a devout priest who tries to save the soul of Mouchette, a young girl who killed one of her lovers. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.
French postcard in the Le jour se lève series by Editions Humour à la carte, Paris, no. ST-169. Photo: Jean-Pierre Larcher.
Object of Affection
Sandrine Bonnaire starred as a girl who, whilst looking for her runaway brother, encounters a number of people who influence her life in another acclaimed drama, Les Innocents/The Innocents (André Téchiné, 1987).The film was partially inspired by a William Faulkner novel. Téchiné uses several French-Arab relationships to mirror the tensions between France and its former colonies. The film was nominated to four César Awards.
Her next film, Quelques jours avec moi/A Few Days with Me (Claude Sautet, 1988) with Daniel Auteuil, received three nominations at the 1989 César Awards.
An international success was Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte, 1989) starring Michel Blanc in the title role and Sandrine Bonnaire as the object of Hire's affection. The screenplay was based on the novel Les Fiançailles de M. Hire by Georges Simenon and is a remake of Julien Duvivier's film Panique/Panic (1947) with Michel Simon and Viviane Romance.
Bonnaire won new accolades with her leading role in the drama La captive du désert/Captive of the Desert (Raymond Depardon, 1990), which was entered into the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. The film was based in part on the experiences of Françoise Claustre who was captured by Chadian rebels in 1974, later joined by her husband, and the pair was finally released in 1977.
Sandrine Bonnaire played Joan of Arc in the two-part film Jeanne la pucelle/Joan the Maiden (Jacques Rivette, 1994).
In 1995, she starred as an apparently simple maid in the widely acclaimed thriller La Cérémonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995), also with Isabelle Huppert. The film echoes the case of Christine and Lea Papin, two French maids who brutally murdered their employer's wife and daughter in 1933. The film and its stars won awards internationally, including for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for both Bonnaire and Huppert. She reunited with Chabrol for the sociological mystery Au cœur du mensonge/The Color of Lies (Claude Chabrol, 1999).
Dutch collectors card in the series 'Filmsterren: een portret' by Edito Service, 1995. Photo: Collection Christophe L. Publicity still for Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte, 1989) with Michel Blanc.
In 2004, Sandrine Bonnaire starred with Fabrice Luchini in another film by Patrice Leconte, Confidences trop intimes/Intimate Strangers, which was an arthouse box office hit in the United States. She played a troubled woman, who on her initial appointment seeking psychiatric counseling, mistakenly enters a tax accountant's office, and an unusual relationship develops.
David Anderson at Bunched Undies: "It is a credit to the acumen of Luchini and Bonnaire that the story remains squarely on track as, on paper, it seems a bit far-fetched, yet there is never a moment here that feels forced or manipulative. Leconte presents a number of interesting observations on the nature of therapy itself by having virtually every character in the film, at one time or another, offer help and advice, usually with results that are more amusing than beneficial. Bonnaire’s ham-fisted attempt to cure a claustrophobic man is a welcome bit of comic relief, and reinforces the idea that therapy should usually be left to the professionals."
Her later films include Un cœur simple/A Simple Heart (Marion Laine, 2008) an adaptation of one of Gustave Flaubert's Three Tales, Salaud, on t'aime (Claude Lelouch, 2014) with Johnny Hallyday, and the international thriller Dusha shpiona/The Soul of a Spy (Vladimir Bortko, 2015).
Bonnaire has a daughter, Jeanne (1994), from a relationship with actor William Hurt, whom she met in 1991 during filming of the Albert Camus novel La Peste/The Plague (Luis Puenzo, 1991). They acted together in the international crime drama Ispoved neznakomtsu/Secrets Shared with a Stranger (Georges Bardawil, 1995).
From 2003 till 2015 she was married to actor and screenwriter Guillaume Laurant, with whom she had a second daughter, Adèle (2004). Sandrine Bonnaire’s latest film is Prendre le large (Gael Morel, 2017) in which she plays a middle-aged factory worker, whose life is upended when she follows her employer to Morocco.
French trailer for À nos amours/For Our Loves (Maurice Pialat, 1983). Source: Gaumont (YouTube).
French trailer for Sans toit ni loi/Vagabond (Agnes Varda, 1986). Source: cinetamaris (YouTube)>
DVD Trailer Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte, 1989). Source: KinoInternational (YouTube).
Sources: David Anderson (Bunched Undies), Wikipedia and IMDb.
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 172. Photo: Ajax.
Rascal Kid Actor
René-Georges Poyen was born in Paris, France, in 1908.
In 1912, he started his film career at Gaumont as Bout-de-Zan, the younger brother of rascal kid actor Bébé (René Dary), in the film comedy Bébé adopte un petit frère/Baby takes a little brother (Louis Feuillade, 1912).
Quite soon he replaced Dary and his character, becoming the child star of Gaumont in the subsequent years. Urbanora writes at The Bioscope: "Greater comic emphasis was placed on Bout-de-Zan being an ‘adult’ figure, as he dressed like an adult, aped adult mannerisms, and was generally an earthier character than Bébé. He would also often giving knowing looks to the camera, making the audience complicit in his trickery. "
Already in 1913 Poyen made 24 one-reelers with his popular mischievous alter ego; 16 in 1914; and 18 in 1915. That year he also played a small role in Louis Feuillade's famous crime serial Les Vampires/The Vampires (1915) starring Musidora as the mysterious Irma Vep, dressed in a black tights.
In 1917 he played 'The Licorice Kid' in another popular Feuillade serial Judex, featuring René Cresté as a caped superhero. He also appeared in the crime parody Le pied qui étreint (Jacques Feyder, 1917), and a handful of Bout-de-Zan shorts.
By then the era of the short Bout-de-Zan comedies was over, but Poyen continued to play in crime serials like La nouvelle mission de Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917).
Bébé (René Dary). French postcard. Photo Eclectic Films.
René Cresté. French postcard by Coquemer Gravures. Photo: Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917-1918).
René Poyen appeared for Feuillade in the serial Les deux gamines/The Two Girls (Louis Feuillade, 1920), and the series films L'orphelin de Paris/The Orphan of Paris (Louis Feuillade, 1924).
He also performed in the features La proie (Marcel Dumont, 1921), La fille bien gardée (Louis Feuillade, 1923-1924), Romanetti/Le roi du maquis (Gennaro Dini, 1924), and Les murailles du silence (Louis de Carbonnat, 1925).
In the early 1920s, he was often paired with girl actress Bouboule, as in Le gamin de Paris/Paris Urchin (Louis Feuillade, 1923), La gosseline (Louis Feuillade, 1923), Pierrot, Pierrette (Louis Feuillade, 1924), and Lucette (Louis Feuillade, Maurice Champreux, 1924).
In the sound era, Poyen returned only twice more in films, in an uncredited role in Clochard/Tramp (Robert Péguy, 1932) and a last time as Bout-de-Zan in the comedy Le Bidon d'or/The Golden Canister (Christian Jaque, 1932).
René Poyen died in his hometown Paris in 1968.
Bout-de-Zan vole un éléphant/Bout de Zan Steals an Elephant (Louis Feuillade, 1913). Source: Tonytony 9292 (YouTube).
Bout-de-Zan Et L'Embusqué/Bout de Zan and the Shirker (Louis Feuillade, 1916). Source: Mau M (YouTube).
Sources: Urbanora (The Bioscope), Turner Classic Movies, IMDb and Wikipedia (French).
French postcard by Edition Pathé Frères. Photo: Félix.
La petite Fromet
Marie Léonie Fromet was born in 1902 in Chauny, Picardie, France. She was the daughter of the stage actors Paul and Marie Fromet. In 1906, Maria started to appear on stage at the age of four. It was the time when the French theatre was ruled by stars such as Réjane, Mistinguett, and Lucien Guitry.
In 1908, Fromet played in L'Oiseau bleu (The Blue Bird) by Maurice Maeterlinck. At the same time, her name was mentioned for the first time in the distribution of a film: Les Orphelins/The Orphans (Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, 1908), a production by La Société Française des Films Éclair with Eugénie Nau.
It was in 1909 that Maria Fromet entered the Pathé stable, where directors Michel Carré, Georges Denola, Camille de Morlhon, and Georges Monca made her the inevitable little girl of the cinema of the day. She often struggled with evil characters, sometimes she was abandoned, or evolved on the contrary in comedy plots. An example is La récompense d'une bonne action/A Kindness Never Goes Unrewarded (Camille de Morlhon, 1909) in which a little rich girl is kidnapped by ruffians, but is saved by a little barefooted girl whom she earlier handed some pennies.
Publicity called her ‘la petite Fromet’ (little Fromet) and in some films her parents and her sisters - actresses too - were her partners. She appeared in the amusing comedy La tournée des grands ducs/The Grand Dukes Tour (Léonce Perret, 1910) with Polaire doing an Apache dance.
Polaire. French postcard. Photo: Stebbing.
In 1910 Albert Capellani directed Maria Fromet for the first time in the drama Athalie (Albert Capellani, Michel Carré, 1910) with Édouard de Max. She would be his performer in at least six films in three years.
Her starring role was that of Cosette in Capellani's four-part Victor Hugo adaptation Les Misérables (Albert Capellani, 1912) with Henry Krauss as Jean Valjean. In this film, Fromet showed real qualities as an actress, with remarkable finesse and the right tones.
Unfortunately for her career, Maria Fromet grew up too fast, and as early as 1913 the catalogues no longer called her "little" but just "Maria Fromet". So no more child roles were offered. On the stage of the Grand-Guignol she played in 1914 a teenage girl strangled by a madman in Les Morts étranges d'Albury by Albert-Jean. The rest of her trajectory was difficult, the roles less and less numerous.
After L’Ile sans nom/The Nameless Island (René Plaissetty, 1922), a big gap in her film career followed until a minor role in Jean Grémillon's silent film Gardiens de phare/The Lighthouse Keepers (1929) with her father Paul Fromet in the leading role.
In the theatre, Maria Fromet took her revenge, creating Mélo by Henri Bernstein in 1929. On screen she played a minor part in the film adaptation Mélo/The Dreamy Mouth (Paul Czinner, 1932), starring Gaby Morlay, Pierre Blanchar andVictor Francen.
Then Maria Fromet played in pieces by Édouard Bourdet: Les Temps difficiles and Margot. She was engaged by the Comédie-Française in 1937, where she played the classical and modern repertoire until her retirement. She also did a handful of minor film parts in the early 1930s and some occasional ones after that.
Maria Fromet died in Paris in 1967. She was 64. All in all she acted in over 100, mostly short, films.
