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Articles on this Page
- 06/30/17--22:00: _Marta Toren
- 07/01/17--22:00: _Pierre Batcheff
- 07/02/17--22:00: _Hanni Weisse
- 07/03/17--22:00: _Sophie Hardy
- 07/04/17--22:00: _Anita Björk
- 07/05/17--22:00: _Etchika Choureau
- 07/06/17--22:00: _Maria Andergast
- 07/07/17--22:00: _Otto Gebühr
- 07/08/17--22:00: _Margit Saad
- 07/09/17--22:00: _Anneliese Uhlig (19...
- 07/10/17--22:00: _Alexander Girardi
- 07/10/17--22:00: _Elsa Martinelli (19...
- 07/11/17--22:00: _Sandra Milo
- 07/12/17--22:00: _Evelyn Holt
- 07/13/17--22:00: _Regina Beyer
- 07/14/17--22:00: _Hans Moser
- 07/15/17--22:00: _Margaret Rung
- 07/16/17--22:00: _Maria Orska
- 07/17/17--22:00: _Anne Golon (1921-2017)
- 07/18/17--22:00: _Martin Landau (1928...
- 07/19/17--22:00: _Pascale Roberts
- 07/20/17--22:00: _Alibert
- 07/21/17--22:00: _Twelve 1950s postca...
- 07/22/17--22:00: _Armand Bernard
- 07/23/17--22:00: _Maria Cebotari
- 06/30/17--22:00: Marta Toren
- 07/01/17--22:00: Pierre Batcheff
- 07/02/17--22:00: Hanni Weisse
- 07/03/17--22:00: Sophie Hardy
- 07/04/17--22:00: Anita Björk
- 07/05/17--22:00: Etchika Choureau
- 07/06/17--22:00: Maria Andergast
- 07/07/17--22:00: Otto Gebühr
- 07/08/17--22:00: Margit Saad
- 07/09/17--22:00: Anneliese Uhlig (1918-2017)
- 07/10/17--22:00: Alexander Girardi
- 07/10/17--22:00: Elsa Martinelli (1935-2017)
- 07/11/17--22:00: Sandra Milo
- 07/12/17--22:00: Evelyn Holt
- 07/13/17--22:00: Regina Beyer
- 07/14/17--22:00: Hans Moser
- 07/15/17--22:00: Margaret Rung
- 07/16/17--22:00: Maria Orska
- 07/17/17--22:00: Anne Golon (1921-2017)
- Angélique, Marquise des Anges/Angélique (1964).
- Merveilleuse Angelique/Angelique: The Road to Versailles (1965).
- Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (1966).
- Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (1967).
- Angélique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (1968).
- 07/18/17--22:00: Martin Landau (1928-2017)
- 07/19/17--22:00: Pascale Roberts
- 07/20/17--22:00: Alibert
- 07/21/17--22:00: Twelve 1950s postcards from Italy
- 07/22/17--22:00: Armand Bernard
- 07/23/17--22:00: Maria Cebotari
The title role is performed by Marta Toren (1926–1957), a Swedish-American stage and film actress of the 1940s and 1950s with mesmerising eyes. During her tragically short career, she spent more time in Hollywood and Italy than in her native country.
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no FK 1079. Photo: Poletto / Union-Film. Publicity still for Maddalena (Augusto Gennina, 1954).
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 3048. Photo: Columbia CEAD.
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini), Firenze (Florence), no. 2417. Photo: Universal International.
Norvegian postcard by Enerett K. Harstad, Kunstforlag, Oslo, no. 21. Photo: Universal International.
German postcard by F.J. Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 431. Photo: Columbia. Publicity still for Sirocco (Curtis Bernhardt, 1951).
The Next Ingrid Bergman
Märta Torén was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1926. Her father was Helge Toren, a major in the Life Guards regiment and, later, advertising manager for one of the daily newspapers. Her childhood was unremarkable although marred by the loss of her sister at an early age and the divorce of her parents.
The sensitive young girl dreamed to become an actress, but she was shy. She began ballet lessons under the renowned Vera Alexandrova. The lessons continued until age 14 and helped her to partly overcome her shyness.
She was an extra in the Swedish films Rospiggar (Schamyl Bauman, 1942), Ombyte av tåg/A Change of Trains (Hasse Ekman, 1943) and Eviga länkar/Eternal links (Rune Carlsten, 1946).
In 1946, her application to study acting at Dramatens elevskola (The Royal Dramatic Theater school) was accepted. She became a dedicated student under Anna Norris, a teacher who had also coached Ingrid Bergman.
After only one year, she already left her studies when she met American screen writer and talent scout Edwin Blum who was in Stockholm working on a script for RKO and looking for a leading lady. He arranged a screen test for her and not RKO but Universal-International offered her a seven-year contract.
Universal promoted her as the ‘next Ingrid Bergman’. As Marta Toren, she made her Hollywood debut in a supporting part in Casbah (John Farrow, 1948) about the downfall of an exiled jewel thief (Tony Martin). The film was a musical remake of the French classic Pépé le Moko (Julien Duvivier, 1937) starring Jean Gabin.
Reviewer B.J. at IMDb writes: “Casbah is a film very alive with energy, style, suspense and romance. Brilliant casting; Tony Martin plays the suave thief with easy conviction and delivers the Harold Arlen songs skill, charm and gusto. Marta Toren was arguably the most beautiful woman in films, prior to the arrival of Audrey Hepburn.”
Publicity pictures focused on her beautiful eyes, which had a luminous quality with color shifting from blue to gray to greenish hues and had a fairly slight slant, giving them a faintly Oriental look. The emphasis on her eyes reached a peak with a Life magazine cover portrait in 1949 that graphically confirmed what all the hype was about.
Toren quickly appeared in a total of ten Hollywood movies. She appeared opposite James Mason in the film noir One Way Street (Hugo Fregonese, 1950), and opposite Humphrey Bogart in the Casablanca style Sirocco (Curtis Bernhardt, 1951) set in Syria, but most of her other Hollywood films are not worth remembering.
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht. Photo: Universal International.
Vintage card. Photo: Universal International.
Vintage postcard, no. 505. Photo: Universal International.
Dutch postcard, no 3374. Photo: Universal International.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no 936. Photo: Columbia. Publicity still for Assignment: Paris (Robert Parrish, 1952).
In 1952 Märta Torén became a naturalized American citizen and she got married to American director and film writer Leonardo Bercovici. They would have a daughter, Christina.
She also got offers for film parts from Rome, and these roles were more demanding than what Hollywood offered her. So the family settled in Rome. There she played the wife of composer Giacomo Puccini (Gabriele Ferzetti) in the biopic Puccini/The Life of Puccini (Carmine Gallone, 1953).
She won awards for the highly acclaimed drama Maddalena/Magdalene (Augusto Genina, 1954) with Gino Cervi. In La vena d'oro/The Golden Vein (Mauro Bolognini, 1955) she played a young stepmother in an oedipal relationship with her only son (played by the then 16-year-old Mario Girotti aka Terence Hill).
Then her husband directed her in Tormento d'amore/Torment of Love (Leonardo Bercovici, Claudio Gora, 1956) with Massimo Serato.
In late 1956, on a trip to Stockholm an actor approached her with an offer to replace leading lady Eva Henning in a current play by J.B. Priestly, Mr. Kettle and Mrs. Moon. The thought of performing before a hometown audience reportedly was as frightening as it was appealing to Toren.
Ingrid Bergman and other theater friends warned her about the hostile reception she was likely to encounter in her hometown but her debut performance instead got a warm reception from both audiences and critics. In February 1957 she appeared again on stage in Mr. Kettle and Mrs. Moon at Stockholm's Alléteatern (Allee Theatre).
After a performance she suddenly fainted before the door of her dressing room. In the hospital doctors diagnosed that she was stricken with a brain hemorrhage. Her husband rushed to the hospital while their daughter was in London, where Marta planned to do film work after her stage appearance. Tragically, she died two days later in the Stockholm hospital. Märta Torén was only 31.
Dutch postcard, no. AX 197. Photo: Universal International.
Dutch postcard by Van Leer's Fotodrukindustrie, Amsterdam, no. 1250. Photo: Universal International.
Dutch postcard, no. 3226. Photo: Universal International.
Vintage card. Photo: Universal International.
Yugoslavian postcard by Zebranjena. Photo: Sedmo Silo/IOM, Beograd (Belgrado).
Dutch postcard by Uitgeverij Takken, no. 3225. Photo: Universal International.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 577. Photo: publicity still for La puerta abierta/The Open Door (César Fernández Ardavín, 1957).
Sources: Céline Colassin (CinéArtistes - French), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Mattias Thuresson (IMDb), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia and IMDb.
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 638.
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 348. Photo: Studio G.L. Manuel Frères. Publicity still for Le Comte de Monte-Christo/Monte Cristo (Henri Fescourt, 1929).
Pierre Batcheff, originally Benjamin Batcheff (according to some sources Piotr Bacev), was of Russian descent. He was born in 1901 (according to some sources 1907) in Harbin, Russian Empire (now Pin-Kiang, Northeast China).
He debuted on stage in Geneva with Ludmilla and Georges Pitoëff.
In 1924 he started his cinema career in films like the comedy Claudine et le poussin/Claudine and the Chick (Marcel Manchez, 1924), in which he had the male lead opposite Dolly Davis. His good-looking appearance and his elegant posture made him a beloved jeune premier in the French cinema of the 1920s.
Before playing the memorable part of general Hoche in Abel Gance’s epic film Napoléon (1927), he played in films as Le double amour/Double Love (Jean Epstein, 1925) with Jean Angelo, Feu Mattia Pascal/The Late Mathias Pascal (Marcel L'Herbier, 1926) starring Ivan Mozzhukhin, and Le joueur d’échecs/The Chess Player (Raymond Bernard, 1927) featuring Pierre Blanchar.
The gifted Pitoëff pupil struck because of his professional attitude. It made Pierre Batcheff one of the stars of French silent cinema.
French postcard by A.N. Paris, no. 248. Photo: Production Natan. Publicity still of Pierre Batcheff in Education de prince (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1927).
French postcard by A.N. Paris, no. 251. Photo: Production Natan. Publicity still of Pierre Batcheff in Education de prince (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1927). Collection: Didier Hanson.
Buñuel and Dali
During the shooting of La sirène des tropiques/Siren of the Tropics (Mario Nalpas, Henri Etievant, 1927) with Josephine Baker, Pierre Batcheff met the young assistant director Luis Buñuel. Buñuel offered him the leading role in his short experimental film Un chien andalou (Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali, 1929).
His remarkable part in this absurdist classic became Batcheff’s claim of fame, although the film was never a commercial success. It was even often forbidden or censored.
Batcheff made some 25 films in 8 years, including both avant-garde films like En rade/Sea Fever (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1928) and mainstream films like Monte Cristo/Monte Christo (Henri Fescourt, 1929) starring Jean Angelo.
Despite this impressive filmography, posterity linked Batcheff exclusively to Bunuel’s film. Nobody now remembers his part in Napoléon or that in the charming, clever comedy Les deux timides/Two Timid Souls (René Clair, 1928). In the latter, Batcheff played the shy Frémissin, who is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Cécile (Véra Flory). In spite of the critic's praise for its beauty, this late silent film was a failure.
The competition of the new sound cinema was too fierce. Batcheff did some early French sound films, like Les amours de minuit/The Lovers of Midnight (Augusto Genina, Marc Allégret, 1931).
Probably his last part, he played in both the French and the English version of the adventure drama Baroud/Love in Morocco (1932-1933), director Rex Ingram’s final film.
Only 30, Pierre Batcheff died in Paris, on 13 April 1932, because of an overdose of Veronal. Though he didn’t leave a motif for his act, suspicions are that the arrival of sound cinema contributed to it. Caroline Hanotte at CinéArtistes gives another explanation: a few days earlier the Japanese army had invaded his birthtown in Russia.
Pierre Batcheff lies buried at the cemetery of Montparnasse. He was married to film editor Danièle Piazza, who later became a director and producer. Batcheff’s co-actress in Un chien andalou, Simone Mareuil, killed herself too. In 1954 she was so depressed, that she set fire to herself in a public square.
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 902. Photo: Paramount.
French postcard by Europe, no. 50. Photo: Paramount.
Sources: Caroline Hanotte (CinéArtistes - French), Wikipedia (English and Dutch) and IMDb.
German postcard in the Film Sterne Series by Rotophot, no. 116/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Becker & Maas, Berlin.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 116/5. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.
German postcard in the Film Sterne Series by Rotophot, no. 116/7, 1928-1929. Photo: Becker & Maas, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1383/1, 1927 -1928. Photo: Fox.
German postcard by Ross Verlag (?), no. 1292/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Fox. Probably the lower side of this card was cut off. The same photo was used for Ross card no. 1383/1.
Hanni Klara Therese Weisse was born in Chemnitz, Germany in 1892.
She studied to play the cello, but started her musical career in 1910 as a chorister at the Thalia-Theater in Berlin. In 1912 she was an ensemble member of the Royal Belvedere Dresden, which made a national tour through Germany.
In Berlin she had a chance meeting with film director Max Mack, who engaged her for the production company Vitascope. She made her film debut in his short Der Zigeunerin/The Gypsy (Max Mack, 1912) with Ernst Pittschau.
One of her first successes was Der Andere/The Other (Max Mack, 1913), starring Albert Bassermann, which according to critics belonged to the first art films.
In the following years she appeared in many great productions like Das Eiserne Kreuz/The Iron Cross (Richard Oswald, 1914), Anita Jo (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1919), Die Apachen/The Apaches (Ewald André Dupont, 1919), Alkohol/Alcohol (Ewald André Dupont, Alfred Lind, 1920) and the horror film Der Graf von Cagliostro/The Count of Cagliostro (Reinhold Schünzel, 1920) starring Anita Berber and Conrad Veidt.
She was also playing in the very popular Sherlock Holmes films such as Der Hund von Baskerville/The Hound of the Baskervilles (Rudolf Meinert, 1914) and Das dunkle Schloß/The Dark Castle (Willy Zeyn, 1915).
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5463. Photo: publicity still for Du sollst keine andern Götter haben/Thou shalt have no other gods (Adolf Gärtner, 1917) with Albert Bassermann, Hanni Weisse, Else Bassemann and Ewald Brückner.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 827. Photo: National / Mondial-Film A.G., Wien.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 352/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1226/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
German Postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3625/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Suse Byk, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3271/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Aafa Film.
In the 1920s Hanni Weisse was a very busy actress and played in films like Die Insel der Verschollenen/The Island of the Lost (Urban Gad, 1921), Nanon (Hanns Schwarz, 1924), Die Drei Portiermädel/The Three Porter Girls (Carl Boese, 1925), Le train sans yeux/Train Without Eyes (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1927), Männer vor der Ehe/Men Before Marriage (Constantin J. David, 1927) and Kaczmarek (Carl Wilhelm, 1928) with Ernst Verebes.
Her engagements in the 1930s became rarer, new faces were in demand. She had roles in short comedies and played small parts in Die Heilige und ihr Narr/The Saint and Her Fool (Hans Deppe, Paul May, 1935), Krach im Hinterhaus/Trouble Backstairs (Veit Harlan, 1936) and Sergeant Berry (Herbert Selpin, 1939) starring Hans Albers.
In 1942 she made her last film Vom Schicksal verweht/Blown Away By Fate (1942, Nunzio Malasomma) featuring Sybille Schmitz. After 127 films Hanni Weisse retired from show business.
In her later years she and her second husband managed hotel-restaurants and bars, first in Aussig and Dresden, and from 1948 on in Frankfurt a.M. Her hotel-restaurant Zum Heidelberger became a popular meeting place there for artists.
Hanni Weisse died in 1967 in Bad Liebenzell, Germany. Her first marriage was to scriptwriter Bobby E. Lüthge, who wrote the scripts for her films Mater dolorosa (1924), Der Kavalier vom Wedding (1927) and Kaczmarek (1928) .
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 765/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Alex Binder.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3087/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3087/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3442/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3459/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Badekow Berlin.
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/290. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood. This is one of our most popular filmcards on Flickr: over 43,000 views and counting.
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 317, offered by Corvisart. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Spanish postcard by Postalcolor, Barcelona, no. 127. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Sexy Crime Film
Sophie Hardy was born in Paris, France in 1944. She got acting lessons from Françoise Rosay and Yves Furet. At the Sorbonne she studied American literature.
In 1960 she made her film debut in the Philippinean production Pitong gabi sa Paris/A Philippine in Paris (Eddie Romero, 1960).
In 1962, small parts followed in such films as the tragi-comedy Un clair de lune à Maubeuge/Moonlight in Maubeuge (Jean Chérasse, 1962) with Claude Brasseur and Michel Serrault, and the Film Noir La loi des hommes/Law of Men (Charles Gérard, 1962) starring Micheline Presle.
The next years she appeared in the French-Italian Swashbuckler Hardi! Pardaillan/The Gallant Musketeer (Bernard Borderie, 1963), starring Gérard Barray. She had her first big role in L'étrange auto-stoppeuse/The strange hitch-hiker (Jean Darcy, 1964) with Georges Marchal.
