26 April 2013

Dolly Haas

German-born, British stage and screen actress Dolly Haas (1910 - 1994) was popular in the 1930’s as a vivacious, red-haired gamine often wearing trousers in German and British films. Although she got a 3-year contract with Columbia and she worked with Alfred Hitchcock in Hollywood, Dolly's American career mainly took place on and Off Broadway.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6565/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Atelier Schenker, Berlin.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7186/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Lothar Stark-Film.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8157/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Walther Jaeger, Berlin.

Singing and Dancing Doll
Dolly Haas was born Dorothy Clara Louise Haas (some sources write Hass) in 1910 in Hamburg, Germany. She was British: her grandfather was a Dane who lived in England and married an Englishwoman. Her father, Charles Oswald Haas, a bookseller and friend of Sir Henry Wood, had married the Austrian Margarete Maria née Hansen and settled in Hamburg. At six, Dolly started with ballet lessons, and she had her first public dance performance in a production of Die Fledermaus (The Bat). From 1917 until 1927, Dolly attended the progressive lyceum of Dr. Löwenberg. After her graduation she went to Berlin where Erik Charell gave her a large supporting role in his stage production of Mikado. In 1930 the famous Max Reinhardt, offered her an engagement in his stage production Wie werde ich reich und glücklich (How Do I Become Rich and Happy)(1930, Erich Engel). That same year she made her film debut as a department doll who comes to life in Eine Stunde Glück/One Summer of Happiness (1930, Wilhelm (William) Dieterle). Her second film was Dolly macht Karriere/Dolly's Way to Stardom (1930), the directorial debut of Anatole Litvak. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Dolly's Career top-bills the delightful Dolly Haas in the title role. It's a harmless little story about a starry-eyed chorus girl who hopes to become a big star and also keep her virtue, and of the various antagonists who try to prevent her from doing either. The film is highlighted by a number of elaborate dance sequences, gracefully performed by Haas and cleverly choreographed by Ernst Matray." The film title seemed prophetic for her future.

Dolly Haas in So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht
Dutch postcard by M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam, Z., no. B 168. Photo: Filma, Amsterdam. Publicity still for So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht/A Girl You Don't Forget (1932).

Dolly Haas, Wili Forst
Dutch postcard by Filma, no. 426. Photo: publicity still for So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht/A Girl You Don't Forget (1932, Fritz Kortner) with Haas and Willi Forst.

Dolly Haas, Willi Forst, Oscar Sima
Dutch postcard by Filma, no. 449. Photo: Dolly Haas, Willi Forst and Oskar Sima in So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht/A Girl You Don't Forget (1932).

Dolly Haas, Harald Paulsen
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7538/1, 1932-1933. Photo: Hisa-Film. Publicity still for Die Kleine Schwindlerin/The Little Crook (1933, Johannes Meyer) with Harald Paulsen.

Delicate and Lovely Child-Woman
Dolly Haas continued her stage career as a dancer, singer and streetwise girl. In her films she often embodied a delicate and lovely child-woman who is superior to her male partners because of her wit and energy. Popular comedies with her were Der brave Sünder/The Upright Sinner (1931, Fritz Kortner) with Max Pallenberg and Heinz Rühmann, So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht/A Girl You Don't Forget (1932, Fritz Kortner) with Willi Forst and Oskar Sima, and Scampolo, ein Kind der Straße/Scampolo (1932, Hans Steinhoff) with Karl Ludwig Diehl. She regularly acted in 'Hosenrolle’ (roles in trousers), such as in Liebeskommando/Love's Command (1931, Géza von Bolváry) with Gustav Fröhlich. Dolly played a girl who masquerades as her brother in order to join the military academy. Anti-semitic protests followed the premiere of Das hässliche Mädchen/The Ugly Girl (1933, Hermann Kosterlitz). It came to riots against her Jewish co-star Max Hansen . The names of Jewish director Hermann Kosterlitz (later Henry Koster) and writer Felix Joachimson (later Felix Jackson) were taken off the credits. IMDb: "This was the last film that Henry Koster directed in Berlin before having to leave due to Nazis. He left Berlin, having knocked out an SS officer, one day before filming was finished on the movie. The Nazis removed his name from the credits and substituted the name of Hasse Preiss, the lyricist."

