20 February 2020

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2020)

On 17 February 2020, German film and television actress, singer and dancer Sonja Ziemann (1926) passed away at the age of 94. The delicately lovely, dark-haired and innocent-looking Ziemann was one of the first stars of Germany's post-war cinema. She starred in film operettas and Heimatfilms as Schwarzwaldmädel/The Black Forest Girl (1950) and Grün ist die Heide/The Heath is Green (1951). Her private life knew several tragedies.

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by Film und Bild, Frankfurt-Main. Photo: Gaza-Studio.

Sonja Ziemann
German collectors card in the "Deutsche Film-Lieblinge" series I.

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1115. Photo: CCC / Gloria / Arthur Grimm. Sonja Ziemann in Meine Schwester und Ich/My Sister and I (Paul Martin, 1954).

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3117. Photo: Joe Niczky / UFA.

Sonja Ziemann
French postcard by Edition P.I., Paris, no. CK-238. French licency holder for UFA, Berlin-Tempelhof. Photo: Klaus Collignon / UFA.

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by UFA, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-56. Retail price: 30 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / UFA.

Her mix of naivety, simplicity and good humour


Sonja Alice Selma Toni Ziemann was born in Eichwalde, near Berlin, in Germany in 1926. Her father was a tax consultant.

At age 10, Sonja began to train in ballet and from 1939 on she studied at the ballet school of Tatjana Gsovsky in Berlin. She made her stage debut in 1941 at the Plaza variety Theater and appeared in several revues.

Her film career started a year later and during the war period, she played supporting parts in films like Ein Windstoß/A Blast (Walter Felsenstein, 1942) starring Paul Kemp, Eine kleine Sommermelodie/A little summer melody (Volker von Collande, 1944) and the horror-comedy Spuk im Schloss/Ghost in the Castle (Hans H. Zerlett, 1945) starring Margot Hielscher.

After the war, she appeared in cabarets and worked together with Hildegard Knef, who became a lifelong friend. At the Metropol-Theater in Berlin, she had her first successes as a soubrette in such operettas as 'Die Zirkusprinzessin' (The Circus Princess), 'Nächte in Schanghai' (Nights in Shanghai), 'Chanel Nr. 5' (Chanel No. 5) and 'Die Kinoköniginn' (The Cinema Queen).

The lead role in the Heimatfilm Schwarzwaldmädel/The Black Forest Girl (Hans Deppe, 1950) starring Paul Hörbiger was her breakthrough in the cinema. The public loved her mix of naivety, simplicity and good humour.

The following year she had another huge hit with the film operetta Grün ist die Heide/The Heath is Green (Hans Deppe, 1951) with Rudolph Prack. She won the Bambi award that year, for the most popular German star. For a while, she and her film partner Rudolph Prack were one of the great 'Traumpaare' (Dream Couples) of the German cinema, and they were lovingly nicknamed 'Zieprack'.

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 813. Photo: Arthur Grimm, Berlin / CCC-Film. Publicity still for Hollandmädel/Dutch Girl (J.A. Hübler-Kahla, 1953).

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by F.J. Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 1101. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC Film / Gloria. Sonja Ziemann in Der Zarewitsch/The Little Czar (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954).

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1255. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC Film / Gloria. Sonja Ziemann in Der Zarewitsch/The Little Czar (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954).

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin. Photo: Pontus Film.

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by FBZ, no. 550. Photo: Lilo-Photo.

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. T 856. Photo: CCC Film. Sonja Ziemann in Der achte Wochentag/Ósmy dzien tygodnia/The eighth day of the week (Aleksander Ford, 1958).

Shelved by the government censors


Sonja Ziemann’s career changed direction with her serious role in the German-Polish post-war drama Der achte Wochentag/Ósmy dzien tygodnia/The eighth day of the week (Aleksander Ford, 1958) with Polish idol Zbigniew Cybulski. The film was based on a story by Marek Hlasko, who later became her second husband.

IMDb writes that it was “the record-breaker among Polish films shelved by the government censors. It waited 25 years for its Polish premiere. The reason for that was the pessimistic look at housing problems in 1950s Warsaw.”

This role was followed by parts in the serious dramas Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben/Battle Inferno (Frank Wisbar, 1958) starring Joachim Hansen, and Nacht fiel über Gotenhafen/Darkness Fell on Gotenhafen (Frank Wisbar, 1959) with Erik Schumann.

Her later films included the all-star drama Menschen im Hotel/Grand hôtel (Gottfried Reinhardt, 1959) and the title role in the musical comedy Der Traum von Lieschen Müller/The Dream of Lieschen Mueller (Helmut Käutner, 1962). S

he also played in American productions like the Alistair MacLean adventure The Secret Ways (Phil Karlson, 1960) with Richard Widmark, and the war film The Bridge at Remagen (John Guillermin, 1969).

Ziemann was married three times. Her first marriage was with stocking manufacturer Rudolf Hambach from 1952 till 1956. They had one son, Pierre. In 1962 she married the Polish writer, Marek Hlasko. From then on she mostly appeared in the theatre and she was also regularly seen on TV. Tragically her second husband committed suicide in 1969.