Opposite tough-guy Eddie Constantine she was the leading lady in the detective film Des frissons partout/Jeff Gordon, Secret Agent (Raoul André, 1964).
German postcards by Krüger, no. 902/311 and no. 902/292. Photos: Bernard of Hollywood.
German postcards by Kruger, no. 902/310 and no. 902/289. Photos: Bernard of Hollywood.
Sophie Hardy went to Germany to play one of the lead roles in the softcore sex film Treibgut der Liebe/La baie du désir/The Erotic Touch of Hot Skin (Max Pécas, 1964) about sex, murder, false identities, car crashes, and striptease at the French Riviera.
Hal Erickson at AllMovie comments: "A fine cast does wonders with tawdry material. (...) In case you aren't interested in sex and sin, be advised that Erotic Touch of Hot Skin runs only 78 minutes, hardly long enough to induce boredom."
She stayed in Germany for more big parts in the popular Edgar Wallace adaptations Der Hexer/The Mysterious Magician (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Joachim Fuchsberger, and Das Geheimnis der weissen Nonne/The Trygon Factor (Cyril Frankel, 1966), in which she co-starred with Stewart Granger. Der Hexer was adapted from the 1925 novel by Edgar Wallace titled The Ringer (originally: The Gaunt Stranger) and Das Geheimnis der weissen Nonne is based on the Edgar Wallace novel Kate Plus Ten.
She also co-starred in the Karl May Western Winnetou III/The Desperado Trail (Harald Reinl, 1965) featuring Pierre Brice.
At the time she was a popular model for film and glamour magazines, such as Cinémonde, Ciné-Revue and V magazine in France, Er in Germany and Modern Man in the US.
East-German postcard by Progress, no. 162/70. Photo: Steffen.
East-German postcard by Progress, no. 165/70. Photo: publicity still for Der Hexer/The Ringer (Alfred Vohrer, 1964) with Heinz Drache and Joachim Fuchsberger.
East-German postcard by Progress, no. 127/70. Photo: Unifrance Film.
Pixie Dream Girl
In Spain, Sophie Hardy appeared as a go-go dancer in the enjoyable Sci-Fi/Spy-Comedy Cartas boca arriba/Attack of the Robots (Jesus Franco, 1966) again opposite Eddie Constantine.
Rod Barnett writes as his blog Bloody Pit of Rod: "This evening (as threatened) I watched Jess Franco's ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS (1966) a.k.a. CARTES SUR TABLE and enjoyed it quite a lot. Its a fun comedy/spy adventure with some great fights, some fun dialog and a nice breezy style. But the most impressive thing visually was actress Sophia Hardy. Wowsa! She has a kind of 'pixie dream girl' thing going on with a smile that could melt steel plating. In this film she had dark hair but from the photos I can find she may have actually been a blond. Or not. I don't care!"
Hardy traveled to London to play the title figure in the Swinging Sixties comedy Three Hats for Lisa (Sidney Hayers, 1965), typically her role was that of a foreign film star in London, who asks two young fans to steal some hats for her collection. The star-struck youths agree until they learn that she wants a bobby's helmet, a businessman's bowler, and a palace guard's cap.
After this busy career period it became quiet around Hardy. The next years she was only seen in a supporting role in the British spy thriller A Taste of Excitement (Don Sharp, 1969) starring Eva Renzi. Its U.S. title was Why Would Anyone Want to Kill a Nice Girl Like You?
Hardy also appeared in the sexy psychological drama Road to Salina (Georges Lautner, 1970), a French-Italian coproduction with Robert Walker, Mimsy Farmer and Rita Hayworth in one of her last roles.
German postcards by Kruger, no. 902/291 and no. 902/293. Photos: Bernard of Hollywood.
Sophie Hardy's film career then had a long interruption of more than 20 years, in which she worked for a year as a presenter for the television of Luxemburg.
In 1994 she returned to the screen in a small role in the TV film Jules (Christian Palligiano, 1994).
Six years later she made a come back as the grandmother of Aurélien Wiik in an episode of the Scénarios sur la drogue/Drug Scenes/Drugs! (2000). Scénarios sur la drogue is an omnibus film (2000) of 24 French short films depicting drug abuse. Varying in length from three to seven minutes, they were showed in cinemas before feature films. Sophie Hardy appeared in the episode La Puré, which was directed by Seb and Simon Lelouch, sons of famous director Claude Lelouch.
Sophie Hardy was later seen in Casablanca Driver (Maurice Barthélémy, 2004), a fictional documentary about a man who wants to become a boxer.
Her most recent TV credit is a guest role in the long-running Soap opera Plus belle la vie/PBLV (2012). And two years later she appeared in the short comedy-drama C'est le ciel qui vous envoie!/You are heaven sent (Pierre Aboujaoude, 2014).
Trailer for The Erotic Touch Of Hot Skin (1965). Source: Vulture Graffix (YouTube).
Trailer for Der Hexer/The Mysterious Magician (1964). Source: RialtoFilm (YouTube).
Trailer for Winnetou III/The Desperado Trail (1965). Source: RialtoFilm (YouTube).
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Rod Barnett (Bloody Pit of Rod), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Cinéthéa, Wikipedia(German and English) and IMDb.
German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 2112. Photo: Lindner / Fama / Alianz Film. Publicity still for Der Cornet - Die Weise von Liebe und Tod/The Cornet (Gustav Ucicky, 1955).
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 2.337, 1965. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.
A cool aura not unlike that of Greta Garbo
Anita Barbro Kristina Björk was born in Tallberg, a town in central Sweden.
She was bitten by the acting bug in her teens and went to Stockholm. There she attended the acting school of the Royal Dramatic Theater, known as Dramaten, in 1942-45 with Mai Zetterling, the actress who later became Sweden's most recognized female film director.
Björk quickly got major roles. In 1942 she also made her film debut with a small role in the monumental classic Himlaspelet/The Heavenly Play (Alf Sjöberg, 1942), about a poor farmer (Rune Lindström) who makes a deal with devil. Other small parts followed in films like the thriller Det kom en gäst/A Guest Is Coming (Arne Mattsson, 1947).
Her breakthrough came in Jean Genet's play The Maids (1948), followed by such roles as Agnes in Henrik Ibsen's Brand, Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Eliza in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Tintomara in Carl Jonas Love Almqvist's Drottningens juvelsmycke.
In his obituary for Variety, Jon Asp writes: “Bjork was considered the leading lady of Swedish theater, with a cool aura not unlike that of Greta Garbo. Bjork's deep, self-restrained voice was impossible to confuse with anyone else's.”
She played in several films, including Kvartetten som sprängdes/The Quartet That Split Up (Gustaf Molander, 1950). Bjork's international breakthrough came with the title role in the film Fröken Julie/Miss Julie (Alf Sjöberg, 1951), based on the famous play by August Strindberg.
Narrias Thuresson writes at IMDb: “Anita Björk is able to use simple means to give depth and character to a role. She has a way of expressing any emotion just by raising an eyebrow or twitching her lips. This was something she used to a large extent in her best movie, Alf Sjöberg's Fröken Julie (1951) where she played the young lady at a country manor, planning to elope with Jean the butler.” The film won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 1408. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for Night People (Nunnally Johnson, 1954).
German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 1410. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for Night People (Nunnally Johnson, 1954).
An invitation from Hollywood
After the success of Fröken Julie, Anita Björk was acclaimed by American newspapers as ‘the new Garbo’ and received an invitation from Hollywood. She was offered the female lead in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess (1953), but suddenly the offer was withdrawn and the role was ultimately played by Anne Baxter.
Earlier, Björk had met and fallen in love with Stig Dagerman, one of Sweden’s most important writers. In 1951 she had given birth to their daughter Lo. The three of them had gone to Hollywood for Anita to negotiate the role in I Confess. But when word came out that Björk wasn't married to Dagerman, Hollywood immediately lost interest.
Dagerman’s divorce from his ex-wife wasn't final until 1953 and Hollywood did not accept a contract player who lived with someone married to somebody else and who was an unmarried mother. In 1953, Dagerman and Björk could finally marry.
For Twentieth Century Fox, Anita Björk then starred opposite Gregory Peck in the Cold War thriller Night People (Nunnally Johnson, 1954), shot in England and Germany. She also appeared with Karlheinz Böhm in the German production Die Hexe/The Witch (Gustav Ucicky, 1954). But when the films failed at the box office, so did her international career.
Björk soon moved back to Stockholm. At the end of 1954, her husband Stig Dagerman committed suicide. Björk decided to stick to the Royal Dramatic Theatre where she would appear in more than 80 roles through the years.
She also appeared in Swedish films as the melodrama Sången om den eldröda blomman/Song of the Scarlet Flower (Gustaf Molander, 1956) and the thrillers Damen i svart/The Lady in Black (Arne Mattsson, 1958) and Mannekäng i rött/Mannequin in Red (Arne Mattsson, 1958).
German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 1051. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Capitol Film / Prisma. Publicity still for Die Hexe/The Witch (Gustav Ucicky, 1954).
German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 1052. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Capitol Film / Prisma. Publicity still for Die Hexe/The Witch (Gustav Ucicky, 1954).
12 productions by Ingmar Bergman
For MGM, Anita Björk appeared in the war drama Square of Violence (Leonardo Bercovici, 1961) starring Broderick Crawford. Under the direction of Mai Zetterling, she appeared in the romantic drama Älskande par/Loving Couples (1964) and under the direction of Bo Widerberg in his Ådalen 31/Adalen Riots (1969).
Björk performed in 12 productions by famous director Ingmar Bergman. First, she played in his film Kvinnors väntan/Waiting Women (Ingmar Bergman, 1952). And at the end of her career in 1998, she performed in his TV film Bildmakarna/The Image Makers (1998).
Bildmakarna was based on the play by Bergman’s son-in-law Per Olov Endquist. It is a fictionalized dramatization about the making of Bergman's favorite film, Körkarlen/The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström, 1921). Bergman saw this classic of the silent Scandinavian cinema reportedly over 100 times, and the film prompted him to become a film-maker.
In Bildmakarna Björk offered a memorable interpretation of Swedish writer and Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf on whose novel Körkarlen/The Phantom Carriage was based. The play, also directed by Bergman, went on tour in Europe and also played the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
Bjork also played Queen Victoria in Cannes Palme d'Or winner Den goda viljan/The Best Intentions (Bille August, 1992), a film based on Bergman's autobiographical novel about his parents. The actress finally performed in A.R. Gurney's Kärleksbrev/Love Letters (2009) under direction of Gunnel Lindblom at Teater Brunnsgatan Fyra in Stockholm.
In 2012, Anita Bjork died in her hmetown Stockholm. She was 89. Before Stig Dagerman, Björk had been married to actor Olof Bergström (1945-1951). Their son is actor Jonas Bergström. After Dagerman's death, she had a relationship with novelist Graham Greene.
Trailer Fröken Julie/Miss Julie (Alf Sjöberg, 1951). Source: Video Detective (YouTube).
Sources: Jon Asp (Variety), Bruce Weber (The New York Times), Mattias Thuresson (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 322. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Kores, 'Carboplane'. Photo: Unifrance film.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 749. Photo: Sam Lévin.
German postcard by Film und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. A 1541. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Darby's Rangers (William A. Wellman, 1958).
Etchika Choureau was born Jeannine Paulette Verret in Paris in 1929 (some sources says 1923, others 1933).
In 1948 the beautiful 19-year-old girl met Max Choureau, four years her senior whose parents were beekeepers in the Gâtinais. They fell in love and were married.
After various jobs she enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Arts to study drama. At her graduation she won the first prize in a contest with film diva Edwige Feuillère heading the jury.
Actor Alain Cuny discovered her and pushed her to accept a beautiful role in the Italian film I vinti/The Vanquished (1953), an early work of legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni. This anthology film contains three stories of well-off youths in the post-war years who commit murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London.
In the French episode Sans Amour (Without Love), Choureay plays a young temptress in a gang of aimless youth from working-class families. They cold-bloodedly plan and carry out the murder of a boastful bourgeois classmate (Jean-Pierre Mocky), just out of envy. Antonioni had huge problems when he tried to find funding for such ambitious, resolutely downbeat material. The result was banned in France for a long time.
In 1953 Choureau also divorced, but kept the name of her ex-husband as a pseudonym. That same year she starred in two more remarkable films. She played a mortally ill village girl in L'envers du paradis/The Other Side of Pardise (Edmond T. Gréville, 1953) starring Erich von Stroheim.
The third film was Les enfants de l'amour/Children of Love (Léonide Moguy, 1953), a drama about unwed mothers in which she played a double role. It earned her that year le prix Suzanne-Bianchetti (the Suzanne Bianchetti award) for the Most Promising Actress.
After this jump start, she made nine more films in France, Italy and Germany during the following years. Although she co-starred in these films with stars like Jean Marais, Michel Simon and Isa Miranda, none of these productions was memorable.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1075. Photo: Constantin Film. Publicity still for Les enfants de l'amour/Children of Love (Léonide Moguy, 1953).
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 439. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 358. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Yugoslavian postcard by Studio Sombor, no. 212.
Big vintage card.
In 1957 Etchika Choureau tried to conquer Hollywood. She played the female leads in two American war films made by Warner Bros.
In Darby's Rangers (William A. Wellman, 1958) she was the love interest of James Garner, and in Lafayette Escadrille (William A. Wellman, 1958) of Tab Hunter. According to the fan magazines Hunter was deeply in love with her, but his studio wouldn’t allow him to fly to Paris to visit her...
She had a real love affair with Moulay Hassan II, the Crown Prince of Morocco. She retired from the screen. In 1961 their relationship suddenly ended when Hassan was proclaimed King of Morocco following the death of His Majesty Mohammed V.
After an absence of four years, Choureau tried to revive her cinema career with three new roles. First she played the lead in the drama La prostitution/Prostitution (Maurice Boutel, 1963).
The following year she had a small part in the romantic adventure film Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964), the first part of the romantic Angélique cycle, set in Mid-17th century France. This huge box office hit meant the breakthrough for lead actress Michèle Mercier, but did nothing for the career of Choureau.
She played in only one more film, Paris au mois d'août/Paris in August (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1966) as the wife of Charles Aznavour. Then she retired permanently.
Three years later, she married auctioneer Philippe Rheims. Etchika Choureau had appeared in only seventeen films.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no 533. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 323. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 343. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 572. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Sources: Yves Foucart (Les gens du Cinema), Michael Hastings (AllMovie), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3139/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Titia Binz, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3273/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Titia Binz, Berlin.
The bride faithfully waiting in her mountain village
Maria Andergast was born Maria Pitzer in 1912 in Brunnthal an der Alz, in Austria. At the age of 2, she lost her parents. She grew up with relatives in Vienna and took their names.
Maria took dance lessons with Grete Wiesenthal, but a serious traffic accident destroyed her dreams of a dance career. Instead, she took acting lessons with Josef Danegger at the Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien.
In 1928, she had her first stage work in the city of Aussig (now Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic). At the Stadttheater Aussig she made her debut in the play Vater sein dagegen sehr. Later she worked at the German Landestheater in Prague and at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna.
In 1932, Maria Andergast was discovered for the screen by actor-director Luis Trenker, but she had to cancel the role that he offered her in his film Der Rebell/The Rebel (Kurt Bernhardt, Edwin H. Knopf, Luis Trenker, 1932) because of scheduling problems. The collaboration with Trenker came in his masterpiece Der verlorene Sohn/The Prodigal Son (Luis Trenker, 1934), in which she embodied the bride, who faithfully waits in her mountain village for her wandering boyfriend.
In her second film, Abenteuer eines jungen Herrn in Polen/The Adventures of a Young Master in Poland (Gustav Fröhlich, 1934), she played a Russian countess, who must renounce her love for an Austrian officer (Gustav Fröhlich) under the political conditions of the First World War.
After that she was immediately given the opportunity to play further main roles in successful films like Der Vogelhändler/The Bird Seller (E.W. Emo, 1935) and Skandal um die Fledermaus/Scandal at the Fledermaus (Herbert Selpin, 1936) with Viktor de Kowa.
German Wikipedia: “She played sweet, simple, basic girl types, who, despite a certain inclination to melancholy, are prepared to fight for their happiness. That this happiness was usually quite conventional, and that the possibilities for action of these female figures were often limited to the option of an heroic renunciation, did not damage Maria Andergast's popularity.”
In 1936 Andergast married film director Heinz Helbig and she played leading roles in three of his films. She went with him to Berlin, where she continued to be engaged in the theatre. From 1939 onwards, she lived and worked mainly in Vienna, but as a stage actress she also travelled to Rome, Warsaw, Switzerland and Sweden.
During the Second World War, Andergast appeared in two Nazi propaganda films, Spähtrupp Hallgarten (Herbert B. Fredersdorf, 1941) and Sechs Tage Heimaturlaub (Jürgen von Alten, 1941). For the first time she also received an offer for an artistically interesting film role: in E.W. Emo's Der liebe Augustin/The Dear Augustin (1940) she could show a bit more of her acting talents as a friend of the title figure.
