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21 October 2013

Ossi Oswalda

Ossi Oswalda (1895-1947) was one of the most popular comediennes of the German silent cinema. Ernst Lubitsch became her Pygmalion, who let her play in numerous comedies between 1916 and 1920. Her popularity at the time earned her the nickname 'The German Mary Pickford'.

Ossi Oswalda
French postcard in the Europe series, no. 590. Photo: Agence Européenne Cinematographique.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 529/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Ossi Oswalda-Film.

Ernst Lubitsch


Ossi Oswalda (1895-1947) was born in Niederschönhausen, Imperial Germany (now part of Berlin), but she was of Prague origin. Her real name was Oswalda Stäglich.

Oswalda trained as a ballerina and became a dancer for a theater in Berlin.

She made her film debut in Nächte des Grauens/Night of Horrors (Richard Oswald, Arthur Robison, 1916) before being discovered by the actor and screenwriter Hanns Kräly.

He recommended her to director Ernst Lubitsch who cast her in their comedy Schuhpalast Pinkus/Shoe Salon Pinkus (1916).

Lubitsch became her Pygmalion, who let her play in numerous comedies between 1916 and 1920, which joked with the provincial and stiff petty-bourgeois mentality of Wilhelminian Germany.

Examples are Ossis Tagebuch/Ossi's Diary (1917), Ich möchte kein Mann sein/I Don't Want to Be a Man (1918), Meine Frau, die Filmschauspielerin/My Wife the Movie Star (1919), and Die Puppe/The Doll (1919).

The best of these was Die Austernprinzessin/The Oyster Princess (1919), in which Ossi is a spoiled daughter of a wealthy American, who is supposed to wed an impoverished German prince (but is marrying his stupid servant instead).

The whole film exaggerated all the clichés about Americans who like everything big and make modern, absurdistic music, and about Germans who are only interested in food & drinks, but Lubitsch did so in a very witty way.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1377. Photo: Alex Binder.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 3310. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 286. Photo: Alard Walten, Berlin.

Ernst Lubitsch, Ossi Oswalda
With Ernst Lubitsch. German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 337/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Zander & Labisch.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1929.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 474/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 3197. Photo: Alex Binder.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 761/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Unrestrained, Wild and Witty Girl


When Ernst Lubitsch left for America he left Ossi Oswalda in the hands of Victor Janson, who had been her co-star in Die Wohnungsnot/The Housing Shortage (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) and Kakadu und Kiebitz/Kakadu and Kiebitz (Erich Schönfelder, 1920).

Janson was not unworthy for his task but he repeated Oswalda's typology of the unrestrained, wild and witty girl, without adding the spice Lubitsch always had added.

In 1921, Oswalda started her own film production company with her husband at the time, baron Gustav von Koczian.

However, during the next four years they only produced four films, including Amor am Steuer/Love at the Wheel (Victor Janson, 1921) and Das Mädel mit der Maske/The Girl With the Mask (Victor Janson), 1922 with Hermann Thimig.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1347/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Manassé, Wien.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2055/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 753/2, 1925-1926.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1734/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Ernst Sandau, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 761/5,1925-1926. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Ernst Sandau, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1050/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Crown Prince


From 1925 on, Ossi Oswalda was contracted to the Ufa. She starred in comedies like Blitzzug der Liebe/Love Express Train (Johannes Guter, 1925) and Herrn Filip Collins Abenteuer/Mr. Filip Collins Adventure (Johannes Guter, 1926) with Georg Alexander.

When Oswalda's name was romantically linked to that of former Crown Prince Wilhelm, while that of Lily Damita with the prince's son Ludwig Ferdinand, insulting caricatures spread and the Hohenzollern family stopped both affairs short.

The affair also influenced Oswalda's career, who continued to make films but she would never reached the top anymore. Her star dwindled down, and her parts became smaller and smaller.

She appeared in only two sound films, making her final film appearance in Der Stern von Valencia/The Star of Valencia (Alfred Zeisler, 1933).

Later on, she became a stage actor, and in 1943, she wrote the story for the Czechoslovakian film Ctrnáctý u stolu (Oldrich Nový, Antonín Zelenka, 1943).

For a short while, Ossi Oswalda was the talk of the town again once more, after she had died in the most miserable condition in Prague in 1947.

Ossi Oswalda and Victor Janson in Niniche
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 685/4, 1919-1924. Photo: publicity still for Niniche (Victor Janson, 1925).

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 474/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1453/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Angelo Photos.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1050/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1690/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Deutsch-Nordische Film-Union.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 3871/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Ernst Schneider, Berlin / FPS.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1480/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Ufa.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 2055/5, 1927-1928. Photo: Ernst Schneider, Berlin.

Ossi Oswalda
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4244/1, 1929-1930. Photo Atelier Manassé, Vienna.


Scene from Die Austernprinzessin/The Oyster Princess (1919). Source: Jfahr (youTube).

Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio)  (Italian), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

2 comments:

CafebyJW said...

She has cheecky face!

My Bangkok Through My Eyes

Aimee said...

What wonderful cards! Happy PFF (a little late).