actress info

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Camilla von Hollay

Camilla von Hollay (1899–1967) was a Hungarian film actress of the silent era. She appeared in more than 40 films between 1916 and 1930.

Camilla von Hollay
German postcard by Ross Verlag, nr. 1943/1, 1927-1928. Photo: UFA.

Count Dracula
Camilla von Hollay was born as Kamillá Hollai in Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary). Her father, the industrialist Adalbert Hollay, wanted her to study medicine after finishing school. Against her parents' will she visited an acting school in 1915. For two years she played in Budapest theatres in plays like Liliom and Pygmalion. According to German Wikipedia her film debut was already in 1913 in an unknown Hungarian silent film. From 1916 on she started to appear regularly in the cinema billed as Kamilla Hollai. Her second film was Mire megvénülünk/What is Shallow (1916, Ödön Uher jr.). In the films A régiséggyütjö/The Antiquarian (1917, Alfréd Deésy), Casanova (1918, Alfréd Deésy) and the Oscar Wilde adaptation Az élet kiralya/The Picture of Dorian Gray (1918, Alfréd Deésy), she appeared at the side of Bela Lugosi (using the stage name Arisztid Olt). Lugosi was then known as Arisztid Olt and would later later become famous in his role as Count Dracula.

Camilla von Hollay
German postcard by Ross Verlag, nr. 3644/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Schrecker, Berlin.

In 1922, Kamillá Hollai went to Berlin to take over the lead in Das Feuerschiff/The Fire Ship (1922, Richard Löwenbein). In Germany she changed her name into Camilla von Hollay. During the 1920’s she starred in such German films as Ein Traum vom Glück/A Dream of Happiness (1924, Paul L. Stein) with Harry Liedtke, Die Wiskottens (1926, Arthur Bergen), Madame wünscht keine Kinder/Madame Doesn't Want Children (1927, Alexander Korda), the Asta Nielsen vehicle Gehetzte Frauen/Agitated Women (1927, Richard Oswald), Die Weber/The Weavers (1927, Friedrich Zelnik/Frederic Zelnik) with Paul Wegener, and Waterloo (1928, Karl Grune) starring Charles Vanel. The sound film didn't offer her demanding roles - probably because of her Hungarian accent. She only acted in minor roles in films like Die zärtlichen Verwandten/Beloved Family (1930, Richard Oswald) and Tingel-Tangel (1930, Jaap Speyer) featuring Ernö Verebes. In 1931 she married a journalist and retired. Camilla von Hollay died in Budapest in 1967.

Ernst Verebes
Ernst Verebes (a.k.a. Ernö Verebes). German postcard by Ross Verlag, nr. 6146/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Aafa Film.

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hungarian movie database (Hungarian), Wikipedia (Engels and German), and IMDb.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Madeleine Sologne

French stage and film actress Madeleine Sologne (1912 - 1995) was a popular star in the late 1930’s and 1940’s. She became the symbol for a generation when she appeared as a modern Isolde in Jean Cocteau’s L'Éternel Retour/The Eternal Return (1941). She and her film partner Jean Marais became the ideal couple of the European cinema of the 1940's. Girls did their hair in the long, blond Sologne fashion. But in 1948 the actress retired.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 45. Photo: Roger Carlet.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 120 (?). Photo: Roger Carlet.

The world Will TrembleMadeleine Sologne was born as Madeleine Vouillon in the village La Ferte-Imbault in the region Sologne, France in 1912. She was the daughter of a poor tailer and she left her village after the death of her father. At 16, she became an apprentice of Caroline Reboux, a famous hat designer in Paris. Next she opened her own millinery shop. In 1936, she married cinematographer Alain Douarinou. She also became the model of painter Mojzesz Kisling, who encouraged her to take acting lessons, with Julien Bertheau and Jacques Baumer. Her first theatrical experience was in the play in Boccace, conte 19/Boccaccio tale 19 by Julien Luchaire. She made her film debut with a small role in the collective Popular Front propaganda film, La vie est à nous/Life is ours (1936, Jean Renoir, Jean Boyer a.o.). She continued to play small parts such as in Les gens du voyage/People Who Travel (1938, Jacques Feyder). In 1939, she rose to star status in Le monde tremblera/The world will tremble (1939, Richard Pottier) next to Claude Dauphin and Erich von Stroheim. The screenplay, based on an obscure book, was written by Henri-Georges Clouzot, and tells about a machine that can tell you how many years, days, hours and minutes you have left to live. She then appeared as the partner of Fernandel in the comedy Raphaël le tatoué/Raphael tattooed (1939, Christian-Jaque), and her brown hair suited her well when she played a gypsy in Le Danube bleu/The Blue Danube (1939, Emil E. Reinert, Alfred Rode) at the side of José Noguéro.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard, no. 74. Photo: Roger Carlet.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 120. Photo: Studio Carlet Ainé.

