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Imported from the USA: Yvonne De Carlo

Dark-haired Hollywood beauty Yvonne De Carlo (1922–2007) was a Canadian American actress, singer, and dancer whose career in film, television, and musical theatre spanned six decades. From the 1950s on, she also starred in British and Italian films. She achieved her greatest popularity as the ghoulish matriarch Lily in the TV sitcom The Munsters (1964-1966).

Yvonne De Carlo
Belgian collectors card by Kwatta, Bois d'Haine, no. C 327. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for Sombrero (Norman Forster, 1953).

Yvonne De Carlo
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. 3538. Photo: Universal International, 1949.

Yvonne De Carlo
British postcard in The People series by Show Parade Picture Service, London, no. P. 1021. Photo: Universal-International.

Yvonne De Carlo
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. AX 144. Photo: Universal International. Publicity still for Buccaneer's Girl (Frederick De Cordova, 1950).

Yvonne De Carlo
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1363. Photo: United Artists. Publicity still for Fort Algiers (Lesley Selander, 1953).

The most beautiful girl in the world

Yvonne De Carlo was born Margaret Yvonne Middleton in 1922 in West Point Grey (now part of Vancouver), British Columbia, Canada. She was the only child of William Middleton, an Australian-born salesman, and Marie DeCarlo, a French-born aspiring actress. Her father deserted the home, leaving her mother to make a living as a waitress. When De Carlo was ten her mother enrolled her in a local dance School and also saw that she studied dramatics. De Carlo and her mother made several trips to Los Angeles to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood.

In 1940, she was first runner-up to Miss Venice Beach, and she also came fifth in the 1940s Miss California competition. A year later, she landed a bit part as a bathing beauty in Harvard, Here I Come (Lew Landers, 1941). She also appeared in the three-minute Soundies musical, The Lamp of Memory (1942), shown in coin-operated movie jukeboxes. Other roles were slow to follow, and De Carlo took a job in the chorus line of Earl Carroll. During World War II she performed for U.S. servicemen and received many letters from GIs.

She got her big break when she was chosen over a reported 20,000 girls to play the lead role as a European seductress in the Technicolor spectacle Salome, Where She Danced (Charles Lamont, 1945), with Rod Cameron and Walter Slezak. She played a dancer during the Austrian-Prussian war who is forced to flee her country after she is accused of being a spy and ends up in a lawless western town in Arizona. Producer Walter Wanger described her as "the most beautiful girl in the world." Though not a critical success, it was a box office favourite, and the heavily-promoted De Carlo was hailed as an up-and-coming star. Universal signed her to a long-term contract.

De Carlo was given a small role in the prison film Brute Force (Jules Dassin, 1947), starring Burt Lancaster. Two years later she was again cast opposite Lancaster in her first important role in the classic Film Noir Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949). Claudio Carvalho at IMDb: "Burt Lancaster has an outstanding performance in the role of a honest man obsessed with his former wife, who becomes criminal trying to regain the love of his fickle ex-wife. Yvonne De Carlo is also perfect and very beautiful, in the role of a cold and manipulative woman, being a perfect 'femme-fatale'."

However, Universal preferred to cast De Carlo in more conventional fare, such as Casbah (John Berry, 1948) a musical remake of the 1938 film Algiers, the adventure film River Lady (George Sherman, 1948) and Buccaneer's Girl (Frederick de Cordova, 1950). In the latter she played a New Orleans singer who becomes involved with a Pirate Lord (Philip Friend).

Yvonne De Carlo
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 298. Photo: Universal.

Yvonne De Carlo
Dutch postcard by J. Sleding N.V., Amsterdam, no. 1250. Photo: Universal-International.

Yvonne De Carlo
French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 542. Photo: Universal-International.

Yvonne De Carlo
French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 519. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Yvonne De Carlo
Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 209.

Lily Munster

When Yvonne De Carlo was in England making Hotel Sahara (Ken Annakin, 1951), she asked Universal for a release of her contract even though she still had three months to go. The studio agreed. De Carlo had always travelled extensively to promote her films and her appearances were widely publicised. In 1951 she became the first American star to visit Israel.

De Carlo regularly played in European films from now on. She starred in the British comedy The Captain's Paradise (Anthony Kimmins, 1953), about a captain of a ferry boat between the restricted British colony in Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco (Alec Guinness) who keeps two wives in separate ports. De Carlo of course played the hot-blooded mistress, Nita in Tangiers. She persuaded director Anthony Kimmins to talk Alec Guinness into doing the mambo with her in a night club sequence. Guinness, not usually thought of as a physical actor, consented to a week's worth of dance lessons from De Carlo and the sequence is one of the film's highlights.

In England, Yvonne De Carlo also co-starred with David Niven in the comedy Happy Ever After (Mario Zampi, 1954). Her film career reached its peak when director Cecil B. DeMille cast her as Sephora, the wife of Moses (Charlton Heston) in his biblical epic The Ten Commandments (1956). It was to be her most prominent role.

She later played a lead performance in the Civil War dramaBand of Angels (Raoul Walsh, 1957) with Clark Gable, starred as Mary Magdalene in the Italian biblical epic La spada e la croce/The Sword and the Cross (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1958), with Jorge Mistral and Rossana Podestà, and had a supporting role in the Western McLintock! (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1963) featuring John Wayne.

In 1964, De Carlo was deeply in debt, her film career was over and she was suffering from depression. Then, she was offered the role of Lily Munster, the wife of Herman Munster, in the legendary TV sitcom The Munsters (1964-1966). The Munsters are a weird but honest family. Herman, the father (Fred Gwynne) is Frankenstein's monster. Lily, his wife (Yvonne De Carlo) and the cigar-chomping Grandpa, her father (Al Lewis) are vampires. Their little son Eddie (Butch Patrick) is a werewolf. Their niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) is the only normal one. She is the ugly duck of the family. The sitcom went on the air in 1964 and lasted only two seasons, but achieved a kind of pop-culture immortality in decades of reruns and movie and television spinoffs.

Wolfgang Saxon in The New York Times: "In her cape and robes and with a streak of white in her black hair, Miss De Carlo’s Lily was a glamorous ghoul and a kind of Bride of Frankenstein as homemaker, “dusting” her gothic mansion at 1313 Mockingbird Lane with a vacuum cleaner set on reverse. The humor mostly derived from the family members’ oblivious belief that they were no different from their neighbors." After the show's cancellation, De Carlo reprised the role as Lily Munster in the Technicolor film Munster, Go Home! (Earl Bellamy, 1966).

After 1967, De Carlo became increasingly active in musicals, appearing in off-Broadway productions of Pal Joey and Catch Me If You Can. Her defining stage role was as Carlotta Campion in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim's musical Follies (1971-1972). Playing a washed-up star at a reunion of old theater colleagues, she introduced the song I'm Still Here, which would become well-known.

Yvonne De Carlo married stuntman Robert Drew Morgan, whom she met on the set of the Western Shotgun (Lesley Selander, 1955). They had two sons, Bruce Ross (1956) and Michael (1957-1997). After Bob Morgan's untimely accident, De Carlo was dismissed from her contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1960. Morgan became an alcoholic and they divorced in 1974.

De Carlo kept appearing in films and TV series. After her role in the TV Movie The Barefoot Executive (Susan Seidelman, 1995), she retired from acting at age 72. In 2007, she died from heart failure in Los Angeles. De Carlo was 84.

Yvonne De Carlo
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 736. Photo: Paramount, 1956.

Happy Halloween with... The Munsters
British postcard by Klasik Kards, London, no. 1514. Photos from the TV series The Munsters (1964-1966).

Burt Lancaster meets Yvonne De Carlo in Criss Cross (1949), also with Tony Curtis. Source: Felixxxx999 (YouTube).

Yvonne De Carlo sings I'll follow you in Fort Algiers (Lesley Selander, 1953) with Carlos Thompson and Raymond Burr. Source: Georges Gradzi (YouTube).

Yvonne De Carlo and Vittorio Gassman sing You Belong to My Heart in a deleted scene from Sombrero (Norman Foster, 1953). Source: Notorious Ediciones (YouTube).

Source: Wolfgang Saxon (The New York Times), IMDb and Wikipedia.

Ray Milland

British actor and director Ray Milland (1905-1986) had a screen career that ran from 1929 to 1985. He appeared in many Hollywood movies as the archetypal, unflappable British gentleman. Milland is best remembered for his gut-wrenching, Academy Award–winning portrayal of an alcoholic writer in The Lost Weekend (1945), the murder-plotting husband in Dial M for Murder (1954), and as The Man With the X-ray Eyes (1963).

Ray Milland
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. 3446. Photo: Paramount.

Ray Milland
Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F.), Firenze (Florence), no. 8618. Photo: Paramount Films.

Ray Milland
Argentinian postcard, no. 54. Photo: Paramount.

Ray Milland
Belgian collectors card by Kwatta, Bois d'Haine, no. C 319. Photo: M.G.M. Publicity still for A Life of Her Own (George Cukor, 1950).

Discovered by a Hollywood Talent Scout

Ray Milland was born Reginald Alfred John Truscott-Jones on a mountain called Cymla, above the town of Neath in Wales in 1905. Milland was the son of Alfred Jones and Elizabeth Annie (née Truscott). As a child, he took the name of his stepfather, Mullane, and was known in his early career as Jack Mullane. He later took his stage name Raymond Milland from the flat area of land called the mill lands in Neath, which he remembered fondly from his youth.

In 1925, Milland enlisted as a guardsman with the Royal Household Cavalry in London. As part of his training, he became skilled in fencing, boxing, horsemanship and marksmanship. An expert shot, he became a member of his company's rifle team, winning many prestigious competitions, including the Bisley Match in England.

When his duty service was completed in 1928, Milland stumbled into acting when a British filmmaker spotted him at a party and offered the 22-year-old a bit part in the romance The Plaything (Castleton Knight, 1929). More small and big roles in the British cinema and on stage followed. Among his British films were the silent ‘backstage’ drama Piccadilly (Ewald André Dupont, 1929) starring Anna May Wong, the adventure The Flying Scotsman (Castleton Knight, 1929) and the drama The Informer (Arthur Robison, 1929).

Raymond Milland was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout while performing on the stage in London, and travelled to America under a short-term contract with MGM. MGM shortened his first name to Ray and continued casting the acting novice in minor supporting roles.

MGM agreed to loan him out for more substantial parts in Will Rogers'Ambassador Bill (Sam Taylor, 1931) at Fox in which he tries to overthrow the boy-king of a fictional European country, and Warner Bros.'Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth, 1931) in which he competes with con-artist James Cagney for Joan Blondell's affections.

Ray Milland and Dorothy Lamour
British postcard in the Art Photo series, no. 38-1. Photo: publicity still for Tropic Holiday (Theodore Reed, 1938) with Dorothy Lamour.

Robert Preston, Gary Cooper and Ray Milland in Beau Geste (1939)
British postcard, London, no. FS 191. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Beau Geste (William A. Wellman, 1939) with Robert Preston and Gary Cooper.

Ray Milland
French postcard, no. 800. Photo: Paramount.

Ray Milland
British postcard in the Caligraph Series, London, no. C 351. Photo: Paramount.

Long-term Contract at Paramount

When his contract with MGM expired, Ray Milland bounced around taking whatever roles he could get, including a supporting part in Fox's Charlie Chan in London (Eugene J. Forde, 1934). He returned to England for roles in This Is the Life (Albert de Courville, 1933) with Gordon Harker and the comedy Orders is Orders (Walter Forde, 1934), a satire on Hollywood movie-making.

Finally, based on the strength of two films he made with Carole Lombard - Bolero (Wesley Ruggles, 1934) and We’re Not Dressing (Norman Taurog, 1934) - as well as the endorsement of his leading lady, Paramount Pictures signed Milland to a long-term contract. He would remain with the studio for some twenty years.

Charming and debonair, he can be seen as suave, self-assured romantic leading man in a number of excellent drawing-room comedies, mysteries and adventures, including The Big Broadcast of 1937 (Mitchell Leisen, 1936), The Jungle Princess (William Thiele, 1936) featuring Dorothy Lamour, Beau Geste (William Wellman, 1939) with Gary Cooper, and I Wanted Wings (Mitchell Leisen, 1941) with Veronica Lake.

At Film Reference, Frank Thompson writes: “The quintessential Milland performances of the ‘leading man’ variety are contained in Leisen's delightful Easy Living and Kitty. The darker, more sinister side of his personality first came to the fore in Farrow's Alias Nick Beal, a film in which Milland plays the Devil himself.”

Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen, 1937) was a depression-era screwball comedy and social satire written by Preston Sturges and starring Jean Arthur. Reel Classicscalls it “an often-overlooked delight”. Kitty (1945, Mitchell Leisen) was a variation on Pygmalion, in which a London aristocrat (Milland) takes it upon himself to make a lady of a guttersnipe (Paulette Goddard).

Milland had a terrible accident during the filming of Hotel Imperial (Henry Hathaway, 1939) with Isa Miranda, when, taking his horse over a jump, the saddle-girth broke and he landed head-first on a pile of bricks. His most serious injuries were a concussion that left him unconscious for 24 hours, a 3-inch gash in his skull that took 9 stitches to close, and numerous fractures and lacerations on his left hand.

When the Second World War began, Milland tried to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Forces, but was rejected because of his impaired left hand. He worked as a civilian flight instructor for the Army, and toured with a United Service Organisation (USO) South Pacific troupe in 1944.

Ray Milland
British postcard by Real Photogravure.

Ray Milland
Dutch postcard. Photo: Paramount.

Ray Milland
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 991b. Photo: Paramount.

Ray Milland
Dutch postcard. Photo: Paramount.