Henry Krauss. French postcard in the Les Vedettes de l'Écran series by Editions Filma, no. 51. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
Source: Jacques Richard (1895 - French) and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by SYBA/MUVA. Photo: Phonogram, Amsterdam.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam. Publicity card for the release of the LP Till We Meet Again by Decca.
German postcard by ISV, no. H 66.
String Extase Boys
Ruud and Riem de Wolff were born in Batavia on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Ruud in Djakarta in 1941 and Riem in Depok in 1943.
In 194, they came to Holland together with their family. During their school years, they performed in bands like String Extase Boys and The Cool Cats. Those bands were exponents of the famous Indo-rock scene (Indo stands for Dutch Indonesian), the cradle for all Dutch rock music way back in the 1950s.
The Indo-rockers mixed their rural musical influences with the new Rock & Roll from the USA. In 1959 Ruud and Riem formed The Blue Diamonds, and recorded their first single, Till I Kissed You, a cover of the Everly Brothers. This was successfully followed by another cover, Oh Carol. They were so successful that The Everly Brothers forbade to cover more of their hits.
On instigation of producer Jack Bulterman the 'Dutch Everly Brothers' recorded in 1960 a song from 1927, Ramona. The song was originally written for the film Ramona (Edwin Carewe, 1928). It was not featured in the film itself, but was written for promotional appearances with the star of the film, Dolores del Rio.
The Blue Diamonds' up-tempo version of the slow waltz became a worldwide hit: number one in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia, and it even reached the American Billboard Hot 100: #72. There were five different language versions of the song. The English version sold over 250,000 copies in the Netherlands (the first record to ever do so) and a German version sold over one million copies in Germany by 1961. By 1963 all Ramona versions together had sold seven million times, and The Blue Diamonds got the Dutch Edison award for the song.
Dutch postcard by De Gruyter, no. 6. (De Gruyter was a Dutch grocery chain, which enclosed postcards of "famous stars from the fascinating world of cinema and hit parade" with their soap Trexop).
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, for Decca, no. 57. Photo: Combi Press, Amsterdam.
Dutch postcard for Decca, no. 907.
Dutch postcard by C.K.Z., Zeist, no. 387.
As they had hits in the Netherlands with songs in English, The Blue Diamonds adapted their songs for the German market by translating them in German. Ramona became a golden record in Germany.
Their popularity lead to many appearances on German television, and also in two Schlagerfilms. The comedy Und du mein Schatz bleibst hier/And You My Dear Stay Here (Franz Antel, 1961) was an Austrian production with Vivi Bach, Hans Moser and Paul Hörbiger.
The German production Davon träumen alle Mädchen/That’s What All the Girls Dream Of (Thomas Engel, 1961) starred Harald Juhnke and Marion Michael.
Their hit Ramona was the title song of another Schlagerfilm, Ramona (Paul Martin, 1961) starring Senta Berger, but in the film the song was interpreted by Willy Hagara.
The Blue Diamonds had more hits in Germany like Wie damals in Paris (1961), Little Ship/Blaues Boot der Sehnsucht (1962) and Sukiyaki (1963), but their military service (1964-1966) and the rise of the Mersey Beat slowed down their careers. Their last German hit was Gib dein Wort, Linda Lou (1965) which they performed at the Deutschen Schlager-Festspielen. They reached the 6th place at this contest.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 4992. Photo: N.V. Phonogram, Amsterdam.
Dutch postcard by Hercules, Haarlem, no. 662.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 5754.
With Caterina Valente. Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4821. Photo: Decca.
During the late 1960s and the 1970s Ruud and Riem de Wolff toured around the world, and especially in Western Europe and the Far East they stayed popular. From 1970 till 1972 they performed in the Dutch stage musical Tien miljoen geboden (Ten Million Commandments) by Seth Gaaikema, which was a huge success.
In 1971 they had a hit in Germany again with Ja, es steht schon bei den Propheten geschrieben/Nimm mich mit nach Capriciano. Since then they continued to perform on stage and TV.
In 1990 Ruud was offered the leading part in the film My Blue Heaven (Ronald Beer, 1990). The Dutch film told the story of an Indo family who starts a restaurant, that is burned down by racists. The film was not a commercial success, and Ruud’s film appearance was not repeated.
The Blue Diamonds was one of the few bands in the world where only death of one of the members could take it apart. Ruud de Wollf died, not very long after the group's last appearance at the end of 2000. They had recorded circa 130 records, which sold over 20 million copies.
After his brother's death Riem de Wolff first wanted to stop, but he decided to continue to perform and release albums. He appeared in the Dutch film Ver van familie/Far Away From Family (Marion Bloem, 2008), an adaptation of a novel of its director. Marion Bloem is also of Dutch Indonesian heritage, and told the tale of a young woman, who, following the death of her stepmother, leaves her life in the USA behind, and rekindles the bonds with her Indonesian-Dutch grandmother.
In 1987 the listeners to the Dutch Radio 5 station chose Ramona as the Best Pop Hit of the 1960s. The Blue Diamonds stood on top of the Dutch music scene and far beyond its borders for 40 years. Riem de Wolff continued to perform, now with his son as The New Diamonds. Last week he had a hemorrhage, followed by a second one this weekend. Monday night, he died peacefully, surrounded by his family. He was 74.
German postcard by Ufa.
German postcard by Krüger, sent by mail in 1964. At the backside is an advertisement for the single Ramona and other Fontana records of The Blue Diamonds.
German postcard by ISV, no. H 83. Photo: Philips. Please double-click to see this picture better.
German postcard by ISV, no. H 84.
Dutch postcard by Emdeeha B.V., Oosterbeek, for Bobos Jeans and Jackets.
Ramona (1960) by The Blue Diamonds. Source: Roquitoyo (YouTube).
Sources: Blue Diamonds.nl, IMDb, and Wikipedia (English and German).
French postcard in the series Nos artistes dans leur loge, no. 201. Photo: Comoedia.
French postcard in the series Nos artistes dans leurs expressions, no. 1051. Photo: Comoedia.
Dutch postcard, no 112. Photo: Paramount.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 531. Photo: Paramount.
Dutch postcard, ca. 1932. Photo: Paramount.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6709/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6732/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for One Hour with You (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932).
Maurice Auguste Chevalier was born in Paris, France, in 1888, the youngest of nine children. His father was a house painter and his mother, Josephine van den Bosch, was French of Belgian descent.
His father did not work steadily. To help out, the 11-year-old Chevalier quit school and worked a number of jobs: a carpenter's apprentice, electrician, printer, and even as a doll painter. According to IMDb, he was even a sparring partner to heavyweight boxing champion Georges Carpentier.
After, he was injured and he began singing in Paris cafes. In 1901, he was singing, unpaid, at a cafe when a member of the theatre saw him and suggested he try for a local musical. In the following years, 'Mo' appeared in cafes and music halls as a singer and dancer.
In 1908 he debuted as a comical actor in short films like Trop crédules/Susceptible Youth (Jean Durand, 1908) and he even worked a few times with the celebrated comedian Max Linder in Par habitude/By habit (Max Linder, 1911) and Une mariée qui se fait attendre/A bride who is waiting (Louis J. Gasnier, 1911).
In 1909, he became the partner of the biggest female star in France, Fréhel. She secured him his first major engagement, as a mimic and a singer in l'Alcazar in Marseille. His act in l'Alcazar was so successful, that he made a triumphant re-arrival in Paris. However, due to her alcoholism and drug addiction, the liaison with Fréhel ended in 1911.
23-year-old Chevalier then started a relationship with 36-year-old Mistinguett at the Folies Bergère, where he was her dance partner. Soon she became his lover as well. He also appeared with her in the short comedies Une bougie récalcitrante/A recalcitrant candle (Georges Monca, 1912) and La valse renversante/The stunning waltz (Georges Monca, 1914).
French postcard. Photo Aldo.
French postcard. Photo: G.L. Manuel Frères. Caption: "L'appetit vient en buvant, quand on boit du Campari."
French postcard. Photo Studio Manuel Frères. "L'appetit vient en buvant quand on boit du Campari."
Vintage postcard. Photo: Paramount.
French postcard by Cinémagazine Edition, Paris, no. 794. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Love Parade (Ernst Lubitsch, 1929) with Jeanette MacDonald.
French postcard. Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert In Paramount's romantic comedy La grande mare (Hobart Henley, 1930), the French language version of The Big Pond (Hobart Henley, 1930).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5749/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Paramount on Parade (Dorothy Arzner a.o., 1930) with Jack Oakie and Clara Bow.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5976/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch, 1931) with Miriam Hopkins.
French postcard. Photo: Apers, Paris. Son text of Mama Inez.
German Prisoner Camp
During World War I, Maurice Chevalier fought in the French army. He was wounded by shrapnel in the back in the first weeks of combat and was taken as a prisoner of war.
During his two years in a German POW camp, he learned English from an English prisoner. According to Wikipedia, he was released in 1916 through the secret intervention of Mistinguett's admirer, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, the only king of a neutral country who related to both the British and German royal families. Later Chevalier was awarded a Croix de Guerre.
In 1917, Chevalier became a star in Le Casino de Paris and played before British soldiers and Americans. After the war he rose to world fame as a star of music halls.
He discovered jazz and ragtime. He went to London, where he found new success at the Palace Theatre, even though he still sang in French. He started thinking about touring the United States.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4676/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Paramount.
French postcard by Edition Ross, no. 5545/2. Photo: Paramount.
With Trude Berliner. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5748/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Unknown is for which film this still was made. Probably it was an alternative language version of a Paramount production, produced at the Paramount Studios near Paris.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6200/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6200/2. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch, 1931).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7790/1. Photo: Paramount. Real-life lovers Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier at a Paramount set. Dietrich is dressed as the peasant girl from the beginning of The Song of Songs (Rouben Mamoulian, 1933). Chevalier wears what looks like a bathrobe, so he might just have been busy on another Paramount set at the same time. In the film A Bedtime Story (Norman Taurog, 1933) he wears the same shoes.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6200/3, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8034/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Paramount.
After his London success, Maurice Chevalier toured the United States, where he met the American composers George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.
Chevalier returned to Paris and developed an interest in acting. He made a huge impression in the operetta Dédé by Henri Christiné and a libretto by Albert Willemetz.
In addition to his work on the stage, Chevalier began appearing in films like Le Mauvais garçon/Bad Boy (Henri Diamant Berger, 1922) and Jim Bougne, boxeur (Henri Diamant Berger, 1923). In Gonzague (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922), he co-starred with Marguerite Moreno and Georges Milton.
