10 September 2012

Dunja Rajter

Croatian singer and actress Dunja Rajter (1946) is a dark haired beauty that had a successful career in Germany from 1963 on. To film fans she is probably best known for her roles as a squaw in two of the Winnetou westerns.

Dunja Rajter
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/408. Photo: Lothar Winkler.

Dunja Rajter was born in 1946 in Našice, Yugoslavia, now Croatia. As a schoolgirl she sang in the children's choir of her father, Rudolf Rajter, who was a music teacher in Zagreb. After school, she studied at the Theatre Academy of Zagreb. After her graduation in 1963, she was engaged by the theater company of the city. Before this she had already done some small parts in Yugoslavian films like Carevo novo ruho/The King's New Clothes (1961, Ante Babaja), based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, and Pustolov pred vratima/Adventure at the Door (1961, Sime Simatovic) with Ana Karic. In 1962, she appeared in a TV series. The music was composed by Mario Nardelli, who would be her future companion on the guitar. She played Belle in the Eurowestern Winnetou - 1. Teil/Apache Gold (1963, Harald Reinl) which was filmed at the Plitvice Lakes and other Croatian locations. This Karl May adaptation starred Lex Barker as Old Shatterhand and Pierre Brice as his friend, the apache Winnetou. German music promoter and television director Horst Lippmann had spotted her singing in a Yugoslavian TV show and invited her to come to Germany. In 1964 she moved to Germany, where she has lived ever since. During the 1960’s, she acted in several feature films and television productions. Her most successful films included the Winnetou film Unter Geiern/Among Vultures (1965, Alfred Vohrer), the Edgar Wallace thriller Der unheimliche Mönch/The Sinister Monk (1965, Harald Reinl) with Karin Dor, and the TV film Der Beginn/The beginning (1966, Peter Lilienthal), which won the Adolf Grimme Award. She also had a part in the Dutch film To Grab the Ring (1968, Nikolai van der Heijde) with Ben Carruthers and singer Liesbeth List. Among her other television productions were such series as Grosser mann wass Nun/Big man what now (1967, Eugen York) with Gustav Knuth, Salto Mortale/Somersault (1969-1972, Michael Braun), and Der Kommissar/The Commissioner (1970, Director: Helmut Käutner) featuring Erik Ode.

Winnetou I, Lex Barker
Lex Barker. German postcard, no. E 23. Photo: Constantin. Still from Winnetou I (1963, Harald Reinl). Caption: "Old Shatterhand has also been sentenced to die at the stake. He regrets emphatically, that he rescued Winnetou from the Kiowas. An ordeal by battle will decide."

Pierre Brice, Winnetou I
Pierre Brice. German postcard, no. E 5. Photo: Constantin. Still from Winnetou I (1963, Harald Reinl).

A Husky Gypsy Voice
In the early 1970’s, Dunja Rajter became known as a singer with a husky gypsy voice. She came into the charts with hits like Was ist schon dabei (What's the big deal) (1970) and Salem Aleikum (1971). She was a guest on Harry Belafonte's American television show, has performed in France in various television magazines, and in Germany, she even her own personality show. Another highlight in her career was a European tour with Ivan Rebroff. Later, she entered the German Hitparade with Junges Herz (Young heart) (1977) and Ich glaub dir (I believe you) (1980). Rajters songs are a mixture of pop and chanson. In 1986, she broke new ground in music and performed in small theaters. The civil war in former Yugoslavia (1991-1995) changed her life. Since then she has supported several children's hospitals in her native Croatia. On TV she appeared in such series as Tisch und Bett/Table and Bed (1993), Löwenzahn/Dandelion (2010) and Traumschiff – Kreuzfahrt ins Glück/Love Boat – Cruisade for Happiness (2011, Wolfgang Rademann). She also appeared on stage. In 2003 and 2012 she performed at the Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg. She also played the title role in the play Mirandolina (2007) by Carlo Goldoni at the Landesbühne Rheinland Pfalz, and Golde in Anatevka (Fiddler on the Roof) (2008/2009) at the Trier Theatre. Dunja Rajter married three times. Her first marriage was to the Dutch cinematographer Gerard Vandenberg (1970-1971). In 1972 she married singer and bandleader Les Humphries. They have a son, Danny Leslie Humphries (1974), who is a singer and guitarist in the band Glow. The couple divorced in the 1976. In 2009, she married her longtime friend, marketing consultant Michael Eichler. Dunja Rajter lives in Langen.

German trailer for Winnetou - 1. Teil/Apache Gold (1963). Source: Rialto Film (YouTube).

Dunja Rajter sings Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen in a 1985 TV show. The song was originally sung by Zarah Leander in 1939. Source: Fritz12345 (YouTube).

Sources: Dunja-Rajter.de, Tom B. (Westerns… All’Italiana), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

1 comment:

guest posting said...

What a great movie! During my childhood I've always dreamed to travel to the USA and visit the scene of this movie.

As an adult just realised that these scenes were filmed in Jugoslavia. Fortunately i can visit Croatia yearly. Maybe the real scenes inthe USA are not so nice who knows? :)