Elisabeth Bergner


Actor
Elisabeth Bergner

About

Also Known As
Elisabeth Ettel, Elizabeth Bergner
Birth Place
Poland
Born
August 22, 1897
Died
May 12, 1986

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...

Family & Companions

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

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.

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 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."

Life Events

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

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"

Photo Collections

Elisabeth Bergner - State Express Cigarette Card
This is a small cigarette card of actress Elisabeth Bergner. These cards were included in Cigarette packs in the 1930s and were collectible items. Customers could even purchase books to organize and collect these cards. State Express was an active Cigarette Card producer, creating a wide range of cards featuring famous people of which film stars were an often popular draw.

Companions

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

Bibliography

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.