With the help of George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, he brought Dédé to Broadway in 1922. Douglas Fairbanksoffered him star billing in a Hollywood film with Mary Pickford, but Chevalier doubted his own talent for silent films. The films he had made in Paris had largely failed.
In 1922, Chevalier also met Yvonne Vallée, a young dancer, who became his wife in 1927. In these years, he created several songs still known today, such as Valentine (1924).
Dutch Postcard, no. 74. Photo: publicity still for Le petit café (1931), a Paramount production directed by the great director Ludwig Berger.
Dutch postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Le petit café (Ludwig Berger, 1931).
French or Dutch postcard, no. 1876-33. Probably for Le petit café (Ludwig Berger, 1931). Card mailed in the Netherlands. The mark top right refers to the Dutch Central Board of Censorship.
Dutch postcard, no. 93, Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Playboy of Paris (Ludwig Berger, 1930). Collection: Egbert Barten.
Dutch postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Playboy of Paris (Ludwig Berger, 1930) with Frances Dee.
With Jeanette MacDonald. Dutch postcard, no. 402. Photo: Paramount.
British postcard in the Colourgraph series, London, no. C 64.
Belgian postcard by Delacre, Charleroi. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Love Parade. Postcard for the Trianon Cinema, Passage de la Bourse, Charleroi, Belgium, where the film was shown from Friday 19 September 1930 on.
French postcard. Photo: Paramount.
The epitome of French charm and sophistication
When the sound film arrived in 1928, Maurice Chevalier tried his luck in Hollywood.
In 1929 he starred for Paramount Pictures in his first American film musical, Innocents of Paris (Richard Wallace, 1929). In this film he introduced his theme song, Louise (music by Richard A. Whiting, lyrics by Leo Robin).
He was nominated for Academy Awards for The Love Parade (Ernst Lubitsch, 1929) and The Big Pond (Hobart Henley, 1930). The Big Pond gave Chevalier his first big American hit songs, Livin' In the Sunlight - Lovin' In the Moonlight , plus A New Kind of Love.
Besides The Love Parade, Chevalier and director Ernst Lubitsch made four more hilarious pictures together, the all-star revue film Paramount on Parade (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) with Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins, the Oscar nominated One Hour With You (1932) - again with Jeanette MacDonald, and The Merry Widow (1934), the first sound film version of the famous Franz Lehár operetta.
Between 1928 and 1935, Chevalier became recognised as 'the epitome of French charm and sophistication'. His films were instrumental in making film musicals popular again around 1932 and he became the highest-paid star in Hollywood. As the star of radio's long-running Chase and Sanborn Hour, he earned $5000 weekly, a record for radio performers up to that time.
French postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Le petit café/Playboy of Paris (Ludwig Berger, 1931). Collection: Egbert Barten.
Belgian postcard. Card for the Cine-Palace, Brussels, where the film ran 2-8 October 1931. Le petit café (Ludwig Berger, 1931) was the French language version of Playboy of Paris (Ludwig Berger, 1930).
Dutch postcard, no. 302. Photo: Paramount. Maurice Chevalier in the musical comedy The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch, 1931).
French postcard by Europe, no. 73. Photo: Paramount. With Lily Damita in Une heure près de toi (George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch, 1932), the French language version of One Hour With You.
British card. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Way to Love (Norman Taurog, 1933) with Edward Everett Horton.
British card. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for The Way to Love (Norman Taurog, 1933) with Mutt.
British postcard in the Filmshots series by Film Weekly. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for A Bedtime Story (Norman Taurog, 1933) with Baby Leroy.
Dutch postcard by Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: United Artists. Publicity still for Folies Bergère de Paris (Roy Del Ruth, 1935) with Merle Oberon.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 816. Photo: Paramount.
In 1935 Maurice returned to Europe, where he also made several films, like Le vagabond bien-aimé/The Beloved Vagabond (Kurt Bernhardt aka Curtis Bernhardt, 1936), Avec le sourire/With a Smile (Maurice Tourneur, 1936), L'homme du jour/The Man of the Hour (Julien Duvivier, 1937) and Pièges/Snares (Robert Siodmak, 1939) in which he played a serial killer opposite Marie Déa and Pierre Renoir.
In 1937, he married the dancer Nita Raya. He had several stage successes, such as his revue Paris en Joie in the Casino de Paris. A year later, he performed in Amours de Paris. His songs continued to become big hits, such as Prosper (1935), Ma Pomme (1936) and Ça fait d'excellents français (1939). In 1938 he was decorated a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
During World War II, Chevalier kept performing for audiences. In 1941, he performed a new revue in the Casino de Paris: Bonjour Paris, which was another success. From 1941 to 1945, he sang the songs composed by Henri Betti with the lyrics of Maurice Vandair as Notre Espoir (1941), La Chanson du Maçon (1941) and La Fête à Neu-Neu (1943).
The Nazis asked Chevalier to perform in Berlin and to sing for the collaborating radio station Radio-Paris. He refused, but he did perform in front of war prisoners in Germany at the camp where he was interned in World War I, and succeeded in liberating ten people in exchange.
In 1942 he returned to Bocca, near Cannes, but returned to Paris in September. In 1944 when Allied forces freed France, Chevalier was accused of collaborationism. Even though he was acquitted by a French convened court, the English-speaking press remained hostile and he was refused a visa for several years.
For this Wikipedia gives also another explanation: "In 1944, he had already participated in a Communist demonstration in Paris. He was therefore even less popular in the U.S. during the McCarthyism period; in 1951, he was refused re-entry into the U.S. because he had signed the Stockholm Appeal." This was a petition against nuclear weapons and the U.S. State Department had declared Chevalier "potentially dangerous" to the security of the United States.
Dutch postcard, no. 196. Photo: Paramount.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 30, mailed in 1931. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, Arnhem, no. 290. In 1932 Maurice Chevalier visited the Dutch cities of Amsterdam, The Hague and Volendam.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, Arnhem, no. 392
Dutch postcard by JosPe, Arnhem. Photo: Maurice Chevalier in the fishertown of Volendam, The Netherlands. This picture was taken in 1932 when he visited Holland.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, Arnhem. 'Den Haag 21 September 1932' is written on the backside of the postcard. That night Chevalier performed at the Gebouw voor Kunsten en Wetenschappen (Arts & Sciences building) in Den Haag/The Hague, The Netherlands. The day before Chevalier had visited Volendam and Amsterdam and had performed at the still existing - Amsterdam movie palace Tuschinski Theater.
After World War II, Maurice Chevalier was still popular in France. In 1946, he split from Nita Raya and started writing his memoirs, which took many years to complete.
He toured the world with his one-man show and acted in films like Le Silence est d'Or/Silence Is Golden (René Clair, 1946).
In 1952, he bought a large property in Marnes-la-Coquette, near Paris, and named it La Louque, as a homage to his mother's nickname. He started a relationship in 1952 with Janie Michels, a young divorcee with three children.
In the late 1950s, after the McCarthy era abated, he returned to Hollywood. The Billy Wilder film Love in the Afternoon (1957) with Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper was his first Hollywood film in more than 20 years.
Chevalier then appeared in the hit musical Gigi (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) with Leslie Caron. Older and gray-headed he sang his signature songs, Thank Heaven for Little Girls, and I Remember it Well, the latter with Hermione Gingold.
The success of Gigi prompted Hollywood to give him an Honorary Academy Award in 1959 for his achievements in entertainment.
In the 1960s, he continued to make a few more films, including the drama Fanny (Joshua Logan, 1961), in which he starred with Leslie Caron and Charles Boyer. This film was an updated version of Marcel Pagnol's Marseilles Trilogy.
In 1965, at 77, Chevalier made another world tour. In 1967 he toured in Latin America, again, the US, Europe and Canada. The following year, he announced his farewell tour.
In 1970, a few years after his retirement, he sang the title song for Walt Disney's, The AristoCats (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1970). This marked his last contribution to the film industry.
Maurice Chevalier died in Paris, in 1972, aged 83.
German postcard. Photo: IFA. Publicity still for Pièges/Personal Column (Robert Siodmak, 1939) with Marie Déa.
French postcard by Europe, no. 1064. Photo: Paramount.
French postcard by Viny, no 88. Photo: Paramount.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 143. Photo: Erpe, Nice.
Trailer for Love Me Tonight (Rouben Mamoulian, 1932). Source: _ XYZT (YouTube).
Preview clip of The Merry Widow (Ernst Lubitsch, 1934). Source: Warner archive (YouTube).
Trailer for Love in the Afternoon (Billy Wilder, 1957). Source: (YouTube).
Trailer for Gigi (Vincente Minnelli, 1958). Source: Warner Bros. (YouTube).
Sources: Volker Boehm (IMDb), AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 620/1. Photo: Maxim Film. Publicity still for Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) with Lotte Neumann.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 620/2. Photo: Maxim Film. Publicity still for Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) with Lotte Neumann and Adolf Klein.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 620/3. Photo: Maxim Film. Publicity still for Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) with Adolf Klein, Lotte Neumann and Ernst Hofmann.
The daughter of a bailout
Lotte Neumann plays in Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) Thea von Hoffäcker, daughter of a chamberlain, Freiherr von Hoffäcker (Adolf Klein).
Georg Textor (Ernst Hofmann), man about town and son of a well-to-do merchant, is betrothed to Thea. When one day Georg flunks at the races, and his future father-in-law bets on the wrong horse, Textor’s one namely, the situation is alarming. Hoffäcker, suddenly very short of cash, wants to borrow 50,000 Mark from his friend Raschdorf.
The promised money-sum does not arrive fast enough with the chamberlain, whose creditors are already on his neck. Hoping that the 50,000 marks arrive shortly, Hoffäcker writes a check secured by Raschdorf. But when Raschdorf suddenly dies of a stroke, Hoffäcker’s world collapses. His aristocratic relatives advise him to shoot himself, as is common in their milieu, but the man refuses and instead serves a one-year sentence for bribery in prison.
Poor Thea, unknown to what has fallen upon her father, is said he is on a secret diplomatic mission to the Far East. After one year Hoffäcker is released and with his former bookmaker Heinlein (Guido Herzfeld) he finds a small job at the editorial office of Turflaterne, a second rate racing track magazine.
Thea learns that her father has returned from his 'diplomatic mission' to Berlin. Immediately she visits him in his new, humble domicile. Nothing has remained of the proud representative of the upper-class official caste. Thea cannot explain the outer decay of her father and does not get any response from him.
