23 October 2018

Käthe Gold

Austrian actress Käthe Gold (1907–1997) was a successful theatre actress who worked in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Her stage career prevented her from appearing in many films, although she did a few memorable performances.

Käthe Gold
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3731/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann/UFA.


Katharina Stephanie Gold was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria) in 1907 and was the daughter of a Viennese locksmith.

She attended acting lessons at the Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (Academy of Music and Performing Arts Vienna).

In 1926 she made her stage debut as Bianca in Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung (The Taming of the Shrew) and from 1927 on she worked in Bern, Mönchengladbach, Breslau (today Wrocław), Munich and between 1932 and 1935 in Vienna at the Theater in der Josefstadt.

In 1935 she went to Berlin, where she remained until 1944. It was during those years that she had her greatest stage successes under the direction of Gustav Gründgens at the Preußischen Staatstheater (Prussian State Theatre).

She shone in such roles as Gretchen in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Nora in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House.

Gold's stage career prevented her from appearing in many films. She made her film debut for the UFA as Alkmene in Amphitryon/Amphitryon - Happiness from the Clouds (Reinhold Schünzel, 1935), a musical comedy about the ancient Greeks starring Willy Fritsch.

In Andere Welt/Other World (Marc Allégret, Alfred Stöger, 1937) she co-starred with Karl Ludwig Diehl. She played Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s heroin Minna von Barnhelm in the comedy Das Fräulein von Barnhelm/Minna von Barnhelm (Hans Schweikart, 1940) with Ewald Balser and Theo Lingen.

Käthe Gold
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3631/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz / UFA.

Käthe Gold
German postcard, no. 222. Photo: Starfoto / Herzog Filmverleih.

Karl May

In 1944 Käthe Gold went to Zurich, Switzerland, and in 1947 she returned to Vienna. There she played at the Burgtheater and the Akademietheater and again enjoyed great successes. In 1985 she retired from the stage.

In the cinema, she appeared opposite René Deltgen in Augen der Liebe/Eyes of Love (Alfred Braun, 1951), and opposite Paul Hubschmid in Palace Hotel (Emil Berna, Leonard Steckel, 1952).

Also notable were Rose Bernd (Wolfgang Staudte, 1957) featuring Maria Schell, and the biopic Karl May (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, 1976) featuring director Helmut Kaütner as the author of the Winnetou novels.

Her last film role was as Martha, the wife of author Robert Musil, in the Austrian production Die Reise ins tausendjährige Reich (Jürgen Kaizik, 1980). On TV she played again Ibsen’s Nora in Nora (Hanns Farenburg, 1955), Linda opposite Heinz Rühmann in Der Tod des Handlungsreisenden (1968), a German language version of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and opposite Cornelia Froboess in the comedy Der Wald/The Forrest (Wolfgang Glück, 1971).

She also had guest appearances in the popular TV krimis Der Kommissar/The Commissionar (1973-1974) and Derrick (1988).

In 1997, Käthe Gold died in her native Vienna, aged 90.

Käthe Gold
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3372/1, 1941-1944. Photo: K.L. Haenchen.

Scenes from the Burgtheater production Anatol by Arthur Schnitzler with Robert Lindner as Anatol.

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

22 October 2018

Frida Gombaszögi

Frida Gombaszögi (1890–1961) was the first Hungarian actress who represented the modern acting style in plays by Molnar, Chekhov and Gorky. During her long and impressive career, she also appeared in silent films and one sound film.

Frida Gombaszögi
Hungarian postcard. Publisher: Globus, Budapest. Photo: Angelo Photos. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Enchanted Prince

Frida Gombaszögi was born Friderika Vilma Grün in Budapest, Hungary in 1890. Her sisters Ella, Irèn en Margit would all become actresses. Ella became a comic actress, but Frida specialised in drama.

In 1909 Frida started her stage career after the completion of the Színiakadémián (Hungarian Theatre Academy). She was signed by László Beöthy, director of the Magyar Színház (Hungarian Theatre).

With her sophisticated appearance, her polished movements and cultured speech culture, and her intelligent, expressive play, she created modern dramatic heroines in plays by Ferenc Molnar, Henrik IbsenAnton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky. Between 1916 and 1933 she was a member of the Vígszínház (Comedy Theatre).

During that period, she also played in silent Hungarian films. She made her film debut opposite Victor Varconi in Farkas/The Wolf (1917), based on a play by Ferenc Molnar in which she had appeared on stage. The film was directed by Mihály Kertész, who would later become known as Hollywood director Michael Curtiz.

In 1918, she starred in A Szerelem bolondjai/The Fools of Love (Carl Wilhelm, 1918) and another Molnar adaptation, A testör/The bodyguard (Alexander Antalffy, 1918).

The following year, she co-starred with her sister Ella Gombaszögi in Átok vára/Bane's castle (Károly Lajthay, 1919) and Sundal/Sund (Károly Lajthay, 1919). The two sisters also appeared in Vorrei morir/I Want to Die (Károly Lajthay, 1919). The film starred Károly Mihályfi, and the Gombaszögi sisters only played supporting parts in it.

Her final silent film was Tláni, az elvarázsolt hercegasszony/False, he is an enchanted prince (Károly Lajthay, 1920). In this film she played the female lead opposite Pál Lukács, who would later become a renowned, Oscar winning Hollywood star under the name Paul Lukas.

Frida Gombaszögi
Hungarian postcard by Reinitz Jòzsef, Budapest / Terjeszti Gonda Oszkàr, Budapest. Photo: Angelo, 1918.

