11 August 2016

Sabina Sesselmann

German actress Sabina (also: Sabine) Sesselmann (1936-1998) was the beautiful blonde leading lady of some 22 European films of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Next to her short but successful acting career, she was the cover girl of many popular magazines at the time.

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf, no. 753. Photo: Kolibri / Otfried Schmidt.

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf, no. 1112. Photo: Cinelux / Deutsche Cosmopol-Film (DCF) / Haenchen. Publicity still for Der Schatz im Toplitzsee/The Treasure in Toplitz Lake (Franz Antel, 1959).

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA), no. CK-285. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Sam Lévin / UFA.

Criminology Student Posing as a Prostitute

Sabina Traude Sesselmann was born in München (Munich), Germany in 1936. She was the daughter of a merchant. For a few years, she studied art history in Berlin, and then worked as a model to pay for ballet lessons and her training at the Reinhardt-school to become an actor.

She received her first engagement at the Lübecker Theater in 1957. That year she also did her first film appearance as a fairy godmother in the children’s film Aufruhr im Schlaraffenland/Trouble in the Land of Milk and Honey (Otto Meyer, 1957).

In quick succession she stood in various productions for the camera, such as Liebe kann wie Gift sein/Love Can Be Poison (Veit Harlan, 1958) opposite Joachim Fuchsberger, and the World War II-film U47 - Kapitänleutnant Prien/U-47 Lt. Commander Prien (Harald Reinl, 1958) as the wife of the title figure played by Dieter Eppler.

Her breakthrough role was that of a criminology student who poses as a prostitute to conduct first-hand research on her thesis paper, and then saves a victim of a racket in the crime drama Madeleine Tel. 13 62 11/ Naked in the Night (Kurt Meisel, 1958) starring Eva Bartok.

The following year she played a supporting part in the excellent war drama Kriegsgericht/Court Martial (Kurt Meisel, 1959) starring Karlheinz Böhm and Christian Wolff. She also appeared in the Schlager musical Freddy, die Gitarre und das Meer/Freddy, the Guitar and the Sea (Wolfgang Schleif, 1959) with Freddy Quinn.

As Sabina Selman she played the female lead in the French Swashbuckler Le Bossu/The Hunchback (André Hunebelle, 1959) starring Jean Marais and Bourvil. And that same year she was Joachim Hansen’s fiancée in the Der Schatz vom Toplitzsee/The Treasure of Toplitzsee (Franz Antel, 1959).

Sabina Sesselmann in Le Bossu (1959)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 1598. Photo: publicity still for Le Bossu/The Yokel (André Hunebelle, 1959).

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. 4416. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Arca / Cinepress.

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4050. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Arca / Cinepress. Publicity still for Liebe kann wie Gift sein (Veit Harlan, 1958).

Trite to the Point of Silliness

In the 1960s, Sabina Sesselmann continued to play in German language productions. She was the star of the Swiss comedy Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone/The Man in the Black Derby (Karl Suter, 1960) with Gustav Knuth. She appeared opposite Hannes Messemer in the German crime drama Die Brücke des Schicksals/The Bridge of Destiny (Michael Kehlmann, 1960).

Often she played in such Edgar Wallace thrillers as Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen/The Devil's Daffodil (Ákos Ráthonyi, 1961) and Die Tür mit den sieben Schlössern/The Door with Seven Locks (Alfred Vohrer, 1962) with Heinz Drache. The first one was a German-British coproduction that was made in two alternative language versions.

She also appeared in the American crime movie Information Received (Robert Lynn, 1961). The next year she starred with Adrian Hoven in the popular TV series Alarm für Dora X (Mohr von Chamier, 1962).

After that, she appeared in only two more films: the Austrian comedy Rote Lippen soll man küssen/Red Lips Should Be Kissed (Franz Antel, 1963) starring Johanna Matz and Peter Weck, and the drama Ein Sarg aus Hongkong/Coffin from Hong Kong (Manfred R. Köhler, 1964) with Heinz Drache.

At IMDb, Quanche comments: “this was one of a whole series of relatively low budget German noir/espionage/thriller type films made in the early to mid sixties. Although the scripting of these films is often trite to the point of silliness, they are generally well acted, and usually set (though not filmed) someplace other than Germany, usually London or the U.S.”

In 1964, Sabina Sesselmann secretly married Mercedes dealer Ernst Henne Jr., the son of legendary motor racer and multi-millionaire Ernst Jakob Henne. After that, she retired more or less from the public.

Five years later she played a guest-role in the TV series Luftsprünge/Jumps in the Air (Hermann Leitner, Ernst Schmucker, 1969) with Luis Trenker and Toni Sailer. And in 1996, she did one final appearance in an episode of the popular Krimi series SOKO 5113 (1978-).

Two years later, Sabina Sesselmann passed away in Tutzing. At 61, she had succumbed to cancer.

Sabina Sesselmann
Vintage postcard.

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 166.

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf, no. 837. Photo: Cinelux / Dt. Cosmopol / Grimm. Publicity still for Morgen wirst du um mich weinen/Black Triangle (Alfred Braun, 1959).

Sabina Sesselmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4486. Photo: Ufa / Grimm.

Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-line) (German), AllMovie, Filmportal.de, Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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