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 2894/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Wien-Film / Tobis.
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3000/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien-Film.
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3139/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Titia Binz, Berlin.
A second career as Schlager singer
After the end of the Second World War, Maria Andergast performed at the Theater in der Josefstadt and at the Residenztheater in Munich. Another interesting film role followed in 1946, when Andergast played the slanderous wife of a war hero (Rudolf Prack) in the first Austrian post-war film Der weite Weg/The Long Way (Eduard Hoesch, 1946).
In her next film, Der Hofrat Geiger/Counsellor Geiger (Hans Wolff, 1947), she performed the song Mariandl, composed by Hans Lang. This formed the starting point for a second career as a singer for Andergast. She also sang the Schlager Du bist die Rose vom Wörthersee (You are the rose of Lake Wörther) by Hans Lang in 1950.
Popular films were Der alte Sünder/The old Sinner (Franz Antel, 1951) starring Paul Hörbiger, Hallo Dienstmann/Hello Dienstmann (Franz Antel, 1952) with Hans Moser, Der Verschwender/The Spendthrift (Leopold Hainisch, 1953) and Verlobung am Wolfgangsee/Engagement at Lake Wolfgang (Helmut Weiss, 1956) with Wolf Albach-Retty.
Since then, she only appeared in supporting parts. After suffering serious injuries in 1966, she entered into a long professional break. Since the 1960s, Maria Andergast was occasionally seen in television productions. In 1972, she relocated from Munich to Vienna. In the following year, she was awarded the silver honorary needle of the State of Vienna.
In 1974, she made her final film, the Heimat-melodrama Der Gestohlene Himmel/The Stolen Heaven (Theo Maria Werner, 1974).
In 1995 she died of cancer. Parts of her estate are now in the Potsdam Filmmuseum. Maria Andergast was married three times: with the director Heinz Helbig, the actor Siegfried Breuer and the actor and director Richard Häußler (1958-1964, until his death). With the director Franz Antel, who staged five of her films from 1950 onwards, she was engaged for a long time. In 2002 the Maria-Andergast-Weg was named after her in Donaustadt, Vienna.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3726/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Bavaria Filmkunst.
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.
German collectors card. Photo: Unionfilm.
Sources: Stephanie d’Heil (Steffi-Line – German), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.
German postcard by W.J. Morlins / Ross Verlag, no. 647/2. Photo: Karl Schenker. Publicity still for Fridericus Rex (Arzén von Cserépy, 1921). Fridericus Rex was a four-part series with Otto Gebühr as King Frederick II as Crown Prince in part I and II.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 651/2. Otto Gebühr as crown prince Frederick (future Frederick II) and Lilly Alexander as Doris Ritter in Fridericus Rex (Arzen von Cserépy, 1921-1922).
German postcard by Ross Verlag. Photo: Fox. Otto Gebühr as King Frederick the Great in the German silent film Die Mühle von Sanssouci/The Mill of Sanssouci (Friedrich Zelnik, Siegfried Philippi, 1926).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3185/2, 1928-1929. Photo: National. Publicity still for Der alte Fritz/The Old Fritz (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1928).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 125/1. Photo: Ufa. Otto Gebühr as Frederick the Great in Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci/The Flute Concert of Sans-Souci (Gustav Ucicky, 1930).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3326/1, 1931-1944. Photo: Tobis. Publicity still for Der große König/The Great King (Veit Harlan, 1942).
The king of Prussia
Otto Gebühr was born in Kettwig (now Essen), Germany in 1877. He was the son of merchant Otto Gebühr and his wife Fanny Mathilde Moll. He grew up in Hülsenbusch, a part of Gummersbach, and, after his father’s death, in Köln (Cologne).
After attending grammar school he had a trade training at a wool firm. In 1896 he worked as a correspondent in foreign languages for a firm in Berlin, but he also had acting classes. For a while he then worked as a strolling actor till he got a contract at the Stadttheater Görlitz.
From 1898 till 1908 he worked at the Königlichen Hoftheater in Dresden, and till 1914 at the Lessingtheater and the Theater in der Königgrätzer Straße, both in Berlin. During the First World War he was an army volunteer for the field artillery regiment and became a second lieutenant. After this he worked from 1917 till 1919 for famous director Max Reinhardt at the Deutschen Theater in Berlin.
At the same time he began to appear in silent films. His film debut was Der Richter/The Judge (Hans Land, 1917) for the Messter company. Gebühr was a look-a-like of king Friedrich II (1712-1786). Introduced by his colleague Paul Wegener, director Carl Boese cast him as the king of Prussia in the silent film Die Tänzerin Barberina/The Dancer Barbarina (Carl Boese, 1920). The role would become his breakthrough. He would play Friedrich several times, but initially in the very successful, four-part-film-series Fridericus Rex (1920-1923).
To his other well-known silent films belong the crime film Whitechapel (Ewald André Dupont, 1920), the worldwide success Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam/The Golem: How He Came Into the World (Carl Boese, Paul Wegener, 1920, Wilhelm Tell (Rudolf Dworsky, Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1923, Die Perücke/The Wig (Berthold Viertel, 1925), Die Gesunkenen/The Sunken (Rudolf Walther-Fein, Rudolf Dworsky, 1925), and Waterloo (Karl Grune, 1929).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 651/4, sent by mail in 1922. Photo: Cserépy-Film Co. Still for Fridericus Rex (1921).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 651/8, sent by mail in 1922. Photo: Cserépy-Film Co. Still for Fridericus Rex (1922) with Lili Flohr.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 51/9. Photo: Fox. Otto Gebühr as King Frederick the Great in the German silent film Die Mühle von Sanssouci/The Mill of Sanssouci (Friedrich Zelnik, Siegfried Philippi, 1926).
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 450. Photo: Fox Film.
German postcard by Eiko Film / National-Film A.G., Berlin. Photo: Eiko Film / National. Publicity still for In treue stark/In faithful strong (Heinrich Brandt, 1926). Caption: Otto Gebúhr as commander of the Line Ship Heffen.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 816. Photo: National Film / Mondial AG. Otto Gebühr in the German silent film Die Sporck'schen Jäger (Holger-Madsen, 1926).
German postcard by W.J. Morlins, Berlin / Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 647/11. Photo: Karl Schenker / Cserépy-Film Co. Still for Der Alte Fritz/The Old Fritz (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1928) with Otto Gebühr as Friedrich II.
First National Socialist
After the introduction of the sound film, Otto Gebühr again had a huge success as the king of Prussia in Das Flötenkonzert in Sanssouci/The Flute Concert of Sans-Souci (Gustav Ucicky, 1930). He repeated his role in the remake of Die Tänzerin von Sanssouci/Barberina (Friedrich Zelnik, 1932) at the side of Lil Dagover and Hans Stüwe.
Gebühr was the cinematic incarnation of the heroic Prussian, and his type was popular during the Third Reich. Gebühr was a voluntarily pawn in the propaganda machine of the Nazis and appeared in several films, including Fridericus (Johannes Meyer, 1937) with Lil Dagover, as the ‘First National Socialist’, like propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels had called him.
In 1938 he gave Gebühr the title 'Staatsschauspieler' (Actor of the State). He was then one of the four highest paid and most famous actors of Germany - the others were Heinz Rühmann, Hans Albers and Heinrich George.
Among his entertainment films were big hits as Der Choral von Leuthen/The Anthem of Leuthen (Carl Froelich, Arzén von Cserépy, 1933) with Olga Tschechova, Nanon (Herbert Maisch, 1938) with Johannes Heesters, and Casanova heiratet/Casanova Marries (Viktor de Kowa, 1939).
Some of his roles, like Blücher in Waterloo (Karl Grune, 1928) and the king of Saxony in Bismarck (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1940), had the same authoritative features as Friedrich II. He again appeared as Friedrich II in Veit Harlan’s epic Der große König/The Great King (Veit Harlan, 1942).
Till the end of the Third Reich he appeared in more light entertainment films like Immensee (Veit Harlan, 1943) starring Kristina Söderbaum and Carl Raddatz, Die goldene Spinne/The Golden Spider (Erich Engels, 1943), and Der Erbförster/The Hereditary Forester (Alois Johannes Lippl, 1945).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1067/1, 1927-1928. Photo Alex Binder.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1960/1, 1927-1928. Photo: National.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3352/1, 1928-1929. Photo: National.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3875/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Emelka. Publicity still for Waterloo (Karl Grune, 1928), in which Gebühr played General/Fieldmarshall Blücher and Frederick the Great. Here he is dressed as Blücher.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4052/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Anton Sahm, München.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 738. Photo: Treuhand-Film / Mondial A.G. / National. Publicity still for Scapa Flow (Leo Lasko, 1930) with Claire Rommer.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 125/6. Photo: Ufa. Otto Gebühr as Frederick the Great in Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci/The Flute Concert of Sans-Souci (Gustav Ucicky, 1930). This picture is a literal citation of the famous painting Flötenkonzert Friedrichs des Großen in Sanssouci (1850-52) by Adolph (von) Menzel, now at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
From 1947 on Otto Gebühr was permitted to work again in the theatre. His first post-war film was the drama ...und über uns der Himmel/...and the Sky Above Us (Josef von Báky, 1947) starring Hans Albers.
Till his death he appeared in many entertainment films. He often played the odd companion or the cheerful senile maverick in such Heimatfilms as Melodie des Schicksals/Melody of Destiny (Hans Schweikart, 1950) with Brigitte Horney, and Grün ist die Heide/The Heath Is Green (Hans Deppe, 1951) starring Sonja Ziemann and Rudolf Prack.
Again he also appeared under the direction of Veit Harlanin Unsterbliche Geliebte/Immortal Beloved (1951) with Kristina Söderbaum.
His final film was Die Blonde Frau des Maharadscha/The Blonde Wife of the Maharadja (Veit Harlan, 1962) – a new version of Die Gefangene des Maharadscha/Circus Girl (Veit Harlan, 1954). The film was released eight years after his death.
Otto Gebühr died of a heart failure in 1954, in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was twice married. In 1910 he had married Cornelia Bertha Julius, with whom he had a daughter, actress Hilde Gebühr. His second wife was actress Doris Krüger, with whom he was married from 1942 till her death in 1950. They had a son, Prof. Dr. Michael Gebühr.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5444/3, 1930-1931. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci (Gustav von Ucicky, 1930) again with Otto Gebühr as Friedrich II.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 5663/11, 1930-1931. Photo: Ufa.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3098/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tobis.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3265/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tobis.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3428/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz / Tobis.
German postcard. Photo: Krannhals.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1098. Photo: Eva-Film / Constantin / Marhoffer. Publicity still for Rosen-Resli/Rose-Girl Resli (Harald Reinl, 1954).
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German), Deutsches Historisches Museum (German), and IMDb.
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 844. Photo: ÖFA-Schönbrun / Herzog-Film / Czerwonski. Publicity still for Hab ich nur deine Diebe/I only have your love (Eduard von Borsody, 1953).
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1128. Photo: Herzog / Berolina. Publicity still for Der Zigeunerbaron/Baron Tzigane/Gypsy Baron (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954).
Vintage postcard, no. 103.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. T 864. Photo: Bavaria / Schorcht / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Ein Stück vom Himmel/A Piece of Heaven (Rudolf Jugert, 1958).
German postcard by ISV, no. H 43. Peter Kraus and Margit Saad in Melodie und Rhythmus/Melody and Rhythms (John Olden, 1959).
Daughter of a Lebanese language professor
Margit Daisy Saad was born in Munich, Bavaria in 1929. She is the daughter of the Lebanese language professor Fuad Jabbour Saad and German language teacher Agnes Saad, born Diepgen.
Margit studied acting at the Otto-Falckenberg-Schule in Munich. To finance her studies, she worked as a model. She had her first stage engagement in Düsseldorf.
Saad made her screen debut in the Austrian comedy Eva erbt das Paradies... ein Abenteuer im Salzkammergut/Eva Inherits Paradise (Franz Antel, 1951), starring Maria Andergast. She also appeared as a nun in the West German drama Hinter Klostermauern/The Unholy Intruders (Harald Reinl, 1952) starring Olga Tschechowa, Frits van Dongen (a.k.a. Philip Dorn) and Katharina Mayberg.
She played leading roles in the romantic musical Südliche Nächte/Southern Nights (Robert A. Stemmle, 1953), the operetta Baron Tzigane/Gypsy Baron (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954) with Georges Guétary, and the romantic comedy Drei Mädels vom Rhein/Three girls from the Rhine (Ernst Jacoby, 1955).
In the Swedish-German coproduction Sommarflickan/Swedish Girl (Håkan Bergström, Thomas Engel, 1955), she had a part opposite Maj-Britt Nilsson and .Karlheinz Böhm A popular success was the West German crime-comedy Peter Voss, der Millionendieb/Peter Voss, Thief of Millions (Wolfgang Becker, 1958) featuring O.W. Fischer. It was based on the 1913 novel Peter Voss, Thief of Millions by Ewald Gerhard Seeliger, which had been previously adapted into three films.
In France, she appeared in Les dragueurs/The Dredgers (Jean-Pierre Mocky, 1959). Other films that year were Heiße Ware/Hot goods (Paul May, 1959) with Ivan Desny, and the teen musical Melodie und Rhythmus/Melody and Rhythms (John Olden, 1959) with teen idol Peter Kraus.
Austrian postcard by Verlag Hubmann, Wien, no.3837. Photo: Unionfilm, Wien. Publicity still for Der Zigeunerbaron/The Gypsy Baron (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954) with Gerhard Riedmann.
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorfno. 1265. Photo: ÖFA / Schönbrunn / Herzog-Film / Sandmann. Publicity still for Ehesanatorium/That's Love (Franz Antel, 1955).
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. I 436. Photo: Melodie / Sandrew / Herzog-Film / Arthur Grimm. Publicity still for Sommarflickan/Swedish Girl (Håkan Bergström, Thomas Engel, 1955).
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3302. Photo: v. Mindszenty / Real-Film / Rank Film. Publicity still for Drei Birken auf der Heide/Three birches on the heath (Ulrich Erfurth, 1956).
The film's seedy milieu and sadistic streak
In 1960 Margit Saad starred in the British drama The Criminal (Joseph Losey, 1960) with Stanley Baker and Sam Wanamaker.
Mario Gauci at IMDb: “While essentially character-driven, the film's seedy milieu and sadistic streak allows for a number of vivid sequences (though the race-track robbery itself is rather thrown away!) including the wild party held at Baker's flat on being released from prison (highlighting sexy Margit Saad who subsequently replaces Jill Bennett as Baker's moll), the equally chaotic prison riot, Baker's escape from the penitentiary (having been betrayed after the robbery and recaptured) and the inevitable showdown with the ruthless Wanamaker.”
She followed it up with appearances in other British films such as The Rebel (Robert Day, 1961) with Tony Hancock and George Sanders, and the low budget thriller Playback (Quentin Lawrence, 1962). The latter was one of a series of British films based on Edgar Wallace novels, released between 1960 and 1965.
On TV she appeared opposite Roger Moore in an episode of The Saint, The Saint Sees It Through (Robert S. Baker, 1964). And in the cinema, she supported TV comedians Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in The Magnificent Two (Cliff Owen, 1967).
In Germany, she co-starred with Stewart Granger in the Edgar Wallace crime film Das Geheimnis der drei Dschunken/Code Name Alpha (Ernst Hofbauer, 1965).
In 1966, Saad appeared in an episode of the American television espionage series Blue Light, starring Robert Goulet and Christine Carère. It was edited together with three other episodes into the feature film I Deal in Danger (Walter Grauman, 1966), which includes her appearance.
Later she also appeared in Grauman’s war film The Last Escape (Walter Grauman, 1969) starring Stuart Whitman. It was her last film, but she continued to appear incidentally on German TV.
Saad also started to direct TV films, including the drama Die Geschichte vom guten alten Herrn und dem schonen Madchen/The story of the good old gentleman and the beautiful girl (1986) with Peter Pasetti.
From 1957 till his death in 1988, Margit Saad was married to noted French opera director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. They had one son, conductor Pierre-Dominique Ponnelle.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. D 40. Photo: Berolina / Constantin / Wesel. Publicity still for Was die Schwalbe sang/What the swallow sang (Géza von Bolváry, 1956).
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 309. Photo: Unionfilm / Wanka. Publicity still for Ein Amerikaner in Salzburg/An American in Salzburg (Helmut Weiss, 1958) with Bruce Low.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam no. 1488. Photo: Unionfilm / Wanke / Ufa. Publicity still for Ein Amerikaner in Salzburg/An American in Salzburg (Helmut Weiss, 1958) with Bruce Low.
Belgian postcard by Cox, no. 48.
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne Eickel, no. F 101. Photo: Klaus Collignon.
Sources: Mario Gauci (IMDb), British Film Institute, Wikipedia (English and German) and IMDb.
German Postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3784/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Civirani.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. G 69. Photo: Ufa / Baumann.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 232. Photo: Baumann.