The Eternal Return
The German invasion in 1940 slowed down French film production, but the following year Madeleine Sologne starred in Fièvres/Fever (1941, Jean Delannoy). In this film she played the wife of Tino Rossi, consumed by jealousy and dying of grief at her husband's infidelity. Another success was Le loup des Malveneur/The Wolf of Malveneur (1943, Guillaume Radot) with Pierre Renoir. Then the highlight of Sologne’s career came with the powerful romantic tragedy L'Éternel Retour/The Eternal Return (1943, Jean Delannoy). The story, written by Jean Cocteau, is a modern update of the Tristan and Isolde legend. As the modern Tristan and Isolde, newcomer Jean Marais and Sologne are a stunningly handsome couple. Sologne as blond Natalie had dyed her brown hair blond for the occasion, with a long falling lock à la Veronica Lake. The two lovers, symbolizing the youth living under the yoke of the Nazi occupation, became mythical in the eyes of a generation. In her obituary of Sologne in the British newspaper The Independent, Ginette Vincendeau writes: “The film is typical of the strong escapist trend in the cinema of the time which took its roots in history or legend - as did other films, such as Marcel Carné's Les Visiteurs du soir (1942) and Les Enfants du paradis (1943-45) - but paradoxically Sologne's success in it was due to her modern appearance.” Both Sologne's smooth blond hairstyle and Marais' patterned jersey sweater, designed by the couturier Marcel Rochas (as were Sologne's clothes), were widely copied. Young girls did their hair ‘in the Madeleine Sologne fashion’.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 209. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 210. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

SwansongHer powerful mythical character in L'Éternel Retour/The Eternal Return (1943) and its popularity became paradoxically Madeleine Sologne’s swansong. After the war she returned in the lesser-known but fascinating La Foire aux chimères/Devil and the Angel (1946, Pierre Chenal) co-starring Erich von Stroheim. In a melodramatic reprise of Charles Chaplin's City Lights story of 1931, Sologne plays a beautiful blind woman whose disfigured benefactor (Von Stroheim) goes mad and kills himself when she recovers her sight and leaves him. Neither this nor her following films ever attained the popular or critical success of L'Eternel retour. After some minor roles, the actress retired in 1948. During the 1950’s she only appeared on stage, such as in La forêt pétrifiée/The Petrified Forest by Robert Emmet Sherwood, then in Aux quatre coins/The four corners by Jean Marsan and L'homme traqué/The hunted man by Francis Carco. She returned incidentally to the cinema, a last time for a small role in the crime drama Le Temps des loups/The Time of the Wolves (1969, Sergio Gobbi) starring Robert Hossein. She divorced Alain Douarinou and then married production manager Leopold Schlosberg. She regularly appeared on TV. After her second husband’s death in 1976, she returned to the region of her birth, Sologne. In 1995, Madeleine Sologne died in a nursing home in Vierzon, France. She was 82.
Scene from Raphaël le tatoué/Raphael tattooed (1939) (No subtitles). Source: 6869franck (YouTube).
Scene from L'Éternel Retour/The Eternal Return (1943) (No subtitles). Source: Tarlait (YouTube).
Sources: Caroline Hanotte (CinéArtistes), Ginette Vincendeau (The Independent), Lenin Imports, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Virna Lisi

Seductive Italian actress Virna Lisi (1936) appeared in more than 100 film and TV productions and is internationally best known as a tempting blue-eyed blonde in Hollywood productions of the 1960’s. But she proved to be more than a pretty face. Later she had a career Renaissance with three-dimensional character parts in a wide variety of Italian and French. A triumph was her portrayal of a malevolent Catherine de Medici in La Reine Margot (1994) for which she won both the David di Donatello and the César awards.

Virna Lisi
Italian postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Assault on a Queen (1966, Jack Donohue).

