02 October 2012

Ellen van Hemert

During the Netherlands Film Festival (26 September - 5 October 2012) we provide you daily with postcards and bios of Dutch film stars. At our little Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival, we now present you One-time-film-star Ellen van Hemert (1937). She played the lead in the romantic comedy Jenny (1958), the first Dutch film in colour.

Ellen van Hemert
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3192. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms.

Ellen van Hemert
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3191. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms.

Ellen Roelina Wilhelmina Maria van Hemert was born in the The Hague, The Netherlands, in 1937. Her mother was singer-dancer Miep Kronenburg and her father was director Willy van Hemert, one of the pioneers of Dutch television. Ellen studied painting at the Vrije Academie in Amsterdam and followed art classes of well known Dutch artist Melle. She started her career at the radio. When her father made his first and only theatrical feature he asked his daughter for the title role. Jenny (1958) is a remake of the German film Acht Mädels Im Boot/Eight Girls in a Boat (1932, Erich Waschneck) with Karin Hardt. The 1958 version of Jenny was also a Dutch/German co-production and an alternate language version was being shot at the same time with German actors. The german version of Jenny was directed by Alfred Bittins, featured Gisela Fritsch and was released a year later.

Karin Hardt in Acht Mädels im Boot
Dutch postcard by JosPe. Photo: still from Acht Mädels im Boot/Eight Girls in a Boat (1932).

Karin Hardt in Acht Mädels im Boot
Dutch postcard by M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam, no. 146. Photo: Filma, Amsterdam. Still from Acht Mädels im Boot/Eight Girls in a Boat (1932, Erich Waschneck).

In the Dutch film, Ellen van Hemert plays the 18 year old Jenny who gets pregnant during her busy training schedule for a rowing contest. Her boyfriend Ed (Maxim Hamel) fancies himself rather a swinging jet-setter and is therefore quite unprepared for fatherhood. The cast also featured well known Dutch film actors like Kees Brusse and Andrea Domburg, as well as the orchestra of Max Woiski and popular Dutch singer Corry Brokken. Jenny (1958) contained beautiful images of the bridges and canal houses of Amsterdam and the film attracted more than half a million visitors. However, as Chip Douglas at IMDb notes: "Critics weren't kind to Jenny, saying that the Dutch films in general couldn't compete with Bert Haanstra's documentary features that were all the rage at the time. Even director Van Hemert saw the project as a stepping stone to get over with so he could go on to do his own projects. Unfortunately for him, his production partner Jan Kemps died shortly after both Jenny's were completed and this never happened. Van Hemert subsequently made the jump to television, where he became quite renowned, but never got to helm another feature film." Ellen van Hemert made some television films in the early sixties and worked on stage, where she met her later husband, actor Coen Flink. After her marriage she retired from the stage to become an artist. With her family she lived in Ireland, Curaçao and France, where she painted and had exhibitions. Coen Flink died in 2000. Ellen van Hemert is the sister of film director Ruud van Hemert, composer-producer Hans van Hemert and artist Eric van Hemert.

Ellen van Hemert
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3190. Photo: N.V. Standaardfilms.

Scene from Jenny (1958). Source: mtorringa (YouTube).

Sources: Chip Douglas (IMDb), MovieMeter and IMDb.

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