An Alcoholic Trying To Kick the Booze

Ray Milland had made over 60 feature films by the time he won an Oscar for his portrayal of an alcoholic trying to kick the booze in Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend (1945). It would be pinnacle of Ray Milland's career and an acknowledgement of his serious dramatic abilities. The surprise shown by the critical establishment at Milland's proficiency in the role suggests that nothing much had ever been expected of him.

Milland was the first Welsh actor to ever win an Oscar. He was also the first actor not to have spoken a single word during his acceptance speech, preferring to simply bow his appreciation before casually walking to the stage exit. For this performance, he was also given an award at the first Cannes Film Festival.

Five years later, he gave a strong performance in Close to My Heart (William Keighley, 1951), starring with Gene Tierney as a couple trying to adopt a child. As Milland grew older and his value as a romantic lead began to wane, the more sinister aspects of this self-assuredness became more evident.

In 1954, he starred as the suave and mannerly accomplice opposite Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954). Other films that exploited the murderous glint in Milland's eloquent eyes include The Thief (Russel Rouse, 1951) a Film Noir without any dialogue, and The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (Richard Fleischer, 1955) with Joan Collins.

He made many television appearances. He starred as a professor in the CBS sitcom Meet Mr. McNutley (1953-1955). The program was renamed in its second season as The Ray Milland Show. From 1959–1960, he starred in the CBS detective series Markham. In the late 1960s, he hosted rebroadcasts of certain episodes of the syndicated western anthology series, Death Valley Days under the title Trails West.

Ray Milland
Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F.), Firenze (Florence), no. 2381. Photo: Paramount Films.

Ray Milland
French postcard, no. 436. Photo: Paramount.

Ray Milland
British postcard by Real Photograph, no. 155.

Fascinating Low-budget Horror Films

In 1955, Ray Milland started directing films, such as the western A Man Alone (Ray Milland, 1955) with Raymond Burr, and the well-paced espionager Lisbon (1956, Ray Milland) with Maureen O’Hara for Republic Pictures that he also produced and starred in. He did it with surprising proficiency, but the films failed to make him successful. He achieved more success with directing for television. According to Kit and Morgan Benson at Find A Grave, he “was considered a solid and capable director and producer.”

Milland returned as a film character actor in such fascinating low-budget horror films as The Premature Burial (Roger Corman, 1962) and The Man with the X-ray Eyes (Roger Corman, 1963), the latter providing Milland with the wittiest, most energetic role of his later career. He appeared in the TV classic Daughter of the Mind (Walter Grauman, 1969) in which he was reunited with Gene Tierney, and he played Ryan O'Neal's father in the hit tearjerker Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970).

He can also be seen in such dreadful horror films as The Thing with Two Heads (Lee Frost, 1972), the British Crazy House/The House in Nightmare Park (Peter Sykes, 1973), and Terror in the Wax Museum (Georg Fenady). One of the best of that bad lot is Frogs (George McCowan, 1972), a surprisingly enjoyable entry from the ‘nature-run-amok’ horror subgenre.

Milland wrote an autobiography, Wide Eyed in Babylon, published in 1974. Toward the end of his life, he guest starred in TV series as Battlestar Galactica (Glen A. Larson, 1978-1979) and the Harold Robbins’ adaptation The Dream Merchants (Vincent Sherman, 1980).

His last film was the Spanish fantasy-adventure The Sea Serpent (Gregory Greens, 1986) with Timothy Bottoms, after which his declining health forced him to retire. A book-loving homebody, Milland kept away from the Hollywood glitter and was rarely mentioned in the gossip columns.

At 81, he died of lung cancer in Torrance, California in 1986. He was survived by his wife, Muriel ‘Mal’ Weber, to whom he had been married since 1932. They had a son, Daniel, and an adopted daughter, Victoria. Frank Thompson at Film Reference: “Hollywood never quite knew what it had in Ray Milland, but he continuously showed himself to be an adventurous artist, always interested in exposing his established image to radical and surprising lights.”

Ray Milland
Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F.), Firenze (Florence), no. 2381. Photo: Paramount Films.

Ray Milland
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 241. Photo: Paramount, 1949.

Ray Milland
Vintage photo card.

Sources: Frank Thompson (Film Reference), Lynn Dougherty (Classic Movie Favorites), Kit and Morgan Benson (Find A Grave), Reel Classics, AllMovie, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Yé-yé!

Yé-yé was the Francophone take on teen pop that flourished in France during the early 1960s and briefly became a global phenomenon. The genre took its name from a bastardization of the English yeah yeah and gave the world some of the 1960s’ best pop songs. The yé-yé movement had its origins in the radio programme Salut les copains (hello pals), which was first aired in December 1959. The program became an immediate success and one of its sections, le chouchou de la semaine (this week's sweetheart) became the starting point for most yé-yé singers. Any song that was presented as a chouchou went straight to the top places in the charts. The yé-yé songs had innocent themes such as Françoise Hardy's Tous les garçons et les filles: All the guys and girls my age know how it feels to be happy, but I am lonely. When will I know how it feels to have someone? Although originating in France, the yé-yé movement extended over Western Europe. Here are twelve yé-yé stars who als starred in films.

Sylvie Vartan
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 329. Photo: De Cordon / RCA Victor.

French pop singer Sylvie Vartan (1944) was one of the first rock girls in France. She was the diva of the yé-yé genre. With Johnny Hallyday she formed France's Golden Couple of their generation and they performed in several films, together and apart.

Johnny Hallyday
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/307. Photo: Pierre Spitzer.

Flamboyant singer and actor Johnny Hallyday (1943) is the father of French rock and roll. He was a European teen idol in the 1960s with record-breaking crowds and mass hysteria, but he never became popular in the English-speaking market. In recent years he has concentrated on being an actor and appeared in more than 35 films.

Les Surfs
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 374. Photo: Lynx, Paris.

Les Surfs was a yé-yé-style pop group from Madagascar, that existed from 1963 until 1971.

Françoise Hardy
French postcard by Starcolor, Marseille, nr. 972. Photo: Jean-Marie Perier.

French singer, actress and astrologer Françoise Hardy (1944) was the original yé-yé girl of the sixties with her trademark jeans and leather jacket. She occasionally appeared in international films of the 1960s, and today she is still an iconic figure in fashion, music and style.

Gillian Hills
French postcard by PDG, no. 1205, presented by Corvisart, Epinal. Photo: Dalmas / Disc AZ.

In the 1960s, Beautiful blonde British starlet Gillian Hills (1944) rose to fame in France, where she a was a successful yé-yé singer and debuted in Roger Vadim’s Les Liaisons dangereuses (1959).

Michel Paje
French postcard by Editions Starama, no. 868. Photo: Nisak / Vogue.

French singer and songwriter Michel Paje (1945) was one of the yé-yé pop stars of the early 1960s. He worked for the cinema as an actor and composer and is now known as a voice actor under his real name Michel Roy.

France Gall
French postcard by PSG, no. 947. Photo: Aubert-Philips.

French France Gall (1947) rocketed to fame in the 1960s as a naive young singer performing songs written by Serge Gainsbourg. In 1965 she won the Eurovision Song Contest with his Poupée de cire, poupée de son. But, after meeting and marrying, French singer-songwriter Michel Berger, her career was completely turned around and she soon went on to make a name for herself as one of the top female artists on the French music scene.

Bob Asklöf
French postcard by E.D.U.G., presented by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 351. Photo: Gérard Neuvecelle.

Handsome Swedish singer, actor and model Bob Asklöf(1942-2011) was a yé-yé idol in France during the early 1960s. He also worked as an actor for film, stage and TV and in the 1970s he appeared nude in several French erotic films.

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

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

Eddy Mitchell, Les Chausettes Noires
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 1079. Photo: Noa.

French singer and actor Eddy Mitchell (1942) began his career in the late 1950s, with the rock & roll group Les Chaussettes Noires (The Black Socks). He went solo in 1963 and also played in a many films. In numerous black and white French musical comedies of the 1960s he appeared as himself fronting his band. His ‘real’ acting career started with Coup de torchon (1981). After a career of 50 years Mr. Eddy has become the tranquil daddy of French rock & roll.

Frank Alamo (1941 - 2012 )
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 349. Photo: G. Neuvecelle / Barclay.

Jean-François Grandin, photographer and businessman, died in Paris on 11 October 2012. In the 1960s he was well known in France as the yé-yé singer Frank Alamo.

Dick Rivers, Les Chats Sauvages
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 228. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Les Chats Sauvages (The Wild Cats) was a French rock and roll band, formed in 1961. Together with Les Chaussettes Noires, they were among the first outfits to perform rock and roll music in France. Les Chats Sauvages was originally composed of Dick Rivers (Hervé Forners) on vocals, John Rob (Jean-Claude Roboly) on guitar, James Fawler (Gérard Roboly) on guitar, Jack View (Gérard Jaquemus) on bass, and Willy Lewis (Wiliam Taïeb) on drums.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

Sources: Flavorwire and Wikipedia.

Brigitte Horney

Charismatic German theatre and film actress Brigitte Horney (1911-1988) worked both in German and English films. Her earthy charm, prominent cheekbones and deep, sultry voice made her stand out from her colleagues. She is best remembered as Empress Catherine the Great in the lavish UFA spectacle Baron Munchhausen (1943). After the war she moved to the US and became an American citizen.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 9238/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Ufa.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 9828/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Ufa.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 2745, 1941-1944.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 228. Photo: Hämmerer.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1899/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa / Hämmerer.

Forgotten Masterpiece

Brigitte Horney was born in 1911, in Berlin-Dahlem, Germany. She was the daughter of Karen Horney-Danielsen, a noted German psychoanalyst, and Oscar Horney, an industrialist from Berlin. She had a bilingual education. Brigitte attended lessons for expressive dance by the legendary Mary Wigman and also acting classes by actress Ilka Grüning at the Ilka-Grüning-Schulein Berlin.

She began her stage career in Würzburg, and was, for more than a decade, engaged by Berlin's Volksbühne. Already in 1930 she won the Max-Reinhardt-Preis as up-and-coming actress. Young director Robert Siodmak discovered her for the cinema and cast her as a sales clerk in his film Abschied/Farewell (Robert Siodmak, 1930), the first sound film of the Ufa and according to reviewer Stanislas Lefort at IMDb a ‘forgotten masterpiece’.

The young actress refused the contract that Ufa offered her, because she wanted to continue her stage career. But in the next years Horney would also appear in films like Fra Diavolo (Mario Bonnard, 1931), Rasputin, Dämon der Frauen/Rasputin (Adolf Trotz, 1932) featuring Conrad Veidt, and Ein Mann will nach Deutschland/A Man Wants to Get to Germany (Paul Wegener, 1934) with Karl Ludwig Diehl.

Although her mother had escaped to New York, Horney opportunistically remained in the Third Reich. When she accepted the starring role as a waterfront girl in in the highly popular film Liebe, Tod und Teufel/Love, Death and the Devil (Heinz Hilpert, Reinhart Steinbicker, 1934) with Käthe von Nagy. A new star was born when she sang in her inimitable husky voice So oder so ist das Leben (So or so is life), written by Theo Mackeben. It became her Leitmotiv song. Critics and audiences alike compared her favorably to Marlene Dietrich.

This success was followed by such films as Savoy-Hotel 217 (Gustav Ucicky, 1936) opposite Hans Albers, the English films The House of the Spaniard (Reginald Denham, 1936) and Secret Lives (Edmond T. Gréville, 1937) as well as Der Katzensteg/The Cat’s Alley (Fritz Peter Buch, 1937), Anna Favetti (Erich Waschneck, 1938) with Mathias Wieman, and Befreite Hände/Freed Hands (Hans Schweikart, 1939) with Olga Tschechova. In these films she often played strong women, not unlike herself.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. 3378/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Bavaria / Binz.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3480/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa / Baumann. Publicity still for Illusion (Viktor Tourjansky, 1941).

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. 3667/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa. Publicity still for Münchhausen/The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Josef von Báky, 1943).

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3829/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer / Wien Film.

Brigitte Horney
Big German card by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. W 83, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien-Film / Hämmerer.


When Brigitte Horney appeared at Joachim Gottschalk's side in Du und ich/You and I (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1938) the result was a splendid success and they continued to work successfully as a pair in Aufruhr in Damaskus/Tumult in Damascus (Gustav Ucicky, 1939), Eine Frau wie Du/A Woman Like You (Viktor Tourjansky, 1939) and eventually Das Mädchen von Fanö/The Girl From the Isle of Fanö (Hans Schweikart, 1940).

The cooperation was destroyed when Joachim Gottschalk was ordered by the Nazis to leave his Jewish wife. The family Gottschalk committed suicide in 1941 - one day before their deportation. Horney and Gottschalk had been good friends and Horney attended with only four other people his funeral in 1941, regardless of the political and career implications of doing so.

Till the end of the war she took only part in a few more films and she is maybe best remembered for her role as Empress Catherine the Great in the Ufa production Münchhausen/Baron Munchhausen (Josef von Baky, 1943), with Hans Albers in the title role.

Josef Goebbels, Reichsminister of propaganda and also chief of the Ufa Studios, ordered this film to be made for the 25th anniversary of Ufa. Ironically the banned author Erich Kästner worked on this film and included some digs at the Nazi regime, such as a villain with a moustache talking about invading Poland. During the war he was hidden in Horney's house in Neubabelsberg where he could write on under a pseudonym.

Horney soldiered on in her own way - filming the prophetically titled Am Ende der Welt/The End of the World (Gustav Ucicky, 1944) while bombs were literally dropping around her. She finally fled to Switzerland in early 1945, with her husband, the Russian cinematographer Konstantin Irmen-Tschet. There she fell ill with tuberculosis and the newspapers even announced her death in 1946, but she answered the condolences herself.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 181. Photo: Baumann.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3829/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer / Wien Film.

