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18 January 2013

Lizzi Waldmüller

Austrian actress and singer Lizzi Waldmüller (1904 – 1945) had her breakthrough to stardom through her role as Rachel in Bel Ami (1939, Willi Forst).

Lizzi Waldmüller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, G 169, 1941-1944. Photo: Wesel / Berlin-Film.

Lizzi Waldmüller
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3615/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Film-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

I am the woman they're talking about
Lizzi Waldmüller was born in Knittelfeld, Austria-Hungary (now Austria) in 1904. As a child she travelled along villages with her father’s stage company. She had her official theatre debut in Innsbrück in the 1920’s. She found success in Graz, Vienna and eventually Germany. There she played in operettas, often with her husband Max Hansen at her side. In Berlin she had a hit with Paul Abraham’s operetta Viktoria und ihr Husar (Victoria and her husar). She became renowned through the Paul Lincke song 'Ich bin die Frau, von der man spricht' (I am the woman they're talking about) from Lincke’s operetta Frau Luna (Mistress Moon). Waldmüller made her film debut in the German comedy Die spanische Fliege/The Spanish Fly (1931, Georg Jacoby) with Betty Bird. In the early 1930’s, she played supporting roles next to such stars as Heinz Rühmann in Lachende Erben/Laughing Heirs (1933, Max Ophüls), and Hans Albers in Peer Gynt (1934, Fritz Wendhausen,) based on the play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen. It was one of the most expensive productions made by Bavaria Film and involved location shooting in Norway. She appeared with her husband Max Hansen in Skeppsbrutne Max/Rendezvous in Paradise (1936, Sigurd Wallén). They divorced in 1938.

Lizzi Waldmüller
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6342/1, 1931-1932.

Lizzi Waldmüller
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3418/2, 1941-1945. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

Lizzi Waldmüller
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin / Ross. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

Bel Ami
Lizzi Waldmüller had her breakthrough to stardom through her role as the maid Rachel in Bel Ami (1939, Willi Forst), based on Guy de Maupassant's novel. Willi Forst was both star and director of this witty, elegant satire, and it is one of his best works. The heart of the film is Theo Mackeben's catchy song ‘Du hast Glück bei den Frauen, Bel Ami (You have luck with the girls, Bel Ami) sung by Waldmüller surrounded by a bevy of cart wheeling can-can dancers. It lead to leading parts in glamorous entertainment films like Casanova heiratet/Casanova weds (1940, Viktor de Kowa) featuring Karl Schönböck, Traummusik/Dream Music (1940, Géza von Bolváry) with Marte Harell, and Frau Luna/Mistress Moon (1941, Theo Lingen). She played an operetta diva in Die Nacht in Venedig/The Night in Venice (1942, Paul Verhoeven) based on the operetta by Johann Strauss II. She had a good chemistry with Johannes Heesters in the operetta Es lebe die Liebe/Long Live Love (1944, Erich Engel). Her final film was the comedy Ein Mann wie Maximilian/A Man like Maximilian (1945, Hans Deppe) with Wolf Albach-Retty. In an air raid on Vienna, Lizzi Waldmüller died on 8 April 1945, a month before the end of World War II. She was only 40. Her memorial can be found in Friedhof Hadersdorf-Weidlingau, Vienna.

Lizzi Waldmüller
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3345/1, 1941-1945. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

Lizzi Waldmüller
Dutch postcard by M. B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam) , no. 1215. Photo: Godfried de Groot.

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

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