Georg doesn’t know any more. He has just returned home from a trip to Mexico, where he tried - unsuccessfully - to initiate rescue measures for the family company that had been in a state of misery. Textor is now also broke, and as luck would have it, he also lands with Heinlein and his shabby magazine. Georg meets his future sister-in-law, learns of Hoffäcker's descent, and makes it clear to him that he does not intend to marry the daughter of a bailout.
However, Georg quickly regrets his harsh words and wants to apologise to Thea and her father. But Hoffäcker has finally followed his blue-blooded 'advice' and has shot himself. The guilt has now been eradicated, so Georg asks Thea to marry him.
Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) was based on a novel by Rudolph Stratz. The sets were designed by Hans Sohnle. The film premiered in August 1919 at the Berlin cinema Kammerlichtspielen. Jupp Wiertz designed an elegant poster for the film.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 620/4. Photo: Maxim Film. Publicity still for Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) with Lotte Neumann and Adolf Klein.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 620/5. Photo: Maxim Film. Publicity still for Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) with Lotte Neumann.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 620/6. Photo: Maxim Film. Publicity still for Arme Thea/Poor Thea (Carl Froelich, 1919) with Lotte Neumann.
Source: The German Early Cinema Database, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 867.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 959.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 974.
The Rock and Roll Wave
Mina was born as Anna Maria Mazzini into a working class family in Busto Arsizio, Lombardy in 1940. After finishing secondary school in Cremona, she attended college where she majored in accounting.
She was caught up in the rock and roll wave sweeping across Italy in 1958. Mina listened to American rock and roll and jazz records, and was a frequent visitor of the Derby, the Santa Tecla and the Taverna Messicana clubs of Milan, known for promoting rock and roll.
She started a musical career with the backing of the band Happy Boys. Her repertoire included clumsy imitations of British and American rock and jazz songs, while her extra-loud and syncopated version of the song Nessuno (Nobody) showcased her excellent sense of rhythm. She soon signed with Davide Matalon, owner of the small record company Italdisc.
She introduced her stage name Mina with her first single, Non partir/Malattia. Her performance at the Sei giorni della canzone festival of Milan was described by the La Notte newspaper as the ‘birth of a star’. In 1959, Mina's TV appearances were the first for a female rock and roll singer in Italy and they were a revelation. Her loud syncopated singing earned her the nickname ‘Queen of Screamers’. The public also labelled her the ‘Tiger of Cremona' for shaking her head, hands, and hips wildly to the rhythm.
Her first Italian #1 hit was the surf pop Tintarella di luna (Moon Tan) in September 1959. It was performed in her first Musicarello (musical comedy film), Juke box - Urli d'amore/Juke Box - Howls of Love (Mauro Morassi, 1959) with Karin Baal.
In the following year she was seen in the films I Teddy Boys della canzone/The Teddy Boys of Music (Domenico Paolella, 1960), Urlatori alla sbarra/Howling to the bar (Lucio Fulci, 1960) opposite Adriano Celentano, Madri pericolose/Dangerous mothers (Domenico Paolella, 1960) with Ave Ninchi, and Mina... fuori la guardia/Mina... Watch Out! (Armando W. Tamburella, 1961).
In his review of I Teddy Boys della canzone, Tod Kimmell (The Willing Mind) writes at IMDb: “There has never been a film before or since like I Teddy Boys della canzone. Mainly, and blessedly, a vehicle for the incomparable Mina.(...) The big finale field party is almost impossible to watch, and certainly impossible to NOT watch. There are so many disparate sounds and beats fighting for attention, it’s like having delirium tremens... yet incredibly satisfying. I promise that if I ever, EVER, find a copy of this on 16mm, I will show it all over the country, outdoors, for free. Seeing it is a life altering experience that needs to be shared!”.
Italian postcard by E.N.P., Roma.
Small collector's card, no. 49.
Italian postcard. Photo: RIFI.
#1 in Japan
Mina introduced a more refined sensual manner of singing in 1960 when she sang Gino Paoli's ballad Il cielo in una stanza (The Sky in a Room). The American version of the song, This World We Love In, charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Performances of the song were included in the Musicarellos Io bacio... tu baci/I Kiss... You Kiss (Piero Vivarelli, 1961) opposite Umberto Orsini, and Appuntamento a Ischia/Rendezvous in Ischia (Mario Mattoli, 1962) with Antonella Lualdi.
After turning to light pop tunes, she also scored in other countries. The presentation of her German single Heißer Sand (Hot Sand, 1962) on Peter Kraus' TV show caused a boom of 40,000 record sales in ten days in Germany. The record went to #1 and spent over half a year on the German charts. Mina had six more singles on the German charts in the next two years.
With her single Suna ni kieta namida (Tears Disappear in the Sand), she also had a #1 in Japan and earned the title of the best international artist there.
Her films such as Canzoni nel mondo/Songs of the World (Vittorio Sala, 1963) with Gilbert Bécaud, and Per amore... per magia.../For Love... for Magic (Ducio Tessari, 1967) with Gianni Morandi were also shown abroad.
Her song L'eclisse twist was used on the soundtrack of Michelangelo Antonioni's classic film L'eclisse/The Eclypse (1962) starring Monica Vitti and Alain Delon.
In 1963, Mina was banned by the RAI, the Italian public broadcasting service, because she would not cover up her love affair (and pregnancy) with actor Corrado Pani. He was already married although separated from his wife. Their son, Massimiliano Pani, was born in 1963. In Italy divorce was illegal and single motherhood was considered shameful, so her behaviour certainly did not accord with the dominant Catholic and bourgeois morals.
Despite the ban, Mina's record sales were unaffected and due to public demand, the ban was ended in 1964. Later, the RAI tried to continue to prohibit her songs, which were forthright in dealing with subjects such as religion, smoking and sex. Mina's cool act combined sex appeal with public smoking, dyed blond hair, and heavy use of eye make-up to create a ‘bad girl’ image.
Her main themes are anguished love stories performed in high dramatic tones. She was known for her three-octave vocal range, the agility of her soprano voice, and for her image as an emancipated, independent woman. Her affair with Corrado Pani ended at the end of 1964.
Italian postcard by Grafiche Biondetti (GB), Verona, no. 54.
Italian postcard by Silvercart, Milano (Milan), no. 546/1.
German promotion card by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: Polydor.
Distinctive Timbre and Great Power
In the mid 1960s Mina became a staple of such Italian television variety shows as La fiera dei sogni and Il macchiettario. She combined classic Italian pop with elements of blues, R&B and soul music during the late 1960s, especially when she worked in collaboration with composer Lucio Battisti.
Top Italian songwriters created material with large vocal ranges and unusual chord progressions to showcase her singing skills, particularly Brava (Brave, 1965) a rhythmic jazz number specially written by Bruno Canfora and the pseudo-serial Se telefonando (If Over the Phone, 1966) by Ennio Morricone. The latter song was covered by several performers abroad.
Her scatting performance of Spirale Waltz (1965) became the theme song for the Sci-Fi thriller La Decima Vittima/The 10th Victim (Elio Petri, 1965) starring Marcello Mastroianni.
Mina's easy listening duet with Alberto Lupo, Parole parole (Words words, 1972), was turned into a worldwide hit by Dalida and Alain Delon in 1974.
Mina's songs were used in the soundtracks for such major films as Matador (Pedro Amodovar, 1986) and Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990). Mina's voice has a distinctive timbre and great power. In live performances, she combined several modern styles with traditional Italian melodies and swing music, which made her one of the most versatile pop singer in Italian music.
Till the mid-1970s she stayed a dominant figure in the Italian pop music. Mina gave up public appearances in 1978 but she continued to release popular albums on a yearly basis with her son Massimiliano Pani as the producer. Between 1972 and 1995, she published a double album each year. 77 of Mina’s albums and 71 of her singles reached the Italian charts.
The duet album Mina Celentano, recorded with Adriano Celentano, was the biggest-selling album of 1998 in Italy. After releasing new footage of her recording sessions, Mina's singles started to chart in Italy again. The track Succhiando l'uva (2002), written for her by Zucchero, peaked at #3 on the chart. Mina's cover of Don't call me baby (Can't take my eyes off you) (2003) reached #4 in Italy, and the single Alibi (2007) reached #6. The triple CD The Platinum Collection (2004) reached #1 on the Italian charts. So did Olio (1999), Veleno (2002), Bula Bula (2005) and Todavía (2007).
Mina had affairs with the actors Walter Chiari and Gian Maria Volonté. She had a relationship for three years with the composer Augusto Martelli. In 1970 she married Virgilio Crocco, a journalist for Il Messaggero. Their daughter Benedetta Mazzini was born in 1971. In 1973, Virgilio Crocco was killed by a car accident. In 1965, her brother Alfredo Mazzini had also tragically died in a car accident.
Mina became engaged to her current husband, Swiss cardiologist Eugenio Quaini, in 1981. She obtained Swiss citizenship in 1989 and they were married in 2006. In 2001, president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi presented her with the Second Class of the Italian Order of Merit. In recent years, Mina has been writing a weekly column on the front page of La Stampa and a page in the Italian edition of the magazine Vanity Fair where she answers fan letters.
Mina - with I Solitari - sings Tintarella di luna in Juke box - Urli d'amore//Juke Box - Howls of Love (Mauro Morassi, 1959). Source: Miloš 02 (YouTube).
Mina sings Nessuno in the film Urlatori alla sbarra/Howlers in the Dock (Lucio Fulci, 1960). Source: StephenTheLoon (YouTube).
Leader of L'eclisse/The Eclypse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962). Source: Eliecer Gaspar (YouTube).
Mina sings Coriandoli. Source: Swing 52a (YouTube).
Sources: Mina (Official Site), Wikipedia, and IMDb.
French postcard in the series Nos artistes dans leur loge, no. 300. Photo: Comoedia. The card top right on the photo is from Les Trois Mousquetaires (Henri Diamant-Berger 1921), see it also below.
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine no. 19. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artagnan in Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921).
French postcard by Cinémagazine, no. 278. Photo: Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artagnan in Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921).
French postcard by Editions Filma in the series Les Vedettes de l'Écran, no. 119. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Aimé Simon-Girard as D'Artagnan in Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921).
Aimé Simon-Girard was born as Aimé Max Simon in Paris in 1889 as the son of the tenor Nicholas Simon-Max and the soprano Juliette Simon-Girard. Thanks to his artistic parents he first pursued a career as operetta singer, and with success. Soon he became a star in the Parisian theatres with the name Simon-Girard.
