07 December 2012

Karin Hübner

German musical star Karin Hübner (1936 - 2006) became famous as Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady. Although she played the lead in several German films, she never really established herself in the cinema.

Karin Hübner
East-German postcard by VEB-Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 27 W/587, 1957. Photo: Kurt Wunsch. Publicity still for Emilia Galotti (1958, Martin Hellberg).

Eliza Dolittle
Karin Hübner was born in Gera, Germany in 1936. Her parents were both opera singers. After graduating in 1953, she took singing and acting lessons at the Max-Reinhardt-Schauspielschule (the Max Reinhardt drama school) in Berlin and worked in the following years as a singer and actress. In 1954 she was engaged at the Municipal Theatre of Munster, later she worked in Bremen and Berlin. She also appeared on TV. In the TV-film Die Fee/The Fairy (1957, Peter Beauvais), she played the female lead. Director and actress fell in love and married. Her film debut was the title role of Emilia Galotti (1958, Martin Hellberg), a DEFA film adaptation of the Gotthold Ephraim Lessing play. Despite some other interesting film roles as in Das Wunder des Malachias/Miracle of Malachias (1961, Bernhard Wicki), she did not succeed in establishing herself in the cinema. On stage, she celebrated a great triumph as the flower girl Eliza Doolittle in Frederick Loewe's musical My Fair Lady (1961). Alongside Paul Hubschmid as Professor Henry Higgins, she played the role about 850 times till 1965. During that period, she co-starred in the cinema with Peter Alexander in the operetta Die lustige Witwe/The Merry Widow (1962, Werner Jacobs), and with Harald Leipnitz in Die endlose Nacht/The Endless Night (1963, Will Tremper). About the latter, Dirk Pitt jr. writes at IMDb: “After almost 35 years one has to look at Die endlose Nacht as a truly brave production. Financed on a shoestring, with upcoming actors (H. Elsner) this one sticks out of all the other ‘lame’ pictures of that year. Director & Producer Tremper wrote & directed a wonderful one-night-at-the-airport film. The famous Tempelhof airport is the setting for six individuals who are stuck in the building, because of a deep fog. No aircraft can take off. Shot in beautiful ultravision - cinemascope - with a sexy Jazz music by composer Peter Thomas, you can breathe the 1960’s mood of Berlin. Anyone who is interested in those times should not miss this b/w movie.”

Karin Hübner
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 3807. Photo: Sascha / Constantin / A. Grimm. Publicity still for Die lustige Witwe/The Merry Widow (1962, Werner Jacobs).

Suicide Attempt
During the second part of the 1960’s, Karin Hübner focused on her stage work and on television. She worked for TV with competent directors like Kurt Hoffman and Wolfgang Liebeneiner. In 1968 her then husband Frank Duval produced with her assistance the 30-minute radio play The Four Sisters based on Anton Chekhov. In the cinema she was the female lead in the Edgar Wallace Krimi Der Mann mit dem Glasauge/The Man With the Glass Eye (1969, Alfred Vohrer) with Horst Tappert, and the crime drama Sieben Tage Frist/School of Fear (1969, Alfred Vohrer) starring Joachim Fuchsberger. Her final film was the William Shakespeare adaptation Viola und Sebastian/Viola and Sebastian (1972, Ottokar Runze). Until the mid-1970’s, Karin Hübner often performed in Munich Boulevard theaters. After numerous successes in musicals, films and on television, she withdrew for personal reasons from the stage. She did a suicide attempt in 1982 by setting fire to her apartment. She was sentenced to a prison term of six months' probation because of negligent arson. In the mid-1980’s she returned as an actress, and during the 1984/1985 season she appeared in Neil Simon's successful play Pfefferkuchen und Gin (Gin and gingerbread). An attempt as a stage director failed. Her production of the tragicomic two-person piece Under der Treppe (Under the stairs) (1983) by Charles Dyer was panned by both critics and audiences. In 1987, she finally declared her retirement from the stage. Karin Hübner died in 2006 in Munich, Germany. She was 69. The actress had been married to director Peter Beauvais, actor Günter Pfitzmann and composer Frank Duval and had a daughter from her marriage to Beauvais.

Karin Hübner sings Das Studium der Männer ist schwer (The study of men is difficult) in Die lustige Witwe/The Merry Widow (1962, Werner Jacobs). Source: Mr. Musikus67 (YouTube).

Trailer for Der Mann mit dem Glasauge/The Man With the Glass Eye (1969, Alfred Vohrer). Source: Rialto Film (YouTube).

Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line) (German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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