Anneliese Uhlig was born in 1918 in Essen, Germany into an artistic family. Her mother was the opera singer Margarethe Maschmann, her father the stage actor Kurt Uhlig. After the divorce of her parents, she lived with her mother in Dortmund, Leipzig and Braunschweig.
After acting lessons at the Peter-Reimann-Akademie in Berlin, the 19-years-old Uhlig was discovered by Thea von Harbou, the second wife of director Fritz Lang. Uhlig made her film debut with Manege (Carmine Gallone, 1937), followed by Stimme des Blutes/The Voice of Blood (Carmine Gallone, 1937), both starring Attila Hörbiger and Lucie Höflich.
In 1938 she made her stage debut at the Schillertheater in Berlin in a successful production of Der Richter von Zalamea (El alcalde de Zalamea/The Judge of Alamea) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. At the side of Heinrich George she made a European tour with this production.
The beautiful actress soon became a popular leading lady in crime films like Der Vorhang fällt/The Curtain Falls (Georg Jacoby, 1939), Kriminalkommissar Eyck/Detective superintendent Eyck (Milo Harbich, 1939) co-starring with Paul Klinger, and Golowin geht durch die Stadt/Golowin Goes Through Town (Robert A. Stemmle, 1940).
Next she played a nurse between two lieutenants in the propaganda film Blutsbrüderschaft/Blood Brotherhood (Philipp Lothar Mayring, 1940). She also performed for the German troops in Holland, France, Poland and Russia.
In 1942 she had a conflict with propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels . Reportedly she said 'no' to his avances and he replied: "This way you won't have a career". And she was dismissed by the German studios.
Her friend Maria Cebotari invited her to come to Italy where she took part in five films, including Don Cesare di Bazan/Don Cesar of Bazan (Riccardo Freda, 1942) with Gino Cervi, and La Fornarina (Enrico Guazzoni, 1944) with Lida Baarová.
She was ordered to return to Germany in 1943 to perform for the troops. She continued her film career with Der Majoratsherr/The Heir (Hans Deppe, 1944) with Willy Birgel, and the marriage drama Solistin Anna Alt/Soloist Anna Alt (Werner Klingler, 1945). She also worked as a translator for Mussolini family. when they stayed at a Bavarian castle.
The romantic comedy Das Mädchen Juanita/The Girl Juanita (Wolfgang Staudte, 1945) could not be finished in 1945 because of the end of World War II. Later, it was edited with material from the archives and released in West Germany in 1952.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1623/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Sandau.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2558/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Ufa / Baumann.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2950/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Sandau.
After the war Anneliese Uhlig married American lieutenant and art historian Douglas B. Tucker and worked as a director and producer for the US Special Servicein Salzburg.
From 1946 to 1967 she was a foreign correspondent in Italy, Austria and the USA. She also wrote political articles for different German and American newspapers. In 1948 she moved to the USA where she later got the American nationality.
In the 1950s she appeared again in German films like Solange Du da bist/As Long As You Are There (Harald Braun, 1953) starring Maria Schell and O.W. Fischer, and Dany, bitte schreiben Sie/Dany, Please Write (Eduard von Borsody, 1956) featuring Sonja Ziemann.
After that she took another break from the cinema and worked as a newspaper editor and theatre producer in Alexandria, Virginia, and from 1963 till 1965 as a university teacher German and Drama in Bangkok, Thailand.
She continued her acting career in Germany in the 1970s and appeared on stage and TV. To her TV films belong the Wilkie Collins adaptation Der Monddiamant/The Moonstone (Wilhelm Semmelroth, 1974) with Paul Dahlkeand Theo Lingen, Es gibt noch Haselnusssträucher/Hazels (Vojtech Jasny, 1983) with Heinz Rühmann and Katharina Böhm, and Coming Home (Giles Foster, 1998) with Peter O’Tooleand Joanna Lumley.
Anneliese Uhlig had a son, Peter, from her first marriage to actor Kurt Waitzmann. Her second husband Douglas B. Tucker had passed away in 2009 and her son Peter in 2013. They lived in Santa Cruz, California, where Anneliese Uhlig died on 17 June 2017.
Annelies Uhlig published a few books, including the autobiography Rosenkavaliers Kind: Eine Frau und drei Karrieren (The Child of the Rosenkavalier - one woman and three careers). Rosemarie Killius in Frankfurter Allgemeine: "A readable work of contemporary history which surpasses anything else one can find of actor biographies on the market."
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Zeitschrift für Film und Theater G.m.b.H., Berlin. Licensed by Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Terra / Sandau.
Small German card by Ross. Photo: Ufa.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, no. T 655. Photo: Lilo.
Sources: Rosemarie Killius (Frankfurter Allgemeine - German), Stephanie D'heil (Steffie-Line - German), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German), Filmportal.de (German) and IMDb.
Austrian postcard by Carl Ed. Kopfer, Wien, presented with the Wiener Tägliche Theater- & Fremdenzeitung. Girardi as Kálmán Zsupán, a wealthy pig farmer of the Banat district, in the operetta Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron) by Johann Strauss. Girardi was a member of the cast of the original production which premiered at the Theater an der Wien on 24 October 1885.
Austrian postcard by Julius Weisz, Wien, no. 123. Sent by mail in 1903. Girardi as the birdseller in the operetta Der Vogelhändler.
The Golden Age of the Vienna operetta
Alexander Girardi was born in Graz in 1850. His father was the locksmith Andreas Girardi who originated from Cortina d'Ampezzo. Following the early death of his father, Alexander was raised by his stepfather who put him into a locksmith apprenticeship.
Against his stepfather's wishes, he joined the amateur theatre Die Tonhalle, where his acting talent was discovered. This led to an engagement at the Vienna Strampfer-Theater.
In 1874 Girardi moved to the Theater an der Wien, where he continued to work for 22 years. In 1896-1897 he worked at the Carltheater and then two years at the Volkstheater in Vienna. He also had guest appearances at other important theatres in Vienna and toured Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden).
One of his most renowned roles was Valentin in Ferdinand Raimund's Der Verschwender (The Spendthrift). Particularly his rendition of the evergreen Das Hobellied, with music by Conradin Kreutzer, is famous in Austria. He worked in the tradition of Ferdinand Raimund and Johann Nestroy.
Girardi also contributed greatly to the Golden Age of the Vienna operetta. He created the roles of Blasoni in Johann Strauss's Cagliostro in Wien (Cagliostro in Vienna, 1875), Andredl in Karl Millöcker's Das verwunschene Schloss (The enchanted castle, 1878), Jan Janicki in Millöcker's Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student, 1882), Benozzo in Millöcker's Gasparone (1884), Kálmán Zsupán in Strauss's Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron, 1885), Adam in Carl Zeller's Der Vogelhändler (The Bird Seller, 1891), the title role in Edmund Eysler's Bruder Straubinger (Brother Straubinger, 1903), and Pali Rácz in Emmerich Kálmán’s Der Zigeunerprimas (The Gypsy Band Leader, 1912).
Austrian postcard by J. Gerstmayer, Wien, Serie X, no. 49. Girardi as Schuster Weigl in the stage operetta Mein Leopold (My Leopold) by Adolph L’Arronge. Music by Conradin. Caption: "Mein einzige Passion, Ist mein Leopold, mein Sohn." (My only Passion, Is my Leopold, my son.)
Austrian postcard by J. Gerstmayer, Wien. Photo: L. Gutmann. Girardi as Profoss in the stage operetta Heimliche Liebe (Secret Love, 1911) by Julius Bauer. Music by Paul Ottenheimer. Caption: "Küssen ist keine Sünd, mit einem schönen Kind, Lächt dir ein Rosenmund, Küss ihn zu jener Stund." (Kissing is not a sin, with a beautiful gal, If a rose mouth smiles to you, Kiss it that hour.)
Austrian postcard by J. Gerstmayer, Wien. Photo: F. Kaufmann. Girardi as Straubinger in the stage operetta Bruder Straubinger (1903) by Moritz West and Ignaz Schnitzer. Music by Edmund Eysler.
Put into a mental asylum
Between 1893 till 1896, Alexander Girardi was unhappily married to actress Helene Odilon. Odilon had many affairs and had Girardi committed in a mental asylum based on a certificate by Julius Wagner-Jauregg, who had not even seen Girardi. The actress Katharina Schratt persuaded Emperor Franz Joseph to release Girardi.
Because of his huge popularity the cinema called and his film debut was Fiakerlied (1908). Another early silent film was Wann der Auerhahn balzt (1911). There was also a film version of Der Verschwender, Der Millionenonkel/The Spendthrift (Hubert Marischka, 1913).
At the beginning of World War I Alexander Girardi retired and returned to his birthplace Graz. Two months before his death in 1918, he was called to the Burgtheater in Vienna to play the role of Fortunatus Wurzel in Ferdinand Raimund's Der Bauer als Millionär (The Peasant as a Millionaire).
Aged 67, Alexander Girardi died in 1918 in Vienna. He is buried at the Vienna Zentralfriedhof. After his marriage to actress Helene Odilon, he was married to Eugenie Latinovics de Borsód from 1898 till his death.
Girardi's life was the subject of the film Der Komödiant von Wien/The Comedian of Vienna (Karl Paryla, Karl Stanzl, 1954) with Karl Paryla playing Girardi. The dish Girardirostbraten (Girardi roast beef) is named after him – a beef dish heavily covered with bacon and button mushrooms. His favourite hat style, a straw hat with flat crown and brim (a boater), became popular as the Girardi Hat. The city of Graz and the Vienna Mariahilf district have a Girardigasse (Girardi Lane) and there is a Girardipark in the district Innere Stadt. The Alexander Girardi International Singing Competition in Coburg is also named after him.
Austrian postcard by J. Gerstmayer, Wien, Serie VII, no. 33. Photo: L. Guttmann, Wien. Girardi as Florian Strobl in the stage operetta Das dumme Herz (The Stupid Heart, 1914) by Rudolf Österreicher and Will Sterk. Music by Carl Ziehrer. Caption: "Das Herz ist ein Uhrwerk, Das Stolz den Schöpfer preist, Es klingt in vollen Tönen, Wenn 'Lieb' der Zeiger weist." (The heart is a clockwork, which praises the Creator with pride, It sounds in full tones, When the pointer points 'love'.)
Austrian postcard by J. Gerstmayer, Wien. Photo: Charles Scolik, Wien. Girardi as Jean Grennicheux in the operetta Les Cloches de Corneville (1877) by Clairvill & Gabet. Music by Robert Planquette. Caption: "Fahr hin, Matrose, Wo Windesrose, Auf dem schaukelnden Meere, Dich treibt." (Go on, Sailor, Where the Wind, On the Rocking Sea, leads you.)
Austrian postcard. Die Wienerstadt in Wort und Bild. Girardi in 5 Rollen. Written by Julius Bauer, J. Fuchs and Franz Zell.
Sources: Wien Geschichte Wiki (German), The German Early Cinema Database (German), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/255.
German postcard by ISV, no. D 22. Photo: Pierluigi.
German postcard by ISV, no. D 27. Photo: Pierluigi.
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK 39. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Ufa.
Spanish postcard by Postal Oscarcolor, no. 407.
Italian postcard by Rotalcolor, Milano, no. N. 178. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962).
The World of Fashion
Elsa Martinelli was born Elsa Tia in Grosseto, Tuscany, in 1935. Soon after her birth, her large and very poor family moved to Rome. Elsa had to earn her keep from the age of twelve, delivering groceries.
In 1953, while working as a barmaid, she was discovered by designer Roberto Capucci who introduced her to the fashion world. She became a model and began playing small roles in films.
She appeared uncredited in Le Rouge et le noir/Scarlet and Black (Claude Autant-Lara, 1954) starring Gérard Philipe.
Her first important film role came the following year with the American Western The Indian Fighter (André De Toth, 1955), in which she played the Native American heroine opposite Kirk Douglas. Douglas claims to have spotted her on a Life magazine cover and hired her for his production company, Bryna Productions.
She returned to Rome and starred in the Carlo Ponti production La risaia/Rice Girl (Raffaello Matarazzo, 1956) with Folco Lulli and Rik Battaglia. The melodrama was an obvious attempt to recapture the success of Riso Amaro/Bitter Rice (Giuseppe De Santis, 1949) with Silvana Mangano as the sexy rice field worker in hot pants. The attempt worked quite well.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano / G.B. & F., V, no. 2072. Photo: Carlo Ponti. Publicity still for La risaia/Rice Girl (Raffaello Matarazzo, 1956). Caption: Saluti dalla Risaia (Greetings from the rice girl).
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. 917. Photo: Paramount, 1957.
Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze (B.F.F. Edit.), no. 3387. Photo: Universal.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 1064, 1959. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Maxima-Lux Rome; Aspa, Madrid. Publicity still for La mina/The Mine (Giuseppe Bennati, 1957).
Italian postcard by 3K, no. 3841.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. S 737. Photo: Unitalia-Film / Dial.
In 1956 Elsa Martinelli won the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival. She won this prestigious award for playing a modern Cinderella in the comedy Donatella (Mario Monicelli, 1956) with Gabriele Ferzetti.
From then on, she divided her time between Europe and the US and appeared in such films as Four Girls in Town (Jack Sher, 1956) with George Nader, Manuela/The Stowaway Girl (Guy Hamilton, 1957) with Trevor Howard, the historical drama I Battellieri del Volga/Prisoner of the Volga (Victor Tourjansky, 1959) with John Derek and the romance Un amore a Roma/Love in Rome (Dino Risi, 1960).
Highlights were the excellent drama La notte brava (Mauro Bolognini, 1959), based on a novel by Pier Paolo Pasolini and the haunting and surreal horror film Et mourir de plaisir/Blood and Roses (Roger Vadim, 1960).
The latter was an attempt to retell the classic Sheridan Le Fanu vampire tale Carmilla, co-starring the director's wife Annette Vadim (or Annette Stroyberg).
In 1957 Elsa married wealthy Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito. Her mother-in-law, Countess Margherita Manicineli Scotti di San Vito, reportedly expelled her son from their Rome palace because the marriage was against her wishes. Finally she fired her son from his job as manager of the family estate.
German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 233. Photo: Georg Michalke.
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 284. Photo: Georg Michalke / Archiv Filmpress Zürich.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1.974, 1963. Photo: publicity still for Le capitan/Captain Blood (André Hunebelle, 1960).
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 103. Photo: publicity still for Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962).
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 470. Sent by mail in 1972. Photo: publicity still for Le procès/The Trial (Orson Welles, 1962) with Anthony Perkins.
Tried and True Howard Hawks Fashion
One of Elsa Martinelli’s most interesting films is Orson Welles’ adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Trial, Le Procès (Orson Welles, 1962). Anthony Perkinsplayed Joseph K, a man condemned for an unnamed crime in an unnamed country. Seeking justice, he is sucked into a labyrinth of bureaucracy. Along the way, he becomes involved with three women - Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider and Martinelli - who in their own individual ways are functions of the System that persecutes him.
In the action and adventure comedy Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962) she played a freelance wildlife photographer on a Tanganyika game farm. Martinelli was the eye candy in a star cast with John Wayne, Gérard Blain,Red Buttons and Hardy Krüger. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Wayne's men-only contingent is reduced to jello when Elsa enters the scene, but in tried and true Howard Hawks fashion, she quickly becomes ‘one of the guys’."
In the comedy The Pigeon That Took Rome (Melville Shavelson, 1962) she starred opposite Charlton Heston, and in The V.I.P.’s (Anthony Asquith, 1963) she was the protegee of Orson Welles.
In the South Seas adventure Rampage (Phil Karlson, 1963) she co-starred with Robert Mitchum, and in the episodic sex comedy Sette Volte Donna/Woman Times Seven (Vittorio De Sica, 1967) with Lex Barker.
In the big-budget adaptation of Terry Southern's satiric sex farce Candy (Christian Marquand, 1968), she played Candy’s mother in a cast with Charles Aznavour, Marlon Brando, and Richard Burton.
In Italy she made the near surrealist western Il mio corpo per un poker/Belle Starr (Piero Cristofani, Lina Wertmuller, 1968), and a stylish erotic thriller, Una sull'altra/One on Top of the Other (Lucio Fulci, 1969), with Marisa Mell and Jean Sorel.
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 199. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 124. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. FK 32. Photo: Fried Agency / Ufa.
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, no. FK 3172. Photo: Unitalia Film, Roma.
Italian photocard, editor and photographer unknown.
Spanish postcard by Archivo Bermejo, no. C. 263, 1965. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962).
In the 1970s the film career of Elsa Martinelli somehow halted. She only appeared incidentally in European films. She starred opposite Robert Hossein in the French caper film La Part des Lions/The Lions' Share (Jean Larriaga, 1971), and she played a supporting part in the political drama Garofano Rosso/The Red Carnation (Luigi Faccini, 1976) with Marina Berti.
On TV she appeared as a guest star in The Return of the Saint (1979) with Ian Ogilvy as Simon Templar. Meanwhile she had started a new, successful career as an interior designer, but she continued to accept incidental parts in films and TV-series.