On the eve of the First World War, he started in film, playing opposite Gabriel de Gravonein La maison du baigneur/The house of the swimmer (Adrien Caillard, 1913). The following year he met the man who would launch him into cinema stardom: Henri Diamant-Berger. They made one short film together, Loin des yeux, près du coeur/Absence makes the heart grow fonder (1914), but during the war Simon-Girard mostly continued working on stage.
In 1921, though, his old friend gave him the leading part of D'Artagnan in the twelve part silent serial Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921). It was not the first film adaptation of the novel by Alexandre Dumas père but a very popular one. For Simon-Girard it was his breakthrough role in the cinema. He played opposite such actors as Henri Rollan (Athos), Charles Martinelli (Porthos), Pierre de Guingand (Aramis), Claude Mérelle (Mylady de Winter), Jeanne Desclos (Anne of Austria), Édouard de Max (Richelieu) and Charles Dullin (Le Père Joseph).
Soon cinema veteran Louis Feuillade asked him for another twelve part serial: Le fils du flibustier/The Son of the Pirate (1922), with Georges Biscot, Sandra Milowanoff and a debuting Gaby Morlay.
In 1923 Simon-Girard directed a short himself, La belle Henriette/The Beautiful Henriette, with Germaine Webb. By now Simon-Girard was type-casted as a period piece actor, as in Vert galant/Courteous green (René Leprince, 1924), an eight part serial on the life of the French King Henri IV, followed by two other eight-part serials in costume: Fanfan-la-Tulipe (René Leprince, 1925) which was reshot in 1952 with Gérard Philipe, and Mylord l’arsouille/The ruffian Mylord (René Leprince, 1925). His costars in these three serials were Claude Mérelle, Joë Hamman, Claude France, Maria Dalbaicin, Pierre de Guingand and Simone Vaudry.
In the late 1920s, Aimé Simon-Girard played in La grande amie/The great friend (Max de Rieux, 1927), and in the comedy Les transatlantiques/Deckchairs (Pierre Colombier, 1928) about an American family visiting France.
French postcard, no. 133. Pierre de Guingand as Aramis and Aimé-Simon Girard as D'Artagnan in Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921).
French Postcard, no. 171. Photo: Gaumont. Publicity still for Le fils du flibustier/The Son of the Pirate (Louis Feuillade, 1922) with Sandra Milowanoff. Collection: Didier Hanson.
French postcard. Photo: Studio Fémina. Aimé Simon-Girard and Germaine Webb in the musical stage comedy Epouse-la by Pierre Veber, music by Hirchmann, at the Theatre Fémina, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris.
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 442. Photo: Sartony.
French postcard by P.C., Paris, no. 26.
Tired of Period Pieces
Because of his fine voice, the passage to sound cinema was not a real obstacle for Aimé Simon-Girard. He debuted in sound film with Les quatre vagabonds/The Four Vagabonds (1931), directed by Lupu Pick, the Rumanian master of German Kammerspielfilm. Simon-Girard wrote the French dialogue and adaptation of Les quatre vagabonds. He plays Pierre who suspects one of four young vagabonds has murdered the suitor of his beloved Marie (Simone Bourday).
Next, Simon-Girard resurrected D’Artagnan once more in the sound version of Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (1932), again directed by Henri Diamant-Berger, but this time with Blanche Montel as Constance, Harry Baur as Tréville, Edith Meyra as Mylady de Winter, and Andrée Lafayette as Anna of Austria, the French queen.
Tired of the period pieces, Simon-Girard henceforth focused on the stage. In 1934, he also recorded songs like L’amour en fleurs (the French version of Gracie Fields’ Love in bloom) and Cocktails pour deux (Cocktails For two), with artists such as Django Reinhardt, being part of the orchestra of Michel Warlop.
Incidentally Simon-Girard returned to the set to play a reporter in Arsène Lupin, detective (1937), which had Jules Berry in the title role, while Simon-Girard played the title role (a small one) in the Fernandel comedy François premier/Francis the First (Christian Jaque, 1937).
He also played king Henri IV twice in Les perles de la couronne/The Pearls of the Crown (Sacha Guitry, 1937) and in the comedy Alexis gentleman chauffeur (Max de Vaucorbeil, René Guissart, 1938). Simon-Girard‘s last parts were in Le cavalier noir/The black rider (Gilles Grangier. 1944) starring Georges Guétary, and the two-part film Mandrin (René Jayet, 1947), starring José Noguéro.
Aimé Simon-Girard died in Paris in 1950. All in all, he had acted in some 20 films and serials between 1921 and 1948.
French postcard. Photo: Radio 46 / André Gardé. Collection: Didier Hanson.
French postcard by M. Le Deley, Paris. Photo: still from Les Trois Mousquetaires (Henri Diamant Berger, 1921), based on the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas père, and produced by Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
French postcard by M. Le Deley, Paris. Photo: still from Les Trois Mousquetaires (Henri Diamant Berger, 1921), based on the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas père, and produced by Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
Aimé Simon-Girard sings Cocktails Pour Deux (1934). Source: Bibi1944 (YouTube).
Sources: CineArtistes (French), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. 116. Photo: Hafbofilm, Amsterdam.
Big Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Sent by mail in 1962.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/72. Photo: Winkler / Sascha-Film / Constantin / Werner Press. Publicity card for Electrola.
German postcard by Ufa, no. CK-298. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / UFA.
Germany's first post-war child star
Cornelia 'Conny' Froboess was born in Wriezen a.d. Oder, in Brandenburg, eastern Germany, in 1943. Her mother Margaretha was sent there when her homeplace Berlin was bombed during the war.
Her father was the composer Gerhard Froboess. In 1951, his composition Pack die Badehose ein (Pack Your Swimsuit, 1951) made his 7-year-old daughter Germany's first post-war child star.
Pack die Badehose ein is a cheery tune about a group of children going to swim at the Wannsee near Berlin on a hot summer's day. The song was originally composed for the Schöneberger Sängerknaben, but their manager refused the song. And so ‘Die kleine Cornelia’ (Little Cornelia) performed the song for the RIAS-radio show Mach mit live at the Berlin Titania-Palast. Her stage debut was a huge success.
The same year Die kleine Cornelia made her (uncredited) first film appearance in Sündige Grenze/Illegal Border (Robert A. Stemmle, 1951) with Dieter Borsche, about a band of juvenile smugglers. In the next years many other films followed, such as Lass die Sonne Wieder Scheinen/Let the Sun Shine (Hubert Marischka, 1955) with Hans Holt.
She released more singles over the next couple of years and as she grew Die kleine Cornelia recorded as Conny and then as Conny Froboess.
West-German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1555. Photo: Lucerna / Atlantic / Looschen. Publicity still for Lass die Sonne wieder scheinen/Let the Sun Shine (Hubert Marischka, 1955).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1578. Photo: Lucerna / Atlantic-Film. Publicity still for Lass die Sonne Wieder Scheinen/Let the Sun Shine (Hubert Marischka, 1955) with Hans Holt.
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: Schönbrunn / Constantin-Film.
Dutch Postcard by N.V. v.h. Weenenk & Snel, Baarn, no. 1060.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H, Minden/Westf., no. 511. Photo: H.P. / Union / Ewald. Publicity still for Hula Hopp, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden-Westf., no 557. Photo: H.P. / Union / Ewald. Publicity still for Hula-Hopp, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959).
German postcard by Bartoschek-Verlag, Stuttgart Bad Canstatt, no. 1693. Photo: H.P.-Film / Union / Haenchen. Publicity still for Hula-Hopp, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959).
Dutch postcard. Photo: Publicity still for Hula-Hopp, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959).
In 1958, after the Rock and Roll wave had hit Germany, Cornelia Froboess recorded Paul Anka’s Diana. The song became no. 2 in the German hit parade and Cornelia became teen idol Conny. The name change signified a shift towards a more hip, Americanised image for the teenager.
Bruce Eder at AllMusic: "Froboess -- who was still a teenager and, thus, a natural fit for the new music -- began doing occasional rhythm numbers that incorporated a livelier, quasi-rock & roll beat into her music, roughly akin to what Connie Francis was doing in America and Petula Clark was doing in England and France at around the same time."
Other hits followed like I love You Baby (1958), Blue jean boy (1958), and Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon (1962). These hits cemented her position and saw the singer become an idol for German teens. Her star would rise even more with a string of popular Schlager films in which she performed her hits.
In Hula-Hopp, Conny (Heinz-Paul, 1959) with Rex Gildo, she performed songs like Holiday in Honolulu, Die Boys und Girls von heute and of course Diana. Gildo was also her co-star in Ja, so ein Mädchen mit sechzehn (Hans Grimm, 1959) in which she sang the title song and also Little Girl and Such das Glück des Lebens.
Another frequent co-star was Peter Weck. They appeared together in such films as the remake Mariandl (Werner Jacobs, 1961). Probably the best of their films together was Der Traum von Lieschen Müller/The Dream of Lieschen Mueller (Helmut Kautner, 1961), in which Sonja Ziemann played the leading role.
Dutch postcard. Sent by mail in 1964. Conny with Peter Weck.
Dutch postcard. Conny with Peter Weck.
Dutch postcard by Uitgeverij Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4899. Photo: Hafbo Film. Publicity still for Junge Leute brauchen Liebe/Young People Need Love (Géza von Cziffra, 1961) with Peter Weck.
Dutch postcard by N.V. v.h. Weenenk & Snel, Baarn. Photo: publicity still for Mariandl (Werner Jacobs, 1961). The man on the postcard is not the mentioned Günther Philipp but Rudolf Prack.
Dutch postcard by N.V. v.h. Weenenk & Snel, Baarn, no. 762. Photo: publicity still for Mariandl (Werner Jacobs, 1961) with Günther Philipp and Peter Weck.
Dutch postcard by Int. Filmpers, Amsterdam, no. WPS 168. Photo: Centrafilm. Publicity still for Mariandl (Werner Jacobs, 1961).
When Conny and Peter Do It Together
In her films Conny Froboess often portrayed a spontaneous 'Berliner Göre' (Brat from Berlin) who craves for independence from her strict parents.
Her comedy with 'the German Elvis', Peter Kraus, Wenn die Conny mit dem Peter/When Conny and Peter Do It Together (Fritz Umgelter, 1958), made them 'The dream couple of the German show world'.
Their Conny und Peter machen Musik/Conny and Peter Are Making Music (Werner Jacobs, 1960) was even the biggest box office hit of that year. Jan Onderwater at IMDb: "Despite too simple story and so-so directing, a jolly and entertaining Schlager film, due to cast that makes the best of it, but it could have done with one or two Schlagers more (was Papa Froboess out of material?)."
Despite these commercial successes Conny and Peter only made these two Schlagerfilms together.