With Such A Mouth...
Virna Lisi was born as Virna Lisa Pieralisi in Ancona, Italy in 1936. Her brother, Ubaldo Pieralisi, later became a talent agent, and her sister Esperia Pieralisi also became an actress. Virna began her film career as a teenager. She was discovered by two Neapolitan producers (Antonio Ferrigno and Ettore Pesce) in Paris. Her debut was in La corda d'acciaio/The line of steel (1953-1958, Carlo Borghesio). Initially, she did musical films, like in E Napoli canta/Napoli sings (1953, Armando Grottini) and the successful four-episode film Questa è la vita/Such is life (1954, Luigi Zampa a.o.), with the popular Totò. Her looks were more valued than her talent in some of her early films, like in Le diciottenni/Eighteen Year Olds (1955, Mario Mattoli) with Marisa Allasio, and Lo scapolo/The Bachelor (1955, Antonio Pietrangeli) with Alberto Sordi. She incarnated more demanding roles in Il cardinale Lambertini/Cardinal Lambertini (1954, Giorgio Pastina) opposite Gino Cervi, La Donna del Giorno/The Doll That Took the Town (1956, Francesco Maselli), the peplum Romolo e Remo/Duel of the Titans (1961, Sergio Corbucci) featuring musclemen Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott as the two legendary brothers, and Eva/Eve (1962, Joseph Losey) starring Jeanne Moreau. In the late 1950’s, Lisi played on stage at the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, and appeared in I giacobini by Federico Zardi, under the direction of Giorgio Strehler. During the 1960’s, Lisi played in stage comedies and she also participated in some very popular television dramas. On TV she also promoted a toothpaste brand, with a slogan which would become a catchphrase amongst the Italians: "con quella bocca può dire ciò che vuole" (with such a mouth, she can say whatever she wants).

Virna Lisi
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no 2869. Retail price: 0,20 MDN.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe. Dutch Int. Filmpers, Amsterdam, nr. 1154.

Tempting Blue-eyed Blonde
In the 1960’s, Hollywood producers were looking for a successor to Marilyn Monroe and so Virna Lisi made a dent in Hollywood comedies as a tempting blue-eyed blonde. She first starred opposite Jack Lemmon in George Axelrod’s satirical How to Murder Your Wife (1965, Richard Quine). At IMDb reviewer Mdantonio takes his hat off for her performance: “What most everyone fails to mention in the comments is the incredible skill of Virna Lisi. She is a natural mixing it up with Lemmon, (Claire) Trevor and the other veterans like she had been making movies for years. I have watched many movies in my day and I must say that Virna Lisi is right at the top, not only in beauty and sexuality but in carrying her role as good as anyone else could have. Ms. Lisi, my hat is off to you.” She also gained attention with the March 1965 cover of Esquire magazine on which she was shaving her face. The following year she appeared in another comedy, Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966, Norman Panama) now with Tony Curtis. She also starred with Frank Sinatra in Assault on a Queen (1966, Jack Donohue), with Rod Steiger in La Ragazza e il Generale/The Girl and the General (1967, Pasquale Festa Campanile), and twice with Anthony Quinn, in the war drama La vingt-cinquième heure/The 25th Hour (1967, Henri Verneuil), and in The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969, Stanley Kramer). To overcome her typecasting as a sexy, seductive woman, Lisi sought new types of roles, and found these in such Italian comedies as Le bambole/Four Kinds of Love (1965, Dino Risi a.o.), Signore & signori/The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1966, Pietro Germi) and Le dolci signore/Anyone Can Play (1968), and Roma bene (1971, Carlo Lizzani) with Senta Berger. At Rovi, Robert Firsching reviews Signore & signori: “Pietro Germi's funny anthology combines the standard sex comedy format with some unexpectedly subtle observations about village life. The film centers on three stories exposing the sexual secrets of the Italian town of Treviso. (...) Signore e Signori won the Best Film award at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.”

Virna Lisi
Rumanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 43078.

Virna Lisi
Rumanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Collection: Veronique3@Flickr.