After Sono Un Fenomeno Paranormale/I'm a Paranormal Phenomenon (Sergio Corbucci, 1985) with Alberto Sordi, she made unheralded return appearances in the international productions Arrivederci Roma (Clive Donner, 1990) and the inconsequential all-star comedy Once Upon a Crime (Eugene Levy, 1992).
Most recently she was seen in the short film Cabiria, Priscilla e le altre/Cabiria, Priscilla and the Others (Fabrizio Celestini, 1999) and the TV-series Orgoglio (2005).
Elsa Martinelli was married from 1957 till 1964 to Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito, by whom she has a daughter, actress Cristiana Mancinelli (1958). In 1968 she married Paris Match photographer and 1970s furniture designer Willy Rizzo, with whom she had a son.
On 8 July 2017, Elsa Martinelli passed away in Rome, Italy. She was 82. Her husband Willy Rizzo had died in 2013.
Trailer The Indian Fighter (1955). Source: zinho jp (YouTube).
Italian trailer Donatella (1956). Source: CG Entertainment (YouTube). No subtitles, sorry.
German DVD trailer for La risaia/Rice Girl 1956).Source: Arild Rafalzik (YouTube). No subtitles, sorry.
Trailer Hatari! (1962). Source: Paramountmovies Digital (YouTube).
Trailer Le Procès/The Trial (1962). Source: Danios 12345 (YouTube).
Elsa Martinelli and Robert Hoffman in Come Imparai ad Amare le Donne (1967). Source: stranevisioni (YouTube). No subtitles, sorry.
Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Marlène Pilaete (Les Gens du Cinéma - French), Kimberly Lindbergs (Cinebeats), Gerald A. DeLuca (IMDb), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia, and IMDb.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, no. 98.
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 3353. Photo: Cines.
Saucy comedies and steamy melodramas
Sandra Milo was born Elena Salvatrice Greco in Tunis, Tunisia in 1933.
She made her film debut alongside Alberto Sordi in Lo scapolo/The Bachelor (Antonio Pietrangeli, 1955). Milo mostly performed in saucy comedies and steamy melodramas.
Such films included Mio figlio Nerone/Nero's Mistress (Steno, 1956) with Alberto Sordi and Gloria Swanson, Les aventures d'Arsène Lupin/The Adventures of Arsène Lupin (Jacques Becker, 1957) with Robert Lamoureux, Le miroir à deux faces/The Mirror Has Two Faces (André Cayate, 1958) starring Michèle Morgan, and Totò nella luna/Toto in the Moon (Steno, 1958) with Totò and Sylva Koscina.
Gary Brumburgh at IMDb: “bosomy, scintillating, dark-haired Tunisian leading lady Sandra Milo played bored patricians, manipulative mistresses and other enticing ladies of questionable morals with typical sensuous flare.”
Her first major role came thanks to the producer Moris Ergas, in Il generale Della Rovere/General Della Rovere (1959), directed by Roberto Rossellini and featuring Vittorio De Sica. She starred opposite Lino Ventura in two French thrillers, Un témoin dans la ville/Witness in the City (Edouard Molinaro, 1959), and Classe tous risques/The Big Risk (Claude Sautet, 1960).
Antonio Pietrangeli directed her again in Adua e le compagne/Adua and Her Friends (1960), a comedy about four unemployed prostitutes who decide to go into business running a restaurant, and in Fantasmi a Roma/Ghosts of Rome (1961), both with Marcello Mastroianni.
She also appeared opposite Laurent Terzieff in Vanina Vanini (Roberto Rossellini, 1961), based on a short story by Stendhal. Rossellini's career was cut short after the film received harsh criticism at the Venice Festival. Milo married producer Moris Ergas with whom she had a daughter Deborah. After her marriage, she retired from her acting career.
Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 71.
Small Romanian collectors card, no. 12.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 94.
A flesh and blood incarnation of Satan
Then Sandra Milo was discovered by Federico Fellini. Although she was reluctant to make a comeback, Fellini convinced Milo to take on the role of the sexy, lightheaded mistress opposite Marcello Mastroianni in 8½ (1963). 8½ won an Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film, as well as the Grand Prize at the Moscow Film Festival, and was one of the most influential and commercially successful European art movies of the 1960s.
After this success, she reunited with director Antonio Pietrangeli for La visita/The Visit (1963) with François Périer.
Fellini then directed her opposite Giulietta Masina in Giulietta degli spiriti/Juliet of the Spirits (Federico Fellini, 1965). She played Giulietta’s neighbour, Suzy, a highly, eccentric pleasure-seeker who lives in a sensual playhouse and who may or may not be a flesh and blood incarnation of Satan.
David Anderson in his review at Bunched Undies: "Federico Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits remains one of the esteemed director’s most fanciful and entertaining films; its sparkling joys untarnished by the passage of time. (...) Clearly, Juliet of the Spirits is one of Italy’s first feminist films from a modern perspective. While Fellini made several films with Masina - and in all of them she faces significant obstacles - this is the first to loudly proclaim that a woman doesn’t necessarily need a husband to find happiness and, in some cases, she may be better off without one. "
Most of Milo’s following endeavours however were second-rate films. She retired again from acting in 1968, only to make a second comeback in 1979. Her roles have shifted from that of the temptress to more stern middle-aged women. She appeared in Pupi Avati’s romantic drama Il Cuore Altrove/A Heart Elsewhere (2003) with Neri Marcoré and Giancarlo Giannini.
In 2006-2007 she toured Italy with the theatrical adaptation of 8 Femmes/8 Women. In second marriage, she married Ottavio De Lollis with whom she had two sons, Ciro and Azzurra. Sandra Milo's latest film is Il velo di Maya/The veil of Maya (Elisabetta Rocchetti, 2017).
DVD-trailer 8½ (1963). Source: Screenbound Pictures (YouTube).
Trailer Giulietta degli spiriti/Juliet of the Spirits (1965). Source: Argent Films (YouTube).
Sources: David Anderson (Bunched Undies), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4769/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 946. Photo: Lux Film Verleih.
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 947. Photo: National.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1780/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4063/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4422/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
Evelyn Holt was born as Evelyn Sklarz in Berlin in 1908. She was the daughter of a journalist.
Holt started her film career at UFA even before turning 20. The very attractive girl soon became the star of many German films of the late silent era, and was soon paired with famous actors like Hans Albers.
In the crime film Spitzen/Have an eye (Holger-Madsen, 1926) starring Elisabeth Pinajeff, she still had a secondary part.
In her second film the Charlotte Brönte adaptation Die Waise von Lowood/The Orphan of Lowood (Kurt aka Curtis Bernhardt, 1926), she played the title part of Jane Eyre, while Olaf Fönssplayed Rochester.
Other silent films were the Arthur Schnitzler adaptation Liebelei/Flirtation (Jakob & Luise Fleck, 1927) with Fred Louis Lerch and Henry Stuart, Die elf Teufel (Zoltan Korda, Carl Boese, 1927) starring Gustav Fröhlich, and Frauenarzt Dr. Schäfer/ Gynecologist Doctor Schaefer (Jakob & Luise Fleck, 1928) starring Iván Petrovich.
In the German-Austrian-British coproduction Der fesche Husar/The Bold Dragoon (Géza von Bolvary, 1928) her co-star was the British matinee idol Ivor Novello, and in Ein Mädel und drei Clowns/The Three Kings (Hans Steinhoff, 1928) she played opposite two other British stars, Henry Edwards and Warwick Ward.
Her films were often directed by the husband and wife team of Jakob and Luise Fleck. They worked together at Das Recht auf Liebe/The Right on Love (Jakob & Louise Fleck, 1929) which was scripted by Magnus Hirschfeld, and also at the crime film Einbruch im Bankhaus Reichenbach/Burglary in the banking house Reichenbach (Jakob & Louise Fleck, 1930). In total Holt appeared in nearly 20 silent films.
German postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5308. Photo: Hegewald-Film / Lux-Film-Verleih. Publicity still for Frauenarzt Dr. Schäfer/ Gynecologist Doctor Schaefer (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1928) with Iván Petrovich.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3303/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Hegewald-Film.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3553/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5068/2, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3157/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3688/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.
Das Wolgamädchen/The Wolga Girl (Robert Wohlmuth, 1930) was probably Evelyn Holt’s first sound film. It costarred Igo Sym en Ellen Schaak. Seven more sound films followed.
Namensheirat/Marriage in Name Only (Heinz Paul, 1930) was scripted by former silent film star Hella Moja. Holt played the lead, and there were many other silent stars in the cast, including Oscar Marion, Grit Haid, Walter Rilla, Hans Mierendorff and Ida Wüst.
Holt again played the lead in Eine Stunde Glück/An Hour of Happiness (1931), directed by former silent star Wilhelm Dieterle, who soon after would pursue a career as director in the US under the name of William Dieterle. He also played the male lead in Eine Stunde Glück. Das Ekel/The Scoundrel (Eugen Schüfftan, Franz Wenzler, 1931) was a comedy on a working day in Berlin.
Holt’s last features were the unemployment comedy Drei von der Stempelstelle/The Three of the Stamp Place (Eugen Thiele, 1932) starring Fritz Kampers, Paul Kemp and Adolf Wohlbrück (the future Anton Walbrook); and the car races film Kampf/Battle (Erich Schonfelder, Haro van Peski, 1932) starring Grand Prix car driver Manfred von Brauchitsch.
In 1933 she also did a commercial for Sanella. After singing lessons Holt was engaged as soubrette at the Große Schauspielhaus in Berlin in 1931.
After only six successful years, Adolf Hitler’s coming to power in 1933, abruptly ended her profession as film actress. The reason: her original name looked too Jewish. She managed to survive by a career as soubrette at the Komische Oper in Berlin, but when she married the Jewish publisher Felix Guggenheim in 1936, her stage career was halted as well.
In 1938 the couple emigrated first to Switzerland, then in 1940 to Britain, and finally to the US. There Felix Guggenheim became the Exil literature publisher of authors such as Thomas Mann, Franz Werfel, Lion Feuchtwanger and Alfred Döblin. Evelyn Holt stayed in the US until her death in Los Angeles in 2001, but she never performed in a film again.
French postcard by Europe, no. 639. Photo: Hegewald Film.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3014/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.
German postcard, no. 3963. Photo: Fritz Krapp, Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland).
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4063/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Balázs, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6503, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Jaeger, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7332/2, 1932-1933. Photo: Gerstenberg-Dührkoop.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8535/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Yva, Berlin. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 90/70, 1970. Photo: Günter Linke.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 152/71, 1971. Photo: Günter Linke.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1/F/72. Photo: Günter Linke.
A national celebrity in the former GDR
Regina Beyer was born in Berlin in 1947. She was the daughter of an engineer and an attorney.
After finishing school, she at first started an apprenticeship as a film technician and worked as a photo model.
Director Rolf Losansky engaged her for his short film Motorradhelden/Motorcycle heroes (Rolf Losansky,1964). Although she only played a minor role in this film, Beyer decided to become an actress.
She began her acting studies in 1965 at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Potsdam-Babelsberg and in the meanwhile she acted in various DEFA features. These included such as films as Das Mädchen auf dem Brett/The Girl on the Board (Kurt Maetzig, 1967) and the Swashbuckler Hauptmann Florian von der Mühle/Captain Florian of the Mill (Werner W. Wallroth, 1968) starring Manfred Krug. Her leading role in this film made her a national celebrity in the former GDR.
After completing her studies in 1969, she became an ensemble member of the DEFA and remained there till 1990. Her films included the love story Im Himmel ist doch Jahrmarkt (Rolf Losansky, 1969), with Beyer as parachutist Gritta, and Anflug Alpha 1 (Janos Veiczi, 1971), with Beyer as Anka who has to stand by her boyfriend, an air force lieutenant, after a crash.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 3338, 1969. Photo: Schwarz.
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 114/69, 1969. Photo: Schwarz.
Fresh and freely taking their lives in their own hands
Regina Beyer’s trademark characters in the DEFA films of the early 1970s were emancipated young women, who fresh and freely took their lives in their own hands.
She played secretaries and electricians, but also convinced when she portrayed historical personalities such as Queen Luise.
Later Beyer worked intensively for the television of the GDR. In addition to countless television films and TV series such as Egmont (Helmut Schiemann, 1974), she became the favourite actress of director Helmut Krätzig. He directed her in episodes of the popular television series Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110 (1976-1990).
From the 1970s on, Regina Beyer was also regularly seen on stage and studied theatre studies at the Theaterhochschule Hans Otto in Leipzig from 1975 to 1979.
After the reunification of Germany in 1990, Beyer continued her work as an actress. Although her contract with the DEFA stopped, she appeared in the film comedy Cosima's Lexikon/Cosima’s Lexicon (Peter Kahane, 1992) with Iris Berben, and in TV series like Elbflorenz and Liebling Kreuzberg.
Today Regina Beyer lives with her companion, the actor Volkmar Kleinert in Berlin. In her first marriage, she was married to the actor Frank Obermann, with whom she has a daughter.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 69/70, 1970. Photo: Günter Linke.
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 114/73, 1973. Photo: Günter Linke.
Sources: Filmportal.de, Film-zeit.de (German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. 3768/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien Film / Hämmerer.
Austrian postcard by Eberle Verlag, Wien, no 27. Photo: I.S.B. Films.
Hans Moser was born Johann Julier in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria) in 1880. He was the third child of Academic sculptor Franz Julier and his wife Serafina, born Pöschl.
He grew up in the Margarethen district, attended secondary and commercial school and worked in accounting of a leather goods store in Vienna before he took paid acting lessons at Otto theatre school for a short period. Then he took language lessons from Josef Moser, a character player at the Vienna Court Theater. Julier decided to borrow his name and from then on he used as his stage name: Hans Moser.
In 1897, the 17-year-old Moser got his first theatre engagement and played smaller parts on different stages during the next years. Because of his shortness he often impersonated children. Moser returned to Vienna in 1910 where he married Blanca Hirschler the following year. In 1913, their daughter Margarethe was born.
From 1914 to 1918, he was a soldier and was deployed to the east front and to Isonzo, North Italy. After the war he became established as a character comedian and he played in the major theatres. In 1925 Max Reinhardt engaged him for Theater in der Josefstadt. Moser also performed at the Salzburg Festival between 1925 and 1927.
He played small parts in such silent films as Kleider machen Leute/Fine feathers make fine birds (Hans Steinhoff, 1921), Die Stadt ohne Juden/The City Without Jews (H.K. Breslauer, 1924) with Johannes Riemann, Ssanin (Friedrich Feher, Boris Nevolin, 1924) and Der Feldherrnhügel/The general's hill (Hans Otto, Erich Schönfelder, 1926).
Also his appearances in later silent films like Die Familie ohne Moral/The family without morality (Max Neufeld, 1927) and Spitzenhöschen und Schusterpech (Hans Otto, 1928) weren't very successful.
This did not change when the sound film was introduced. He played minor parts beside established Berliner comedians. In 1933 the tide turned in his favour when Willi Forst directed the first ‘Wiener filme’ (Viennese films).
In such films as Leise flehen meine Lieder/Lover Divine (Willi Forst, 1933) and Maskerade/Masquerade in Vienna (Willi Forst, 1934) audiences accepted Moser's mumble and nervous movements, and started to love it. In fact Moser became known for mumbling indistinctly for comic effect rather than pronouncing words and sentences clearly, and also for failing to finish his sentences.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2713/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Bavaria Filmkunst / Wien Film. Publicity still for Anton, der Letzte/Anthony the Last (E.W. Emo, 1939).
Big German card by Ross Verlag. Photo: Ufa / Hämmerer.
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Wien-Film / Hämmerer.
Honest, Moral and Well-intentioned People
During the 1930s Hans Moser focused more and more on his film career and appeared less in the theatre. He often portrayed the man in the street, typically someone else's subordinate – servant, waiter, porter, shopkeeper, coachman, petty bureaucrat, etc.
Also always he played honest, moral and well-intentioned people who, unable to keep cool and think clearly in crucial situations, get themselves and everyone around them into all kinds of trouble. As the father of a beautiful daughter – often widowed – he was the stubborn one who realizes only at the end of the film, when all cases of mistaken identity have been cleared up and all secrets are revealed, that he has been terribly wrong all the time.
Popular films with Moser were Vorstadtvarieté/Suburban Cabaret (Werner Hochbaum, 1934), Der Himmel auf Erden/Heaven on Earth (E.W. Emo, 1935), Endstation/Last Stop (E.W. Emo, 1935), Familie Schimek/The Schimek Family (E.W. Emo, 1935), Das Gässchen zum Paradies/Paradise Road (Mac Fric, 1936), Burgtheater/Burg Theatre (Willi Forst, 1936), 13 Stühle/13 Chairs (E.W. Emo, 1938), Das Ekel/The Grouch (Hans Deppe, 1939), and Anton der Letzte/Anthony the Last (E.W. Emo, 1939).
During the war years followed Sieben Jahre Pech/Seven Years Hard Luck (Ernst Marischka, 1940), Wiener Blut/Vienna Blood (Willi Forst, 1942) and Einmal der liebe Herrgott sein/To Be God For Once (Hans H. Zerlett, 1942).
