German 43: Exiles and Émigrés

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Photo of Elizabeth BergnerBergner, Elisabeth

(Drohobycz, Galicia 1897–London 1986)

Actress. Elisabeth Bergner got her start by acting in Max Reinhardt's productions in 1923. Over the course of ten years, she made a name for herself by starring in films directed by her husband-to-be, Paul Czinner. Bergner was particularly (in)famous for her portrayals of tomboys and cross-dressers in such features as Der Geiger von Florenz (1926) and Dona Juana (1927). But just as she was about to reach the apex of her career (with 1931's Ariane and 1932's Der träumende Mund), she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 because of her Jewish heritage. The couple moved to Britain where they made Escape Me Never (1935), a film that won her an Academy Award for best female performance. She appeared in one American production, Paris Calling (1941). In the 1950s, she returned to Germany for shorter visits, starring in many films and on various German stages. Often considered more at home on the stage than the screen, she was a legend already during her lifetime.

GERMAN 43: Exiles and Émigrés
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