Career Renaissance
In the early 1970’s, Virna Lisi decided to focus on her family, husband Franco Pesci and her son Corrado, born in 1962. In the later 1970’s she had a career renaissance with a series of major Italian films, including the Nietzsche biography Al di là del bene e del male/Beyond Good and Evil (1977, Liliana Cavani) starring Dominique Sanda, Ernesto (1979, Salvatore Samperi), La cicala/The Cricket (1980, Alberto Lattuada), and I ragazzi di via Panisperna/The Boys of the Via Panisperna (1989, Gianni Amelio) with Andrea Prodan and Mario Adorf. Prodan’s brother Luca Prodan is the singer of the Argentinean band Sumo which made a song for Lisi. The Brazilian rock band Virna Lisi is even named after her. Her greatest triumph was the French film La Reine Margot/Queen Margot (1994, Patrice Chéreau) in which Lisi played a malevolent Catherine de Medici, ordering assaults, poisonings, and instigations to incest. Karl Williams writes at Rovi about the film: “The historical novel by Alexandre Dumas was adapted for the screen with this lavish French epic, winner of 5 Césars and a pair of awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Isabelle Adjani stars as Marguerite de Valois, better known as Margot, daughter of scheming Catholic power player Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi).” For her magnificent portrayal Lisi won not only the César and the Best Actress award in Cannes, but also the David di Donatello award, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar. Since the late 1990’s, she did many successful dramatic TV productions, including L'onore e il rispetto/Honour and respect (2006, Salvatore Samperi) with Gabriel Garko and Giancarlo Giannini. In 2002, Lisi starred in her last film, Il più bel giorno della mia vita/The Best Day of My Life (2002, Cristina Comencini) with Margherita Buy, but a new film is in production: Boogie Woogie (2011, Andrea Frezza) with Paul Sorvino. Vira Lisi is still married to architect Franco Pesci and they live in five different villas in Rome, the Italian countryside and the mountains. They have three grandchildren: Franco, Federico and Riccardo.

American trailer for Romolo e Remo/Duel of the Titans (1961, Sergio Corbucci). Source: Peplumz (YouTube).

Trailer for How to Murder Your Wife (1965, Richard Quine). Source: Skipjackturner (YouTube).

Trailer of La Reine Margot/Queen Margot (1994, Patrice Chéreau)

Sources: Hal Erickson (Rovi), Robert Firsching (Rovi), Karl Williams (Rovi), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia and IMDb.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Evelyn Künneke

German singer, dancer and actress Evelyn Künneke (1921 - 2001) was the last survivor of the Lili Marleen generation. Although the Nazis did not like it, she brought tap dance and swing to Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Thirty years later she made a come-back in the films of Rosa von Praunheim and Rainer-Werner Fassbinder.

Evelyn Künneke
German postcard by Odeon.

Evelyn Künneke
German postcard. Photo: Peter J. Fellinge.

Evelyn Künneke
German postcard, no 172. Photo: Real Film/Lilo.

Knock-kneed, Short-sighted, Far Too Tall
Eva-Susanne Künneke was born in Berlin in 1921. She was the daughter of famous operetta composer Eduard Künneke and his wife, the opera singer Katarina Garden (born as Katarina Krapotkin), and she spent her youth very much in the shadow of her father's fame. Despite the fact that he thought little of his daughter’s artistic talents and despite her being, in her own opinion, "knock-kneed, short-sighted, far too tall, and unable to escape my father's shadow", her ambitions proved irrepressible. She was a swimming champion at 14. She had ballet classes from the Russian choreograph Victor Gsovsky, acting classes from Ilka Grüning, Lucie Höflich and Leslie Howard, and singing lessons from Maria Ivogün. Meanwhile she worked as a photo model. In Stepstudio Edmont Leslie, she learned to tap dance. In 1935 she acquired the O-level at the Fleckschen private school in Berlin. After completing her education, she became second solo dancer of the Berlin Staatsoper (State Opera), but she made a splash as the tap dancer Evelyn King in Berlin cabarets and variety shows. Only seventeen year old, she toured through Europe as the star of the Scala revue Etwas verrückt (Something Crazy), and that same year she founded together with Horst Matthiesen her own dance studio in Berlin. A year later, her performances were forbidden by the Nazi regime. After this Berufsverbot she began a career as a singer under the name of Evelyn Künneke. She worked with renowned composers such as Peter Igelhoff and Michael Jary. She also became a starlet at the film studios of the Ufa, where she had her breakthrough in Auf Wiedersehn, Franziska/Goodbye, Franziska (1941, Helmut Käutner) featuring Marianne Hoppe. In this film she sang Sing, nachtigall, sing (Sing, nightingale, sing), the second most popular hit of wartime Germany after Lale Andersen's Lili Marleen. Two years later followed an appearance in the film musical Karneval der Liebe/Carnival of Love (1943, Paul Martin) starring Johannes Heesters. She made frequent tours during the war to support the troops. From 1942 to 1944, she appeared on the eastern front, and in early 1944 also at the western front. Evelyn Künneke’s hits such as Haben Sie schon mal im Dunkeln geküßt? (Have you ever kissed in the dark?) were unmistakably influenced by the Swing. The American swing music was politically frowned upon in Nazi-Germany and at the time, no other German singer dared to sing Künneke’s kind of songs. In 1944 she was arrested and accused of defeatism because of her unfavorable observations of the progress of the war and in January 1945 she was put in jail in the Berlin-Tegel prison. It was only the reported intercession of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl - a personal friend of Adolph Hitler and perhaps the most influential artistic figure in his circle of acquaintances - that prevented worse from happening to her and her family. Shortly before the end of the war, she was released to sing anti-American Swing songs together with the secret propaganda band Charlie and His Orchestra. The end of the war was the reason she did not have to do this.