In these films Moser was the contrast to the composed North Germans Theo Lingen and Heinz Rühmann and fought out skirmishes with Adele Sandrock and Ida Wüst. Together with Paul Hörbiger, he headed the Viennese clan of film comedians that included Oskar Sima, Annie Rosar, Rudolf Carl, Leo Slezak, and Lucie Englisch. With Annie Rosar, he starred in seventeen films between 1933 and 1957.
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 481. Photo: Zeyn-Styria-Produktion / Herzog Film. Publicity still for Der Theodor im Fussbaltor/Theodor in the football goal (E.W. Emo, 1950).
German postcard by F.B.Z., no. 131. Photo: Zeyn-Film / Niczky. Publicity still for Der Theodor im Fußballtor/Theodor in the football goal (E.W. Emo, 1950).
A Special Work Permission
During the Nazi regime, Moser had severe problems. His wife Blanca Hirschler was Jewish, and he refused to divorce her. It was only because of his great popularity that the regime allowed him to continue to appear in films. From 1933 he depended on a special work permission. His wife fled to Hungary in 1939 to avoid further trouble. After the war the couple reunited.
Moser continued his career in Austria, where he played at the theatre and appeared in such films as Der Herr Kanzleirat/Mr. Chancellery Council (Hubert Marischka, 1948), Hallo, Dienstmann/Hello Dienstmann (Franz Antel, 1952) and Der Onkel aus Amerika/His Majesty King Ballyhoo (Carl Boese, 1952).
He then acted in remakes of fading classics like Die Deutschmeister/A March for the Emperor (Ernst Marischka, 1955) starring Romy Schneider, Der Kongress tanzt/The Congress Dances (Franz Antel, 1955), and Die Drei von der Tankstelle/Three Friends and a gas station (Hans Wolff, 1955) with Adrian Hoven.
The quality of these films was not up to the standard of his films of the 1930s, and his star slowly began to sink. Only films like Ober, zahlen!/Waiter, the check! (E.W. Emo, 1957) and above all Herrn Josefs letzte Liebe/Mr. Josef’s last love (Hermann Kugelstadt, 1959) presented him again in his old top form.
Moser accepted unscrupulous nearly each film role he was offered and he had to make his jokes now with comedians of a new generation like Georg Thomalla, Trude Herr and Gunther Philipp. His film career ended in shallowness.
In the theatre Moser was also working as a serious actor, such as in Arthur Schnitzler’s play Liebelei (The Reckoning) – his first ever role in a production of Vienna’s Burgtheater that premiered in 1954, and was directed by Ernst Lothar.
Moser made his last stage performance in 1963, as a divine police law clerk in a production of Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom, directed by Kurt Meisel.
Hans Moser died of cancer in Vienna in 1964, aged 83. His continuing popularity is attested to by the fact that his style of speaking is still being parodied, often by very young entertainers.
German postcard by Netter's Star Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Constantin Film.
Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia, and IMDb.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 846, offered by Les Carboplanes Korés Carboplane. Photo: Sam Lévin. The postcard is probably made for her French film debut in 1956, because at the flipside she is credited as Margareth Rung.
Tight Black Sweater
On 17 March 1953, Danish dancer Margarethe Rung Jorgenson revealed to the press in Rome, that she was the ‘mysterious blonde’ who had been dating former King Farouk of Egypt since his separation from ex-Queen Narriman. This gossip news caused international headlines and photos of the beautiful blonde were sent by radio or wire all over the world.
A subscript of a United Press Telephoto described her as a ’22-year-old chorus girl’. American newspaper The Amsterdam Evening Recorder used a wirephoto by AP and described her as a ‘19-year-old dancer’ from Copenhagen. For the photographers she had posed in a tight black sweater. She had told newsmen that she had met Farouk at 12 March, the same night Narriman had taken off for Switzerland.
Since then Farouk and Margarethe had been out ‘two or three times’. At the time Rung lived in a room in a small hotel in Rome, which she shared with her sister. This breaking news probably finished the affair but it lead to a break in films for Rung.
Margarethe Rung Jorgenson was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1933. She wat the daughter of leather goods manufacturer O. Jørgensen. Margarethe appeared in several Copenhagen revues and played an uncredited bit part as a harem girl in the witty and charming musical comedy Mød mig paa Cassiopeia/Meet Me on Cassiopeia (Torben Anton Svendsen, 1951).
Mød mig paa Cassiopeia is about a Danish Air Force pilot who is working on a musical play and faces writer's block. Polyhymnia (Bodil Kjer), a dazzling muse straight out of Greek mythology, comes to spur him on and inspire him to complete the work. But she falls in love with him. René Michael Knudsen at IMDb: "She is soon haunted by her father Zeus, who wants her back and cannot allow the daughter of a god to mingle too closely with humans. This storyline is filled out with funny side-characters and musical-shows that are clearly not American, but inhere lies the films charm. The acting is very good in all roles. The plot line from the film Xanadu, seems nearly to be a ripoff (or can you call it a remake?)"
In the autumn of 1952, Margrethe Rung travelled to Rome on the recommendation of the dance couple Danoesti to apply for admission to the American Bluebell dance company. This ensemble included 12 girls of different nationalities and it had an international reputation. In the Italian capital they performed In the distinguished revue of Wanda Osiris. The Bluebell girls also performed at Ib Schønberg's circus revue in Bakken, Denmark in the summer of 1953. In the same year, Rung participated in a Nivea commercial colour film, which was featured in the Danish cinemas.
After the Farouk news, she worked in France and South America. Together with her sister Kirsten Rung, she performed at the Lido in Paris. She was also cast in the drama Si tous les gars du monde/If All the Guys in the World... (Christian-Jacque, 1956) with Jean Gaven. It must have been her first film after Mød mig paa Cassiopeia. Credited as Margareth Rung, she played a Polish air hostess who cooperates with a German, an American, the Russian Air Force, and a Danish plane to get medicine to a fisher boat on the North Sea of which the whole crew is ill by food poisoning.
The film title refers to a poem by Paul Fort that says that if all the men and women in the world would hold hands, happiness would be for tomorrow. Pierre Radulescu at IMDb: "The whole story seems at first to be far too pathetic to be taken seriously, but you should see the movie. It communicates you a sense of generosity and solidarity that is irresistible. "
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 642. Photo: Sam Lévin.
No New BB
In 1957, Margaret Rung appeared in four more films. She played a supporting part as one of the beautiful girls around special agent Henri Vidal in Action immediate/To Catch a Spy (Maurice Labro, 1957) based on a thriller by Frédéric Dard.
Next she was seen as an English woman in the French-Italian coproduction Les aventures d'Arsène Lupin/The Adventures of Arsène Lupin (Jacques Becker, 1957) with Robert Lamoureux as the famous French literary icon, gentleman-thief Arsène Lupin.
In Roger Vadim’s Sait-on jamais.../No Sun in Venice (Roger Vadim, 1957), she played a small part as a Venetian countess. Star of the film is Françoise Arnoul as an amoral French girl, who lives in a sumptuous Venetian palazzo as the kept woman of a very rich but undesirable ex-Nazi. Vadim probably did not see the potential of a new Brigitte Bardot in Rung, and her next film was also her last.
Escapade (Ralph Habib, 1957) was an adventure film based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich. Star of the film was Louis Jourdan, and Rung played a supporting part as a young woman.
After two years and seven films Margaret Rung’s career in the French cinema was over. She stayed in Paris, where she married the wealthy director of the Lido and had four children. She died in Paris only 48 years old. Margarethe Rung was the sister of Eva Rung and the dancer Kirsten Rung.
King Farouk was overthrown in the 1952 military coup d'état and forced to abdicate in favour of his infant son Ahmed Fuad, who succeeded him as Fuad II. Farouk divorced his Queen Narriman in 1954. While living in exile in Italy, Farouk met opera singer Irma Capece Minutolo, who became his companion. Farouk died in the Ile de France restaurant in Rome in 1965, collapsing at his dinner table following a characteristically heavy meal. In 2005, his Irma claimed that she had married the former King in 1957.
Henri Vidal. French postcard, no. 952.
Sources: Dansk film database (Danish), David Henry (Flickr), The Amsterdam Evening Recorder, Wikipedia and IMDb.
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5286. Photo: Alex Binder, 1916.
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9696. Photo: Rembrandt Atelier. Maria Orska in her role as Lulu in the stage play Erdgeist (Earth Spirit) by Franz Wedekind, directed in 1916 by Max Reinhardt.
The darling of the audience
Maria Orska was born Effi Rahel Blindermann in Nikolayev, Russian Empire (now Mikolaiv in Ukraine), in 1893. She was the cousin of the German actress Hedda Forsten and by her mother parented to the theatre impresario Eugen Frankfurter.
Although she originally wanted to study law like her father wanted her to, she became a stage actress and was discovered by the German actor and drama teacher Ferdinand Gregori when in St. Petersburg. In 1909 he brought her to Vienna's conservatory Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst (today Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien), led by him.
In 1910, she followed Gregori to the Mannheim court theater where she debuted as Daisy Orska and soon drew attention to herself in plays by August Strindberg and Arthur Schnitzler.
In 1911 she came to the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, where she became the star of the company. In the season 1914/1915 Maria Orska, her stage name by now, moved to Berlin, where she performed at the Theater in der Königgrätzer Straße (today Hebbel-Theater) as well as Max Reinhardt’s Berlin stage. In the same year Edith Andreae was introduced to her, with whom she held a long lasting friendship.
In Berlin the exiled Russian artist became known as interpreter of the works by modern playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, Strindberg, Schnitzler, Frank Wedekind and Luigi Pirandello. She was a huge success in Wedekind’s Lulu in 1916.
The star was praised as "the unmatched interpreter of Strindberg's women, the most fashionable actress of today's Berlin". She was the representative of an "art entirely dedicated to nerves" (Der Film, no. 23, 01.07.1916).
"She had sharp, piercing tones, the uncanny effect of which the little character fanatically exaggerated. She also cultivated mundane roles, in which she unfolded the pointed humours of a devious character ... In the field of erotic representation she dared to go remarkably far. She was not an elementary artist, but she had individual qualities that made her the darling of the audience“, the reporter and author Emil Faktor noted in the Berliner Börsen-Courier (16.05.1930) after her tragic death.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 118/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot , no. 118/2. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.
The centre of the so-called Berlin society
The ambitious Maria Orska maintained an elaborate lifestyle since her marriage in 1920 to her second husband, Baron Dr. Hans von Bleichröder jun., a grandson of the Jewish banker Gerson von Bleichröder. For a long time, Baroness von Bleichröder was at the centre of the so-called Berlin society, and also knew how to stage herself in private as an eccentric spectacle.
Her popularity was reinforced by the cinema. In 1915 she had begun a second career as a silent film star and soon she received top salaries. Maria Orska gave her screen debut at the Greenbaum-Film GmbH in Richard Oswald's melodrama Dämon und Mensch/Demon and Man (1915) and played the shady Lina, who wants to take a cleansed criminal (Rudolf Schildkraut) away from the path of virtue.
Her photographs appeared on covers of countless magazines, and postcards with her portraits were distributed all over Europe.
Maria Orska worked for the first time with the filmmaker and director Max Mack at Das tanzende Herz/The Dancing Heart (Max Mack, 1916), which effected in a six-part Maria Orska film series for the cinemas in 1916/1917, with Orska herself as protagonist in each film.
As a girl from the gutter she presented herself in Der Sumpf/The Gutter (Max Mack, 1916), but also in comedies such as Die Sektwette/The Champagne Bet (Max Mack, 1916) she was able to win the audience for herself.
Especially in melodramas, Orska performed the type of the wicked woman such as in Adamant's Letztes Rennen/Adamant’s Last Race (Max Mack, 1917) starring Trude Berliner, and Der lebende Tote/The Living Dead (Max Mack, 1917).
Mack also directed her in Die schwarze Loo/Black Lu (Max Mack, Louis Neher, 1917) as a gypsy woman who becomes the talk of the town, and who almost wrecks the marriage of a musician (Bruno Kastner). Between push dancing and amorous intrigue, the film develops its highly dared action for those days in expressive images and pointed situations, in which with remarkable determination the stern morality of the late German Imperial Empire is shaken.
Die schwarze Loo was the last part of the Maria Orska-series, which Mack realised for Greenbaum-Film. Then Maria Orska took a break from the film business and for the next three years she focused on her stage work.
In 1920 she returned to the screen in the film Die letzte Stunde/The Last Hour, directed by Dimitri Buchowetzki, and the Emile Zola adaptation Die Bestie im Menschen/The Human Beast (Ludwig Wolff, 1921) with Russian actor Ossip Runitsch, Der Streik der Diebe/The Thieves’ Strike (Alfred Abel, 1921), and Paul Czinner's drama Opfer der Leidenschaft/Victims of Passion (1922) as female partner of Paul Bildt.
Maria Orska finished her film career with the role of the capricious dancer Barberina Campanini in the first and third part of the Fridericus Rex series, Sturm und Drang (Arzén von Cserépy, 1922) and Sanssouci (Arzén von Cserépy, 1923) opposite Otto Gebühr as Friedrich II.
German postcard by Photochemie, no. K 1487. Photo: Willinger, Berlin.
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1685. Photo: A. Moesigay, Hamburg.
The talk of the town
Maria Orska’s attempt to become a stage actress in Paris failed. Disappointed, the celebrated artist returned to Berlin and accepted commitments at the Komödienhaus, the Deutsches Theater and the Lessing Theater. In 1927 for instance, Orska played the lesbian Ruth in Hans Kaltneker's mystery play The Sisters at the Theater in the Königgrätzer Strasse in Berlin.
More and more however, Orska’s health visibly deteriorated by her morphine addiction. Divorced since 1925 by her husband, Dr. Hans von Bleichröder, Maria Orska became the talk of the town because of her desire for death and her drug consumption. Nurses waited on the side stage with a syringe, directors dreaded every performance. Her suicide attempts - once she jumped off a train - soon became routine for the public. "They saw her already as a typical character, they were each time after a rest and detox pause in the sanatorium, which the demon hunted artist used to leave like a fury, in order to escape from a life that had become worthless for her", Emil Faktor wrote in 1930.
All rehab attempts by Orska proved failures. She finally poisoned herself by an overdose of Veronal. The actress was brought to the Viennese General Hospital, where she died on 16 May 1930, at the age of only 37 – she couldn’t cope with a pneumonia because of her weakened body.
Two years earlier Maria Orska's lover, the wealthy Jewish industrialist and geologist Julius Heinrich Koritschoner from Vienna, had shot himself in Constantinople in 1928. Before his death he had written a letter to Orska. His morphine addiction is thought to have made him suicidal.
The life of Orska's sister Gabryela had also ended tragically. Gabryela, born in 1894, had become Marchesa di Serra Mantschedda when she married an Italian aristocrat. In 1924 (or 1926), Gabryela hanged herself in a Viennese hotel. Wikipedia claims it was after a row with her sister Maria.
Their brother Edwin, an aviator in the Russian Imperial Army, survived the First World War, the Bolshevik revolution, the Nazis, and his sisters. In 1938 he emigrated from Germany to Ecuador where he married in 1938 and died in Quito in 1966.
The famous artist Oskar Kokoschka drew the actress in 1922. Lithographies after his work hang in various museums, e.g. the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
Finally, Fritz Engel wrote: "Maria Orska was completely subordinate to the intoxication of the stage until it crushed her. Her strange appearance confirmed how difficult it is to understand the phenomenon of the stage actor. She seemed so enveloped in the air of the scene, but at the same time she remained so simple. She was a theatrical crowd-puller and a rhetorical star, such as Wilde’s Salome, and was also the most humble of Hedwig in Wildente (The Wild Duck) by Ibsen. She was hot and cold, she played and she lived".
German postcard by NPG (Neue Photographische Gesellschaft), no. 267. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.
German postcard by NPG, no. 276.
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5201. Photo: Becker & Maass.
Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi_line - German), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
Vintage card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964) with Michèle Mercier.
Michèle Mercier. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 25/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.
West-German postcard by ISV, no. H-137. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le roy/Angélique and the King (Bernard Borderie, 1965).
An Overnight Success
Anne and Serge Golon published a series of 13 French historical adventure books on Angélique. In fact, Anne Golon is the author and her husband Serge did much of the historical research. International publishers published their books with as the authors name Sergeanne Golon
Anne was born Simone Changeux in Toulon, a port in south-eastern France, in 1921. She was the daughter of Pierre Changeux, a scientist and a captain in the French Navy. She was interested in painting and writing from early childhood and published her first novel, The Country from behind my Eyes, when she was 18 under the pen name Joëlle Danterne.
During World War II Anne travelled via bicycle through France to Spain. She wrote using different pen-names, helped to create France Magazine, and was awarded a literary prize for The Patrol of the Saint Innocents.
