07 March 2014

Gudrun Hildebrandt

Gudrun Hildebrandt was a well-known German dance artist, who also appeared in a few silent films. Although she was one of the most photographed artists of her time and there are dozens of postcards of Hildebrandt, she seems forgotten now.

German postcard by P.M.B., no. 4526/1.

German postcard by GL Co., no. 4114/6. Sent by mail in 1910.

Beautiful Dancer

It is quite hard to find information about Gudrun Hildebrandt on the net. This is what we found:

Gudrun was the daughter of a journalist, who worked for Kaiser Wilhelm II. He purchased all the gifts for the Kaiser. Her father was Jewish, but christened as a baby.

As an adult, Gudrun danced to the music of Chopin in theatrical productions and performed in productions as Wolk und Wind (Cloud and Wind).

The beautiful dancer became a popular subject for dozens of postcards. It was a logical step to the cinema.

According to IMDb, Gudrun Hildebrandt appeared in only two films. Under the lemma Gudrun Hildebrand you can find Das Leben ein Roman/Life is a Novel (1913). Produced by Alfred Duskes for Duskes Kinematographen- und Film-Fabriken GmbH and directed by Carl Bernhardt.

Under ‘Gudrun Hildebrandt’ we found the short comedy Fräulein Puppe - Meine Frau/Miss Doll - My wife (1914) about a puppet which comes to life. This is an Uranus-Film-Gesellschaft Franz Scholling & Co production directed by the Polish director Danny Kaden (a.k.a. Nunek Danuky), and produced by Franz Scholling. Hildebrandt played the title character and the cast also included Kurt Gerron, Hermann Picha and Fritz Schulz.

The German Early Cinema Database gives a third title: Zwischen den Jahrhunderten/Between the centuries (1916), a production by Luna Film. This site also gives a description of the manuscript by Carl Schönfeld for Das Leben ein Roman: “A foster child is chased away. An earl takes her in. When his son is going to marry, she takes poison, but not enough.”

German postcard, no. 1445/46.

German postcard by EAS, no. 5 / 1899.

A Bourgeois Lifestyle Interrupted

Around 1920, Gudrun Hildebrandt had a dance school in Berlin and she published the book Grammatik der Modernen Tänze (Grammatics of modern dance). She also published in dance magazines.

In 1926 she published a novel under the title Steffi Walborg, der Roman einer Tänzerin (Steffi Walborg, the novel of a dancer).

In her book, Frenchy: I Wanted to Get Back at Hitler, Tracy L. Shaler relates the life of a niece of Hildebrandt, Jeannette Grünfeld Marx, and gives also information about Hildebrandt.

Gudrun was married to Grünfeld’s uncle, Benjamin (or Benedikt) Marx, a successful businessman and an elected member of the Social Democratic Party.

In 1930 their bourgeois lifestyle was interrupted by the elections when the Nazi party won 107 seats in the Reichstag. Benedikt and Gudrun fled Germany shortly before Hitler was made Reichs Chancellor.

What later happened with Gudrun Hildebrandt is unclear to us. How was her later life in England? Where and when did she die? If you know the answers, please send a mail and share the info.

German postcard, no. 1381/82.

German postcard by Bromüra, no. B 238.

German postcard by Rotophot, no. 1381/82. Sent by mail in 1909.

Sources: Tracy L. Shaler (Frenchy: I Wanted to Get Back at Hitler), The German Early Cinema Database, and IMDb.

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