Just seven months after the suicide of her husband, her only child, Pierre, died of cancer at the age of 16. In 1974 followed another drama, when her constant companion, Martinius Adolff, perished in an airplane crash. Ziemann was good friends with Pamela Wedekind. Three years after Wedekind's death, she married her husband, French actor and director Charles Regnier. Regnier died in 2001.

In 1984 she was honoured with the German film award Filmband in Gold and in 1998 she had published 'Ein Morgen gibt es immer. Erinnerungen' (There is always a tomorrow. Memoirs). Sonja Ziemann lived for a long time at the Tegernsee, a lake in Bavaria, and in Switzerland. IMDb notes that she later lived in a house for assisted living in Munich because she did not want to live alone in her big house at the Tegernsee. Sonja Ziemann died in a seniors residence in Munich, Germany, on 17 February 2020. She was 94.

Sonja Ziemann in Hollandmädel
German postcard. Photo: CCC (Central Cinema Company Film). Sonja Ziemann in Hollandmädel/Dutch Girl (J.A. Hübler-Kahla, 1953).

Sonja Ziemann in Das Bad auf der Tenne
German postcard. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC Film (Artur Brauner) / Schorcht. Sonja Ziemann in Das Bad auf der Tenne (Paul Martin, 1956).

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 721. Photo: J. Arthur Rank-Film.

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 1865. Photo: Real-Film / Lilo.

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4776. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm.

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 168. Photo: CCC.

Sonja Ziemann
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden (Westf.). Retail price: 25 Pf. Photo: CCC / Schorchtfilm.

Sonja Ziemann
German promotion card by Lux.

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
German promotion card by Lux.

Sonja Ziemann
Belgian postcard by Cox, no. 33.

Sonja Ziemann (1926-2000)
Austrian postcard by D. Hubmann, Wien (Vienna), no. 16. Photo: Arthur Grimm / UFA.

Sources: Filmportal.de, Haus der Geschichte (German), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

19 February 2020

Cora Laparcerie

Cora Laparcerie (1875-1951) was an actress, poetess and French theatre director. She acted in several stage tragedies set in the Antiquity or ancient mythology. She never acted in a film, but had several ties to the cinema and to Mata Hari.

Cora Laparcerie
French postcard in the Series Nos artistes dans leur loge, no. 271. Photo: Comoedia.

Cora Laparcerie
French postcard by K.F. Editeurs, Paris, series 269, no. 12. Photo: Henri Manuel, Paris / Odéon, Paris.

My Man


Cora Laparcerie was born Marie-Caroline Laparcerie in 1875 in Morcenx (Landes), as the daughter of Victor Laparcerie and Victorine Guillaume.

Laparcerie was noticed by the actor Jean Coquelin Sr. and began her career at the Théâtre de l'Odéon in Paris in 1896, before performing around the world. She acted in particular in tragedies set in Antiquity or ancient mythology such as 'Dejanira', 'Fausta', 'Prométhée', and 'Lysistrata', of which some were staged by the Odéon players in the Summer season at the Théâtre des Arènes at Béziers.

In 1901, she married the poet Jacques Richepin, whose works she interpreted. He was the son of the noted writer Jean Richepin. She continued to act in open air theatres in the Summer season, such as the Théâtre de la Nature in Cauterets. In 1904, she performed there in 'La Samaritaine'(1897) by Edmond Rostand, with Albert Delmont as her partner on stage.

Laparcerie was director of several Parisian theatres, notably the Bouffes-Parisiens theatre (1907 or 1909-1913), the Renaissance theatre (1913-1928), the Mogador theatre (1923-1924) - rebaptised Théâtre Cora Laparcerie but too costly an adventure, so she returned to the Renaissance theater in 1925.

She created in 1920 the play 'Mon homme' by Francis Carco. The title song, composed by Albert Willemetz and Maurice Yvain, would become a huge success in the interpretation of Mistinguett and in the English version 'My Man' by Fanny Brice, Billy Holiday, and Barbara Streisand.

In 1926, Laparcerie received the Legion of Honour from the hands of Edouard Herriot, then Minister of Public Education, but fell seriously ill in 1927 and then had to stop her theatrical career, and took a three-year leave to the Côte d'Azur with her family.

Cora Laparcerie (1896)
French postcard by M.J.S. Photo: Théâtre de l'Odéon.

Cora Laparcerie in La cavalière
French postcard by C.L.C., 2nd series. Cora Laparcerie in 'La cavalière' by Jean Richepin. The play was first performed in Paris (France) at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt, on 27 January 1901. Cora Laparcerie played Mira, Castillan played Cristobal and Clerget played Tagarote.

Mata Hari


However, Cora Laparcerie continued to direct, became a columnist in the magazine 'Comœdia' and created radio theatre by performing 'La Vraie Carmen' on Radio-Paris in 1935. André Freull wrote about her in 1901: “It was really the “popular Saturdays” that gave her glory. She madly loved verses, and therefore knew how to say them. Her fiery and nuanced voice seduced the spectators, who cheered her on. She will soon become the Muse of young literary."