She was sent to Africa as a journalist, where she met Vsevolod Sergeïvich Goloubinoff, her future husband, Serge Golon. Their first novel, Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, was published in 1957. The book was an overnight success. Heroine Angélique de Sancé de Monteloup is a lusciously beautiful 17th Century woman, fifth child of an impoverished country nobleman in the Poitou marshlands in the west of France.
Wikipedia gives a bit ironic summary of the successive books: "she marries at a young age the romantic and talented Count of Toulouse; gets her domestic bliss destroyed when King Louis XIV has her husband executed on trumped up charges; descends into the underworld of Paris; emerges and through a turbulent second marriage gets admittance to the court in Versailles; loses her second husband in war, just as she had started to truly love him, and subsequently refuses to become the King's mistress; finds that her first husband is after all alive and is hiding somewhere in the Mediterranean; sets out on a highly risky search, gets captured by pirates, sold into slavery in Crete, taken into the harem of the King of Morocco, stabs the King when he tries to have sex with her, and stages a daring escape" etc.
Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier. Romanian mini-card.
Romanian mini-card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964) with Michèle Mercier and Giuliano Gemma.
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (Bernard Borderie, 1966) with Michèle Mercier and Samy Frey.
Unique flair for historical costume dramas
Some of the Angélique novels were adapted into a series of five popular films:
According to James Travers at Films de France, Angélique, Marquise des Anges/Angélique is notably the best of the series: "the adventures of a beautiful 17th century marquise, Angélique, played magnificently by Michèle Mercier. Although rarely seen outside of continental Europe, these films were very successful in France in the 1960s and display that country's unique flair for historical costume dramas."
The films were a joint production of France, Italy and Germany. Director of the whole series of films was Bernard Borderie and the main stars were Michèle Mercier as Angélique Sancé de Monteloup and Robert Hossein as Jeoffrey de Peyrac.
Other characters were played by Jean Rochefort as Desgrez, Giuliano Gemma as Angelique's childhood friend Nicolas Merlot, Jacques Toja as King Louis XIV, Claude Giraud as Angélique's second husband Philippe de Plessis-Bellières, Jean-Louis Trintignant as the poet Claude le Petit, Samy Frey as Bachtiary Bey, Estella Blain as the evil Madame De Montespan, Fred Williams as Ràkóczi, and in the final film Jean-Claude Pascal as Sultan Osman Ferradji.
Michèle Mercier. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 35/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967) with Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1967) with Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier.
A Turkish Angélique
The Angélique films were popular all over Europe. They were also very popular in Central Europe where the postcards used for this post were published, by Progress in East-Germany and by Acin in Romania.
During the 1970s, all the kids at my school were exited to see the Angélique films when they were shown on Dutch television. Romance, adventure, and a tiny bit of nudity. We loved it.
To my surprise, two Turkish Angélique films exist as well: Anjelik Osmanli saraylarinda/Angélique in the Ottoman Palaces (Ülkü Erakalin, 1967) and Anjelik ve Deli Ibrahim/Angelique and Deli Ibrahim (Süha Dogan, 1968), both starring Sevda Ferdag as Anjelik 'Angélique de Peyrac'. The first film gets a 7,9 rating at IMDb.
In 2013, a remake of Angélique, marquise des anges went in premiere: Angélique (Ariel Zeitoun, 2013). Nora Arnezeder played Angelique and Gérard Lanvin Joffrey de Peyrac.
At IMDb, the film received a poor rating of only 5,6, but Polish reviewer Malgga liked it 'very, very much': "A beautiful, engaging and immensely romantic rendition of the 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tale motive".
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 277. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Robert Hossein.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Michèle Mercier and Jean-Claude Pascal.
French photo by Francos Film - C.I.C.C. (Paris), Gloria Film (Munich), Fono Roma (Rome). Publicity still for Indomptable Angélique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967).
Reduced to a state close to poverty
In 1972, Anne and Serge Golon went to Canada to continue their research. That year, as Anne wrote Angélique and the Ghosts, but Serge died. They had four children: Cyrille (born February 1950), Nadine (born July 1955), Pierre (born April 1957), and Marina (born 1961).
Anne carried on writing and brought up her four children at the same time. Between Serge's death and 1985, Anne wrote four more volumes, beginning with the second half of Ghosts (both portions published in French as a single volume, Angélique à Quebec (Angelique in Quebec)) and proceeding through Victoire d'Angélique (Angélique's Victory).
Anne Golon was reduced to a state close to poverty and filed a lawsuit against the French publisher Hachette for abuse of copyright and for her unpaid royalties. She won her battle over the publishing rights to her Angélique stories.
After a legal battle in France lasting nearly a decade, she reached an agreement which left her the sole owner of the works. In 2009, Golon announced two more books would follow: Royaume de France, (Kingdom of France), and a fifteenth and final volume to complete the series.
On 14 July 2017 Anne Golon died in Versailles, Yvelines, France. She was 95. Estimates of the total number of Angélique books sold worldwide are upwards of 150 million, and they have been published in at least 63 countries, by at least 320 different publishers.
West-German postcard by Friedrich-W. Sander-Verlag / Kolibri-Verlag, Minden-Westf., no. 2420. Photo: Gloria-Film. Publicity still for Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964).
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Michèle Mercier.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Robert Hossein.
Robert Hossein. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 32/71. Retail price: 0,20 M.
Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Wikipedia and IMDb.
Spanish postcard by Ediciones Este, no. 181 T, 1967. Photo: publicity still for Mission: impossible (1966-1969).
Martin Landau was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Majer Joel (Morris) Landau and Selma Buchman. At age 17, Martin was hired by the New York Daily News as a staff cartoonist and illustrator. In his five years on the paper, he served as the illustrator for Billy Rose's Pitching Horseshoes column. He also worked for cartoonist Gus Edson on The Gumps comic strip.
Landau's major ambition was to act, and in 1951, he made his stage debut in Detective Story in Peaks Island, Maine. He made his off-Broadway debut that year in First Love. Landau was one of 2000 applicants who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in 1955 - only he and Steve McQueen were accepted. Landau was a friend of James Dean and McQueen, in a conversation with Landau, mentioned that he knew Dean and had met Landau. When Landau asked where they had met, McQueen informed him he had seen Landau riding into the New York City garage where he worked as a mechanic on the back of Dean's motorcycle.
He acted during the mid-1950s in such television anthologies as Omnibus (1955). He began making a name for himself after replacing star Franchot Tone in the 1956 off-Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, a famous production that helped put off-Broadway on the New York theatrical map. In 1957, he made a well-received Broadway debut in the play Middle of the Night. As part of the touring company with star Edward G. Robinson, he made it to the West Coast. He also guest-starred in such popular TV series as Maverick (1959), Sugarfoot (1958) and Rawhide (1959).
Martin Landau made his film debut in the war drama Pork Chop Hill (Lewis Milestone, 1959) with Gregory Peck. He scored in his second film as the heavy in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller North by Northwest (1959), in which he was shot on top of Mount Rushmore while sadistically stepping on the fingers of Cary Grant, who was holding on for dear life to the cliff face.
He also appeared in the blockbuster Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963), the most expensive film ever made up to that time, which nearly scuttled 20th Century-Fox. It engendered one of the great public scandals, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton love affair that overshadowed the film itself. Landau's memorable portrayal in the key role of Rufio was highly favoured by the audience and instantly catapulted his popularity.
In 1963, Landau played memorable roles on two episodes of the science-fiction anthology series The Outer Limits (1963). He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice to play Mr. Spock on Star Trek (1966), but the role went to Leonard Nimoy, who later replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible (1966), the show that really made Landau famous. He originally was not meant to be a regular on the series, which co-starred his wife Barbara Bain, whom he had married in 1957.
His character, master impersonator Rollin Hand, was supposed to make occasional, though recurring appearances, but when the producers had problems with star Steven Hill, Landau was used to take up the slack. Rollin Hand was one of the specialists used by the Impossible Missions Force. Hand was described as a “man of a million faces”. Landau's characterisation was so well-received and so popular with the audience that he was made a regular. Landau received Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of the three seasons he appeared. In 1968, he won the Golden Globe award as Best Male TV Star.
Eventually, he quit the series in 1969 after a salary dispute when the new star, Peter Graves, was given a contract that paid him more than Landau, whose own contract stated he would have parity with any other actor on the show who made more than he did. The producers refused to budge and he and Bain, who had become the first actress in the history of television to be awarded three consecutive Emmy Awards (1967-1969) while on the show, left the series, ostensibly to pursue film careers. The move actually held back their careers, and Mission: Impossible went on for another four years with other actors.
Spanish postcard by Ediciones Este, no. 182, 1967. Martin Landau, Steven Hill, Greg Morris and Barbara Bain were the original stars of the American action series Mission: Impossible (1966–1973), about an elite covert operations unit which carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture.
Martin Landau appeared in support of Sidney Poitier in They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (Norman Jewison, 1970), the less successful sequel to the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night (1967), but it did not generate more work of a similar caliber. He starred in the television movie Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (George McCowan, 1972), playing a prisoner of war returning to the United States from Vietnam. The following year, he shot a pilot for a proposed show, Savage (1973). Though it was directed by emerging wunderkind Steven Spielberg, NBC did not pick up the show.
Needing work, Landau and Bain moved to England to play the leading roles in the syndicated science-fiction series Space: 1999 (1975-1977). In Europe Landau also appeared in the Giallo Una Magnum Special per Tony Saitta/Shadows in an Empty Room (Alberto De Martino, 1976) with Stuart Whitman and John Saxon. Landau's and Bain's careers stalled after Space: 1999 went out of production, and they were reduced to taking parts in the television movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (Peter Baldwin, 1981). It was the nadir of both their careers, and Bain's acting days, and their marriage, soon were over.
Landau, one of the most talented character actors in Hollywood, and one not without recognition, had bottomed out career-wise. In 1983, he was stuck in low-budget Sci-Fi and horror films like The Being (Jackie Kong, 1983), a role far beneath his talent. His career renaissance got off to a slow start with a recurring role in the NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill (1983), starring Dabney Coleman. On Broadway, he took over the title role in the revival of Dracula and went on the road with the national touring company. He also appeared in Raul Ruiz's Treasure Island (1985), a surrealistic modern-day riff on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel.
Finally, Martin Landau's career renaissance began to gather momentum when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in a critical supporting role in his Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), for which Landau was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. He won his second Golden Globe for the role. The next year, he received his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his superb turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). He followed this up by playing famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in the TNT movie Max and Helen (Philip Saville, 1990).
However, the summit of his post-Mission: Impossible career was about to be scaled. He portrayed as the horror actor Béla Lugosi in Tim Burton's biopic Ed Wood (1994) and won glowing reviews. Landau’s Lugosi is a tragicomic creation: his wife has left him, he is addicted to morphine and most of Hollywood thinks he is dead. For his performance, Landau won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He finally had been recognized with his profession's ultimate award. His performance, which also won him his third Golden Globe, garnered numerous awards in addition to the Oscar and Golden Globe, including top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.
Landau continued to play a wide variety of roles. In the United Kingdom he appeared opposite Michael Caine in the thriller Shiner (John Irvin, 2000). He turned in a superb performance in a supporting role in The Majestic (Frank Darabont, 2001) opposite Jim Carrey. He received his fourth Emmy nomination in 2004 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Without a Trace (2002). Excellent was also his part as an Auschwitz survivor in Remember (Atom Egoyan, 2015).
Chris Wiegand in his obituary in The Guardian: "Landau’s own face was instantly recognisable, with its haunted eyes, wide mouth and furrowed brow; even when he broke into a smile, he could seem to be frowning." Martin Landau and Barbara Bain had two daughters, Susan Landau Finch and Juliet Landau.
Mini-Documentary on Mission: Impossible (2012). Source: Shatner Method (YouTube).
Trailer Ed Wood (1994). Source: Trailer Chan (YouTube).
Trailer Remember (2015). Source: moviemaniacsDE (YouTube).
Sources: Chris Wiegand (The Guardian), Jon C. Hopwood (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, presented by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 813. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 466. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Hard Boiled Crime Film
Pascale Roberts was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France in 1933. Her mother was a director at Elisabeth Arden and among her clients were Martine Carol, Edwige Feuillère and Dora Doll.
Through Martine Carol, Pascale became an extra in Madame du Barry (Christian-Jaque, 1954). Pascale decided to go to acting classes in Paris, against the wishes of her mother. She had a small part in the comedy Une vie de garçon/A Boy’s Life (Jean Boyer, 1954) and a bit part as a girl at a poker game in the hard boiled crime film Les femmes s'en balancent/Dames Don’t Care (Bernard Borderie, 1954) starring Eddie Constantine as FBI agent Lemmy Caution.
Pascale Roberts would appear several times opposite Constantine such as in Ces dames préfèrent le mambo/Dishonorable Discharge (Bernard Borderie, 1957) as a femme fatale. She could also be seen in other film noirs such as Cherchez la femme/Look for the woman (Raoul André, 1955) with Pierre Mondy, and Dans la gueule du loup/In the Mouth of the Wolf (Jean-Charles Dudrumet, 1961) based on a crime novel by James Hadley Chase.
In 1957, she married Pierre Mondy but they divorced a few years later. After dozens of mediocre comedies and thrillers, Roberts was really remarkable as the victim in Costa-Gravas’ first film, the fast-moving and entertaining thriller Compartiment tueurs/The Sleeping Car Murder (Costa Gravas, 1965) starring Catherine Allégret and her mother Simone Signoret.
Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: “During a Marseilles-to-Paris overnight train trip, a girl is found dead in a sleeping car. As Paris detective Yves Montand steps up his investigation, more and more passengers turn up murdered. The unlikely climax is the only sore point of this otherwise well-wrought mystery. Bereft of the politicizing of Costa-Gavras' later works, The Sleeping Car Murders exhibits the director's fondness for American ‘film noir’ thrillers.”
On television, Roberts was that same year a co-star of Geneviève Grad in the comedy series Chambre à louer/Room for rent (Jean-Pierre Desagnat, 1965), and she appeared on TV in another popular comedy series Les saintes chéries/The holy darlings (Jean Becker, 1965) starring Micheline Presle.
Later she featured with Jean-Claude Pascal in a daily soap opera, Le Temps de vivre et le temps d'aimer/Time To Live and Time To Love (Louis Grospierre, 1973).
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 467. Photo: Sam Lévin.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 666. Photo: Andre Nisak.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 924. Photo: Studio Vallois.
In 1975, Pascale Roberts played her arguably best known film role as the mother of rape and murder victim Isabelle Huppert in Dupont Lajoie/Rape of Innocence (Yves Boisset, 1975). This and her later roles were all supporting parts.
During the 1980s she appeared with Alain Delon in the Film Noir Trois hommes à abattre/Three Men to Destroy (Jacques Deray, 1980) and the policier Pour la peau d'un flic/For a Cop's Hide (Alain Delon, 1981), in which she played a junkie.
She also taught theatre at the École internationale de création audiovisuelle et de réalisation in Paris. Most of her later films are mediocre comedies and action films, but interesting were the delightful award-winning drama Le grand chemin/The Grand Highway (Jean-Loup Hubert, 1987) about the summer vacation of a high strung 9-year-old, the historical adventure La Fille de d'Artagnan/Revenge of the Musketeers (Bertrand Tavernier, 1994) starring Sophie Marceau, and the urban drama À la vie, à la mort!/'Til Death Do Us Part (Robert Guédiguian, 1995) about a family of Spanish immigrants in France featuring Ariane Ascaride.
Gradually Roberts had grown from femme fatale into mother roles. With the husband and wife team of Robert Guédiguian and Ariane Ascaride she worked again at Marius et Jeannette/Marius and Jeanette (Robert Guédiguian, 1997), a comedy-drama set in Marseille about a couple, which puts faith in love to get them through times of extreme poverty.
For her role in this box office hit in France she was nominated for the César for Best Supporting Actress. They continued their cooperation with the urban dramas À la place du coeur/In the space of the heart (Robert Guédiguian, 1998), La ville est tranquille/The Town is Quiet (Robert Guédiguian, 2000), Mon père est ingénieur/My Father is an Engineer (Robert Guédiguian, 2004) and Lady Jane (Robert Guédiguian, 2008).
Since 2008, Roberts appears in the successful TV series Plus belle la vie/More beautiful than life (2004-2011). Her character in the show, Wanda Legendre, also featured in the TV comedy Course contre la montre/Race against the clock (Roger Wielgus, 2011). Her most recent screen appearance was a guest part in the comedy series Working girls (2016).
Pascale Roberts was married to and divorced from Pierre Mondy, Pierre Rey and Michel Le Royer.
Leader Compartiment Tueurs (1966). Source: Michel8665 (YouTube).
Trailer Marius et Jeannette (1997). Source: Films Bonheur / Feel-Good Movies (YouTube).
Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Notre Cinema (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
French card by Massilia. Photo: Film Malsherbes. Publicity still for Titin des Martigues (René Pujol, 1938).
French postcard, no. 724. Photo: Studio Harcourt, Paris.
The rage of Marseille
Henri Allibert (with a double l) was born in 1889 in Carpentras in the south of France. When he was 15 his parents divorced and his mother and the children settled in Avignon.