Evelyn Künneke
German postcard.

Evelyn Künneke
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel.

Evelyn Künneke
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 70/469, 1957. Photo: DEFA. Publicity still for Meine Frau macht musik/My Wife Wants to Sing (1958, Hans Heinrich).

Evelyn Künneke
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg. Photo: Claus Zeunert.

Callas of the Subculture
After the war Evelyn Künneke had a few more successful years as a pop singer, first in 1945 with the Show-Orchestra Walter Jenson in Hamburg. Among her hits were Winke-winke (Bye-bye), Allerdings – sprach die Sphinx (However – said the Sphinx) and Egon. As a singer she appeared in such films as Heimliches Rendezvous/Secret rendezvous (1949, Kurt Hoffmann) with Hertha Feiler, Die Dritte von rechts/Third from the Right (1950, Géza von Cziffra) and Die verschleierte Maja/The Veiled Lady (1951, Géza von Cziffra) with Maria Litto. She played her biggest role till then in Verlorene Melodie/Vanished Melody (1952, Eduard von Borsody) as an American jazz singer. She appeared with real swing music in jazz clubs all over Europe. In 1953 she did a tour through the US. Three years later, she celebrated her only hit in the German hit parade, which was only just introduced in 1955: her German-language version of Hernando's Hideaway which reached the 8th place. In 1958 she appeared in the German preliminaries of the Eurovision Song Contest. In the late 1950’s and 1960’s, her star faded, and several attempts to establish herself again, failed. In the mid-1970’s, Künneke celebrated her big comeback as an actress in the films by the new wave of German directors. She first appeared with Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1 Berlin-Harlem (1974, Lothar Lambert, Wolfram Zobus). For Rosa von Praunheim she appeared in the TV film Axel von Auersperg (1974, Rosa von Praunheim) and Monolog eines Stars/Monologue of a Star (1975, Rosa von Praunheim). Fassbinder then directed her in Faustrecht der Freiheit/Fox and his Friends (1975, Rainer Werner Fassbinder) with Peter Chatel and Karlheinz Böhm. She could also be seen with David Bowie in Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo/Just a Gigolo (1978, David Hemmings). In total the ‘Callas of the subculture’ would appear in 45 films. Among her later films are the Thomas Mann adaptation Der Zauberberg/The Magic Mountain (1982, Hans W. Geissendörfer) with Rod Steiger, Neurosia - 50 Jahre pervers/Neurosia (1995, Rosa von Praunheim) - the autobiography of the director, and the horror comedy Kondom des Grauens/Killer Condom (1996, Martin Walz), based on the comic book by Ralph König. She also recorded the albums Sensationell (1975, Sensational), Evelyn II (1976) and Sing, Evelyn, sing! – Das Beste von Evelyn Künneke (1978, Sing, Evelyn, sing! - The Best of Evelyn Künneke). Till at a very old age, she popped us as a chanteuse in the Berlin scene, often together with Brigitte Mira and Helen Vita as Drei Alte Schachteln (Three old hags). In their popular revue ‘the three last survivors of the Lili Marleen generation’ promoted themselves saying: “Was wollt ihr mit drei knödelnden Tenören, hier habt ihr drei echte Berliner Gören” (What do you need three dumpling tenors for, here you have three real Berlin gals). The three singers had a combined age of just about 240 years, they gleefully informed the public at their sell-out performances. In 2001, Evelyn Künneke died of lung cancer in her hometown Berlin. She was 79. Evelyn Künneke had first been married to an Englishman, the father of her daughter. Her second husband was the business school graduate Reinhard Thomanek from 1963 to 1972. Her third marriage was in 1979 with her manager Dieter Hatje. In 2000 she was honored with the Goldenen Kamera for her long career.

