Film and TV actress Barbara Valentin (1940 - 2002) was dubbed the 'German Jayne Mansfield' and a 'Scandal Magnet'. Her résumé includes sex films but also art films directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Her private life was fodder for the tabloids. Pop star Freddie Mercury was ‘the love of her life’.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/192. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.
Barbara Valentin was born Ursula ‘Uschi’ Ledersteger in Vienna, Austria in 1940. She was the daughter of the set designer Hans Ledersteger and actress Irmgard Alberti. Her film debut was in the erotic SciFi-thriller Ein Toter hing im Netz/A Corpse Hangs in the Web (1959, Fritz Böttgers). In the 1960’s she became a well known personality who was called ‘das Busenwunder’ (the Buxom Wonder) because of her huge breasts and was compared to Jayne Mansfield because of her sex pot roles. The German tabloids had also plenty to write about her cocaine habit and other addictions, and about her numerous love affairs. Her three marriages, including one with film director Helmut Dietl, ended all in a divorce. In the cinema she was seen in sexy films like Das Mädchen mit den Schmalen Hüften, literally The Girl with the Narrow Hips (1961, Johannes Kai) with Claus Wilcke, and In Frankfurt sind die Nächte heiss/Hot Nights in Frankfurt (1966, Rolf Olsen) starring Vera Tschechowa. Later she was also seen in international films like Carmen, Baby (1967, Radley Metzger) opposite Carl Möhner, and King, Queen, Knave (1972, Jerzy Skolimowsky) starring David Niven.
German postcard by Kruger (UFA), no. 902/167. Photo: Herbert Fried (Fried Agency).
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/168. Photo: Herbert Fried (Fried Agency)/UFA.
In the 1970’s Rainer Werner Fassbinder offered Barbara Valentin a chance on a new career. Under his direction she played in the futuristic TV tale Welt am Draht/World on a Wire (1974) opposite Klaus Löwitsch, and after that she became a permanent member of his troupe. She played character parts in films and TV films by Fassbinder like the Henrik Ibsen adaptation Nora Helmer (1974) featuring Margit Carstensen, the touching melodrama Angst essen Seele auf/Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), the thriller Martha (1974), the Theodor Fontane adaptation Effi Briest (1974) starring Hanna Schygulla, the controversial gay drama Faustrecht der Freiheit/Fox and his Friends (1975), the box office hit Lili Marleen (1981), and Fassbinder's acclaimed 15-hour mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) with Günther Lamprecht.
German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 550. Photo: Bellé.
Barbara Valentin appeared in numerous other films and TV productions, including Bomber & Paganini (1976, Nicos Perakis) starring Mario Adorf, Flammende Herzen/Flaming Hearts (1978, Walter Bockmayer, Rolf Bührmann) with Peter Kern, and Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse/The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press (1984, Ulrike Ottinger) with Delphine Seyrig. In 1984-1985, she lived together with Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, whom she would come to call 'the love of her life'. After his death in 1991 she supported the fight of HIV organizations against AIDS, and became an icon of the Munich gay scene. Her last film was Die Hunde sind schuld/The Dogs are Guilty (2001, Andreas Prochaska) with Tilo Prückner. Barbara Valentin died in 2002. She suffered a brain hemorrhage early in 2001, and was in a coma for quite some time, and was later confined to a wheelchair. She is buried in the Ostfriedhof cemetery in Munich.
Scene from Ein Toter hing im Netz (1959) with Alex D'Arcy. Source: R6dw6c (YouTube).
Sexy Catfight scene from Ein Toter hing im Netz (1959). Source: Polar Blair's Den (YouTube).
Sources: Absolute Facts.nl (Dutch), Britannica, Wikipedia, and IMDb