02 June 2013

Ida Wüst

German actress Ida Wüst (1884 - 1956) was a popular Ufa star in the 1920´s and 1930´s. Die wüste Ida appeared in almost 150 films mostly as cheerful middled-aged women, aunts and intriguers. During the Second World War she only rarely played in films or in the theatre, and in 1945 her career seemed to have reached its end. 

Ida Wüst
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3528/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Terra.

Ida Wüst
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2900/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Endemann / Ufa.

Ida Wüst was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1884. There is little known about her childhood. She discovered the world of the theatre quite early and after visiting the lyceum of Frankfurt, she took acting classes from Thessa Klinghammer. At 16, she already had her first theatre engagement at the Stadtheater (City Theater) of Colmar. Later she worked in Bromberg (now Bydgoszcz in Poland) and from 1904 on in Leipzig. In 1907 she became a company member of the Lessing-Theater in Berlin. She developed into a popular actress in comedies and in ´Hosenrollen´ (roles impersonating men in trousers). She had success in the original production of the play Kammermusik (Chamber music) by Heinrich Ilgenstein. Here she met actor Bruno Kastner, who would become her husband from 1913 till 1924 and with whom she started to write screenplays in 1919 for such films as Nur ein Diener/Just A Servant (1919, Erk Lund) and Der König von Paris/The King of Paris (1920, Erik Lund).

Ida Wüst
German postcard by NPG, no. 821. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Ida Wüst, Bruno Kastner
With Bruno Kastner. German postcard by Rotophot, no. 220/1. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Bruno Kastner
Ida Wüst played her first big film role in the silent serial Tragödie der Liebe/Tragedy of Love (1922-1923, Joe May). One of her next films was a film adaptation of Kammermusik/Chamber Music (1925, Carl Froelich) opposite Henny Porten. Many other roles in silent productions would follow. With her husband Bruno Kastner she starred in Die vertauschte Braut/The Exchanged Bride (1925, Carl Wilhelm) and in Ledige Töchter/The Single Daughters (1926, Carl Boese) she appeared as the mother of Jenny Jugo and Charlotte Ander. Many of her roles were supporting parts or small roles, but she appeared in bigger roles in Heimweh/Homesick (1927, Gennaro Righelli) with Mady Christians, the operetta adaptation Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (1927, Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck) with Harry Liedtke, and Das brennende Herz/The Burning Heart (1929, Ludwig Berger) with Mady Christians.

Ida Wüst, Renate Müller
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 165/3, 1932-1933. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Wie sag' ich's meinem Mann?/How Shall I Tell My Husband? (1932, Reinhold Schünzel) with Renate Müller.

Anny Ondra, Ida Wüst
Dutch postcard by City Film, no. 492. Photo: publicity still for Fräulein Hoffmanns Erzählungen (1933, Carl Lamac) with Anny Ondra.

Die Wüste Ida
After the introduction of the sound film, Ida Wüst continued her film career successfully. Her nickname in the 1930´s was Die wüste Ida. She appeared in dozens of popular entertainment films like Der Walzerkönig/The Waltz King (1930, Manfred Noa) with Hans Stüwe as Johann Strauss, Zweierlei Moral/Different Morals (1931, Gerhard Lamprecht), Bomben auf Monte Carlo/Bombs Over Monte Carlo (1931, Hanns Schwarz) with Hans Albers, and Man braucht kein Geld/You Don´t Need Money (1932) with Hedwig Kiesler aka Hedy Lamarr. One of the liveliest of these films was the musical Das Lied einer Nacht/The Song of Night (1932, Anatole Litvak) starring Jan Kiepura. Also interesting were Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht/I by Day, You by Night (1932, Ludwig Berger) which featured The Comedian Harmonists, and Lachende Erben/Laughing Inherits (1933, Max Ophüls) starring Lien Deyers. She continued her career successfully during the Third Reich in films like Der Biberpelz/The Beaver Coat (1937, Jürgen von Alten) opposite Heinrich George, and Hauptsache glücklich!/Essentially Happy! (1941, Theo Lingen) with Heinz Rühmann. Meanwhile she also had a stage career which was equally successful. The Second World War broke her career. During the war she only rarely played in films or in the theatre, and in 1945 her career seemed to have reached its end. Her application for denazification was rejected, because she seems to have denounced colleagues like Eduard von Winterstein to the Gestapo. Only in 1949 she received a working permit and in the 1950´s she played some film roles as cheerful middled-aged women, grandmothers and intriguers. She also returned to the theatre, but not as a company member. Ida Wüst died of the effects of a stroke in 1958 in Berlin.

Ida Wüst
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute / Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Cando-Film. Collection: Miss Mertens.

Ida Wüst
German photocard.

Paul Godwin's Orchestra recorded in 1926 the one-step Meine Tante, deine Tante (My Aunt, Your Aunt). This clip is a tribute to the two most famous aunts of the German cinema: Adele Sandrock and Ida Wüst. Source: Plattensammler88 (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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