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28 September 2012

Mary Smithuysen

This week EFSP has its yearly Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival again. During the Netherlands Film Festival (26 September - 5 October 2012) we provide you daily with postcards and bios of Dutch film stars. Actress Mary Smithuysen (1906 – 1992) had a stage career of more than five decades, but she only incidentally appeared in films.

Mary Smithuizen, De familie van mijn vrouw
Dutch postcard by M. B.& Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Sent by mail in 1936. Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn Productie. Publicity still for De familie van mijn vrouw/My Wife's Family (1935).

Broken Foot
Mary Smithuysen (sometimes Mary Smithuizen) was born as Marie Smithuysen in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1906. From the age of 9, she started to attend ballet classes (from Lili Green a.o.) in the Netherlands and Germany. At 16, she went to America to study dance from Adolph Bolm in Chicago. She performed in the Chicago Opera Ballet with students of the Bolm Institute, but after more than 2 years she returned home because she had broken a foot. After a rest period of several months, she could continue her ballet career and opened her own school in Amsterdam. At the Schouwtooneel, where she danced in Peer Gynt, she met the actor Jan Musch. In 1928 they married, and immediately after they made a tour to the Dutch Indies. There she made her acting debut and the following decades she mainly acted on stage. With her husband, she worked for stage company Het Masker (The Mask), and after the liberation in Musch' G.G. Cabaret. She made her film debut in the comedy De familie van mijn vrouw/My Wife’s Family (1935, Jaap Speyer) starring Johan Kaart Jr., but the public had to wait for more than four decades at her second feature film appearance.

Mary Smithuysen, G. Chrispijn-Mulder, Sylvain Poons, De familie van mijn vrouw
Dutch postcard by M. B.& Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn Productie. Publicity still for De familie van mijn vrouw/My Wife's Family (1935).

A Bridge Too Far
In 1948, Mary Smithuysen and Jan Musch divorced. Two years later she married actor Ben Groenier. She returned before the camera in such TV films as Jane Eyre (1958, Peter Hoen) with Marijke Bakker as Jane and Rob de Vries as Mr. Rochester. She also played in De Grasharp/The Grass Harp (1959, Kees van Iersel), a TV film based on the novel of Truman Capote. During the 1960’s, she appeared in such popular Dutch TV series as Maigret (1965) and De Glazen Stad/The Glass City (1969, Willy van Hemert). With Piet Hendriks and Monique van de Ven, she played in the TV mini-series De Wolvenman/The Wolves Man (1974). In 1977 she made a come-back to the cinema with two films. Een stille liefde/A Quiet Love (1977, René van Nie) was a Dutch drama about a 12 year-old boy who runs away with his estranged father (Cor van Rijn). The other film was the international WW II film A Bridge Too Far (1977, Richard Attenborough) about the failed attempt to capture key bridges behind German lines in a complicated parachute and armored assault. She played a small part as an old Dutch lady among a huge cast which featured international stars like Sean Connery, Gene Hackman and Dirk Bogarde. That year she retired from the stage. Her last screen appearance was in the TV film De verjaring/The limitation (1980, Kees Brusse, Andrew Wilson). Mary Smithuysen died in 1992 in Laren, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. She was 85. Actor Pieter Groenier is her son from her second marrage to Ben Groenier.

Loesje Bouwmeester in De familie van mijn vrouw
Dutch postcard by M. B.& Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn Film. Still for De familie van mijn vrouw (1935).

Sources: Theaterencyclopedie.nl (Dutch), Geheugen van Nederland (Dutch) and IMDb.

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