Dutch postcard. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity still for Ja, so ein Mädchen mit sechzehn/Yeah, Such A Sixteen Year Old Girl (Hans Grimm, 1959).
Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. 112. Photo: HAFBO. Publicity still from Conny und Peter machen Musik (Werner Jacobs, 1960).
German postcard by ISV, no. E 13. Photo: Constantin / Grimm. Conny with Rex Gildo (left), Peter Krauss (right), and Rolf Pinegger.
Vintage card, with far left Rex Gildo.
Dutch postcard, no. 761, with Peter Krauss.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4489. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity still for Conny und Peter machen Musik (Werner Jacobs, 1960) with Peter Krauss.
The Eurovision Song Contest
In 1962 Conny Froboess' song Zwei kleine Italiener (Two Little Italians) was Germany's entry at The Eurovision Song Contest. At the 1962 Deutsche Schlager-Festpielen, the German preliminaries, she had narrowly beaten Swedish singer Siw Malmkvist into second place.
In Luxembourg at the pan-European final, Conny finished disappointingly sixth but the song became her only no. 1 hit in Germany. It stayed there for five weeks and was awarded a gold disc. Conny also recorded the song in Dutch, English and Italian. Zwei kleine Italiener – penned by Christian Bruhn and Georg Buschor– went on to sell over a million copies internationally and is considered an evergreen of German pop.
That same year she appeared in Jean Renoir's war comedy Le caporal épinglé/The Elusive Corporal (1962), starring Jean-Pierre Cassel as a corporal who during WWII tries to escape from German prison camps, sometimes making it a few yards, sometimes reaching the French border. Her role in the film was small, but the film was prestigious.
In the mid-1960s, she branched out from Schlager films to doing filmed operetta, including a version of Carl Zeller's Der Vogelhändler/The Bird Seller (Géza von Cziffra, 1962) with Peter Weck. Jan Onderwater at IMDb: "The plot of the operetta was changed to fit into 90 minutes, but maybe also for the original being unacceptably corny; but it is all to no avail. Von Cziffra directed without imagination and spirit and he is hopelessly inadequate in using the Ultrascope format. The result is a dull film."
She also made two comedies with Peter Alexander, Der Musterknabe/The model boy (Werner Jacobs, 1963) and Hilfe, meine Braut klaut/Help, My Bride Steals (Werner Jacobs, 1964) in which she played a kleptomaniac. The Beatles now topped the charts and Conny Froboess had lost her interest in music. She had been taking acting lessons since the late 1950s, and she decided to focus on acting.
Public and critical acclaim for her role in the TV film Wahn oder der Teufel in Boston/Delusion or the devil in Boston (Gerhard Klingenberg, 1965), based on a play by Lion Feuchtwanger, proved decisive. German magazine HörZu wrote surprised: "Television has won a young talented actress. Fraulein Froboess will probably have to decide now - for Conny or Cornelia."
From then on, she would strive to become a respected stage and TV actress and she would go on to portray the heroins of several classic plays. Credited as Cornelia Froboess...
German postcard by ISV, no. H 48.
Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, Maxicolor no. 126. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity still for Junge Leute brauchen Liebe/Young People Need Love (Géza von Cziffra, 1961).
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/97. Photo: Bavariafilm.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. CK 365. Ca. 1962. Photo: Ufa, Berlin.
Dutch postcard. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Mein Mann, das Wirtschaftswunder/My husband, the economic miracle (Ulrich Erfurth, 1961) with Adelheid Seeck.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
From 1972 to 2001 Cornelia Froboess was a permanent ensemble member at the renowned Kammerspiele in Munich, and since 2001 at the Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel. A hugely popular success was her role as Eliza Doolittle in the stage musical My Fair Lady at Munich’s Theater am Gärtnerplatz.
Froboess also worked regularly for television, but she made only a few more feature films. With director Kurt Hoffmann, she made the romantic comedy Rheinsberg (1967), based on a novel by Kurt Tucholsky. She won the Ernst Lubitsch prize for her role, and in 1968 she won a Golden Camera for the title role in the film Mathilde Möhring (Claus Peter Witt, 1968), based on a play by Theodor Fontane. A complete failure was her comedy with showmaster Rudi Carrell, Crazy - total verrückt (Franz Josef Gottlieb, 1973)
Remarkable was her role in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s excellent drama Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss/Veronika Voss (1982). It was the third and last film in the trilogy that included Die Ehe der Maria Braun/The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979) and Lola (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1981). and was one of the last films Fassbinder made before his sudden death.
Froboess played Henriette, girlfriend of a sports journalist (Hilmar Thate) who by chance meets mysterious, former Ufa star Veronika Voss (Rosel Zech) and becomes intrigued by her. Henriette is curious about what will happen between them.
On stage, she played in 1988 Marthe Schwerdtlein in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust I, a performance that was also released as film: Faust – Vom Himmel durch die Welt zur Hölle/Faust - the film (Dieter Dorn, 1988) starring Helmut Griem. On stage, she appeared in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm in 1976, and played Ellida in Henrik Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea in 1990. At the Salzburg Festival 2004, she played Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night. The same year she played the title role in Bertolt Brecht's play Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (Mother Courage and Her Children).
In the film Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Thomas Jahn, 1997), she played the mother of a man suffering of terminal cancer, played by Til Schweiger. The film was an unexpected smash hit. Later film appearances include a role as a grandmother in Villa Henriette (Peter Payer, 2004), the family film Ostwind/Stormwind (Katja von Garnier, 2013) and its sequels Ostwind 2 (Katja von Garnier, 2015) and Ostwind 3: Aufbruch nach Ora (Katja von Garnier, 2017).
She also appears regularly on TV as a guest star in such popular Krimi series as SOKO 5113 (2009), Der Alte/The Old Fox (1980-2010) and Tatort/Crime Scene (2000-2016). At the time of writing this bio, she is working on the TV comedy Ein Lächeln nachts um vier/A smile at four at night (Jan Ruzicka, 2018) with August Wittgenstein and Tilo Prückner. It shows the durability of her talent.
Since 1967 Cornelia Froboess is married to Austrian theatre director and manager Hellmuth Matiasek. They have two children, Agnes (1968) and Kaspar (1970). The family lives in Inntal near Wendelstein mountain in the Bavarian Alps in South Germany.
Belgian postcard by Cox, no. 25. With Fred Bertelmann. Photo: probably a publicity still for Wenn das mein großer Bruder wüßte/When my big brother knew that (Erik Ode, 1959)
Dutch postcard by N.V. v.h. Weenenk & Snel, Baarn. Sent by mail in 1961.
German promotion card by Electrola. Photo: Studio Berneis, München.
Cornelia Froboess sings Diana in Hula-Hopp, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959). Source: Liebhaberaltermusik (YouTube).
Another clip of Hula-Hopp, Conny (Heinz Paul, 1959). Froboess sings Holiday in Honolulu with Rex Gildo at the piano. Source: eukryptos (YouTube).
Conny Froboess sings Wo ist der Mann? in Der Traum von Lieschen Müller/The Dream of Lieschen Muelle (Helmut Kautner, 1961). Source: scaasifun (YouTube).
Conny Froboess sings Zwei kleine Italiener (1962) in several films. Source: FRitz12345 (YouTube).
Sources: Jan Onderwater (IMDb), Bruce Eder (AllMusic), Filmportal.de, Ready steady girls, Die Krimi Home Page (German), IMDb and Wikipedia.
French postcard by Editions-Cinémagazine.
A jealous, evil husband
Jean Joseph Charles Toulout was born in Paris in 1887. This biography is largely based on Toulout’s filmography while no real bio has been published online about him. According to Wikipedia, Toulout started to act on stage around 1907, when he played in the Victor Hugo play Marion Delorme at the Comédie Française.
One year after, he was acting at the Théàtre des Arts, so if he ever was a member of the Comédie Française, then it was not for long. In 1911 he travelled around with Firmin Gémier’s wandering stage company, but around 1913 he settled in Paris playing in André Antoine’s 1913 stage production of Paul Lindau’s The Prosecutor Hallers.
In 1912, Toulout debuted in the French cinema. Soon, his film career would become much more intense than his stage career. All-in all he would act in some 100 films within four decades.
Toulout started his screen career in short films by Abel Gance for Gance’s company Le film français. These included Il y a des pieds au plafond/There are feet on the ceiling, Le Nègre blanc/The White Negro, La Digue/The Dyke, Le Masque d’horreur/The Mask of Horror, all made in 1912. Soon, he also played various parts for Gaumont, Pathé and smaller companies. These films included La Maison des lions/The House of the Lions (Louis Feuillade, 1912), L’Homme qui assassina/The man who assassinated (Henri Andréani, 1913) and Les Enfants d'Édouard/The Children of Édouard (Henri Andréani, 1914).
In L’homme qui assassina, he is the evil, adulterous Lord Falkland [!], who presses his equally adulterous but goodhearted wife (Mlle Michelle) to either say goodbye to her child or publicly confess her sin, but her lover (Firmin Gémier) kills the husband and is even acquitted by the local Turkish commissionary (Adolphe Candé), who is very understanding in these matters.
Toulout didn’t act on screen in 1915, possibly because he was in the army during the First World War. From later 1916, he was back on track in several Gaumont films by Louis Feuillade and others. When he played in L’Autre/The Other (Louis Feuillade, 1917), he met the actress Yvette Andreyor, famous for her parts in Feuillade’s serials Fantomas and Judex. They married in 1917. Toulout and Andreyor would perform together in various films until their divorce in 1926.
Toulout was the evil antagonist of Emmy Lynn in La Dixième Symphonie/The Tenth Symphony (Abel Gance, 1918), blackmailing her for having accidentally killed his sister. She risks to wreck her new marriage with a composer (Séverin-Mars) but also the life of the composer’s daughter (Elizabeth Nizan). Luckily for the others he doesn’t kill them, only himself. As Wikipedia writes, “Gance's mastery of lighting, composition and editing was accompanied by a range of literary and artistic references which some critics found pretentious and alienating.”
He would be reunited with Emmy Lynn in La faute d’Odette Marchal/The fault of Odette Maréchal (Henri Roussel, 1920), and also - again as a jealous, evil husband - with Séverin-Mars in Jacques Landauze (1920) by André Hugon. With Hugon, Toulout would do several films in the 1920s and 1930s: including Le Roi de Camargue/The King of Camargue (1921), La Rue du pavé d'amour/The Pavement of Love (1923), and the first French sound film, Les Trois masques/The Three Masks (1929), shot at the London Elstree studios in only 15 days.