Killed by a Bomb

In 1919, Frida Gombaszögi was shot by a young man, probably a fan, who then committed suicide. The actress was severely injured in her face, and for a long time it was unsure if she could ever return to the stage. Her first appearance after healing was received with a loud celebration. The cosmetic-dermatologist Ernő László had almost eliminated all traces of the injury. Frida's sister, Irén later married László and in 1939 the couple moved to the US.

Frida Gombaszögi was married three times. Her first husband was stage and film actor Rajnai Gábor, whom she married in 1909. They divorced in 1918 but they would stay friends during her whole life.

In 1922, she married journalist and publisher Miklós Andornak, who was killed in 1933 by a bomb. Frida Gombaszögi retired from the stage and became the owner and CEO of her husband's Atheneum Publishing company and Az Est (The East) newspaper.

Her third husband was writer, poet, journalist, producer, playwright and politician Jenő Heltai.

After the war she worked again for the Vígszínház and also for the prestigious Nemzeti Színház (National Theatre). She also worked as a drama teacher at the Színművészeti Főiskola between 1953 and 1956.

In 1956 she also appeared in a sound film, Az élet hídja/The Bridge of Life (Márton Keleti, 1956).

Her career was again interrupted by the political manoeuvres of the communist regime and she had to leave Budapest and work in a provincial theatre. At the end of her life she also worked for television.

Why she did not appear in more films is not clear. Her sister Ella Gombaszögi was a well known film actress during the 1930s.

Frida Gombaszögi died in 1961 in Budapest. She was 70.

Paul Lukas
Paul Lukas. Hungarian postcard by FMSI, no.17. Photo: Korvin / Joe May Film.

Sources: Takács István (szineszkonyvtar.hu - Hungarian), György Székely (Magyar színházművészeti lexikon - Hungarian), Wikipedia (Hungarian) and IMDb.

21 October 2018

Gilberte Savary

French child actress Gilberte Savary (1921-1992) appeared in six films such as Le rêve (1931), La ronde des heures (1931) and Les Miserables (1934).

Gilberte Savary
French postcard in the Nos Artistes series. Caption: Jeune Vedette des Films Parlants (Young star of the sound cinema).

Gilberte Savary
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Édition, Paris, no. 2064. Photo: Studio Arnal, Paris.

Gilberte Savary
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 718.

The daughter of a clown

Gilberte Thérèse Louise Savary was born in 1921 in Paris.

She made her film debut as a little girl in the silent film La faute de Monique/Monique’s fault (Maurice Gleize, 1928), with Sandra Milovanoff and Rudolf Klein Rogge.

The following year, she had a small part in the Alexandre Dumas adaptation Le collier de la reine/The Queen's Necklace (Tony Lekain, Gaston Ravel, 1929) starring Marcelle Chantal and Diana Karenne.

She had one of the leading roles in the circus drama La ronde des heures/Round of Hours (Alexandre Ryder, 1931) as the daughter of clown André Baugé. The success of the film made her a child star and in 1931, she appeared in a total of four films.

One was a bit role in Tout ça ne vaut pas l'amour/All that is not worth the love (Jacques Tourneur, 1931) with Marcel Lévesque and the young Jean Gabin both falling in love with Josseline Gael.

Gilberte Savary
French postcard by Photo Combier, Macon. Photo: Arnal, Paris. Caption: Gilberte Savary, star of Boite à Joujoux/The Toy-Box. The most amazing artist of the era of sound cinema, radio, Music Hall.

Gilberte Savary
French postcard by Photo Combier, Macon. Caption: "Our artists. Gilberte Savary, realistic star of Boite à Joujoux/The Toy-Box."

A mystical atmosphere

In 1923, director Jacques de Baroncelli had made the fairy tale-like Le rêve/The Dream (1923), a silent film version of the sixteenth volume in Emile Zola's Rougon-Macquart saga.

In 1931 he made a sound version, Le rêve/The Dream (1931), now with Gilberte Savary as a lost child who is adopted by a humble family. When she has grown up, the girl (now played by Simone Genevois) falls in love with the bishop's son (Jaque Catelain), and the old man who plans a beau marriage is not prepared to accept it.

D.B. DuMonteil at IMDb: “The painstaking pictures, the use of the settings in the cathedral and of the canticles create a mystical atmosphere. Unfortunately, the two lovers verge on ludicrous. Simone Genevois's and Jacques Catelain's playing make the movie some kind of middle-brow show. A curiosity.”

Finally in her last film appearance, Savary played the young Eponine Thénardier in the epic Les Miserables (Raymond Bernard, 1934) starring Harry Baur as ex-convict Jean Valjean and Charles Vanel as the obsessive police inspector Javert.

Now an adolescent, Gilberte retired from the screen. Marlene Pilate suggests at La Collectionneuse that Savary possibly also worked on stage and for the radio. And indeed Gilberte Savary appeared as variety artist singing chansons in theatres, even in the Netherlands in 1938.

Little is known about her later life. Gilberte Savary died in 1992 in Clayes-sous-Bois near Paris, when she was 70.

Gilberte Savary
French postcard by Photo Combier, Macon. Caption: "En souvenir des films Gilberte Savary." With pictures of Tout ça ne vaut pas l'amour a.k.a. Un vieux garçon (Jacques Tourneur, 1931), Le collier de la reine/The Queen's Necklace (Tony Lekain, Gaston Ravel, 1929), La ronde des heures/Round of Hours (Alexandre Ryder, 1931) and Le rêve/The Dream (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1931).

Gilberte Savary
French postcard. Photo: Studfio Intran.

Sources: Marlene Pilaete (La Collectionneuse – French), D.B. DuMonteil (IMDb), Delpher (Dutch), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.