He began to sing in the cafes where he worked as a waiter. In 1907, he made his debut as a singer at the Palace and in the cafes-concerts of Avignon, and in 1908 he moved to Paris where he appeared at the Bobino music hall.
As Alibert (with one l) he created a 'tour de chant', imitating the singers Polin and Mayol. He married pianist Elisa Rosalie Espanet in Marseille in 1913. She was the daughter of composer Vincent Scotto.
In 1914, Alibert was recruited for the army and in 1917, he returned with a decoration. After the First World War, he enjoyed the post-war euphoria and his revues became popular. He recorded the song Jazz band partout (Jazz band everywhere).
His career accelerated in 1928, when his father-in-law, Vincent Scotto gave him the song Mon Paris (My Paris), which showed his genuine talent and undeniable charm. In 1929, Marcel Pagnol wrote his play Marius, situated in Marseille and the harbour city was suddenly all the rage.
With two other men from Marseilles, his father-in-law Vincent Scotto and arranger-conductor René Sarvil, Alibert wrote and assembled the Revue Marseillaise to enjoy the fashion. This revue remained seven months prolonged in the theatre and was an unprecedented success. It meant Alibert’s definitive breakthrough, at the age of 40.
Then, Alibert starred in the Marseille-set operetta Elle est à nous (She is ours, 1929) created by Scotto, Sarvil and Alibert. With his clear voice and his light accent, he received the title of 'Marseille singer par excellence'. In the next years followed such operettas as Au pays du soleil (In the land of the sun, 1932), Arènes joyeuses (Happy Arenas) and Trois de la Marine (Three of the Navy, 1935).
In 1950 he had made his film debut in the early sound film Cendrillon de Paris/Cinderella of Paris (Jean Hémard, 1930), featuring Colette Darfeuil. His operetta Au pays de soleil was also made into a film, Au pays du soleil/In the land of the sun (Robert Péguy, 1934) in which he also starred opposite Lisette Lanvin and Pola Illéry. It was again a success.
From then on he made two operettas or films a year. His stage operettas include Un de la Canebière (One of the Canebieres, 1936), Les Gangsters du château d'If (1937), and Le Roi des galéjeurs (The king of the galleys, 1938).
His films were Trois de la marine/Three of the Navy (Charles Barrois, 1934) with Armand Bernard and Betty Stockfeld, Arènes joyeuses/Happy Arenas (Karl Anton, 1935) with Lucien Baroux, Titin des Martigues (René Pujol, 1937) with Paulette Dubost, Un de la Canebière/One from the Canebière (René Pujol, 1937) with Rellys, La Vie des artistes/Artist Life (Bernard Roland, 1938), and Les Gangsters du château d'If/The Gangster of If Castle (René Pujol, 1939).
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 74. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.
French card by P.C., Paris, no. 38. Henri Alibert sang the song Zou! Un peu dáïoli! (1932) by René Sarvil and Vincent Scotto in the Revue Marseillaise at the Moulin de la Chanson.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 992. Photo: Henri Manuel.
Henri Allibert’s creational pace was barely slowed down during the Second World War. He created the operettas Ma Belle Marseillaise (1940), Port du Soleil (1941) and Les Gauchos de Marseille (1943), but made only one film, Le Roi des galéjeurs/The king of the galleys (Fernand Rivers, 1940) with Raymond Aimos and Claude May.
In 1946 Alibert starred in two more films, Au pays des cigales/In the land of the cicadas (Maurice Cam, 1946) with Nicolas Amato, and L'Affaire du Grand Hôtel/The Grand Hotel Affair (André Hugon, 1946) with Édouard Delmont.
The post-war period challenged the old school to which he belonged. He decided to devote himself entirely to his talents as a writer, lyricist and composer, and even became director of the Théâtre des Deux Ânes.
On stage he played the role of Marius in Marcel Pagnol's play Caesar. In 1951, his operetta Au pays du soleil was again made into film Au pays du soleil/In the land of the sun (Maurice de Canonge, 1951) with Tino Rossiin the leading role.
In 1949, Alibert was the victim of a serious car accident from which he never really recovered.
Henri Allibert died 1951 in Marseille at the age of 61 years. He was buried in Marseille, in the cemetery of Saint-Pierre. His wife was Antoinette Scotto.
After his death, several film versions of Alibert’s operettas were made including Trois de la Canebière (Maurice de Canonge, 1956) with Marcel Merkes, and Arènes joyeuses (Maurice de Canonge, 1958), starring Fernand Raynoud and Danielle Godet.
French postcard, no. 6.
French postcard by Edition Chantal, Paris, no. 6. Photo: Studio Arnal.
Sources: Gerard Frappé (CinéArtistes - French), La Comédie musicale en France (French), Du temps des cerises aux feuilles mortes (French), Le Hall de la Chanson (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.
Mina. Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 959.
Montgomery Clift. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 931. Photo: Warner Bros.
Anita Ekberg. Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 666.
Jeffrey Hunter. Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 264.
Dawn Richard. Italian postcard, no. 431.
Silvana Mangano. Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 354.
Marilyn Monroe. Italian postcard by Bromostampa, no. 371.
Barbara Lang. Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 3671. Photo: MGM. Publicity still for House of Numbers (Russell Rouse, 1957).
Nadia Bianchi. Italian postcard, no. 471.
Marisa Allasio. Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 3407. Photo: Paramount / Titanus. Publicity still for Poveri ma belli/Poor but beautiful (Dino Risi, 1957).
Lauren Bacall. Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 31.
Jayne Mansfield. Italian postcard, no. 584.
French postcard by Cinémagazine Edition, no. 74.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 254. Photo: Production Natan.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 250. Photo: Production Natan. Publicity still for Rue de la paix (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1927) with Jules Moy.
The Mundane Snob
Armand Bernard was born in Bois-Colombes, France in 1893.
The young Bernard dreamt of a career as an actor in stage tragedies, but his serious voice and his constant dignified appearance chose otherwise for him.
In various comic films he played the mundane snob, the moron, the notary and even better the undertaker. His appearance often stole the show of other comedians as in the Fernandel comedies Les gueux au paradis/Hoboes in Paradise (René Le Henaff, 1946) and On demande un assassin/Assassin Wanted (Ernst Neubach, 1948).
Bernard was just as popular as the writer of film music for films such as Le million/The Million (René Clair, 1931) and Pension Mimosas/Pension Mimosa (Jacques Feyder, 1934) while he arranged the music for Sous les toits de Paris/Under the Roofs of Paris (René Clair, 1930). Bernard was also musical director for such films as Luis Bunuel’s L'âge d'or/The Golden Age (Luis Bunuel, 1930) and À nous la liberté (René Clair, 1931).
From 1914 on, Bernard had been highly active in the silent cinema. He was Planchet, valet of D’Artagnan in the super-production Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1921) and the sequel Vingts ans après/Five Years later (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1922).
Bernard appeared in several films by Raymond Bernard, such as Le Petit Café/The Little Cafe (Raymond Bernard, 1919) with Max Linder, Le Miracle des loups/The Miracle of the Wolves (Raymond Bernard, 1924) with Charles Dullin, and Le Joueur des éches/The Chess Player (Raymond Bernard, 1927) with Pierre Blanchar.
He also acted in films by André Hugon such as Le Diamant noir/The Black Diamond (André Hugon, 1922) and Les Deux Pigeons/The two Pigeons (André Hugon, 1922), and he played the part of Jean-Jean in Abel Gance’s classic Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927).
After Diamant-Berger’s musketeer films, Bernard came back to him in the late 1920s for Éducation de prince/Education of a Prince (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1927) with Pierre Batcheff and Rue de la paix (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1927) with Léon Mathot.
French postcard by Cinémagazine Edition, no. 21. Photo: Pathé Consortium Cinéma.
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 993. Photo: Landau.
French postcard by Combier Imp., Macon. Photo: Luna-Film. Publicity still for La margoton du bataillon/The Mascot of the Batallion (Jacques Darmont, 1933).
Memorable early sound films with Armand Bernard are Fra Diavolo (Mario Bonnard, 1930) and Paris la nuit/Paris at Night (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1930).
Bernard also often played in the French version of Franco-German multilinguals of the 1930s: Tumultes/Tumults (Robert Siodmak, 1931) with Charles Boyer, Dactylo (Wilhelm Thiele, 1931), Le congress s’amuse/The Congress Dances (Erik Charrell, 1931) with Lilian Harvey and Henri Garat, Quick (Robert Siodmak, 1931) with Jules Berry and Lilian Harvey, Caprice de princesse (Henri-Georges Clouzot, Karl Hartl, 1933) starring Marie Bell, and Les dieux s’amusent/The gods have fun (Reinhold Schunzel, Albert Valentin, 1935) staring Henri Garat.
Dactylo (Wilhelm Thiele, 1931), starring Marie Glory, was the French version of Thiele’s Die Privatsekretärin/The Private Secretary (Wilhelm Thiele, 1931), starring Renate Müller. An Italian version, La segretaria privata (Goffredo Alessandrini, 1931), starred Elsa Merlini.
All were successes and Dactylo had an equally popular sequel in France, Dactylo se marie/Dactylo Marries (Joe May, René Pujol, 1934), again starring Glory with Bernard as her sidekick.
Bernard tried his luck with singing in Dactylo, even if his comic forte was more visual than oral, so he sang on a record two songs for the film - La tirelire (Boyer-Abraham) and Je vois la vie en rose (idem), French versions of Ich hab’ ne alte Tante and Ich bin ja heut’ so glücklich.
French card. Photo: Massilia/A.C.E.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 812. Photo: GFFA.
French postcard by Tobis. Photo: Les productions J.N. Ermolieff. Publicity still for Michel Strogoff (Jacques de Baroncelli, Richard Eichberg, 1936).
Comedies Of Course
Armand Bernard also played in the French, English and Austrian version of Les aventures du roi Pausole/The Merry Monarch (Alexis Granowsky, 1933), which had Emil Jannings in the English and Austrian version.
After new films with Diamant-Berger, Bernard also started to play in films by his younger brother Maurice Diamant-Berger (alias André Gillois) such as L’Enfant du miracle/The Miracle Child (D.B. Maurice, 1932).
From the mid-1930s on, Bernard played in several films by Christian-Jaque, such as Compartiment de dames seules/Compartment for ladies only (Christian-Jaque, 1936), L’école des journalistes/The school for journalists (Christian-Jaque, 1936), the murder mystery Les Disparus de St. Agil/Boys' School (Christian-Jaque, 1937) and the Fernandel comedy Raphaël le Tatoué/Raphaël the tattooed (Christian-Jaque, 1938).
Other directors connected to Bernard in the 1930s were Pierre Caron and René Pujol. During the war Bernard did not act in films, retaking his film career in 1945 with – of course – comedies like Bichon (René Jayet, 1948) and L’impeccable Henri/Impeccable Henri (Charles-Félix Tavano, 1948), in which he had the lead.
Until the late 1950s Bernard had a highly active film career, mostly in comedy, with titles like C’est la faute d’Adam/In Six Easy Lessons (Jacqueline Audry, 1948) with Dany Robin.
His last film role was in La bande à Bobo/Bobo's Band (Tony Saytor, 1963) while he also acted in three French TV series in the early 1960s, such as Loin de Rueil (Claude Barma, 1961), after Raymond Queneau’s novel.
Armand Bernard died in Paris in 1968. All in all he had worked on some 100 films.
German postcard by Ross Verlag. Photo: Ufa.
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 983. Photo: Paramount.
Armand Bernard sings La Tirelire. Source: Leotaurus 1975 (YouTube).
Sources: Du temps des cerises aux feuilles mortes (French), Wikipedia (English and French), and IMDb.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1531/1, 1937-1938. Photo: Itala-Film. Publicity still for Mutterlied/Solo Per Te/Mother Song (Carmine Gallone, 1937).
With husband Gustav Diessl. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2804/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Wog, Berlin.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3789/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Vaselli / A.C.I. / Europa Film. Photo: Maria Malibran (Guido Brignone, 1943).
Maria Cebotari was born Maria Cebotaru in Kishinev, Russian Empire (now Chişinău, Moldova) in 1910. She grew up speaking Romanian and Russian.
At the age of four, she began to sing in churches. Later she studied singing at the Chişinău Conservatory. In 1929 the Moscow Art Theatre Company visited her town and she was discovered and joined the company as an actress. In 1930 she married the company's leader, Count Alexander Virubov.
Moving to Berlin with the company, she studied singing with Oskar Daniel for three months and made her debut as an operatic singer as Mimi in Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème at Dresden Semperoper (Dresden Semper Opera House) in 1931.
Bruno Walter invited her to the Salzburg Festival, where she sang Euridice in Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice. In 1935, she sang the part of Aminta in the world premiere of Richard Strauss' opera Die Schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman) under Karl Böhm at Dresden Semper Opera House.
Strauss advised her to move to Berlin, and in 1936 she joined the Berlin State Opera, where she was a prima donna until 1946. She divorced Count Virubov in 1938, and married the Austrian actor Gustav Diessl, with whom she had two sons.
Beside her successful career at the opera houses, Cebotari appeared in several films which were often related to opera. Her first starring role was in Mädchen in Weiß/Girls in White (Victor Janson, 1936) opposite Iván Petrovich.
Among her other films are Mutterlied/Solo Per Te/Mother Song (Carmine Gallone, 1937) with Beniamino Gigli, Giuseppe Verdi/Verdi's Three Women (Carmine Gallone, 1938) featuring Fosco Giachetti, and Il sogno di Butterfly/The Dream of Madame Butterfly (Carmine Gallone, 1939). With her husband, she made the film Starke Herzen/Strong Hearts in the Storm (Herbert Maisch, 1937).
She also played in the film Odessa in fiamme/Odessa in flames (Carmine Gallone, 1942), based on a script by Nicolae Kiriţescu. The Romanian-Italian co-production tells about the drama of the refugees from Bessarabia (Republic Moldova), in World War II and does homage to the Romanian troops who freed Bessarabia from the Red Army which occupied it in 1940. The film includes contemporary newsreels showing refugee columns running away.
The film won the great prize at the Festival of Venice, in 1942, but after the invasion by Soviet troops in Bucharest in 1944, the film was banned, and many of the actors arrested. Nothing was heard of the film for more than 50 years, but in 2006 it was re-discovered in the Cinecittà archives in Rome, and Odessa in fiamme was shown for the first time in Romania in December 2006.
Maria Cebotari's final film was the Italian drama Maria Malibran/The Genius and the Nightingale (Guido Brignone, 1943) with Rossano Brazzi.
Austrian postcard by K ltd. Photo: Willi Pollak, Wien.
Italian postcard by Grafiche N. Moneto, Milano. Photo: Itala-Film / Generalcine. Publicity still for Mutterlied/Solo Per Te/Mother Song (Carmine Gallone, 1937).
An extremely versatile voice
In 1946, Maria Cebotari sang Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier for Dresden Semper Opera Company's performances at Covent Garden Royal Opera House of London.
From then on, she appeared at many great opera houses including Vienna State Opera and La Scala Opera House of Milan. Cebotari had an extremely versatile voice, and her repertoire covered coloratura, soubrette, lyric and dramatic roles; for example, she sang both Countess Almaviva and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Violetta in La traviata and Salome in the same season.
Cebotari concentrated on four composers – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Strauss described her as "the best all-rounder on the European stage, and she is never late and she never cancels".
In 1946, she left Berlin and joined the Vienna State Opera House. She visited Covent Garden again in 1947 with Vienna State Opera Company and sang Salome, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. In 1947, she was Donna Anna to the Ottavio of Richard Tauber, making his final stage appearance, less than a week before his cancerous left lung was removed.
In 1948, her husband, Gustav Diessl, died of a heart attack. Cebotari suffered from severe pain during the performance of Le nozze di Figaro at La Scala Opera House in early 1949. At first, doctors did not take it seriously. However, on 31 March 1949, she fell down during the performance of Karl Millöcker's operetta Der Bettelstudent in Vienna.
During surgery, doctors found cancer in her liver and pancreas. Short before her dead. Herbert von Karajan engaged Maria Cebotari for the 1949 Salzburg Music Festival in Austria, in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.
On 9 June 1949, Maria Cebotari died from cancer in her villa in Vienna. She was only 40. Her funeral in Vienna was an imposing demonstration of love and honour, with thousands of people attending.
British pianist Sir Clifford Curzon adopted her two little sons. Beniamino Gigli remembered Cebotari as one of the greatest female voices he ever heard, and Herbert von Karajan later said she was the greatest Madame Butterfly he had ever conducted.
In 2005, director Victor Druc made the documentary Aria (2005) about Cebotari’s life. The documentary faced difficulties when it was screened in Moldova during the Communist administration which ended in 2009. The cause for the difficulties was a scene in which the soprano self-identifies as Romanian, contrary to the official policy of the Communist government that calls the ethnic majority Moldovan, rather than Romanian.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3097/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tita Binz, Berlin.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3416/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Wog, Berlin.
Sources: Andrea Suhm-Binder (Cantabile-subito), Rudi Polt (Find A Grave), Wikipedia and IMDb.