Attractive Maria Litto (1919 - 1996) was a German actress and dancer, who starred in some popular musicals of the early 1950’s.
German postcard, no. 532. Photo: Panorama / Hoela / Veit.
Maria Therese Litto was born in 1919 in Ovenhausen (now Höxter), Germany. She was the daughter of waiter Ludwig Litto and his wife Wilhelmine, née Walter. During her youth she lived with her sister Tilde in Essen and from 1927 on in Höxter again, where her father had a restaurant. She studied ballet at the Tanzschule Carus in Holzminden and at the Folkwangschule in Essen. She obtained her first engagement at the Stadttheater Wuppertal and was for two years a company member. In 1941 she moved to Berlin, where she became solo dancer and from 1944 on Primaballerina at the Opernhaus. She made her film debut in Der Seniorchef/The Senior Partner (1942, Peter Paul Brauer) with Otto Wernicke. For a long time she only obtained small roles, such as a schoolgirl in the classic comedy Die Feuerzangenbowle/The Brandy Punch (1944, Helmut Weiss) starring Heinz Rühmann.
German postcard by Ufa (Universum-Film AG.), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 291. Photo: Rama-Berlin.
German postcard by F.J. Rüdel Filmpostkarten-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 112. Photo: Pontus-Film / Allianz / Lilo.
After the war, Maria Litto attracted attention with her dance interludes in films like Die Dritte von rechts/Third from the Right (1950, Géza von Cziffra) with Vera Molnar. In 1951 Litto assumed the title role in the musical comedy Die verschleierte Maja/The Veiled Lady (1951, Géza von Cziffra) opposite Willy Fritsch. Her next films, Königin der Arena/Queen of the Arena (1952, Rolf Meyer) and Die Blume von Hawaii/Flower of Hawaii (1953, Géza von Cziffra) with Rudolph Platte, were especially created for her. Despite a serious car accident in 1951, she also continued her dance career. In 1954 Maria Litto obtained a contract with the Staatsoper in Hamburg. There she performed as the acrobatic snake in the original 1955 production of Werner Egks opera Irische Legende (Irish Legend) based on W.B. Yeats. She also danced in Richard Strauss' opera Salome under direction of Herbert von Karajan at the Scala in Milan. In the following years she appeared in several successful operas and musicals. In 1969 she also danced at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
German postcard by UFA/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 807. Photo: Wesel.
German postcard. Photo: Corona / Herzog. Publicity still for Königin der Arena/Queen of the Arena (1952, Rolf Meyer).
During the 1960’s, Maria Litto worked more and more as a choreographer. Together with her dance partner and husband Heinz Schmiedel aka Mirko, she rehearsed countless TV ballets. In the cinema she could be seen in a few supporting parts. She played a bit sleazy demi-mondaines in three Edgar Wallace krimis, Der Rächer/The Avenger (1960, Karl Anton), Der Gorilla von Soho/Gorilla Gang (1968, Alfred Vohrer), and Der Mann mit dem Glasauge/The Man With the Glass Eye (1969, Alfred Vohrer) starring Horst Tappert. In 1970 she played the lead in the TV series Tournee/Tour as ballet mistress Maria. One of her last engagements as a choreographer was the TV adaptation of Franz Lehar’s Paganini (1972, Eugen York) with Johannes Heesters. Her last TV role was in the popular krimi series Derrick (1979) opposite Horst Tappert again. Maria Litto was married from 1945 till 1951 with the Swiss Heinz Erzinger, and in 1958 she married her longtime dance partner Heinz Schmiedel. After his sudden death in 1978 she seldomly appeared in public. Maria Litto died in 1996 in Hamburg.
Gypsy dance sequence in Sensation in San Remo (1952, Georg Jacoby) with Marika Rökk. Source: hargo1962 (YouTube).
Another dance sequence from Sensation in San Remo (1952, Georg Jacoby) with Marika Rökk. Source: hargo1962 (YouTube).
Scene from Die Blume von Hawaii/Flower of Hawaii (1953). Bruce Low sings Ein Paradies am Meeresstrand. Source: Rudi Polt (You Tube).
Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line) (German), Dieter Siebeck (Die Dritte von Rechts) (German), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.