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.

1 comment:

Bob of Holland said...

Last week Eric Palmen mailed me an article written by Henk van Gelder in 2003 for the Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad. The subject of the article was the reconstruction of the sound version of Zeemansvrouwen (1930) by the Dutch Filmmuseum.

Henk van Gelder wrote about Henkie Klein and his father: Curiously, because of all his experience, Henk sr. didn't play an important role in the Dutch sound cinema after Zeemansvrouwen. He only made a few small films on commission. He died in 1944, 47 years old.

Piet Hein Honig, editor of the Acteurs- en Kleinkunstenaarslexicon (the Dutch Actors and Cabaret Artists Lexicon), informed him that Henkie Klein had died ten years ago (ca. 1993).

Henk van Gelder then contacted the daughter of Henkie Klein, who told about her grandfather that he worked in the German film industry in 1944. His train was bombed by the allied forces and he died in a hospital in Berlin.

Film historian Egbert Barten finally added the information that Kleinman became a member of the NSB (the Dutch fascist party) in 1934 and even joined the Reichsfilmkammer in 1937. Therefore he was allowed to work in Germany. During the war, Kleinmann (now written again with a double n) managed a small bureau that selected suitable German films for the Dutch cinemas.

Source: Henk van Gelder, Mooie Leen snikt weer, in: NRC-Handelsblad, 18-4-2003.
With thanks to Eric Palmen and Egbert Barten.