Evelyn Künneke step-dances in Karneval der Liebe/Carnival of Love (1943). Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels declared that this dance sequence was 'Ungerman and not good for moral'. So the scene was cut from the film and and a new sequence with Johannes Heesters and Dorit Kreysler singing Junger Mann was filmed. In the past both film versions were broadcasted on German TV. The last 10 years only the version with Evelyn's dance has been shown. Source: Alparfan (YouTube).

Recording of Sing Nachtigall Sing. Source: MrDeanMartin (YouTube).

Recording of Allerdings, sprach die Sphinx (1949). Source: Annanthrax (YouTube).

Recording of Meine Stadt (1987). Source: Annanthrax (YouTube).

Sources: Bruce Eder (All Music), Philipp Blom (The Independent), Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-line) (German), (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

Imperio Argentina

Imperio Argentina (1906-2003) was a singer, dancer and actress, who appeared in more than 30 films. Although she was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was successful all over South America, she was a Spanish citizen. beside in Spain and South America, she also worked in France, Italy and Germany.

Imperio Argentina
Dutch postcard by M.B.& Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam), no. 199. Photo: Cifesa (Cifesa was a big Spanish film distribution company between the mid-1930's and the early 1960's.)

Petite Imperio
Imperio Argentina was born Magdalena Nile del Río, on December 26th, 1906 in San Telmo, the tango district of Buenos Aires, during an artistic tournee of her Spanish parents, guitar player Antonio Nile and actress Rosario del Río, in Argentine. Until the age of 12 she lived in Malaga, where she studied dance. Thanks to Pastora Imperio, she debuted at the age of 12 at the comedy theatre of Buenos Aires. Imperio called her Petite Imperio, her artistic name in those years, when she was successful all over South America. When she came back to Spain in 1926, she adopted the artistic name of Imperio Argentina, singing in the main theaters of the country. Film director Florián Rey discovered her at the Romea theatre in Madrid and enabled her to play in the silent film La Hermana San Sulpicio/Sister San Sulpicio (1927, Florián Rey). Eventually she also married Rey, who would be the first of her three husbands. In Spain and Germany Argentina performed in the late silent Corazones sin rumbo/Herzen ohne Ziel/Hearts Without Soul (1928, Benito Perojo, Gustav Ucicky), which costarred Betty Bird and Livio Pavanelli. After signing a contract with Paramount Pictures, she worked in Paris with the best directors and actors of the moment, at such films as Su noche de bodas/Her Wedding Night (1931, Louis Mercanton, Floriàn Rey) and Lo major es reir (1931, E.W. Emo, Floriàn Rey) with Tony D'Algy. At Paramount she worked with Carlos Gardel in the short La casa es seria/Love Me Tonight (1931, Lucien Jacquelux) (the film is considered as lost) and Melodía de Arrabal/Suburban Melody (1932, Louis Gasnier), singing rare duets with him. In 1934 Argentina returned to Spain, where, thanks to her cooperation with Rey, Argentina became a star and obtained her greatest successes in folkloristic films as the sound version of Hermana de San Sulpicio/Sister San Sulpicio (1934, Floriàn Rey), Nobleza Baturra/Aragonese Virtue (1935, Floriàn Rey), and Morena Clara/Dark and Bright (1936, Floriàn Rey). Adolph Hitler asked her to play in a film about Lola Montes, which she declined but instead she played in both the Spanish and the German version of Carmen, la de Triana/Andalusische Nächte (1938, Florian Rey, Herbert Maisch), shot around Malaga. In the German version Friedrich Benfer costarred as Don José, while in the Spanish version Rafael Rivelles played this part. Argentina is said to have had an affair with Rivelles before she had divorced her second husband Ramón Baillío. Her divorce caused a scandal, as she was married for the Catholic church.

Rossano Brazzi
Rossano Brazzi. German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3740/1, 1941 - 1944. Photo: Villoresi/Ufa distribution.