Hans Albers, Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3728/1, 1941-1944. Photo: V. Swolinski/Ufa. Publicity still for Munchhausen/The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Josef von Baky, 1943) with Hans Albers.

Brigitte Horney
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3480/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Ufa / V. Harbou.

Aunt Polly

After the war, Brigitte Horney first acted in Zurich and Basel, including a Swiss production of Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Mains Sales/Dirty Hands (1949). She also appeared in films in Austria. The post-war cinema offered her - with a few exceptions - no demanding roles.

In 1952 she moved to the US to open the Karen Horney clinic in New York City, in honour of her mother’s achievements. There she married art historian Hanns Swarzenski and received the American nationality in 1953. She visited Germany frequently, and had a house in Bavaria.

She continued to work in films like Solange Du da bist/As Long as You're Near Me (Harald Braun, 1953) with O.W. Fischer, Der letzte Sommer/The Last Summer (Harald Braun, 1954) starring Hardy Krüger, Der gläserne Turm/The Glass Tower (Harald Braun, 1957) with Lilli Palmer, and the Edgar Wallace Krimi The Trygon Factor (Cyril Frankel, 1966) with Stewart Granger.

During her later years she became a popular TV star as Aunt Polly in the Canadian-German children’s series Huckleberry Finn and His Friends (1980). On TV she also appeared in the popular series Jakob und Adele (Hans Jürgen Tögel, 1983-1986) with Carl-Heinz Schroth and the soap Das Erbe der Guldenburgs/The Guldenburg Heritage (1986–1988).

She incidentally appeared in interesting films as the war drama Charlotte (Frans Weisz, 1981) with Birgit Doll as the Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, and Bella Donna (Peter Keglevic, 1983) with Harry Baer and Krystyna Janda. She also played a supporting role in Fassbinder's Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss/Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1982), based on the life of one of her contemporaries, the haunting Sybille Schmitz.

Brigitte Horney died by cancer in 1988, in Hamburg, Germany. She was honoured with several German awards, the Bambi in 1965, the Filmband in Goldin 1972, the Goldene Kamerain 1981 and the Telestar in 1987.

Brigitte Horney sings So oder so ist das Leben in Liebe, Tod und Teufel/Love, Death and the Devil (1934). Source: Alparfan (YouTube).

Scenes from Baron Munchhausen (1943). Source: classicmovieslibrary (YouTube).

Eddi Arent, Brigitte Horney, Robert Morley and Cathleen Nesbitt in The Trygon Factor (1966). Source: whatchawatchabar (YouTube).

Opening and closing titles of Huckleberry Finn and His Friends (1980). Source: eurochrissy2 (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Stanislas Lefort (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

Vitali Konyaev

Russian actor Vitali Konyayev (1937) is honored as a people’s artist of Russia. Next to his theatre work, he appeared in a dozen films and he also worked as a director and acting teacher.

Vitali Konyayev
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. M 74663, 1962.

Vitali Konyayev
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. A 03168, 1965. Photo: B. Vilenkin, G. Ter-Ovanesov. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.)


Vitali A. Konyaev (in Russian written as Виталий Коняев and in French as Vitali Koniaev) was born in Kronstadt in the former Soviet Union, now Russia, in 1937. from 1954 till 1958, he studied acting with L. Volkova at the M. S. Schepkin Higher Theatre School and from 1958 he worked for the State Academic Maly Theater.

In 1958 he also made his film debut with a small part in Stuchis' v lyubuyu dver'/Knock On Any Door (Mariya Fyodorova, 1958). More roles soon followed in films like Nasch Korrespondent/Our Correspondent (Anatoli Granik, 1958) and the lead role in Pesnya o Koltsove/A Song about Koltsov (Vladimir Gerasimov II, 1959), about the life of Russian poet Alexey Koltsov.

Konyaev played a supporting part in Chistoe nebo/Clear Skies (Grigori Chukhrai, 1961), a drama starring Yevgeny Urbansky. It is the story of a Soviet test pilot taken prisoner by the Nazis during World War II only to find himself expelled from the Communist Party on his release. Fired from his job, and deprived of all decorations, he becomes a drunk. His only solace lies in the love of his wife, as she challenges him to right the wrongs done to him.

This film was possible only after Joseph Stalin's death when his successor Nikita Khrushchev in 1956 denounced the 'cult of personality' and all of Stalin's purges. Still, Chukhrai had a hard and very delicate task on his hands because he had to portray the issue while still following the propaganda guide-lines and affirming the righteousness of the whole communist system, so that the film would actually pass the censors. He told the story seen through the eyes of the young wife of the pilot, played by Nina Drobysheva. Konyayev would later marry Drobysheva.

Next Vitali Konyaev played one of the leading roles in Tishina/Silence (Vladimir Basov, 1963) based on the novel by Yuri Bondareva. In this film, a young World War II hero's moral and political resolve is tested when he and his father are drummed out of the Communist Party.

At AllMovie, Dan Pavlides writes: "Sergei (Vitali Konyayev) resents his father for taking a lover, but his morals do not stop his own affair with a woman separated from her husband. After the war, Sergei enters the institute hoping to further his education, but he too is kicked out of the Party and the institute for the sins of his father. Vladimir Basov, a famous character actor in his own right, directed the film that was seen by over 50 million people in the USSR alone. This is one of the last films that fell under the political thaw period under Khruschev and openly depicted Stalinist oppression."

The film won the Grand Prize at the Vsesoyuznyy kinofestival (All-Union Film Festival) in Leningrad in 1964. That same year, Leonid Brezhnev rose to power and this sort of commentary would once again be forbidden.

Vitali Konyayev
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. M 14943, 1965. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 115 - 150.000 cards. The price was 8 kop.)

Vitali Konyayev
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 2428, 1970. Photo: G. & T. Vajl. (This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. The price was 6 kop.)

The Red and the White

Vitali Konyaev had a small part in the controversial Hungarian-Soviet co-production Csillagosok, katonák/The Red and the White (Miklós Jancsó, 1967). The film was originally commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia in which the Bolsheviks took power.

However, director Miklós Jancsó chose to use a radically different approach to the film than was expected. As a result, the film was not well received in Russia, where it was first re-edited to put a more heroic spin on the war for its premiere and then banned. However, in Hungary and in the West it was favourably received and it had a theatrical release in many countries.

Next Konyaev played the lead in the political drama Belyy flyuger/A White Weather Vane (David Kocharyan, 1969), and also appeared in films like Gorod pod lipami/The City of Lipami (Alois Brench, 1971) and Samyy posledniy den/The Very Last Day (Mikhail Ulyanov, 1972).

From 1972 till 1982 he worked as a teacher at the M.S. Schepkin Higher Theatre School. During this period he played in the TV-series Variant ‘Оmegа’/Option ‘Omega’ (Antonis Vogiazos, 1975) and the adventure film Tovarishch Innokentiy/Comrade Innocent (Yevgeni Mezentsev, Iosif Shapiro, 1981).

More recent films in which he played small parts were the German-Russian coproduction Ubit drakona/To Kill a Dragon (Mark Zakharov, 1988) and the black comedy Vystrel v grobu/Shot in a Coffin (Nikolai Zaseyev, 1992). In 1998 Vitali Konyayev was given the title of People's Artist of Russia.

Vitali Konyaev is married to Tatiana Konyaeva-Stanislavski. He has a daughter, actress Yelena Drobysheva (1964), and a son, Dmitry V. Konyaev (1987).

Trailer for Csillagosok, katonák/The Red and the White (1967).

Sources: Dan Pavlides (AllMovie), Kino-teatr (Russian), Wikipedia and IMDb.

Martha Novelly

Martha Novelly (1889-1972) was a German stage and screen actress who peaked in the German silent film of the late 1910s.

Martha Novelly
German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 163/1. Photo: A. Eberth, Berlin / Astra Film.

Several spectacular scenes

Martha Novelly was born Martha Buchholz in Hamburg, Germany, in 1889.

At age 15, she debuted on the stage in 1904 in Lübeck. Afterwards she acted in Flensburg, Oldenburg, Frankfurt (Oder), Chemnitz, Nürnberg and Stuttgart. From 1914 she performed in Berlin at the Lustspielhaus.

Just like many of her fellow stage actors in Berlin, she started a film acting career during the First World War. Her first part was that of Edith, one of the general’s daughters in General von Berning (Heinrich Bolten-Baeckers, 1914), starring Albert Paul, Aranka Keller, Leo Peukert and Ernst Hofmann. About the same time Novelly also played with again Paul, Keller and Hofmann in Bolten-Baeckers’ Um Liebe und Ehre/To love and honour (Heinrich Bolten-Baeckers, 1914).

Novelly was absent from the film set in 1915. Then she had the female lead in the Harry Piel adventure film Unter heisser Zone/Under Hot Zone (1916), with Mogens Enger, Preben Rist and Viktor Janson. The story dealt with a captain (Enger) hunting for a precious South-African diamond, stolen by a Dutch swindler (Rist) and his American accomplice (Novelly). Shots were taken in Berlin, the Hamburg Zoo and aboard the ship Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria.

Until the end of the First World War, Unter heisser Zone was Harry Piel ’s most ambitious production. It announced his post-war specialisation of adventure films with wild animals. The film contained several spectacular scenes, including a lion hunt, a car falling into an abyss, the explosion of a kettle, a chase on a ship, and an explosion of a bridge just before a luxury train arrives, causing only the locomotive to drop down.

Martha Novelly
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin. Photo: Atelier Eberth, Berlin.

Martha Novelly
German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 163/4. Photo: Atelier Eberth, Berlin / Astra Film.

Martha Novelly
German postcard in the Film-Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 186/2. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin / Astra Film.

Serious dramatic films

Between 1916 and 1918 Martha Novelly was a leading film actress in serious, dramatic films. From 1917 she acted as star in several dramas of the Astra Film company, directed by Emerich Hanus, including Unheilbar/Incurable (1917) with small parts for Emil Janningsand Werner Krauss, Das Gewissen des Andern/The conscience of others (1917) with Bruno Decarli, Bruno Kastner and Theodor Loos, and E – der scharlachrote Buchstabe/E - the scarlet letter (1918) with Werner Krauss.

In Die Sühne/Atonement (Emmerich Hanus, 1917), Renate (Novelly) and Ludwig (Kurt Vespermann), who have been friends already in childhood, fall in love with each other. When Ludwig is blinded by accident, Renate takes care of him. She becomes a sculptress and opens a studio in his house. Ludwig starts to flirt with a model, the dancer Sibylle (Lore Rückert). When a doctor restores his sight, he is appalled by Renate’s loss of beauty and chases the dancer, until he finds out she is only after his money. Clearly Ludwig, needs to be cured of his spiritual blindness as well. A print of the film was found back at the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and restored in Germany.

In Die Liebe der Maria Bonde/The Love of Maria Bonde (Emmerich Hanus, 1918), Novelly is Maria Bonde, the middle sister of family of three daughters. The eldest daughter Gunne (Eva Maria Hartmann) is betrothed to Martin, a circus rider (Emerich Hanus) with whom she acts together. He instead prefers Maria, declares her his love when she substitutes for Gunne in the circus. He elopes with her, causing the death of Gunne. When Maria has a child and cannot perform, it is now her youngest sister Anella (Ursula Hell) to substitute her in the circus. Will Martin dump Maria now? Maria has visions of her deceased sister warning her, and of her mother catching her and Martin kissing.

A few years after her marriage in 1918, Martha Novelly ended her short film career. Her films of 1919 were for the company Deutsche Bioscop: Flitter-Dörtje/Bauble Dortje (Robert Leffler, 1919) with Charles Willy Kaiser and Rudolf Klein-Rogge, and Die Geige des Tommaso/The violin of Tommaso (Emerich Hanus, 1919).

Novelly’s last films were Cagliostros Totenhand/Cagliostro's dead hand (Nils Olaf Chrisander, 1919) with Eugen Klöpfer, and the French production Irène (Marcel Dumont, 1920) starring Louise Colliney as Irène and Marcel Vibert.

Martha Novelly died in 1972 in Berlin.

Martha Novelly in Es kam der Tag
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 526/1. Photo: Astra-Film. Publicity still for Es kam der Tag (1918).

Martha Novelly in Es kam der Tag
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 526/2. Photo: Astra-Film. Publicity still for Es kam der Tag (1918).

Martha Novelly in Es kam der Tag
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 526/3. Photo: Astra-Film. Publicity still for Es kam der Tag (1918).

Martha Novelly in Es kam der Tag
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 526/4. Photo: Astra-Film. Publicity still for Es kam der Tag (1918).

Martha Novelly in Es kam der Tag
German postcard in the Film Sterne series by Rotophot, no. 526/5. Photo: Astra-Film. Publicity still for Es kam der Tag (1918).

Sources: Rot für Gefahr, Feuer und Liebe (German),  Filmportal. de, The German Early Cinema Database, Wikipedia (German), and IMDb. For Die Liebe der Maria Bonde, see European film gateway.

Myriam Bru

French actress Myriam Bru (1932) appeared in 16 European film productions of the 1950s. After her marriage to Horst Buchholz, she retired.

Myriam Bru
Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 60.

Myriam Bru in Il padrone sono me (1955)
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1826. Photo: Dear Film. Publicity still for Il padrone sono me/The master is me (Franco Brusati, 1955).

Myriam Bru
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 345. Photo: Bavaria. Publicity still for Auferstehung/Résurrection (Rolf Hansen, 1958).