French postcard in the series Les Vedettes du Cinéma by Editions Filma, no. 28. Photo: Agence Générale Cinématographique.
A night in a haunted house
Jean Toulout also acted in films by Pierre Bressol, such as Le Mystère de la villa Mortain/The mystery of Villa Mortain (1919), and La Mission du docteur Klivers/The Mission of Doctor Klivers (1919), by Jacques Robert, Henri Fescourt, Armand du Plessis, and by Germaine Dulac, such as La fète espagnole/Spanish Fiesta (1920), and La belle dame sans-merci/The beautiful lady without mercy (1920). In La belle dame sans-merci he is a local count who finds a playful femme fatale he brought home is wrecking his whole family.
In Chantelouve (Georges Monca, 1921), he was once more the jealous husband who threatens to kill his wife (Yvette Andreyor). In La conquête des Gaules (Yan B. Dyl, Marcel Yonnet, 1923) he is a film director who tries to film Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul (modern France and Belgium) with only modest means. In Le Crime de Monique/The Crime of Monique (Robert Péguy, 1923) Yvette Andreyor is accused of killing her brutal violent husband (Toulout, of course).
Toulout also acted in Abel Gance’s hilarious comedy Au secours!/Help!(1924), starring Max Linder as a man who takes a bet to stay a night in a haunted house. When Max Linder returned to France after working in the US, he bet his friend Abel Gance - known for making big spectacles - that he couldn't make a film in less than three days. Gance accepted the bet, and this film is the result.
Toulout masterfully performed the persistent commissioner Javert in Les Misérables (Henri Fescourt, 1925), opposite Gabriel Gabrio as Jean Valjean. When a restored version was shown at the Giornate del Cinema Muto festival in Pordenone in October 2015, Peter Walsh wrote on his blog Burnt Retina: “Gabriel Gabrio as Jean Valjean was a towering presence on screen, and his redemptive arc, and gradual aging were shown in a convincing way. Jean Toulout as Javert was also superb, at times overpowered by some of the mightiest brows and mutton chops I’ve seen in a long time. The climax of his personal crisis, and collapse of his moral world was incredibly striking, with extreme close-ups capturing a bristling performance.”
After smaller parts as in Antoinette Sabrier (Germaine Dulac, 1927), in which Toulout would be paired with Gabrio again, Toulout left the set in 1928 and returned to the stage for Le Carnaval de l'amour at the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin.
In 1929, however, Toulout was back on the screen as Mr de Villefort in the late silent film Monte Christo (Henri Fescourt, 1929) – the last big silent French production. He also appeared in the first French sound film Les Trois masques/The Three Masks (André Hugon, 1930) as a Corsican whose son (François Rozet) makes a girl (Renée Heribel) pregnant, after which her brothers take revenge during the carnival.
Toulout had the lead in the Henry Bataille adaptation La Tendresse/Tenderness (André Hugon, 1930) as a famous, older academic who discovers his much younger wife (Marcelle Chantal) isn’t as much in love with him as he is with her. When he gravely falls ill he however discovers she still gave the best of her life to him.
French postcard in the series Nos artistes dans leur loge, no. 325. Photo: Comoedia.
Fathers, judges, doctors, officers, and aristocrats
In 1930, Jean Toulout also tried his luck in film direction. Together with Joe Francis, he directed Le Tampon du Capiston (Joe Francis, Jean Toulout, 1930), a comical operetta film on an old spinster (Hélène Hallier), a captain’s sister, who wants to marry the captain’s aide (Rellys) who presumably has inherited a fortune.
In the same year, Toulout also wrote the scripts for two other films, both directed by André Hugon:La Femme et le Rossignol/Nightingale Girl (1930) and Lévy & Cie (1930), the first film of a series of four featuring Salomon and Moïse Lévy. In 1931 Toulout also scripted Moritz macht sein Glück, a German film by Dutch director Jaap Speijer.
The collaboration with Hugon continued when Toulout scripted and starred in Le Marchand de sable (André Hugon, 1931), while he had a supporting part in Hugon’s La Croix du Sud (André Hugon, 1931). The collaboration with Hugon would last till well into the mid-1940s with Le Faiseur (1936), Monsieur Bégonia (1937), La Rue sans joie (1938), Le Héros de la Marne (1938), La Sévillane (1943), and Le Chant de l'exilé (1943).
All through the 1930s Toulout had a steady, intense career as actor, but in 1934 he also directed his second film, La Reine du Biarritz, in which he himself had only a small part. Alice Field played Elenita de Sierra Mirador, who is the toast of Biarritz. For her, a young groom leaves his wife, and a forty-year-old inflamed suddenly deceives his young wife. But Elenita watched by her mother resigns herself to becoming honest and returns to her husband.
Otherwise Toulout had mostly supporting parts, as in Le petit roi/The Little King (1933) by Julien Duvivier, Fédora (Louis Gasnier, 1934), Les Nuits moscovites/Moscow Nights (Alexis Granowsky, 1934), and Le Bonheur/Happiness (Marcel L’Herbier, 1934). He played the jealous, shooting husband again in Le Vertige/Vertigo (Paul Schiller, 1935), again opposite Alice Field.
Toulout was the judge who forces Henri Garat and Lilian Harvey to marry on the spot in Les Gais lurons (Jacques Natanson, Paul Martin), the French version of Martin’s Glückskinder/Lucky Kids (1936). He is also the prosecutor in La Danseuse rouge/The Red Dancer (Jean-Paul Paulin, 1937), a courtroom drama starring Vera Korène, inspired by Mata Hari’s trial.
Toulout continued to act minor film parts in the late 1930s, during the war years and the late 1940s. Continuously, he played fathers, judges, doctors, officers, aristocrats. But he didn’t have major parts anymore. Memorable were his roles in Édouard et Caroline (Jacques Becker, 1951), starring Daniel Gélin and Anne Vernon, and – again, as a judge - in Obsession (Jean Delannoy, 1952) with Michèle Morgan and Raf Vallone.
Toulout also worked as voice actor in France. He dubbed Donald Crisp in How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941, released in France in 1946), and Nigel Bruce in Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 1952). In the late 1950s, Toulout also acted on television.
Jean Toulout died in Paris in 1962. He was 75.
Sources: Peter Walsh (Burnt Retina), CinéArtistes (French), Wikipedia (English, French and Italian), and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6561/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6817/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Studio Lenné, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7099/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Casparius, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7099/2, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Casparius, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7415/1, 1932-1933. Photo: IF. Publicity still for Marion, das gehört sich nicht/Marion, That's Not Nice (E.W. Emo, 1933) with Otto Wallburg.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7930/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.
Magdalena Schneider was born in 1909 in Augsburg, Germany. She was the daughter of a plumber, Xaverius Schneider and his wife Maria Meier-Hörmann.
After visiting a Catholic girl’s school Magda studied stenography and office management at a business school and worked as a steno typist for a grain merchant. In her leisure time she studied singing at the Leopold-Mozart-Konservatorium Augsburg and followed ballet classes at the Stadtheater of her native town.
As a soubrette she made her debut in the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) and played several parts in comedies in the Stadttheater of Augsburg and later also in the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in München (Munich). There she was discovered by director Ernst Marischka, who invited her to work for the Theater an der Wien.
In 1930 she made her first film appearance in Boykott/Boycott (Robert Land, 1930) with Lil Dagover. Two years later she launched her film career after a film test at the Ufa studio.
She could be seen singing and dancing in such films as Zwei in einem Auto/Two in a Car (Joe May, 1932) with Kurt Gerron, Das Testament des Cornelius Gulden/The Testament of Cornelius Gulden (E.W. Emo, 1932) with Georg Alexander and Theo Lingen, Das Lied einer Nacht/Tell Me Tonight (Anatole Litvak, 1932) at the side of the star tenor Jan Kiepura, and eventually the poetic masterpiece Liebelei/Flirtation (Max Ophüls, 1933) co-starring Paul Hörbiger.
Liebelei, based on a play by Arthur Schnitzler, was one of her best films in which she could unfold her whole acting talent. 25 years later, her role in Liebelei was played by her daughter, Romy Schneider, in the film Christine (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1958).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 146/1. Photo: Cine-Allianz-Film der Ufa. Publicity still of Fritz Schulz and Magda Schneider in Das Lied einer Nacht/The Song of Night (Anatole Litvak, 1932).
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 441. Sent by mail in 1933. Photo: City Film.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 397. Photo: City Film. Publicity still for Ein bißchen Liebe für Dich/A Bit of Love (Max Neufeld, 1932) with Georg Alexander.
Dutch Postcard for Glück über Nacht/Happiness Over Night (Max Neufeld, 1932) with Hermann Thimig. Photo: City-Film. Notice the modern furniture & set design.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8843/1, 1934-1935. Photo: Badal Filmproduktion. Publicity still for Fräulein Liselott/Miss Liselott (Johannes Guter, 1934) with Albert Lieven.
British postcard. Photo: publicity still for Ich Kenn Dich Nicht Und Liebe Dich/I Don't Know You, But I Love You (Géza von Bolváry, 1934) with Willi Forst.
During the production of the film Kind, ich freu mich auf dein Kommen/Child, I please me about your arrival (Kurt Gerron, 1933), Magda Schneider met her first husband, actor Wolf Albach-Retty.
They appeared in eight films together, including G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald/Tales from Vienna Woods (Georg Jacoby, 1934), and Rendezvous in Wien/Rendezvous in Vienna (Victor Janson, 1936).
The couple married in 1937 and would have two children, Rosemarie Magdalena, called Romy (1938-1982), and Wolfgang Dieter (1941), later a surgeon. The couple divorced in 1945 (some sources say 1946, others 1949).
Other films in which Magda appeared during the 1930s and 1940s were Eva (Johannes Riemann, 1935) with Heinz Rühmann, Frauenliebe – Frauenleid/Woman’s Love – Woman’s Sorrow (Augusto Genina, 1937) with Iván Petrovich, and Liebeskomödie/Love’s Comedy (Theo Lingen, 1942).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1597/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Sandau, Berlin. With Wolf Albach-Retty.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3640/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3826/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer / Wien Film. From Tatiana.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3826/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. W 88. Photo: Berlin Film / Wesel.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 151, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.
After the Second World War, Magda Schneider found that film offers were scarce, and she mainly appeared in guest roles on stage.
The first post-war film in which she was seen was Ein Mann gehört ins Haus/A man belongs in the house1>(Hubert Marischka, 1948), that was already filmed in 1945.