Paseo de la Fama
In 1940 Imperio Argentina travelled to Rome to star opposite Rossano Brazzi in Tosca/The Story of Tosca (1941, Carlo a.k.a. Carl Koch), an adaptation of the story by Sardou. The film was originally directed by Jean Renoir, but when war between France and Italy was at hand and Renoir was knocked down by fascists one day, he fled to France and his assistant Carl Koch took over directing. In his memoirs, Michel Simon, who played her antagonist Scarpia in the film, recalls how he rehearsed the rape scene of Tosca too vividly, unveiling one of her breasts. Fascinated, he tried the same the next day, but Imperio had taken measures, firmly tying up her robe. The film was partly shot on location, at the Castel Sant’Angelo, the Palatine Hill and in front of the Palazzo Farnese (the French embassy). A young Luchino Visconti collaborated as a first assistant and learned the tricks of the trade here. In the 1940's Imperio also worked with director Benito Perojo at the films Goyescas (1942), Bambú/Bamboo (1945), La maja de los cantares/The Songstress (1946) and La copla de la Dolores (1951) with Lola Beltrán. In the 1950's she focused on big musical shows while in the 1960's she did Ama Rosa (1960, León Klimovsky) and Con el viento Solano (1966, Mario Camus) as the mother of Antonio Gades. After years of little activity she was rediscovered at Festival Internacional de Cine in San Sebastián. From then on a new golden age started, full of honors. With Borao she did Tata Mía/Dear Nanny (1986, José Luis Borau) opposite Carmen Maura and with El polizón de Ulises/The stowaway of the Ulises (1987, Javier Aguirre), her last film. She also performed in the stage play of the Expo92, Azabache. In 1996 she was elected 'pregonera' at the Festa del Pilar at Saragozza, to celebate the centenary of the cinema. In 2001 she published her memoirs, Malena Clara, written by Pedro Villora. Imperio Argentina died of natural causes in 2003, in her house in Torremolinos in Andalucia. She lies buried nearby at Benalmádena (near Málaga). In 2011 she was given a star in the Spanish Walk of Fame, the Paseo de la Fama in Madrid. In 1994 she already was honored as Ciudadano Ilustre de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Illustrious Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires).

Scene with Imperio Argentina in Carmen la de Triana (1938, Florían Rey) singing Los piconeros. Source: Canta Roable (YouTube).

Sources: Miguel A. Andrade (IMDb), Wikipedia (English, German, Italian and Spanish), and IMDb, .

Friday, 11 November 2011

Etchika Choureau In Hot News

The film career of French actress Etchika Choureau (1929) started very promising with three films and an award in 1953. During the 1950’s the beauty with the green eyes and long blond hair graced films in France, Germany, Italy and Hollywood. After a long affair with the Crown prince of Morocco, she tried to make a come-back but failed and retired.

Etchika Choureau
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 322. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Etchika Choureau
German postcard by Film und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. A 1541. Photo: Warner Bros. Publicity still for Darby's Rangers (1958, William A. Wellman).

Etchika Choureau was born Jeannine Paulette Verret in Paris in 1929 (some sources says 1923, others 1933). In 1948 the beautiful 19-year-old girl met Max Choureau, four years her senior whose parents were beekeepers in the Gâtinais. They fell in love and were married. After various jobs she enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Arts to study drama. At her graduation she won the first prize in a contest with film diva Edwige Feuillère heading the jury. Actor Alain Cuny discovered her and pushed her to accept a beautiful role in the Italian film I vinti/The Vanquished (1953), an early work of legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni. This anthology film contains three stories of well-off youths in the post-war years who commit murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London. In the French episode Sans Amour (Without Love), Choureay plays a young temptress in a gang of aimless youth from working-class families. They cold-bloodedly plan and carry out the murder of a boastful bourgeois classmate (Jean-Pierre Mocky), just out of envy. Antonioni had huge problems when he tried to find funding for such ambitious, resolutely downbeat material. The result was banned in France for a long time. In 1953 Choureau also divorced, but kept the name of her ex-husband as a pseudonym. That same year she starred in two more remarkable films. She played a mortally ill village girl in L'envers du paradis/The Other Side of Pardise (1953, Edmond T. Gréville) starring Erich von Stroheim. The third film was Les enfants de l'amour/Children of Love (1953, Léonide Moguy), a drama about unwed mothers in which she played a double role. It earned her that year le prix Suzanne-Bianchetti (the Suzanne Bianchetti award) for the Most Promising Actress. After this jump start, she made nine more films in France, Italy and Germany during the following years. Although she co-starred in these films with stars like Jean Marais, Michel Simon and Isa Miranda, none of these productions was memorable.