As far is known, Laparcerie didn't perform in film, but some of her stage partners would have remarkable film careers, such as the Dutch actor Lou Tellegen. Yet in 1921 she performed in 'La Danseuse rouge' by Charles-Henry Hirsch, based on Hirsch's novel 'La chèvre aux pieds d'or', vaguely inspired by the Mata Hari affair, and later on twicely adapted for the cinema.

The stage play caused a stir, as Parisian audiences were appalled by the innocently convicted dancer, after which the military and conservatory forces condemned the play. Laparcerie had known Mata Hari well. For the 50th performance of her play 'Le Minaret' (1913), written by her husband, she engaged Mata Hari for a short dance. It was so successful that Laparcerie kept the Dutch dancer on the show for a whole month.

Cora Laparcerie died in Paris on in 1951 at age 75, completely forgotten, and was buried in the Richepin family chapel on Tristan Island in Douarnenez, of which she had made a place frequented by 'Tout-Paris' at the time. She was buried alongside her husband (who had died in 1946), son and daughter Miarka.

In 2010 a biography on Laparcerie appeared, written by Pierre Cassou. In 2013, Cassou left his collection of portraits of Laparcerie, her husband and his father, clothes and jewelry, all in all, 250 objects, to the city of Douarnenez. In Morcenx, Les Landes, the cinema Cora Laparcerie is named after her.

Cora Laparcerie
French postcard in the Nos artistes dans leurs expressions series, no. 7. Photo: Comoedia.

Cora Laparcerie and Albert Darmont in La Samaritaine
French postcard by C. Lassalle, Toulouse. Cora Laparcerie-Richepin and Albert Delmont in the stage play 'La Samaritaine' (1897) by Edmond Rostand, performed in 1904 at the Théâtre de la Nature in Cauterets.

Source: Wikipedia (French), 40110Morcenx, and Jan Brokken (Mata Hari: De ware en de legende - Dutch).

18 February 2020

Malìa (1917)

In the Chocolate Amattler series, EFSP presents another Italian silent film, Malìa (Alfredo De Antoni, 1917), produced by Caesar Film. The Spanish title for this film was Liliana and Liliana was played by majestic diva Francesca Bertini (1892-1985). The portrait photos were made by Pinto in Rome.

Francesca Bertini in Malìa (1917)
Spanish collectors card by Chocolate Amattler, Marca Luna, series 4, no. 3. Photo: Pinto, Rome / Caesar Film. Francesca Bertini in Malìa (Alfredo De Antoni, 1917).

Francesca Bertini in Malìa (1917)
Spanish collectors card by Chocolate Amattler, Marca Luna, series 4, no. 8. Photo: Caesar Film. Tamoshiro Matsumoto and Francesca Bertini in Malìa (Alfredo De Antoni, 1917).

A quite shameless rip-off of The Cheat


The famous dancer Liliana di Sant'Elmo (Francesca Bertini) has married count Carlo De Rienzo (Lido Manetti), a sensible and good man, but addicted to the vice of gambling. In order to pay back a gambling debt, he borrows a large sum from an evil marquis, Osaka Yamagoto (Tamoshiro Matsumoto).

While courting Carlo's wife, the marquis is willing to cancel the debt. But Liliana, who is faithful to her husband and willing to give the ultimate sacrifice, manages to break down the blackmail by killing the perfidious Oriental.

Malìa premiered in Rome on 6 December 1917. It was a quite shameless rip-off of Cecil B. DeMille's The Cheat, known in Italy under its French title as Forfaiture. As the film does not survive, we cannot check in detail, and some details above don't occur in The Cheat, but the Spanish postcards indicate there must be a same scene of the branding of the woman, indicating she is now a possession of Yamagoto, just like his art works.

There is a similar court case, in which the woman is probably acquitted after telling her tragic account, though as critic Pier da Costello deplored in 'La vita cinematografica', the use of the mob in this scene lacks. In general Da Costello thought the film had superior sets and Bertini wore superior costumes, compared to Fanny Ward's in The Cheat, but Da Castello condemned the acting and direction, and most of all the script.

As the film came out in Italy before the Italian release of the Cheat, other critics initially praised the film, but after Da Costello also other critics condemned Bertini's performance as too cold, and the plot lacking originality. This did not stop audiences from flocking to the cinemas, to see their diva, her sufferings, and her luxurious toilettes and surroundings.

Francesca Bertini in Malìa (1917)
Spanish collectors card by Chocolate Amattler, Marca Luna, series 4, no. 16. Photo: Caesar Film. Francesca Bertini and Tamoshiro Matsumoto in Malìa (Alfredo De Antoni, 1917).

Francesca Bertini in Malìa (1917)
Spanish collectors card by Chocolate Amattler, Marca Luna, series 4, no. 17. Photo: Caesar Film. Francesca Bertini in Malìa (Alfredo De Antoni, 1917).

Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano - 1917), Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.