In the 1950s, she got more film offers, but she decided to focus herself on the film career of her daughter Romy Schneider. Mother and daughter appeared together in Romy's film debut Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht/When the White Lilacs Bloom Again (Hans Deppe, 1953), Mädchenjahre einer Königin/The Story of Vickie (Ernst Marischka, 1954), Die Deutschmeister/A March for the Emperor (Ernst Marischka, 1955), Robinson soll nicht sterben/The Legend of Robinson Crusoe (Josef von Báky, 1956), and Die Halbzarte/Eva (Rolf Thiele, 1958).
Best known of course is the Sissi Trilogy (Ernst Marischka, 1955-1957), based on the life of Elisabeth of Bavaria. Romy Schneider starred in the title role and Magda Schneider played the role of her mother, Princess Ludovika of Bavaria.
In 1953 Magda married Hans Herbert Blatzheim, a Cologne restaurant owner, who died in 1968. Her last appearance for the cameras was in the TV series Drei Frauen im Haus/Three Women in the House (1968) and the sequel Vier Frauen im Haus/Four Women in the House (1969).
In 1982, Magda married cinematographer Horst Fehlhaber. That same year she was awarded the Filmband in Gold. In the last years of her life Magda Schneider had to bear the tragic deaths of her grandson David in 1981 and of her daughter Romy in 1982.
Magda Schneider passed away in 1996 in Berchtesgaden, Germany. She was 87.
Lithuanian postcard by Izd. IRA, Riga.
Dutch postcard. Photo: Melior. Sent by mail in 1957. Photo: publicity still for Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht/When the White Lilacs Bloom Again (Hans Deppe, 1953) with Romy Schneider.
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. 3092. Photo: Filmex NV. Publicity still for Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin/Sissi: The Young Empress (Ernst Marischka, 1956) with Romy Schneider.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg. Photo: Ufa/Film-Foto. The photo was made during the shooting of Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin/Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress (Ernst Marischka, 1957) with Romy Schneider.
Final scene of Liebelei (Max Ophüls, 1933). Source: BD130.
German trailer for Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin (Ernst Marischka, 1956). Source: UweundPiaFan (YouTube).
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-Line - German), Wikipedia, Filmportal.de (German), Fippi2000 (IMDb) and IMDb.
Dutch postcard by JosPe, no. 582. Photo: Godfried de Groot.
Louis Davids was born as Simon David in 1883 in Rotterdam's notorious Zandstraat quarter into a poor Jewish family. He was the son of the comedian and cafe owner Levie David and Francina Terveen. Both parents were performing artists and their children Louis, his older brother Hakkie and younger sisters Rika and Heintje started their entertainment career at a young age.
5 years old, Louis sang in mini-costume and high hat at all the state fairs with his brother Hakkie playing the piano. Newspapers called little Louis a ‘Wonder child’ or ‘Miniature Comedian’ and he was very successful. A big chance came a few years later. Only seven, he got a contract at Tivoli Theater in Rotterdam, where he performed under the name Louis Davids Jr.
Later he performed with his sister Rika on fairs and in coffee houses and music halls and he became a versatile artist. After an argument with his father, the 13-years-old left for England to be an assistant to the magician Akimoto. A year later, his father brought his son home, penniless but with a lot more experience in variety theatre. Together with his sister Rika he managed to secure a job outside of the fairs, working at the famous theatre Pschorr.
Brother and sister Davids moved to Amsterdam to work with by the variety director Frits van Haarlem at the Carré circus theatre where they had plenty of success in creating revues after English fashion. In the cafe-chantant Victoria in the Nes (a street in the old centre of Amsterdam) they performed songs like Een reisje langs den Rijn (A trip along the Rhine). During that time, the Nes and the artists who performed there were not really highly rated. Louis therefore hopes to return to Frits van Haarlem.
After Rika married English magician John Weil and moved to England, Louis formed a new duo with his youngest sister Henriëtte (Heintje). The second Davids duo was also a success. Heintje’s husband, Philip Pinkhof, wrote texts for the duo. In 1906, Davids married Rebecca Kokernoot with whom he had a daughter, Kitty. He was unhappy in his marriage.
Louis’ breakthrough was Koning 'Kziezoowat in Amsterdam/King Sissiwat in Amsterdam (1906). This was the first major revue in the Netherlands, written by Louis Davids and Frits van Haarlem, and with Davids in the leading role. For this revue four short films with Louis and Heintje Davids were produced by Frits van Haarlem, which became parts of the revue.
In 1909 Davids furthered his success by working with theatre director Henri ter Hall in the revue Doe er een deksel op (Make it a cover). The performances took place in Rotterdam, his birthplace. Rika was back and Heintje had a characteristic role. As with the previous revue, it was especially up to local events and the surprise element was the key to its success.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 803, 1925-1926. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.
He, She and the Piano
While on tour Louis Davids met British dancer Margie Morris who had moved to the Netherlands in 1913. Louis and Maggie formed the duo ‘He, She and the Piano’, where Maggie would take on the role as pianist and composer. They wrote dozens of songs together, he the text, she the music.
The charming Morris led him from the comic repertoire towards more mature songs. Margie encouraged Louis' artistic talents and helped him develop his own style. Thanks to the influence of English and American music in her compositions, the level of Louis’s songs increased. Their innovating, a bit jazz-like repertoire soon became known across the country. Davids and Morris also starred in countless revue such as Loop naar den Duivel (Walk to the Devil) in 1915, for which they wrote We gaan naar Zandvoort aan de zee (We go to Zandvoort by the sea), now a Dutch evergreen.
They also started to appear in the Dutch cinema. Their silent films include Amerikaansche meisjes/American Girls (Maurits Binger, Louis Davids, 1918) with Lola Cornero and Beppie de Vries, and De duivel in Amsterdam/The Devil in Amsterdam (Theo Frenkel, 1919) with Eduard Verkade and Louis Bouwmeester.
A famous stage musical from this period, for which they wrote several classic songs, is De Jantjes (The Tars) written by Herman Bouber and Davids in 1920. This hugely successful stage play was also released as a silent film, De Jantjes/The Tars (Maurits Binger, B.E. Doxat-Pratt, 1922) starring Beppie de Vries and Johan Elsensohn, and as a sound film, De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934).
Bouber, Davids and Morris also wrote the stage musicals Bleeke Bet/Bleak Beth (1917) and Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (1918), all situated in the Jordaan. Davids also appeared in other silent films such as the Herman Heijermans adaptation Schakels/Links (Maurits Binger, 1920) with Jan van Dommelen, Adelqui Migliar and Annie Bos, and Menschenwee/People woe (Theo Frenkel, 1921) with Willem van der Veer and Coen Hissink.
Davids celebrated his 25th anniversary as an artist in 1919 in Rotterdam's Pschorr theatre. After his jubilee Louis travelled with Margie, Rika and Heintje to India for a year and a half. In 1922 Margie Morris left him because of his countless infidelities. The couple had never married but they had a son together, Louis. His wife Betsy refused to divorce Louis, so they remained officially married until his death. Both Louis’s children would never have a good relationship with their father in their mature lives.
Dutch postcard by Hollandia Film Prod. / Loet C. Barnstijn. Photo: publicity still for De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934) with Jan van Ees, Willy Costello and Johan Kaart jr. as the three 'Jantjes'.
Dutch postcard by Monopole Film, Rotterdam. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen. Still of a set built for Bleeke Bet (Alex Benno, Richard Oswald, 1934), a street in the old neighbourhood De Jordaan in Amsterdam. Set designer was Hans Ledersteger.
The Little Man
Between 1922 and 1926, Louis Davids was the director of the Casino Variété in Rotterdam, but the job of director did not hold his attention for long. In 1929, Davids appeared in the revue Lach en vergeet (Laugh and Forget) with the song which would probably become his most popular title De kleine man (The Little Man). It was written by Jacques van Tol, with whom Davids would work closely until his death in 1939, but Van Tol would be working anonymously.
Despite he was born in Rotterdam, Louis Davids was a popular performer of the ‘Jordaan repertoire’. The Jordaan is a 17th century-built working class neighbourhood in the heart of Amsterdam. Davids also appeared in typical ‘Jordaan films’, a genre based on the popular plays by Herman Bouber and Davids and Morris, such as Bleeke Bet/Bleak Beth (Alex Benno, 1923) with Alida van Gijtenbeek and Jan van Dommelen, and Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (Alex Benno, 1925), starring Johan Elsensohn and Aaf Bouber.
Davids made the transition to sound film in the short Hollandsch Hollywood/Dutch Hollywood (Ernst Winar, 1933), also with Heintje Davids and Fien de la Mar. After the enormous success of the sound version of De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934), he made one more film, Op stap/On the Move (Ernst Winar, 1935), co-starring Fien de la Mar and Frits van Dongen (a.k.a. Philip Dorn). In this musical Davids sang several songs, including his evergreen Als je voor een dubbeltje geboren bent (When you are born for a nickel).
At the time, Davids was especially renowned for his work for the Scheveningen Kurhaus Cabaret in the summers from 1931 till 1938. There Davids founded the careers of Dutch cabaret stars like Wim Kan, Corry Vonk, and Wim Sonneveld. In 1937 Davids had to give up his cabaret work at the Kurhaus due to his asthma. That year, he was named Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
In 1939, Louis Davids died in Amsterdam, only 55. (Some sources, like IMDb, mention cancer as the cause, other sources mention a heart attack or his asthma as the cause). During the Second World War, Rika and Harkie Davids both were murdered in 1943 in Sobibor concentration camp. Heintje knew to survive the Nazis. After the war she continued to perform and keep the repertoire of her brother alive. Today, Louis Davids’s songs are still popular. They can be heard on the soundtrack of films like Rooie Sien/Red Sien (Frans Weisz, 1975) featuring Willeke Alberti, and TV series like Moeder, ik wil bij de revue/Mother, I want to join the revue (Rita Horst, 2012) with Egbert Jan Weeber.
Heintje Davids and Sylvain Poons sing Omdat ik zoveel van je hou (Beacause I love you so much) in De Jantjes/The Tars (Jaap Speyer, 1934). Source: Pieter de Groot (YouTube).
Louis Davids sings Als je voor een dubbeltje geboren bent (When you are born for a nickel) in Op stap/On the Move (Ernst Winar, 1935). Source: brassens66 (YouTube).
Sources: Heintje Davids, Johan Luger, H.P. van den Aardweg (Louis Davids, Een kleine man die je nooit vergeet – Dutch), M.E.H.N. Mout (Huygens.nl - Dutch), Een leven lang theater (Dutch), Stadsarchief Rotterdam (Dutch), Wikipedia and IMDb.