Myriam (sometimes Miriam) Bru was born Myriam Rosita Bruh in 1932, in Paris, France. Her Jewish father was killed by the Nazis in camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

She studied acting at the Cours Simon and played uncredited bit parts in French films, such as in Rendez-vous de juillet/Rendezvous in July (Jacques Becker, 1949) starring Daniel Gélin. She had her first credited role in the crime film Ouvert contre X/The Case Against X (Richard Pottier, 1952).

When she was 19, Myriam made her first Italian production. The sources differ about which production was her first. Was it Puccini (Carmine Gallone, Glauco Pellegrini, 1951), about the life of composer Giacomo Puccini played by Gabriele Ferzetti. Or was it Gian Paolo Callegari's debut film as film director, Eran trecento/They Were 300 (Gian Paolo Callegari, 1952) starring Rossano Brazzi?

The following years she appeared in more Italian and French films like Ti ho sempre amato!/I Always Loved You! (Mario Costa, 1953) with Amedeo Nazzari, the comedy Une fille dans le soleil/A Girl in the Sun (Maurice Cam, 1953), and the melodrama Appassionatamente/Passionately (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1954).

In 1955 she appeared in Casa Ricordi/House of Ricordi (Carmine Gallone, 1955). Told in pageantlike fashion, Casa Ricordi is the story of the Ricordi family, the most prestigious music publishers in Italy. The Ricordis came up with the ‘royalty’ concept, paying artists, including Verdi (Fosco Giachetti), Donizetti (Marcello Mastroianni), Puccini (Gabriele Ferzetti), Bellini (Maurice Ronet) and Rossini (Roland Alexandre), for their work in perpetuity.

Amedeo Nazzari and Myriam Bru in ...ti ho sempre amato!
Italian promotion card by D.E.A.R. Film. Photo: Rizzoli / Royal Film / D.E.A.R. Film. Publicity still for ...ti ho sempre amato!/I Always Loved You (Mario Costa, 1953) with Amedeo Nazzari.

Myriam Bru in Appassionatamente (1954)
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit (Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze), no. 2996. Photo: Dear Film. Publicity still for Appassionatamente/Passionately (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1954).

Myriam Bru
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit (Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze), no. 3068. Photo: Dear Film. Publicity still for Appassionatamente/Passionately (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1954).


Myriam Bru next appeared opposite director Vittorio de Sicain Vacanze a Ischia/Holiday at Ischia (Mario Camerini, 1957).

In 1957 she played a leading role opposite German film idol Horst Buchholz in her first German film, Auferstehung/Resurrection (Rolf Hansen, 1958), based on a story by Leo Tolstoi. The two stars fell in love and married the next year in London, where Horst was filming Tiger Bay (J. Lee Thompson, 1959).

Buchholz pressed her to retire and to focus herself on her family. Her last film role was as a prisoner in Nella Città l'Inferno/Hell in the City (Renato Castellani, 1959), a clever melodrama starring Anna Magnani as a hard bitten prostitute whose immorality rubs off on a naive woman (Giulietta Masina) in a women's prison. The story was based on Isa Mari's 1953 novel Roma, Via delle Mantellate.

Myriam Bru and Horst Buchholz stayed married till his death in 2003, although they lived separately during the last years. They had a son, actor/director Christopher Buchholz, and a daughter, Beatrice Buchholz.

Later in life, after her children were grown up, Myriam Bru managed an actor’s agency in Paris. Among her discoveries are Mathilda May and Mélanie Thierry. She appeared in a documentary Christopher made about his father, Horst Buchholz... mein Papa/Horst Buchholz… My Dad (Christopher Buchholz, Sandra Hacker, 2005).

Myriam Bru
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 307. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Myriam Bru and Horst Buchholz
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 368.

Myriam Bru, Horst Buchholz
With Horst Buchholz. German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/94. Photo: Sam Levin.

Sources: Wikipedia, AllMovie, and IMDb.

Imported from the USA: Steve Cochran

Husky, darkly handsome Steve Cochran (1917- 1965) was an American film, television and stage actor, who often played boxers and gangsters during the 1940s and 1950s. One of his best known roles is the troubled drifter in Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido (1957), produced in Italy.

Steve Cochran
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W 882. Photo: Warner.

They didn't come much rougher and tougher

Steve Cochran was born Robert Alexander Cochran in Eureka, California, in 1917. He grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of a logger. While he appeared in high school plays, he spent more time delving into athletics, particularly shooting hoops. After stints as a cowpuncher and railroad station hand, he studied at the University of Wyoming, where he also played basketball.

Impulsively, he quit college in 1937 and decided to go straight to Hollywood to become a star. Working as a carpenter and department store detective during his early days, he gained experience appearing in summer stock. In the early 1940s he was given the chance to work with the Shakespeare Festival in Carmel. There he played Orsino in Twelfth Night, Malcolm in Macbeth, Horatio in Hamlet and the title role of Richard III. He made his Broadway debut in Broken Hearts on Broadway (1944) and then went on to appear almost immediately in Hickory Stick.

In 1945, he landed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. His debut was Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1945) with Virginia Mayo and Danny Kaye. The following years, he appeared in several films, including the Film Noir The Chase (Arthur Ripley, 1946), the war classic The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946) as Virginia Mayo's extra-marital fling, and A Song Is Born (Howard Hawks, 1948).

Following a notable stint as Mae West's leading stud in her 1949 revival of Diamond Lil on Broadway, Cochran was picked up by Warner Bros. From 1949 till 1952 Cochran often played boxers and gangsters for Warner. One of his most memorable roles was as psychotic mobster James Cagney’s power-hungry henchman, Big Ed Somers, in the gangster classic White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949). He also appeared in Highway 301 (Andrew L. Stone, 1950), as Joan Crawford's gangster paramour in The Damned Don't Cry! (Vincent Sherman, 1950), and Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (Crane Wilbur, 1951), which inspired Johnny Cash to write his song Folsom Prison Blues.

Gary Brumburgh at IMDb: “Cochran was all man -- and a slick ladies' guy to boot. They didn't come much rougher and tougher than he both off- and on-camera. Throughout post-WWII Hollywood and the 1950s, he played the swarthiest and sexiest of coldhearted villains, with mustache or without, in a few films now considered classics. What Cochran perhaps lacked in the Gable charisma department, he certainly made up for with his own raw magnetism and sexy virility.“

Steve Cochran in Highway 301 (1950)
Spanish postcard, no. 725. Photo: publicity still for Highway 301 (Andrew L. Stone, 1950).

Steve Cochran
Belgian collectors card by Merbotex / Ciné British Palace, Temse, Serie B, no. 31. Photo: Warner Bros.

A prime candidate for numerous arrests

In 1953 Steve Cochran formed his own production company, Robert Alexander Productions. He won critical acclaim for two of his performances in his company's films. Cochran played a disgraced, alcoholic itinerant farmer struggling to regain the love of his family in Come Next Spring (R.G. Springsteen, 1956), and a troubled drifter in Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido/The Outcry (1957), produced in Italy and co-starring Alida Valli.

Cochran starred in a string of B movies throughout the 1950s, including Carnival Story (Kurt Neumann, 1954), Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel, 1954) and the British thriller The Weapon (Val Guest, 1956). He also appeared in episodes of popular television series of the era, such as The Twilight Zone (1959) and The Untouchables (1960-1961).

In the early 1960s, Cochran appeared in the Western The Deadly Companions (Sam Peckinpah, 1961) with Maureen O’Hara, and the drama Of Love and Desire (Richard Rush, 1963) starring Merle Oberon, but his career had begun a final downslide. His production company attempted to make some television series and films, but they were never produced with the exception of a television pilot where he played John C. Fremont in Fremont the Trailblazer.

A prime candidate for numerous arrests for his impulsive carousing and brawling, his living hard in the fast lane began to take its toll. His last years were marred by an obligatory Errol Flynn-type ending of drinking and debauchery. He began looking bloated and weighty. Cochran's final films were the British crime drama Mozambique (Robert Lynn, 1964) with Hildegard Knef, and the romantic drama Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965), which he had directed himself and was not released in the U.S. until 1967.

Steve Cochran was a notorious womanizer and attracted tabloid attention for his tumultuous private life, which included well-documented affairs with numerous starlets and actresses. Mamie Van Doren later wrote about their sex life in her autobiography Playing the Field: My Story (1987). He was married and divorced three times, and to artist Florence Lockwood, actress Fay McKenzie, and 19-year-old Danish emigre Hedda Jenna Jensen. He had one daughter, Xandra, by Lockwood. Cochran was the grandfather of film and television producer Alex Johns.

In 1965, Cochran died on his yacht off the coast of Guatemala, reportedly due to an acute lung infection. His body, along with three female assistants, remained aboard for ten days since the three women did not know how to operate the boat. It drifted to shore in Port Champerico, Guatemala, and was found by authorities. According to Wikipedia, there were various rumours of foul play and poisoning, but reportedly no new evidence was found. Steve Cochran was 48.

Trailer White Heat (1949). Source: MoviesHistory (YouTube).

Trailer Il Grido/The Outcry (1957). Source: Danios12345 (YouTube).

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

Mary Parker

Despite her English sounding name, Mary Parker (1902-?) was a Polish actress who was active in the German cinema of the late silent era. Little is known about her life.

Mary Parker
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3607/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Kiesel, Berlin.

Girl From the Slums

Mary Parker was born Magdalena Prohaska in Breslau (today Wroclaw, Poland), in 1902. She debuted in the German cinema in 1924 in Die schönste Frau der Welt (Richard Eichberg, 1924) starring Lee Parry.

Quickly followed several other films, such as the comedy Lumpen und Seide (Richard Oswald, 1924), in which the rich Irene (Mary Parker) tries to refresh her marriage with Erik (Johannes Riemann) by taking a girl from the slums, Hilda, (Mary Kid) into their home. Hilda has a fiancee, Max, who is a shameless profiteer (Reinhold Schunzel).

Other memorable titles are Die Schmetterlingsschlacht (Franz Eckstein, 1924) starring Asta Nielsen, the Swiss production Das Paradies Europas. Bild vom Schweizer Volk und seinen Bergen (Walther Zürn, 1924-1925), and Zaungäste des Lebens (Nikolai Malikoff, 1925) with Angelo Ferari.

In Halbseide (Richard Oswald, 1925), Parker had the female lead opposite Bernd Aldor as her husband. She also had a major part in the comedy Vorderhaus und Hinterhaus (Richard Oswald, Carl Wilhelm, 1925) about a widower (Max Adalbert) who sublets a part of his house to the girl of his dreams (Parker) and her family, and in the sex education film Dürfen wir schweigen (Richard Oswald, 1926) about a painter (Conrad Veidt) who refuses to be treated for his venereal disease.

In the following years Parker also played in films like Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren (Arthur Bergen, 1926), Das süsse Mädel (Manfred Noa, 1926), the Danish film Dydsdragonen (Valdemar Andersen, 1927), and Todessturz im Zirkus Cesarelli ( Karoly Lajthay, 1927).

In 1928 Parker had the female leads in two films: Heut' war ich bei der Frieda (Siegfried Philippi, 1928), which title refers to the hit song of 1927, and the romantic comedy Wer das Scheiden hat erfunden (Wolfgang Neff, 1928) in which Parker played the Russian aristocrat Ljuba Pawlowa.

The song Heut' war ich bei der Frieda (text: Fritz Rotter, music: Jim Crowley): "Heut war ich bei der Frieda, das tu’ ich morgen wieder.
Denn so was wie die Frieda war noch nie da." Source: Ilja Livschakoff (YouTube).


Mary Parker had a supporting role in Saxophon-Susi (Carl Lamac, 1928) starring Anny Ondra. In 1929 Parker had the lead of the military comedy Fräulein Fähnrich (Fred Sauer, 1929), playing opposite Willi Forstand Fritz Schulz.

Her last silent role was in Ja, ja, die Frauen sind meine schwache Seite (Edmund Heuberger, 1929). The year after she played in her first sound film, the Truus van Aalten comedy Susanne macht Ordnung (Eugen Thiele, 1930).

All in all she did some 17 silent films, of which several together with Hans Albers (Halbseide, Vorderhaus und Hinterhaus, Wer das Scheiden hat erfunden, Saxophon-Susi, Heut' war ich bei der Frieda, and Ja, ja, die Frauen sind meine schwache Seite) and Mary Kid (Lumpen und Seide, Halbseide, Vorderhaus und Hinterhaus, Dydsdragonen).

Parker had just a few performances in German sound films. After Susanne macht Ordnung she had a smaller part in Die unheimliche Geschichte (1932) by her regular director Richard Oswald and a real bit part in the Anny Ondra vehicle Die Unwiderstehliche (Geza von Bolvary, 1937), before she quitted altogether.

It is not known when or where Mary Parker died.

Mary Kid
Mary Kid. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3345/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.

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

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Sword and Sandal epics

One of the most popular European film genres of the 1950s and 1960s was the Peplum, also known as the Sword-and-Sandal epics. They were mostly produced in Italy, but the heroes were international: British, French, Dutch (!), Italian and American. The Peplum craze started in 1957, when bodybuilder Steve Reeves was invited to come to Cinécitta and play the lead character in Le fatiche di Ercole/Hercules (Pietro Francisci, 1958), opposite the gorgeous Sylva Koscina. But Italy had a long tradition of film epics about ancient Rome.

Publicity still of the Italian silent film classic Cabiria (Giovanni Pastrone, 1914). The first of the biblical epics. The genre became very popular in the international cinema of the 1910s.

Italian postcard.

Mario Guaita aka Ausonia (1881-1956) was an Italian actor, director, producer and scriptwriter in the silent era. He had his international breakthrough with Spartaco - Il gladiatore della Tracia/Spartacus (Enrico Vidali 1913). Caption: I gladiatori discendono dall'accampamento del Vesuvio (The gladiators descend from their camps at Mount Vesuvius). Led by Spartacus, they will conquer Crassus' army and capture the consul.

