01 February 2012

Elga Andersen

Slender, blonde German actress Elga Andersen (1935) starred in international films of the 1950’s and 1960’s. She was also a popular recording artist during the 1960’s, known for singing the title song for The Guns of Navarrone (1961). Later she became a producer too.

Elga Andersen
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/91. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Elga Andersen
French postcard by St. Anne, Marseille. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Bohemian Life
Elga Andersen was born Elga Hymen in Dortmund, Germany in 1935. She lost her father during WW II. First she hoped to become a dancer but then studied French and English. She went to Paris in 1953 to become an interpreter. In France she led a bohemian life, met artists and posed for fashion shoots. She made her film debut when she was discovered by director André Hunebelle. She appeared in Les Collégiennes/The Twilight Girls (1957, André Hunebelle) as Elga Hymen. The following year she appeared in Bonjour tristesse (1958, Otto Preminger) and the classic thriller Ascenseur pour l'échafaud/Elevator to the Scaffold (1958, Louis Malle). She also appeared in German productions like Ist Mama nicht fabelhaft?/Isn't Mama Fabulous? (1958, Peter Beauvais) and So ein Millionär hat's schwer/Such a Millionaire has Tough Times (1958, Géza von Cziffra) starring Peter Alexander. Her first leading role was in the French-Brazilian adventure Os bandeirantes/The Pioneers (1960, Marcel Camus). Elga took singing lessons and was the performer of the title song of The Guns of Navarrone (1961). Gilbert Bécaud wrote especially for her Et maintenant, with words by Pierre Delanoë. She married Paris architect Christian Girard.

Eddie Constantine, Elga Andersen
German postcard by Krüger, nr. 902/35. Publicity card for Philips to promote the single Flüstertango/Heut' dreh'n wir mal ein Ding, Marcel (1963, no. 373 095 PF).

Listen to Flüstertango (1963). Source: 45Vault (YouTube).

Psychedelic Sixties Extravaganza
Elga Andersen appeared as a seductive beauty in many European films of the 1960’s. Among them were the crime comedy Le Monocle Noir/The Black Monocle (1961, Georges Lautner), the sequel L'oeil du monocle/The Eye of the Monocle (1962, Georges Lautner), the comic thrillers L'empire de la nuit/The Empire of Night (1962, Pierre Grimblat) and A Toi de Faire Mignonne/Your Turn, Darling (1963, Bernard Borderie) both opposite Eddie Constantine, the comedy DM-Killer (1965, Rolf Thiele) with Curd Jürgens, the spaghetti-western Starblack (1966, Giovanni Grimaldi), the psychedelic sixties extravaganza La battaglia dei mods/The Battle of the Mods (1966, Franco Montemurro), the adventure Le Capitaine Singrid/Captain Singrid (1967, Jean Leduc), Sex Power (1970, Henry Charpin) with Jane Birkin, and the excellent comedy Detenuto in attesa di giudizio/Why? (1971, Nanni Loy). She worked in a few Hollywood features too, credited as Helga Anderson, including A Global Affair (1964, Jack Arnold) opposite Bob Hope. She is best known for portraying Steve McQueen's love interest in the racing epic Le Mans (1971, Lee H. Katzin). Her last film was Le Serpent/The Serpent (1973, Henri Verneuil) starring Yul Brynner and Henry Fonda, and on TV she was last seen in the Sci-Fi series Aux frontières du possible/At the edge of the Possible (1971-1974). When promoting Le Mans for Cinema Center Films she had met American producer and millionaire Peter R. Gimbel who was promoting Blue Water, White Death for the same firm. In 1981 Gimbel and Andersen tried to locate and salvage the bank safe of the sunken liner Andrea Doria, and she produced for TV the documentary Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter (1981) about this project that made many headlines. Gimbel and Andersen had married in 1978 and the couple stayed together till his death in 1987. Elga Andersen died of cancer in 1994, in New York, USA. She was only fifty-nine.

Elga Andersen
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 323. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Clip from Le Mans (1971), with Steve McQueen and Elga Andersen. Music by Michel Legrand. Source: Pablollajta (YouTube).

Sources: Sandra Brennan (Rovi), Ray Young (Flickhead), IMDb, and Wikipedia.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

What a beauty. And a good reminder that I need to finally see Le mans.