15 August 2012

Waltraut Haas

Austrian actress and singer Waltraut Haas (1927) was a popular star of 70 German and Austrian film operettas and comedies during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Waltraut Haas
German postcard by WS-Druck, no. F 34. Photo: Niczky.

Illegitmate Daughter
Waltraut Haas (also Waltraud Haas und Waltraute Haas-Strahl) was born in Wien (Vienna) in 1927. She was the daughter of teacher Walther Haas and his wife Stefanie Klager. When she was five, her father died and she grew up at Schloss Schönbrunn, where her mother was a restaurateur. During the war, she attended a fashion school. After the war she had acting classes from actress Julia Janssen and studied music at the Konservatorium für darstellende Kunst in Vienna. In 1946, Haas made her stage debut in the Landestheater Linz but was soon won over to the big screen. She was discovered by Willi Forst for her first film, the Heimat comedy Der Hofrat Geiger/Counsellor Geiger (1947, Hans Wolff) starring Paul Hörbiger and Hans Moser. She played Mariandl Mühlhube, the illegitimate daughter of a woman (Maria Andergast) who runs an inn in the picturesque Wachau valley and the role made her famous. After this success, Haas continued to combine theater and film. From 1948 on she played at the Renaissancetheater and other Vienna venues. Later she also played in Munich and Berlin. In the cinema she appeared in comedies and operettas like Es liegt was in der Luft/There's something in the air (1950, E.W. Emo) with Lucie Englisch, Hallo Dienstmann/Hello Dienstmann (1952, Franz Antel) with Paul Hörbiger, and the fantasy 1. April 2000/April 1, 2000 (1952, Wolfgang Liebeneiner) starring Hilde Krahl. She appeared opposite Heinz Rühmann and Oliver Grimm in the popular dramatic comedy Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne/If the Father and the Son (1955, Hans Quest) and supported ski champion Toni Sailer in Der schwarze Blitz/The Black Stallion (1958, Hans Grimm).

Waltraut Haas
German postcard by ISV, no. M 12. Photo: Europa-Film/Czerwonski.

Waltraut Haas
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhoff, no. FK 3444. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Werler / Delos Film / Prisma.

Single Mother
In 1961, Waltraut Haas played Mariandl's single mother in a remake of Der Hofrat Geiger/Counsellor Geiger entitled Mariandl (1961, Werner Jacobs) featuring Conny Froboess. She also played this role in the sequel Mariandls Heimkehr/Mariandl’s Homecoming (1962, Werner Jacobs). Another well-known role was that of Josepha Vogelhuber in the remake of Im weißen Rößl/The White Horse Inn (1960, Werner Jacobs) opposite Peter Alexander. Later films included musical comedies like Der 42. Himmel/The 42nd Heaven (1963, Kurt Früh) and Im singenden Rössel am Königssee/In the Singing Knight at Königssee (1963, Franz Antel) with Peter Weck. From 1966 until his death in 2011, Waltraut Haas was married to actor and director Erwin Strahl, with whom she frequently performed both on the stage and in films. Their real marriage was filmed for the film Happy End am Wolfgangsee/Happy-End in St. Gilgen (1966, Franz Antel) with Hans-Jürgen Bäumler. In the comedy Keine Angst Liebling, ich pass schon auf!/Don’t Worry Darling, I’ll watch out! (1970, Erwin Strahl), which Strahl both wrote and directed she played five roles. IMDb reviewer Stephan Kahrs thinks the film is 'painfully unfunny': “The jokes in this film are simply awful. There are moments when the editing, the scenery, the camera distance etc. are clearly meant to produce a joke - with built-up, punch line and all. And then these moments pass and a joke fails to materialize. (…) The cast is led by the eternally cheerful Waltraut Haas in the role of C-list celeb Eva Ebner. Frankly, the threatening qualities of her permanent grin ought to have been exploited for more openly sinister genres than musical comedy.” After 60 films, Haas stopped making films. Since then, she has appeared regularly on television and the stage. In 1987 she was honored with the Ehrenmedaille der Stadt Wien in Gold (Gold medal of Vienna) and in 2003 with the Österreichischen Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst (Austrian Medal for Science and the Arts). Since 1990, Haas has a new career as the author of fairytale books, and in 2007 she also published her autobiography, Waltraut Haas – die Biografie. Waltraut Haas lives in Hietzing, Vienna, and is acting on stage. Her son Marcus Strahl (1968) is also an actor and director.

Waltraut Haas sings Mariandl in Der Hofrat Geiger/Counsellor Geiger (1947). Source: Thmmedia001 (YouTube).

Sources: Waltraut-Haas.at (German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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