Italian postcard for the Italian epic Spartaco - Il gladiatore della Tracia (Enrico Vidali, Pasquali 1913), starring Mario Guaita - Ausonia. The film was based on a novel by Raffaello Giovagnoli. Caption: Il Senato vota solenni funerali a Silla (The Senate votes to hold a solemn funeral for Silla).

Quo vadis?
Italian postcard by Uff. Rev. St. Terni. Photo: publicity still for Quo Vadis? (Enrico Guazzoni, 1913).

Ursus (Bruto Castellani) and Vinicius (Amleto Novelli) implore the audience and emperor Nero to grace the Christian Lygia (Lea Giunchi), after Ursus has killed the bull on which back Lygia had been bound. The audience raves because of Ursus'tour de force. Vinicius has stripped his cloth to show his scars from the wars, while Ursus holds up Lygia. All around Nero hold their thumbs up for grace, even if this sign seems to have been a 19th century invention and historically incorrect.

Alphons Fryland and Lilian Hall-Davis in Quo vadis? (1924)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 699/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Filmhaus Bruckmann.

Publicity still for Quo vadis? (Georg Jacoby, Gabriellino D'Annunzio, 1924) with Alphons Fryland (Vinicius) and Lilian Hall-Davis (Lygia) in an adaptation of Henryk Sienkiewicz classic novel on the Rome of Nero. Here Vinicius tries to seduce the chaste Lygia during an orgy at the palace of Nero.

Rina De Liguoro in Messalina
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 738.

Rina De Liguoro dying in the final scene of Messalina (Enrico Guazzoni, 1924). The film was her breakthrough and De Liguoro became the last diva of the Italian silent cinema with notable films like Quo vadis? (Gabriellino D'Annunzio, Georg Jacoby, 1924), and Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii/The Last Days of Pompeii (Carmine Gallone, Amleto Palermi, 1926).

Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei
Italian postcard by C. Chierichetti, Milano. Photo: Grandi Films, Roma.

Postcard for the Italian-German silent film Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei/The Last Days of Pompeii (Amleto Palermi, Carmine Gallone, 1926). The film was one of the many adaptations of the novel The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.

Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei
Italian postcard by C. Chierichetti, Milano. Photo: Grandi Films, Roma.

Another postcard for the Italian-German silent film Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei/The Last Days of Pompeii (Amleto Palermi, Carmine Gallone, 1926), starring the Hungarian actor Victor Varconi (1891–1976). He was a highly successful matinee idol of the Hungarian-Austrian and German silent cinema in the 1910s and early 1920s. Later he was the first Hungarian actor to become a Hollywood star until the sound film completely altered the course of his career.

Massimo Girotti
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 42120. Photo: E.N.I.C.

Publicity still of Massimo Girotti in La corona di ferro/The Iron Crown (Alessandro Blasetti, 1941). Blasetti gave new life to the Italian treatment of heroic mythology born in the silent era with Pastrone's Cabiria, and La corona di ferro is an important antecedents to the postwar genre of the Peplum.

Rossana Podestà
Dutch postcard by Editions P.I., no. 662.

Publicity still for Helen of Troy (1956). Italian sex siren Rossana Podestà (1934) played in many European films of the 1950s and 1960s. She is best known as the stunningly beautiful leading lady of the international spectacle Helen of Troy (Robert Wise, 1956).

Sylva Koscina and Steve Reeves in Ercole e la regina di Lidia (1959)
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Ercole e la regina di Lidia/Hercules Unchained (Pietro Francisci, 1959) with Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina.

Handsome, musclebound Steve Reeves (1926-2000) was an American bodybuilder and actor, who was a huge success in Hercules (1958) and other Peplum films, the Italian sword-and-sandal epics. At the peak of his career, around 1960, he was reputedly the highest-paid actor in Europe.

Gordon Scott and Virna Lisi in Romolo e Remo (1961)
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Romolo e Remo/Duel of the Titans (Sergio Corbucci, 1961) with Gordon Scott and Virna Lisi.

Good-looking and muscular American actor Gordon Scott (1926–2007) is best known as the eleventh Tarzan. He portrayed Tarzan in five films from 1955 to 1960. Then Scott moved to Italy, where he became a popular star of the Peplum film genre, the sword-and-sandal epics. When the Peplum faded, Scott starred in Spaghetti Westerns and Eurospy films.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

Simone Signoret

French actress Simone Signoret (1921-1985) was given the ‘star build-up’ in the postwar years, and in the following decades she developed into one of the grand legends of the French cinema. Signoret won three times a BAFTA Award, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival, a Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival, and many, many more awards.

Simone Signoret
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 195. Publicity card for Les carbones Korès. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Simone Signoret
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Simone Signoret in Ombre et lumière (1951)
Vintage postcard. Photo: publicity still for Ombre et lumière/Shadow and Light (Henri Calef, 1951).

Simone Signoret
Mexican postcard, no. 291. Photo: Sam Lévin.


Simone Signoret was born Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1921. Her father, André Kaminker, a pioneering interpreter who worked in the League of Nations, was a French-born Jewish army officer of Polish descent, who brought the family to Neuilly-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris. He and his French wife Georgette Kaminker-Signoret, had also two younger sons, Alain and Jean-Pierre.

Simone grew up in Paris in an intellectual atmosphere and studied the English language in school, earning a teaching certificate. She tutored English and Latin and worked part-time as a typist for a French collaborationist newspaper, Les nouveaux temps, run by Jean Luchaire.

During the German occupation of France, Signoret mixed with an artistic group of writers and actors who met at a café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, Café de Flore. By this time, she had developed an interest in acting and was encouraged by her friends, including her lover, Daniel Gélin, to follow her ambition.

In 1942, she began appearing in bit parts, making her film debut in Le Prince charmant/Prince Charming (Jean Boyer, 1942). She was working without an official permit during the Nazi occupation of France, because her patriotic father, who had fled to England in 1940 to join General De Gaulle there, was Jewish.

Working almost all the time, she was able to earn enough money to support her mother and two brothers. For the cinema she took her mother's maiden name, Signoret, to help hide her Jewish roots for the Nazi authorities. She had a long film apprenticeship during World War II, mostly as an extra and occasionally getting to speak a single line.

Through the auspices of her first husband, director Yves Allégret, Signoret was given the ‘star build-up’ in the postwar years. Her husband directed her in Dédée d'Anvers/Woman of Antwerp (Yves Allégret, 1948), as Dédée, a prostitute who finds true love. In 1949 she left her husband for actor-singer Yves Montand, whom she married in 1951 and with whom she lived until her death.

Simone Signoret
French postcard by Editions O.P., no. 19. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Simone Signoret
German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 820.

Simone Signoret
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 19. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Simone Signoret in Manèges (1950)
German collectors card by Greiling Sammelbilder in the series Filmstars der Welt, 2. Band, Serie E, no. 97. Photo: Allianz Film. Publicity still for Manèges/The Cheat (Yves Allégret, 1950).

Simone Signoret in Manèges (1950)
Vintage collectors card, no. A 55. Photo: publicity still for Manèges/The Cheat (Yves Allégret, 1950).

Yves Montand

"The young Simone Signoret radiated beauty and a ripe sensuality which glowed tangibly from the screen", writes Philip Kemp at Film Reference: "She moved with the indolent languor of a woman supremely confident in her own powers of attraction; the slow, sleepy smile and the heavy-lidded eyes irresistibly evoked thoughts of warm bedrooms and summer meadows. Inevitably, she was cast time and again as a prostitute, a profession amply represented in the postwar French cinema."

An example is her role opposite Gérard Philipe in La Ronde/Round (Max Ophüls, 1950), a film which was banned briefly in New York as immoral. One of the best of her unlucky-in-love characterizations was as the title figure in Casque d'or/Golden Helmet (Jacques Becker, 1952), for which she won a BAFTA Film Award.

Other notable French films in which Signoret appeared during the 1950s are the Emile Zola adaptation Thérèse Raquin/The Adultress (Marcel Carné, 1953) with Raf Vallone, Le mort en ce jardin/Death in the Garden (Luis Buñuel, 1956) with Charles Vanel, and Les Sorcières de Salem/The Witches of Salem (Raymond Rouleau, 1956) based on Arthur Miller's play.

A Signoret film that is shown often on TV is the thriller Les diaboliques/Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955) with Véra Clouzotand Paul Meurisse. The chilly character Signoret plays was proof of her immense acting ability.

Philip Kemp at Film Reference: "As a murderess, she could be both credible and sympathetic: as one of Zola's pair of guilt-ridden lovers in Thérèse Raquin, or as the seemingly vulnerable yet scheming blond bomb-shell accomplice in the homicidal labyrinth of Clouzot's Les Diaboliques, the role that cemented her international renown and became an archetype thereafter in imitation upon ripoff of the Boileau-Narcejac thriller, including three remakes with Tuesday Weld, Kate Vernon, and, most recently, Sharon Stone filling Signoret's shoes."

Hollywood beckoned throughout the 1950s, but both Signoret and Yves Montand, were refused visas to enter the United States. Their progressive political activities did not sit well with the McCarthy-era mentality in the US at the time.

Her breakthrough to international stardom came at the age of 38 with the British film Room at the Top (Jack Clayton, 1959) opposite Laurence Harvey. She won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Alice Aisgill, an unhappily married woman who hopes she has found true love. She radiated real warmth in all of her scenes.

Later she played in England again opposite Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial (Peter Glenville, 1962), and in America with Vivien Leigh in Ship of Fools (Stanley Kramer, 1965), which earned her another Oscar nomination.

Simone Signoret
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 1924. Photo: publicity still for Thérèse Raquin/The Adultress (Marcel Carné, 1953).

Raf Vallone, Simone Signoret
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1925. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Thérèse Raquin/The Adultress (Marcel Carné, 1953) with Raf Vallone.

Simone Signoret
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 147. Photo: Gerhard Puhlmann. Simone Signoret then played in the coproduction of Films Borderie, Paris, and DEFA, Berlin, Les sorcières de Salem/The Witches of Salem (Raymond Rouleau, 1956).

Simone Signoret
Russian postcard, 1961. Retail price: 8 Kop.

Simone Signoret
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 1412.

Plump but still Bewitching

Through the years, Simone Signoret matured into a plump but still bewitching character actress. She was never concerned with glamour, ignored the insults about her gaining weight and letting her looks go, and continued giving finely etched performances.

Her later films include the thriller Compartiment tueurs/The Sleeping Car Murders (Costa Gravas, 1965), the war drama L'armée des ombres/Army of the Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) with Lino Ventura, and the crime drama La chair de l'orchidée/The Flesh of the Orchid (Patrice Chéreau, 1975) starring Charlotte Rampling.

In La vie devant soi/Madame Rosa (Moshe Mizrahi, 1977) she played a Jewish, retired prostitute and Auschwitz survivor, who is now a foster mom to children of other prostitutes in Paris' Arab community. This beautiful drama was awarded with the Academy Award for the Best Non-English Film.

Her final film was L'étoile du Nord/The North Star (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1982) a thriller about a mysterious psychopath with Michel Piccoli. Simone Signoret also wrote books, such as the witty, melancholy memoir La nostalgie n'est plus ce qu'elle était/Nostalgia Isn't What It Used To Be (1978) and Adieu Volodya/Adieu Volodia, a novel about a group of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and Russia and their children, working in the theatre and film industry in Paris during the years 1926-1945. This novel was published in 1985, the year of her death.

A lifelong chain smoker, Simone Signoret died of pancreatic cancer in Auteuil-Anthouillet, France. Her daughter, Catherine Allégret, and grandson, Benjamin Castaldi, are also actors. At Films de France, James Travers concludes his bio thus: "Today, Simone Signoret is fondly remembered as one of French cinema’s most talented performers, a generous and greatly loved individual whose incisive portrayals of complex women showed not just the allure of her sex, but also that resilience and generosity of spirit that is uniquely feminine".

Opening scene from La Ronde/Round (1950). Source: classicmovieslibrary (You Tube).

Trailer for Les diaboliques/Diabolique (1955). Source: The Criterion Collection (You Tube).

Trailer for L'armée des ombres/Army of the Shadows (1969). Source: Movies Trailers (You Tube).

Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Philip Kemp (Film Reference), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Dale O'Connor (IMDb), IMDb and Wikipedia.

Dita Parlo

Lovely Dita Parlo (1906-1971) was a star of German and French films of the late 1920s and 1930s, who also worked in Hollywood. She inspired both Dita Von Teese and Madonna, the latter used her name and character from L'Atalante (1934) for her Sex book and Erotica album.

Dita Parlo
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4591/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Badekow, Berlin.

Dita Parlo
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4591/2, 1929-1930. Photo: Angelo Photos.

Dita Parlo
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 46. Photo: Star.

Dita Parlo
French postcard. Photo: Star. Publicity still for La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937).

Ufa Drama School

Dita Parlo was born as Gerda Olga Justina Kornstädt in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin in Poland) in 1906 (some sources say 1908). Her father was a forest ranger.

Dita was initially trained as a ballet dancer. Subsequently she studied acting at the Babelsberg film school in Berlin. There she was discovered for the screen by producer Erich Pommer and she was signed to a contract with the Ufa studio.

She made her first film appearance as the wife of soldier Lars Hanson in the silent war drama Heimkehr/Homecoming (Joe May, 1928). After her film debut, Dita Parlo quickly rose to stardom.

Her early Ufa films include Geheimnisse des Orients/Secrets of the Orient (Alexandre Volkoff, 1928) with Nicolas Koline and Iván Petrovich, Die Dame mit der Maske/The Lady with the Mask (Wilhelm Thiele, 1928), and Ungarische Rhapsodie/Hungarian Rhapsody (Hanns Schwarz, 1928), with Willy Fritsch.

