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Elisabeth Bergner

Elisabeth Bergner

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Also Known As: Elisabeth Ettel, Elizabeth Bergner Died: May 12, 1986
Born: August 22, 1897 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Poland Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A fey, wistful, international stage and screen star, Elisabeth Bergner rose to prominence in 1924 playing the title role in Max Reinhardt's Berlin production of George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan". Considered one of the finest actresses of her generation, this blonde performer entered films in Germany in 1923 but her career was cut short by the rise to power of the Nazis. In 1933, Bergner and her husband, the Czech director Paul Czinner, fled to Britain where she continued to alternate between stage and screen.In the United Kingdom, Bergner landed her first English-language production, the title role in the biopic "Catherine the Great" (1934), although it was banned in Nazi Germany for featuring "emigre Jews", cutting into its box office potential. She did earn a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of an unwed mother who marries a ne'er-do-well composer in "Escape Me Never" (1935) and offered a memorable Rosalind opposite Laurence Olivier in "As You Like It" (1936). Relocating to the USA, Bergner enjoyed greater success on stage but only made one Hollywood film, "Paris Calling" (1942), an exciting story of the French Resistance movement.After touring Australia, the actress returned...

A fey, wistful, international stage and screen star, Elisabeth Bergner rose to prominence in 1924 playing the title role in Max Reinhardt's Berlin production of George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan". Considered one of the finest actresses of her generation, this blonde performer entered films in Germany in 1923 but her career was cut short by the rise to power of the Nazis. In 1933, Bergner and her husband, the Czech director Paul Czinner, fled to Britain where she continued to alternate between stage and screen.

In the United Kingdom, Bergner landed her first English-language production, the title role in the biopic "Catherine the Great" (1934), although it was banned in Nazi Germany for featuring "emigre Jews", cutting into its box office potential. She did earn a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of an unwed mother who marries a ne'er-do-well composer in "Escape Me Never" (1935) and offered a memorable Rosalind opposite Laurence Olivier in "As You Like It" (1936). Relocating to the USA, Bergner enjoyed greater success on stage but only made one Hollywood film, "Paris Calling" (1942), an exciting story of the French Resistance movement.

After touring Australia, the actress returned to Europe where she found it difficult to find decent screen roles. Indeed, it was over 20 years before she was again before the cameras, ironically in Germany, in "Die Gluckliche Jahre der Thorwalds" (1962). She was already past 70 when she played a witch summoning Satan to avenge Vincent Price in the British-made "Cry of the Banshee" (1970) and her last big screen appearance was in the 1982 German-language "Feine Gesellschaft".

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Pedestrian, The (1974) Frau Lilienthal
3.
 Cry of the Banshee (1970) Oona
4.
 Paris Calling (1942) Marianne [Jannetier]
5.
 Stolen Life (1939) Sylvina Lawrence/Martina Lawrence
6.
 Dreaming Lips (1937) Gaby Lawrence
7.
 As You Like It (1937) Rosalind [also known as Ganymede]
8.
 Escape Me Never (1935) Gemma Jones
9.
 The Rise Of Catherine The Great (1934) Catherine
10.
 Fraulein Else (1929)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Apprenticed under Lia Rosen at Volksbuhne, Vienna; while there began appearing in plays directed by Max Reinhardt
1923:
Film acting debut in "Der Evangelimann"
1924:
Initial collaboration with husband director Paul Czinner "Nju"
1933:
Fled Nazi Germany for England
1934:
Made first English-language film, "Catherine the Great" playing the title role
1935:
Received Best Actress Oscar nomination for "Escape Me Never", playing an unwed mother who marries an impoverished composer
1936:
Starred as Rosalind opposite Laurence Olivier in "As You Like It"
1938:
Became British citizen
1939:
Cast as twins in love with the same man in "A Stolen Life", directed by Czinner
1940:
Relocated to USA
1941:
Made one Hollywood film, "Paris Calling"; last movie for over 20 years
:
Acted on stage
1962:
Returned to films in Germany in "Die Glucklichen Jahre der Thorwalds"
1970:
Portrayed a witch in the British-made horror film "Cry of the Banshee"
1982:
Made final film appearance, "Feine Gesellschaft"
:
Acted in a handful of German TV movies
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Education

Vienna Conservatory: -

Notes

"Probably the ablest actress living today." -- Alexander Woollcott.

"The Wisdom of Eve", the Cosmopolitan story by Mary Orr that served as the basis for the 1950 classic feature "All About Eve" was inspired by a conversation Orr had with Bergner and her husband Paul Czinner. The couple recounted the tale of a young actress who had ingratiated herself into their lives and seemed to be "studying" Bergner. The character of Margola Cranston (Margo Channing in the film), however, was not directly based on Bergner.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Paul Czinner. Director. Married from January 1933 until his death in June 1972; directed Bergner in a number of films beginning with "Nju" (1924).

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