Etchika Choureau
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 358. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Etchika Choureau
Yugoslavian postcard by Studio Sombor, no. 212.

Crown Prince
In 1957 Etchika Choureau tried to conquer Hollywood. She played the female leads in two American war films made by Warner Bros. In Darby's Rangers (1958, William A. Wellman) she was the love interest of James Garner, and in Lafayette Escadrille (1958, William A. Wellman) of Tab Hunter. According to the fan magazines Hunter was deeply in love with her, but his studio wouldn’t allow him to fly to Paris to visit her... She had a real love affair with Moulay Hassan II, the Crown Prince of Morocco. She retired from the screen. In 1961 their relationship suddenly ended when Hassan was proclaimed King of Morocco following the death of His Majesty Mohammed V. After an absence of four years, Choureau tried to revive her cinema career with three new roles. First she played the lead in the drama La prostitution/Prostitution (1963, Maurice Boutel). The following year she had a small part in the romantic adventure film Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (1964, Bernard Borderie), the first part of the romantic Angélique cycle, set in Mid-17th century France. This huge box office hit meant the breakthrough for lead actress Michèle Mercier, but did nothing for the career of Choureau. She played in only one more film, Paris au mois d'août/Paris in August (1966, Pierre Granier-Deferre) as the wife of Charles Aznavour. Then she retired permanently. Three years later, she married auctioneer Philippe Rheims. Etchika Choureau had appeared in only seventeen films.

Etchika Choureau
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no 533. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Etchika Choureau
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 323. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Sources: Yves Foucart (Les gens du Cinema), Michael Hastings (Rovi), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Henkie Klein

During the Netherlands Film Festival (21 - 30 September 2011), EFSP presents the Unofficial Dutch Film Star Postcards Festival. Little Henkie Klein was a child actor in German and Dutch films of the silent era. He was called the 'Dutch Jackie Coogan'.

Henkie Klein
Dutch postcard by B. Brouwer, Amsterdam. Photo: Bernard Eilers, Amsterdam. Collection: Egbert Barten.

Dream World
Henkie Klein (sometimes written as Klyn or Kleinman) was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1921. He was the son of film director Henk Kleinman(n). Kleinman sr. was the producer and co-director of the German-Dutch film Die Fahrt ins Verderben/Op hoop van zegen (1924, Henk Kleinman, James Bauer). This was the second film version of Op hoop van zegen/On hope of blessing, a classic Dutch fisher drama written by Herman Heijermans in 1900. The success of the production lead to another film based on a play by Heijermans, Die vom Schicksal Verfolgten/Droomkoninkje/Little Dream King (1926, Henk Kleinman) with Wilhelm Dieterle (aka William Dieterle) and Aud Egede Nissen. Little Henkie played the lead of a boy born with a clubfoot who creates his own dream world. A year earlier Henkie had made his film debut as the Berlin street boy Bolleken in Goldjunge/Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht/Golden Boy (1925, Henk Kleinman) with Grete Reinwald. Both films are now presumed missing.

Henkie Klein.jpg
Dutch postcard printed by B. Brouwer, Amsterdam. Photo: Bernard F. Eilers.

At the age of 9, Henkie Klein played in the melodrama Zeemansvrouwen (1930, Henk Kleinman), based on a play by Herman Bouber, author of popular plays like De Jantjes/The Tars and Bleeke Bet/Pale Beth. Zeemansvrouwen should have been the first Dutch sound film with some songs. Possibly because of a lack of money, it became the last Dutch silent feature film. The prints have been restored by the former Dutch Filmmuseum (now Eye Institute) and reviewer rohitnnn writes at IMDb: "Some of the shots in the film are truly exquisite, and though the story is almost entirely predictable, the film is eminently watchable as it shows us a glimpse of the society in a country that otherwise remains at the periphery of European cinema." Zeemansvrouwen/Women of Sailors was one of the most popular films of that year in the Amsterdam cinemas, but Henkie would only act in one more film, Hollands jeugd/Dutch Youth (1934). If he is still alive, he would now be 86 or 87.

Henkie Klein
Dutch postcard printed by B. Brouwer, Amsterdam. Photo: Bernard F. Eilers.

N.B. We could not find more information about Henkie Klein on the net. But after an earlier post on Henkie, we got some more information about his father. See the comment below.

Sources:, Film in Nederland (Eye Institute), and IMDb.