In Manolescu - Der König der Hochstapler/Manolescu (Victor Tourjansky, 1929), she appeared opposite the legendary Russian film star Ivan Mozzhukhin.

Dita Parlo
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5469.

Dita Parlo
Belgian postcard by S.A. Chocolat & Cacao, Kivou, Vilvo(o)rde. Photo: Ufa.

Willy Fritsch and Dita Parlo in Ungarische Rhapsodie
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 104/3. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ungarische Rhapsodie/Hungarian Rhapsody (Hanns Schwarz, 1928) with Willy Fritsch.

Dita Parlo
Polish postcard by Polonia, Krakow, no. 882. Photo: Ufa

Dita Parlo
Polish postcard by Polonia, Krakow, no. 1641. Photo: Ufa.


Dita Parlo appeared in the first sound film of the Ufa, Melodie des Herzens/Melody of the Heart (Hanns Schwarz, 1929) opposite Willy Fritsch.

In France she also became popular, and appeared in Au bonheur des dames/For the Happiness of Women (Julien Duvivier, 1930), an adaptation of Emile Zola's 1883 novel of the same name.

In 1931 she tried her luck in Hollywood. She often appeared in German-speaking versions of American films and she played parts in the minor films Honor of the Family (Lloyd Bacon, 1931) with Bebe Daniels, and the comedy anthology Mr. Broadway (Johnnie Walker, 1933). The sketch with Parlo in the latter film was taken from an uncompleted film by Edgar G. Ulmer, titled Love's Interlude. This film was begun in 1932 at Peerless Productions.

After two years in Hollywood and no success, Dita Parlo moved to Paris. She married a Frenchman, and would make only French films for the rest of her career.

Later she was scheduled to appear in the proposed Orson Welles production of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness for RKO Radio Pictures. However, that project did not come to pass, and Welles began work on Citizen Kane.

Dita Parlo
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3627/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Suse Byk, Berlin.

Dita Parlo
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5594/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Dita Parlo
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5381, 1930-1931. Photo: E. Bieber, Berlin.

Gustav Diessl and Dita Parlo in Menschen hinter Gittern (1930)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5792/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Publicity still for Menschen hinter Gittern (Pál Fejös, 1930) with http://filmstarpostcards.blogspot.nl/search/label/Gustav%20Diessl. This was the German language version of The Big House (1930). Pál Fejös or Paul Fejos was a Hungarian-born, multi-lingual director, who worked at MGM at the time. He was assigned to direct both German- and French-language 'parallel versions' of The Big House, using different actors but the same costumes and sets at MGM.

Dita Parlo
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6248/1, 1931-1932. Photo: MGM.


Dita Parlo starred as a provincial bride aboard a canal barge in the beautiful L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934) She and her ship captain Jean (Jean Dasté) struggle through marriage as they travel on the their barge L'Atalante along with the captain's first mate Le père Jules (Michel Simon) and a cabin boy. Ben Parker at IMDb: "Finally saw Vigo's L'Atalante, his only feature film, which he reportedly died before completing (Sic), and instantly its one of my top favourite movies and easily one of the best pictures ever made. L'Atalante has everything going for it: its sexy, romantic and incredibly funny. Its also immensely genuine"

Three years later Dita Parlo played a peasant opposite Jean Gabin in another masterpiece La grande illusion/The Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937). Donald J. Lamb at IMDb: "It is a wonder to see a film from the 1930's so definite in its view and opinions, yet so touching and revelatory. Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion is a film of great importance, one that improves with each viewing."

After La grande illusion, Parlo appeared in eight more French films. She featured in the spy film Mademoiselle Docteur/Street of Shadows (G. W. Pabst, 1937). She also co-starred with Erich von Stroheim in the historical drama Ultimatum (Robert Wiene, 1938). It was the final film of Wiene, who had been a leading director of German cinema particularly noted for his work on expressionist films during the silent era. He died shortly before the film's completion, and it was finished by Robert Siodmak.

Following the outbreak of World War II, Dita Parlo was forced to return to Germany because of her nationality. That was the end of her film career. In 1949 she married a priest, Franck Gueutal. During the last thirty years of her life she worked as a writer and appeared in only three films in small parts.

She made her final film appearance as a countess who always wins at gambling in La dame de pique/The Queen of Spades (Léonard Keigel, 1965), based on the story Pikovaya dama by Alexander Pushkin. The countess had previously been given the secret that she can never reveal, and a poor Russian officer (Michel Subor) tries to force her hand with tragic results.

Dita Parlo died in 1971 in Paris. She was 65.

Dita Parlo
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5397/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Paramount.

Dita Parlo
French card by Massilia. Collection: Amit Benyovits.

Dita Parlo
Vintage postcard. Photo: Studio Star.

Dita Parlo
French postcard by Viny, no. 66. Photo: Star.

Dita Parlo
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 104. Photo: Star. Publicity still for La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937).


Dita Parlo left strong impressions on all who caught her work.

In 1992, Madonna told she was fascinated by Parlo. Madonna picked her name as an alias while touring and booking into hotels.

Madonna took her name again for the character she created for her legendary Sex book and Erotica album. Its title track commences with the line "My name is Dita, I'll be your mistress tonight... ".

Burlesque performer Dita Von Teese took her first name also in tribute to Dita Parlo.

Musician Steve Adey has a song called Dita Parlo on his studio album The Tower of Silence (2012). The song was written in response to L'Atalante.

Dita Parlo
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 6687. Photo: Verleih Hugo Engel Film.

Trailer for L'Atalante (1934). Source: BFI Trailers (YouTube).

Trailer of La Grande Illusion (1937). Source: Danios12345 (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Operator 99 (Allure), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Filmportal.de, IMDb and Wikipedia.

Lucia Bosé

Lucia Bosé (1931) is an Italian actress, famous for her films from the 1950s with a.o. Giuseppe De Santis and Michelangelo Antonioni. In the same years and after she also worked with other famous directors such as Juan Bardem, Luis Buñuel, the Taviani brothers, Liliane Cavani, Francesco Rosi and Ferzan Özpetek.

Lucia Bosè
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini Editori, Firenze, no. 2528. Photo: Minerva Film.

Miss Italy

Lucia Bosè was born Lucia Borloni in Milan, Italy in 1931. She comes from a peasant and working-class family and began to work at the age of twelve years. She was first a messenger for a law firm, later a clerk in Milan's fine pastry shop Galli.

In 1947 she participated in the first Miss Italy pageant, where she was able to win against competitors like Gianna Maria Canale, Eleonora Rossi Drago and Gina Lollobrigida.

Had Giuseppe De Santis still preferred Silvana Mangano for Riso amaro/BitterRice (1949), he chose Bosè for his next film, Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi/No peace among the olive trees (Giuseppe De Santis, 1950), a typical Neorealist film about a poor shepherd (Raf Vallone) who tries steal back his sheep stolen from him while he was at war.

In the same year Bosé starred oposite Massimo Girotti in the well-to-do set, modernist crime story and drama Cronaca di un amore/Story of a love affair (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1950). It was Antonioni's first full length feature film, about an adulterous couple plotting to kill her husband.

Numerous screen engagements followed. Antonioni cast her again in La signora senza camelie/The Lady Without Camelias (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1953) about a newly discovered starlet and her experiences of in the Italian cinema. Juan Bardem cast her in Muerte di un ciclista/Death of a Cyclist  (1955) about an adulterous couple which runs over a cyclist and leaves him to die. Bosé also acted in Francesco Maselli's debut Gli sbandati/The Abandoned (1955) and Luis Buñuel's Cela s'appelle l'aurore/That Is the Dawn (1956).

Lucia Bosè
Italian postcard by Italfoto, no. 162.


In 1955 Luci Bosè married Luis Miguel Dominguín, a five years older, popular Spanish bullfighter and occasional actor. From the marriage, which ended in a divorce in 1967, sprang three children, two of whom - Paola Dominguin and Miguel Bosé - are also active as actors. Luchino Visconti was godfather to her son Miguel, Pablo Picasso to her daughter Paola.

At the time, Lucia Bosè lived in Spain and put her career on halt, except for a sporadic appearance in Le testament d'Orphée/Testament of Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1959).

In 1968 Bosé returned to film acting after almost a ten year break and worked first in Spain and afterwards in Italy. There she worked among others in Federico Fellini's Satyricon (1969), the Taviani Brothers'Sotto il segno dello scorpione/Under the Sign of Scorpio (1969), and Liliana Cavani's L'ospite/The Guest (1972).

Other interesting films with her were Nathalie Granger (Marguerite Duras, 1972), Lumière(Jeanne Moreau, 1976)  and Violanta (Daniel Schmid, 1977).

After 1978, she acted significantly less, but remained active, also on television. She had memorable film performances in Cronaca di una morte annunciata/Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Francesco Rosi, 1987) starring Rupert Everett, El niño de la Luna/Moon Child (Agustí Villaronga, 1989), Harem suaré/Harem (Ferzan Özpetek, 1999) and I vicerè/The Viceroy (Roberto Faenza, 2007).

Her most recent screen appearance was in Alfonsina y el mar/One more time(Pablo Benedetti, David Sordella, 2013), as an 80-year-old actress who returns to the small Chilean town of her youth to fulfill her father's dream of creating a TV channel in a place which has never known television.

Lucia Bosé
Italian postcard in the series Divi del Cinema by Vetta Traldi, Milano, no. 7.

Scene from Cronaca di un amore/Story of a love affair (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1950). Source: 藤原敏史(YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia (German, English and Italian) and IMDb.

Suzy Prim

Suzy Prim (1895-1991) was an acclaimed French actress, both on stage and on screen. As a young girl she already appeared as La petite Arduini in short silent films by Louis Feuillade. The height of her popularity was in the 1930s. Prim also produced films and wrote scripts.

Suzy Prim
French postcard by Editions en Publications Cinematographiques (EPC), no. 160. Photo: ACE.

Suzy Prim
French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Paris, no. 527. Photo: D.U.C.

Child Actor

Suzy Prim was born as Suzanne Mariette Arduini in Paris in 1895. She was the daughter of Gaston Arduini, an artist who belonged to an Italian family of actors and pantomime players who had established themselves in France in the 17th century.

Suzanne played on stage from a very early age on. She visited the Théàtre de l’Oeuvre by Aurélien Lugné-Poë, where she developped artistically. She would dedicate most of her life to the theatre and proved to be one of the best French female performers, often reciting next to Sacha Guitry and Jules Berry. With Berry she also shared her life for a while.

At a young age Prim was discovered by pioneer film director Louis Feuillade who directed her in the silent short Petits poèmes antiques/Little Antic Poems (Louis Feuillade, 1910). She became the ‘girl-actress’ in many of his films for Gaumont. Under the name of La petite Arduini, she was paired with that other child actor René Dary in such films as Le petit poucet/Tom Thumb (Louis Feuillade, 1912).

In 1914 she played in the Italian-Spanish coproduction Carmen (Giovanni Doria, Augusto Turqui, 1914), produced by Cines. This resulted in performances in various Italian films in 1914 and 1915: Madame Coralie & Cie/Coralie & C.ie (1914) starring Lea Giunchi, La beffa atroce (Carmine Gallone, 1915) with Soava Gallone, and Papà (Nino Oxilia, 1915) with Pina Menichelli.

Back in France, Prim did a whole series of films with director Georges-André Lacroix and when he moved to Italy to film, she followed him there, playing in titles like Appassionatamente/Passionately (Georges-André Lacroix, 1919) and Il suo destino/His Destiny (Georges-André Lacroix, 1921). In 1922 she played opposite Cyprian Gilles in L’aiglonne/The Eagle, a serial of 12 episodes, directed by René Navarre and Emile Keppens. After that Prim abandoned cinema, and focused on her stage career.

Suzy Prim
French postcard by Collection Chantal, Paris, no. 527. Photo: Distributeurs Français.

Suzy Prim
French postcard, no. 669. Photo: Film Sonor.

Vengeful Empress

Suzy Prim’s film career took a new turn when sound arrived. Prim became a leading lady of the French cinema, first in films with Jules Berry in the lead such as Mon coeur et ses millions/My Love and His Millions (André Berthomieu, 1931). Between 1935 and 1940 Prim played in some 30 films, ranging from comedy such as the Fernandel vehicle Un de la légion/One of the Legion (Christian Jaque, 1936) to drama, as the Stefan Zweig adaptation La peur/The Fright (Victor Tourjansky, 1936).

Roles of particular importance were the matchmaking countess in Mayerling (Anatole Litvak, 1935) who couples crownprince Rudolph (Charles Boyer) and young baroness Marie Vetsera (Danielle Darrieux), and Vassilissa, the woman whom Pepel (Jean Gabin) rejects in Jean Renoir’s adaptation of Maxim Gorki: Les bas-fonds/The Lower Depths (Jean Renoir, 1936).

Also memorable is Prim as Madame Tabasco, the star who falls for a pennyless gentleman in Alexis, gentleman chauffeur (Max de Vaucorbeil, 1938), and the vengeful empress Catherine II in the Italian film La principessa Tarakanova/Betrayal (Fedor Ozep, Mario Soldati, 1938), starring Annie Vernay as the fake heir to the Russian throne.

During the war Prim was active in comedies, a.o. with Raimu and Fernandel, but also played in dramas like the Emile Zola adaptation Au bonheur des dames/Shop Girls of Paris (André Cayatte, 1943) with Michel Simon, and the Honoré de Balzac adaptation La Rabouilleuse/The Black Sheep (Fernand Rivers, 1944) in which she played the title role.