Dolly Haas
Dutch postcard by Filma, no. 514.

Dolly Haas
Dutch postcard by Filma, no. 430.

Dolly Haas, Willi Forst
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7397/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Walter Lichtenstein / Projectograph-Film. Publicity still for So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht/A Girl You Don't Forget (1932, Fritz Kortner) with Haas and Willi Forst. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Girls Will Be Boys
After the National Socialists came to power in Germany, Dolly Haas and her first husband, the director Hans Brahm (later John Brahm), moved to England. There, she again donned trousers for Girls Will Be Boys (1934, Marcel Varnel). It involved her getting work at the all-male estate of a mysogynistic duke (Cyril Maude). Only when she is saved from drowning while swimming in the nude, her gender is revealed. She played in two more British films, including Broken Blossoms (1936, John Brahm) a remake of the silent masterpiece. First, D.W. Griffith the director of the silent version had been hired. The Guardian related in its 1994 obituary of Haas what happened: "while Dolly was contracted to play the Lillian Gish role of the Cockney waif, the director was rehearsing Ariane Borg, an unknown protegee of his. When the producers refused to use Borg, Griffith left to be replaced by Brahm. Delicately lovely, Haas, who researched the role by visiting Limehouse to watch slum children at play, was the saving grace of the film." Her last British picture, before going to the US with her husband, was Spy Of Napoleon (1937), in which she was a dancer who believes herself to be Louis Napoleon's illegitimate daughter. In 1936 Haas signed a 3-year contract with Columbia and went to Hollywood, but after an 18-month wait for the right role, she left for New York.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 7537/1, 1932-1933.

Dolly Haas
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 6481. Photo: Hugo Ingel Film.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 766. Photo: Atelier Yva, Berlin.

Dolly Haas became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1940 and made her New York stage debut in Erwin Piscator's production of the Chinese fantasy The Circle of Chalk (1941). She had met famous caricaturist Al Hirschfeld when the artist was on assignment to draw a sketch of a summer theater company for The New York Times. In 1942 they married and three years later heir daughter Nina was born. Ar that time Dolly had a successful career on and Off Broadway and she appeared a.o. with John Gielgud and Lilian Gish in a stage adaptation of Fyodor Dostoievsky's Crime and Punishment (1947, Theodore Komisarjevsky) at the National Theatre. She was also in the Off Broadway productions of The Threepenny Opera and Brecht on Brecht. Her only major movie role - after a 17-year absence on the screen - was in the high-profile I Confess (1953, Alfred Hitchcock). She and O. E. Hasse played an artist couple whose emigration to the US ends in tragedy. The Guardian: "she was superb as the doomed wife of the killer protected by priest Montgomery Clift's confessional vows." Thereafter she sporadically appeared on television. In 1983, the Berlin International Film Festival dedicated a retrospective to her work. Her last screen appearance was in the documentary Dolly, Lotte und Maria/Dolly, Lotte and Maria (1987, Rosa von Praunheim) with Lotte Goslar, and Maria Ley Piscator. Mel Gussow wrote about Haas and her husband in The New York Times: "For many decades the two were an elegant couple on the aisle at all Broadway opening nights, watching the actors and actresses whom Mr. Hirschfeld would sketch for The New York Times." They remained happily married until her death in 1994 at 84. Dolly Haas' ashes were scattered in the English Channel off Alderney, where her sister lived and died.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6350/2, 1931-1932. Photo: Ufa.

Dolly Haas
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8324/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Lindner.

Sources: Mel Gussow (The New York Times), The Guardian, Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Filmportal.de, German Continental Strangers (Dartmouth.edu), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Hello Bob,
Thank you for visiting my blog! I am so glad you stopped by~

WOW, you have quite a lovely collection of film star images! What a fabulous passion! Thank you for sharing with all of us bloggers.

Have a fabulous weekend, a joyous Easter, and continue to drink in the colors of Spring!