21 June 2014

Heidemarie Hatheyer

Austrian actress Heidemarie Hatheyer (1918-1990) appeared in 43 films between 1938 and 1988. After the war she was forbidden to act in films for some years, because of her work in the Nazi propaganda film Ich klage an/I accuse (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1941).

Heidemarie Hatheyer
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 101, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Wally of the Vultures

Heidemarie Hatheyer was born as Heide Marie Pia Nechansky in Villach, Austria, in 1918. She was born from an extramarital liaison between Mary Feucht née Nechansky and Paul Hatheyer. She grew up in Klagenfurt, where her parents were later married for a time.

After finishing high school she started as a journalist but she went to Vienna to play at the cabaret Atelier am Naschmarkt. Hatheyer joined the Theater an der Wien in 1936. Here she played a small role next to Zarah Leander in the operetta Axel an der Himmelstür (Axel at Heaven’s Gate) with music by Ralph Benatzky and lyrics by Paul Morgan and Hans Weigel.

In 1937 she joined the Münchner Kammerspiele, where she had great success as Anushka in Richard Billinger's play Der Gigant (The Giant) and as Joan in George Bernard Shaw's Heiliger Johanna (Saint Joan). In 1942 Gustav Gründgens asked her for the Preußische Staatstheater in Berlin.

She was discovered for the film by mountaineer filmmaker Luis Trenker. He asked her for the mountain-climbing romance Der Berg ruft!/The Mountain Calls (Luis Trenker, 1938), in which she became the leading lady.

She signed a contract with Tobis Films, and appeared in Ein ganzer Kerl/A Regular Fellow (Fritz Peter Buch, 1939) opposite Albert Matterstock.

Her title role as a mountain girl in Die Geierwally/Wally of the Vultures (Hans Steinhoff, 1940) became the greatest success of her career.

Till the end of the war she appeared in such well-known films as Der grosse Schatten/The Big Shadow (Paul Verhoeven, 1942) in the role of a pregnant stage ingénue, and Die Jahre vergehen/The Years pass (Günther Rittau, 1944), but she also acted in the Nazi propaganda film Ich klage an/I Accuse (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1941). This film was intended as a preparation and secret promotion for Adolph Hitler's euthanasia program.

Heidemarie Hatheyer
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3886/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.

Heidemarie Hatheyer
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3675/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Star-Foto-Atelier / Tobis.


In 1945, the Allied Military Government forbade Heidemarie Hatheyer to play in films, because of her work on Ich klage an. They declared her guilty of 'indirect complicity' in the mass exterminations that had taken place during the Third Reich. They allowed her to continue working at the theatre, and she played on stage in Germany, Switzerland and Vienna. She claimed to have been forced to play the hopelessly ill victim in the film by its director, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, and the blacklist was lifted in 1949.

During the following decade, she continued her film career successfully. To her well-known films of the 1950s belong Dr. Holl/Affairs of Dr. Holl (Rolf Hansen, 1951), Das letzte Rezept/Desires (Rolf Hansen, 1952) with O.W. Fischer, Pünktchen und Anton/Punktchen and Anton (Thomas Engel, 1953), Sauerbruch - Das war mein Leben/The Life of Surgeon Sauerbruch (Rolf Hansen, 1954), Die Ratten/The Rats (Robert Siodmak, 1955) with Maria Schell, and Glücksritter/A Modern Story (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1957) with Paul Hubschmid.

She was from 1960 to 1968 a member of the Burgtheater in Vienna. In 1984 she returned here as a guest.

In 1960, she was awarded the prestigious Josef Kainz Medaille, an award named after the turn-of-the-century German stage star. She was awarded the Filmband in Gold twice, first in 1984 for lifetime achievement, and in 1989 for Best Actress in Martha Jellneck (Kai Wessel, 1988). In this film she played a lonely old woman who unmasks an SS officer.

She played her last role in three episodes of the serial Diese Drombuschs/These Drombuschs (Michael Günther, Michael Werlin, 1989).

In 1990 Heidemarie Hatheyer died in Scheuren bei Forch, Switzerland, aged 72. She was first married to director Willfried Feldhütter and from 1952 on she was married with the author Curt Riess. She had two daughters from her first marriage, Veronica Feldhütter and Regine Feldhütter . The latter with whom she often appeared together in films and on TV, has already died. Her granddaughter is also an actress.

Heidemarie Hatheyer
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3271/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

Scene from Dr. Holl/Affairs of Dr. Holl (1951) with Maria Schell, Dieter Borsche and Heidemarie Hatheyer. Source: LadyViolet07 (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Rudi Polt (IMDb), H.M. Bock (Filmportal.de - German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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