In the postwar era Prim played in some fifteen other films, such as Au revoir M. Grock (Pierre Billon, 1949) with the famous Swiss clown Grock, and Au royaume des cieux (Julien Duvivier, 1949) with Serge Reggiani. From 1957 on Prim also produced films such as Douze heures d’horloge (Geza von Radvanyi, 1957) in which she also played, opposite Lino Ventura and Laurent Terzieff.

In the 1960s she appeared on television and wrote scripts for Pierre Bourdon, Jean Dréville and Jacques Derain, using her original name of Suzanne Arduini. Suzy Prim’s last screen performance was in Le corps de mon ennemi (Henri Verneuil, 1976) with Jean-Paul Belmondo.

At the very high age of 96, she died in Boulogne Billancourt (near Paris) in 1991. Suzy Prim lies buried at the cemetery of Belleville in Paris.

Suzy Prim
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1066. Photo: Manuel Frères. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Suzy Prim
Belgian postcard by Photo Editions, no. 156. Photo: Studio Cayet. Jo Cayet (1907-1987) was a famous Brussels based photographer.

Sources: CineArtistes (French), Wikipedia (French and Italian), and IMDb.

Imported from the USA: Tab Hunter

With his blond, tanned, surfer-boy good looks, Tab Hunter (1931) was one of Hollywood’s hottest teen idols of the 1950s era. The American actor, singer, and author portrayed boy-next-door marines, cowboys and swoon-bait sweethearts, and had a huge hit with the song Young Love (1957). When his career faded during the 1960s, he starred in Italy in Spaghetti Westerns. In the 1980s Hunter returned in the camp classics Polyester (1981) and Lust in the Dust (1985).

Tab Hunter
Spanish postcard by Archivo Bermejo, no. 5495. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Lafayette Escadrille (William A Wellman, 1958).

Tab Hunter
Dutch postcard by Int. Filmpers (IFP), Amsterdam, no. 1144.

Tab Hunter
Vintage postcard, no. 2311.

Fetching handsomeness and trim, athletic physique

Tab Hunter was born Arthur Andrew Kelm in New York City, in 1931. He is the son of Gertrude (Gelien) and Charles Kelm. Hunter's father was an abusive man and within a few years of his birth, his parents divorced and his mother moved with her two sons to California. Tab’s older brother Walter John Gelien (1930) would die in Vietnam in 1965 leaving seven children.

As a teenager, Hunter was a figure skater, competing in both singles and pairs. He joined the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 15, lying about his age to enlist. While in the Coast Guard, he gained the nickname ‘Hollywood’ for his penchant for watching movies rather than going to bars while on liberty. He was eventually discharged when the age deception was revealed.

Returning home, his life-long passion for horseback riding led to a job with a riding academy. He was given the stage name Tab Hunter by his first agent, Henry Willson. With no previous experience Tab made his first, albeit minor, film debut in the racially trenchant drama The Lawless (Joseph Losey, 1950) starring Gail Russell. His fetching handsomeness and trim, athletic physique landed him a role in the British production Saturday Island (Stuart Heisler, 1952) opposite Linda Darnell. His shirt remained off for a good portion of the film, which certainly did not go unnoticed, and he was signed by Warner Bros.

The Hollywood studio system artificially groomed him and nicknamed him ‘The Sigh Guy’. His co-starring role as young Marine Danny in the World War II drama Battle Cry (Raoul Walsh, 1955), made him one of Hollywood's top young romantic leads. In the film based on the Leon Uris novel, Hunter has an affair with an older woman (Dorothy Malone), but ends up marrying the girl next door (Mona Freeman).

In September 1955, the tabloid magazine Confidential reported Hunter's 1950 arrest following an L.A. raid on a ‘pajama party’ in Walnut Park. Tab was eventually fined $50 for a reduced ‘disorderly conduct’ charge after originally being charged with ‘idle, lewd or dissolute conduct.’ The article, and a second one focusing on Rory Calhoun's prison record, were the result of a deal Henry Willson had brokered with Confidential in exchange for not revealing his client Rock Hudson's sexual orientation.

Surprisingly this article had no negative effect on Hunter's career. His hit films of these years include The Burning Hills (Stuart Heisler, 1955) with Natalie Wood, The Girl He Left Behind (David Butler, 1956), and Gunman’s Walk (Phil Karlson, 1957) with Van Heflin. Hunter, James Dean, and Natalie Wood were the last of the actors placed under exclusive studio contract to Warner Bros.

In 1957, Hunter had a hit record with the song Young Love, which was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks and became one of the larger hits of the Rock & Roll era. Another hit record was Ninety-Nine Ways, which peaked at #11. His success prompted Jack L. Warner to enforce the actor's contract with the Warner Bros. studio by banning Dot Records, the label for which Hunter had recorded the single (and which was owned by rival Paramount Pictures), from releasing a follow-up album he had recorded for them. He established Warner Bros. Records specifically for Hunter.

In 1958, Hunter starred in the musical film Damn Yankees (George Abbott, Stanley Donen, 1958), in which he played Joe Hardy of Washington DC's American League baseball club. Another success was That Kind of Woman (Sidney Lumet, 1959) with Sophia Loren. Hunter was Warner Bros.' top money-grossing star from 1955 through 1959.

Tab Hunter
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam / Editions Altona, Amsterdam, no. 5128. Photo: London Records.

Tab Hunter
Dutch postcard by Gebr, Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Photo: Warner Bros Pictures.

Tab Hunter
German postcard by ISV, no. H 51.

Spoofing his old clean-cut image

Tab Hunter's failure to win the role of Tony in the film adaptation of West Side Story (Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, 1961) prompted him to agree to star in a weekly television sitcom. In 1960, prior to the program's debut, he was arrested by the police for allegedly beating his dog Fritz. His 11-day trial started in mid-October, a month after The Tab Hunter Show debuted on on NBC. The neighbour who initiated the charges had done so for spite when Hunter declined her repeated invitations to dinner, and he was acquitted by the jury. The Tab Hunter Show had moderate ratings and was cancelled after one season.

Following the film comedy The Pleasure of His Company (George Seaton, 1961) opposite Debbie Reynolds, the quality of his films fell off drastically during the 1960s. In Italy he made the fantasy L'arciere delle mille e una note/The Golden Arrow (Antonio Margheriti, 1962) with Rossana Podestà. In Great Britain he starred in The City Under the Sea (Jacques Tourneur, 1965) with Vincent Price. For a short time in the late 1960s, after several seasons of starring in summer stock and dinner theatre in shows such as Bye Bye Birdie, The Tender Trap and Under the Yum Yum Tree.

Hunter settled in the south of France, and acted in Spaghetti Westerns like El dedo del destino/The Cups of San Sebastian (Richard Rush, 1967) and La vendetta è il mio perdono/Shotgun (Roberto Mauri, 1968). During the 1970 he worked mainly for TV but also starred in the horror film Sweet Kill (Curtis Hanson, 1972) and appeared in the Western The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (John Huston, 1972).

His career was revived in the 1980s, when he spoofed his old clean-cut image by appearing opposite Divine in the camp classics Polyester (John Waters, 1981) and Lust in the Dust (Paul Bartel, 1985), which Hunter also co-produced. He then played Mr. Stewart, the substitute teacher in Grease 2 (Patricia Birch, 1982), who sang Reproduction. Hunter had a major role in the horror film Cameron's Closet (Armand Mastroianni, 1988). He also wrote, co-produced and starred in Dark Horse (David Hemmings, 1992).

Hunter's autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (2006), co-written with Eddie Muller, became a New York Times best-seller as did the paperback edition in 2007. In the book, he acknowledged that he is gay, confirming rumours that had circulated since the height of his fame. According to William L. Hamilton of The New York Times, detailed reports about Hunter's alleged romances with close friends Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood, were strictly the fodder of studio publicity departments. Hunter had a long-term relationship with actor Anthony Perkins and shorter flings with dancer Rudolf Nureyev and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson, before settling down with his partner of over 30 years, Allan Glaser.

In 2015 Glaser produced the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential (Jeffrey Schwarz, 2015), based on Hunter’s autobiography, which re-entered the New York Times Best Seller list during the release of the documentary.

Trailer for Damn Yankees (1958). Source: Tab Hunter (YouTube).

Tab Hunter sings Young Love Live at The Perry Como Show. Source: The Land Of Marcos (YouTube).

Trailer Polyester (1981). Source: Night of the Trailers (YouTube).

Trailer Tab Hunter Confidential (2015). Source: Vanity Fair (YouTube).

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

Elizza La Porta

Romanian born actress Elizza La Porta (1904-1997) had a short lived career in the late silent cinema of Germany. Her main claim of fame was her starring role in Der Student von Prag/The Man Who Cheated Life (1926).

Elizza La Porta
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1694/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Sokal Film. Sokal produced Der Student von Prag/The Man Who Cheated Life (1926).

Elizza La Porta
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3041/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ufa.


Elizza La Porta was born in Craiova, Romania, in 1902. (Some sources say 1904).

She started her film career in 1926 in such German productions as Schenk mir das Leben/Give me the life (Klaus Fery, 1926), Der Herr der Nacht/Man of the Night (Carl Heinz Wolff, 1926) starring Rudolf Klein-Rogge, and the comedy Die Spork'schen Jäger/The Secret of the Night (Holger-Madsen, 1926) with Otto Gebühr and Walter Rilla.

La Porta flamed in the horror film Der Student von Prag/The Man Who Cheated Life (Henrik Galeen, 1926) as the flower girl Lyduschka, who is in love with the student Balduin (Conrad Veidt). The penniless Balduin sells his mirror image to a mysterious merchant (Werner Krauss), and his reflection becomes a devilish Doppelgänger.

This first remake of the classic film from 1913 with Paul Wegener is largely based on the original screenplay by Hanns Heinz Ewers. Der Student von Prag made La Porta a well-known actress.

Elizza La Porta
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3198/1 1928-1929. Photo: Ufa.

Elizza La Porta
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3353/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ufa.

Elizza La Porta, Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3596/1, 1928-1929 (Autograph of La Porta signed in 1928). Photo: Aafa-Film. Publicity still for the comedy Robert und Bertram/Robert and Bertram (Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1928) with Harry Liedtke. Collection: Didier Hanson


Subsequently, Elizza La Porta acted in films like Leichte Kavallerie/Light Cavalry (Rolf Randolf, 1927) with Alphons Fryland, and Laster der Menschheit/Vice of Mankind (Rudolf Meinert, 1927) with Asta Nielsen.

The next year she played in Die Frauengasse von Algier/The Street of Women of Algiers (Wolfgang Hoffmann-Harnisch, 1928) with Maria Jacobini, and Robert und Bertram/Robert and Bertram (Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1928) with Harry Liedtke and Fritz Kampers.

In the late 1920s La Porta played female leads in a few German sound films including Engel im Separée (Ernö Mayer, 1929), and Grossstadtpiraten/Big City Pirates (Hans Schönlank, 1930).

Her last film appearance was a supporting part in Fundvogel/Finding bird (Wolfgang Hoffmann-Harnisch, 1930), starring Paul Wegener and Camilla Horn.

When sound film arrived, Elizza La Porta completely retired from film acting. During her four year career she had made 18 films.

About the rest of her life we could not find information on the net. The only known fact is that she died in 1997 in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA. She was 95.

Elizza La Porta
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3609/1. Photo: Atelier Manassé, Wien (Vienna). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Elizza La Porta
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5047. Photo: Kiko-Film.

First scenes of Der Student von Prag/The Man Who Cheated Life (1926). Source: Silent Film Democracy (YouTube).

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

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Kissing Willy Fritsch

Willy Fritsch (1901-1973) was the darling of the female filmgoers of the 1930s and 1940s. He was the immensely popular ‘Sunny Boy’ of the Ufa operettas and a real heartthrob for our grannies. With Lilian Harvey, he formed the 'Traumpaar' (Dream couple) of the German cinema, but Fritsch kissed also many other girls onscreen. And Willy formed a perfect pair with his Austrian (and gay) co-star Willi Forst.

Willy Fritsch
Willy Fritsch. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6746/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

Xenia Desni, Willy Fritsch, Ein Walzertraum
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 48/5, 1925-1926. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ein Walzertraum/The Waltz Dream (Ludwig Berger, 1925) with Xenia Desni and Willy Fritsch.

La dernière valse
French postcard by ACE. Photo: Ufa. Suzy Vernon and Willy Fritsch in the German operetta film Der letzte Walzer/The Last Waltz (Arthur Robison, 1927).

Willy Fritsch and Dita Parlo in Ungarische Rhapsodie
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 104/3, 1925-1935. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Ungarische Rhapsodie/Hungarian Rhapsody (Hanns Schwarz, 1928) with Willy Fritsch and Dita Parlo.

Jenny Jugo and Willy Fritsch in Die Carmen von St. Pauli (1928)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3585/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Jenny Jugo and Willy Fritsch in Die Carmen von St. Pauli/Docks of Hamburg (Erich Waschneck, 1928).

Willy Fritsch, Käthe von Nagy
Dutch postcard, no. 657. Photo: Ufa. Willy Fritsch and Käthe von Nagy played together in several films of the early 1930s, such as Ihre Hoheit befehlt (Hanns Schwarz, 1930/1931), Ronny (Reinhold Schünzel, 1931) and Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht (Ludwig Berger, 1932).

Willy Fritsch, Lilian Harvey and Willi Forst in Ein blonder Traum (1932)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 143/6, 1925-1935. Photo: Ufa. Willi Forst, Lilian Harvey and Willy Fritsch in the musical comedy Ein blonder Traum/Happy Ever After (Paul Martin, 1932).

Willi Forst and Willy Fritsch in Ein Blonder Traum
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6982/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still of Willi Forst and Willy Fritsch in the musical comedy Ein blonder Traum/Happy Ever After (Paul Martin, 1932).

Willy Fritsch, Renate Müller in Walzerkrieg
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 192/3, 1932-1933. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Walzerkrieg/Waltz Time in Vienna (Ludwig Berger, 1933) with Willy Fritsch and Renate Müller. Collection: Egbert Barten.

Rose Barsony and Willy Fritsch in Walzerkrieg (1933)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 192/4, 1925-1925. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Walzerkrieg (Ludwig Berger, 1933) with Rose Barsony and Willy Fritsch.

Heli Finkenzeller and Willy Fritsch in Boccaccio (1936)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9677/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Boccaccio (Herbert Maisch, 1936) with Heli Finkenzeller and Willy Fritsch.

Willy Fritsch and Lilian Harvey in Ein blonder Traum
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7035/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Jacobi, Berlin / Ufa. Publicity still for Ein blonder Traum/Happy Ever After (Paul Martin, 1932) with Willy Fritsch and Lilian Harvey.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

André Dassary

Handsome French singer André Dassary (1912-1987) was a star of the French operetta and made several popular records. The ‘tenor with the golden voice’ also performed in some films.

André Dassary
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 194. Photo: Studio Carlet Ainé.

André Dassary
French postcard by Greff, Paris, no. 9. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

André Dassary
French postcard by Greff, Paris, no. 50. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Notoriety under the Occupation

André Dassary was born as André Deyhérassary in Biarritz, France, in 1912. After his secondary education at St. Genesius school in Bordeaux, he developed a passion for sport and became a professional masseur. In this capacity, he accompanied the French team at the student Olympics of 1937.

He studied at the Bordeaux Conservatory where he won the first prize for singing, operetta and comic opera. Still a student, he made his radio debut in 1938.

He was spotted by Fred Pasquali who offered him a part in the operetta Le Roi du cirque (King of the circus, 1938), composed by Kalman. Dassary refused, but still Pasquali introduced him to orchestra leader Ray Ventura.

There he started his career and also made his film debut with Ventura. In the Ventura musical Tourbillon de Paris/Whirlwind of Paris (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1939), he played a student. In 1943, he also performed in the Ventura musical, Feux de joie/Bonfires (Jacques Houssin, 1943), with René Lefèvre.

With the orchestras of Ventura, Marcel Cariven and Wal-Berg, he made several popular records during the 1930s and 1940s.

Dassary was a captive in Germany at the start of World War II. He was released and achieved notoriety under the Occupation, especially for a song to the glory of Marshal Pétain, Maréchal, nous voilà! (Marshal we come!). This song became emblematic for the Vichy regime.

André Dassary
French postcard by Disques Pathé. Photo: Roger Carlet ainé.

André Dassary
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 41. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

André Dassary
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 257. Photo: Roger Carlet ainé, Paris.


After the war, André Dassary was criticized for his behaviour during the occupation, although his popularity had not waned.

Among his successes is especially notable Ramuntcho (1944), a song by Vincent Scotto and John Rodor.

Dassary would also star in a film around the song, Le mariage de Ramuntcho/The Marriage of Ramuntcho (Max de Vaucorbeil, 1947), with Gaby Sylvia. It was also notable because it was the first French film in colour. He then appeared in the musical Paris chante toujours!/Paris Still Sings! (Pierre Montazel, 1951).

In 1946, the handsome, athletic Dassary directed his career towards the operetta and appeared in an almost tailor-made role as the lead in L'ingénue de Londres (The young lover in London). Then he performed in his finest creation, Chanson Gitane (Gypsy Song), which was performed over a thousand times, in France and abroad.

He also starred in the operetta La Toison d'or (The Golden Fleece, 1954) by Francis Lopez and Raymond Vincy at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Many operettas and other performances followed. Later, he recorded Basque folklore inspired songs with Raymond Legrand's Orchestra, the father of Michel Legrand.

André Dassary continued performing till he retired in 1970. Dassary died in Paris in 1987. He is the father of the actress Evelyn Dandry.

André Dassary
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 137. Photo: Studio Carlet Ainé.

André Dassary sings Ramuntcho (1945). Source: Vieux Disques (YouTube).

André Dassary sings La petite église in 1966, accompanied by the orchestra of Raymond Lefevre. Source: Ina Chansons (YouTube).

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

Anthony Bushell

English film actor and director Anthony Bushell (1904-1997) appeared in 56 films between 1929 and 1961. Bushell was a cultured performer with a penchant for playing military men, such as in James Whale’s Journey's End (1930). He also appeared in and directed various British TV series like Danger Man (1961).

Anthony Bushell
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 485.

Anthony Bushell
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 485a, Photo: London Films.

Journey's End

Anthony Arnatt Bushell was born in Westerham, Kent, in 1904 and he was educated at Magdalen College School, and then Hertford College, Oxford. After Oxford, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and got his start on stage from Sir Gerald du Maurier, making his theatrical debut in Victorien Sardou's Diplomacy at the Adelphi Theatre in 1924.

Bushell worked in the U.S. for a time in 1927-1928, touring in Her Cardboard Lover with Jeanne Eagels. In 1928 he met American actress Zelma O'Neal, who was performing on the London stage in the musical Good News. They married in New York in 1928, when he was appearing on Broadway in W. Somerset Maugham's The Sacred Flame and she was preparing to open in the musical Follow Thru.

George Arliss saw Bushell on Broadway and when he was cast as the lead in his first talkie, Disraeli (Alfred E. Green, 1929), an American biopic of the famed British Prime Minister, he recommended Bushell for the role of Disraeli's young rival Charles Deeford.

Bushell was cast in another American film Jealousy (1929), but after shooting was completed all his scenes were re-shot with Frederic March at the insistence of his co-star Jeanne Eagels.

He appeared in the first American-British co-production of the sound era, the war drama Journey's End (James Whale, 1930) with Colin Clive. His other Hollywood films, also often saw him in the military roles that became his speciality.

These films included Three Faces East (Roy Del Ruth, 1930) with Erich Von Stroheim, Five Star Final (Mervyn LeRoy, 1931) with Edward G. Robinson, Chances (Allan Dwan, 1931) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Vanity Fair (Chester M. Franklin, 1932) with Myrna Loy, and A Woman Commands (Paul L. Stein, 1932) with Pola Negri in her first sound picture.

Anthony Bushell
British postcard in the Film Weekly Series, London.

In the armed forces

In 1930, Anthony Bushell and his wife took a delayed honeymoon trip to Germany, France, and England. They relocated to London in 1932, where she established a second stage career. They divorced in 1935. Following their divorce, they appeared in the same show at least once, though they did not appear together on stage. O'Neal returned to New York in June 1937.

Bushell remained in England and played more important roles in several films: The Midshipmaid (Albert de Courville, 1932) with Jessie Matthews; Boris Karloff's horror film The Ghoul (T. Hayes Hunter, 1933) where he played the romantic lead; The Scarlet Pimpernel (Harold Young, 1934) with Leslie Howard, and Dark Journey (Victor Saville, 1937) with Conrad Veidt and Vivien Leigh.

He had a brief affair with Patricia Roc, with whom he appeared and gave her first onscreen kiss in film The Rebel Son (Adrian Brunel, Albert de Courville, Alexis Granowsky, 1938) set in 17th-century Ukraine. Wikipedia quotes Graham Greene, who wrote in The Spectator a sarcastic assessment of the film, which he left a half hour: "I liked particularly the scene when the young Cossack (played by Mr. Anthony Bushell with his keen young Oxford accent) bursts into the bedroom of the girl he loves, 'I know it's very late to call but ... O I am glad you are not angry.'"

In Arsenal Stadium Mystery (Thorold Dickinson, 1939) the Arsenal football team appeared and Bushnell played their star football player who is poisoned during a match. In The Lion Has Wings (Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Michael Powell, 1939), a documentary-style anti-German propaganda film, he was cast, in one critic's words, as one of several "idiosyncratic but not over well-known actors" who could stand in for RAF crew members.

In 1939, he joined the British Armed Forces, was commissioned in the Welsh Guards and served in the Guards Armoured Division as a tank squadron commander. During the war he married his second wife, Anne.

Anthony Bushell
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 485 a.

The Angel with the Trumpet

After the war, Anthony Bushell developed a relationship with Laurence Olivier, at whose urging he served as associate producer on Olivier's Shakespearean production Hamlet (1948) and later as associate director on Richard III (1965) and The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), helping with Olivier's scenes in these films.

He directed for the first time in 1950, using material from an earlier Austrian filmed called Der Engel mit der Posaune (Karl Hartl, 1950), with Maria Schell. He substituted new scenes with British actors where necessary and dubbed minor roles to create an English-language version, The Angel with the Trumpet (1951). Bushell also took the role of Baron Traun, companion to Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria.

Of his direction in partnership with Reginald Beck of The Long Dark Hall (1951), Wikipedia quotes a critic: "The tandem direction is surprisingly able and occasionally inventive." However, Hal Erickson at AllMovie writes that his three films (the third was The Terror of the Tongs (1961)) were “profitable if undistinguished”.

During the 1950s, Bushell also played King Arthur in The Black Knight (Tay Garnett, 1954), and the captain of the Carpathia in an early version of the Titanic disaster, A Night to Remember (Roy Ward Baker, 1958).

In the early 1960s, he directed segments of The Valiant Years, a documentary based on the memoirs of Winston Churchill. Though it was a documentary, and BBC rules forbade the use of re-enactments, Bushell appeared in one scene as an RAF air marshal deriding British attempts to sway German public opinion by dropping leaflets on their cities early in World War II. He was filling in for Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris and speaking Harris' words only because illness prevented Harris from participating on the day scheduled for filming.

He retired in 1964, and he later served as director of the Monte Carlo Golf Club. Anthony Bushell died in Oxford in 1997. He was 92.

DVD Trailer for The Angel with the Trumpet (Anthony Bushell, 1951). Source: Network Distributing (YouTube).

Trailer The Terror of the Tongs (Anthony Bushell, 1961). Source: cushing97380 (YouTube).

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

Stefan Lisewski (1933-2016)

On Friday, 26 February 2016, German actor Stefan Lisewski has passed away in his howetown Berlin. He was well known as an interpreter of the plays of Bertolt Brecht and as one the stars of the Krimi series Polizeiruf 110. He also apperared in several East-German films. He was 82.

Stefan Lisewski (1933-2016)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 1661. Photo: DEFA / Pathenheimer.

Trouble with official socialist morality

Stefan Lisewski was born in 1933 in Tczew, Poland. After the end of World War II, Lisewski aimed initially at a career as a metallurgical engineer and studied at the Bergakademie in Freiberg. But his passion was the theatre and he played various roles as an extra in stage productions.

When he attempted for the second time to study acting at the State Drama School in Berlin, he was admitted. After finishing his studies, Lisewski gained 1957 a long-standing commitment at the Berliner Ensemble, where he worked until 1999. For decades he was one of their main pillars and played leading roles in almost all of Brecht's plays, including the part of Mack the Knife in The Threepenny Opera.

In addition to his stage work Lisewski gained great popularity through roles in DEFA features and films for the television of the GDR. His screen debut in Das Lied der Matrosen/The song of the sailors (Kurt Maetzig, Günter Reisch, 1958), was also his breakthrough.

The romantic comedy Verwirrung der Liebe/Confusion of love (Slatan Dudow, 1959) made him a crowd favourite. This big-budget production featuring Angelica Domröse, Annekatrin Bürger and Willi Schrade, ran into trouble with official socialist morality due to its frank depiction of sex (including nude bathing scenes) and portrayal of consumerism, along with a very stylized version of comedy.

Countless roles followed in such films as Die Jagd nach dem Stiefel/The hunt for the boots (Konrad Petzold, 1962), Solange Leben in mir ist/As long as life is in me (Günter Reisch, 1965), the biography of the socialistic politician Karl Liebknecht, and the Western Tödlicher Irrtum/Fatal Error (Konrad Petzold, 1970) with Armin Mueller-Stahl and Gojko Mitic.

Stefan Lisewski (1933-2016)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 1298, 1960. Photo: DEFA / Neufeld.

Playing God

In the 1970s, Stefan Lisewski concentrated increasingly on his stage career. He played supporting parts in films like Susanne und der Zauberring/Susanne and the magic ring (Erwin Stranka, 1974), Die Leiden des jungen Werthers/The Sorrows of Young Werther (Egon Günther, 1976), and Beethoven - Tage aus einem Leben/Beethoven-Days in a Life (Horst Seemann, 1976) with Donatas Banionis.

In 1977 he was awarded the Art Prize of the GDR. On TV, he played roles in the children's series Spuk unterm Riesenrad/Spook under the Ferris Wheel (Günter Meyer, 1979) and Spuk im Hochhaus/Spook in the skyscraper (Günter Meyer, 1982-1983). Furthermore, he became known as an actor in radio plays.

His later film roles include God in Gottes Besuch/God's visit (Damir Lukacevic, 1998) and a scientist in the SF-film Transfer (Damir Lukacevic, 2010), his final film role. In 2002 he played the ogre in the opera Pollicino by Hans Werner Henze, directed by Jobst Liebrecht. The CD recording won a 2004 Echo. Until recently, he played the role of Dogsborough in Brecht's Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui/The resistible rise of Arturo Ui, directed by Heiner Müller. It was performed more than 300 times at home and abroad.

Stefan Lisewski was briefly married with fellow actress Monika Gabriel. In 1969 he married his second wife Karin, with whom he lived in Berlin. From this relationship, two sons were born.

Stefan Lisewski (1933-2016)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 123/70. Photo: DEFA / Blümel. Publicity still for Tödlicher Irrtum/Fatal Error (1970).

Stefan Lisewski (1933-2016)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 62 / 70. Photo: Linke.

Source: Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
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