11 July 2014

Johanna Matz

Austrian actress Johanna Matz (1932) made a blitz career in the 1950s as the natural ‘Wiener Mädel’ (the Viennese Gal). She acted in more than forty films and TV films, but she considered herself primarily a theatre actress.

Johanna Matz
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 40. Photo: Niczky.

Johanna Matz
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin, no. CK-118. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Johanna Matz
German postcard by ISV, no. C 5. Photo: Cosmos-Neusser / Gloria / Appelt.

Clean and Spontaneous

Johanna Maria Emilie Dorothea Matz was born in Vienna in 1932. When 'Hannerl' was just four years old, she began taking ballet lessons at the Vienna Academy.

Later she had a stage training at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar. At the final presentation in 1950 she was discovered by Berthold Viertel and engaged for the prestigious Burgtheater, where she would be a contract player until 1993.

In 1951 she made her film debut in Asphalt (Harald Röbbeling, 1951) as a girl who becomes a prostitute.

In the comedies Der alte Sünder/The Old Sinner (Franz Antel, 1951) and Zwei in einem Auto/Two in a car (Ernst Marischka, 1951) she played her typical character, the clean and spontaneous girl from Vienna.

She became a film star with her sweet and charming role in the operetta Die Försterchristl/The Forester's Daughter (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1952) opposite Will Quadflieg.

Director Otto Preminger then invited her to Hollywood where she played the lead in the German language version of the controversial comedy The Moon is Blue (Otto Preminger, 1953). In Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach (Otto Preminger, 1953) she starred with Hardy Krüger and Johannes Heesters. Krüger and Matz also played brief roles as tourists at the Empire State Building sequence in the English language version while the stars of that version, William Holden and Maggie McNamara, played the same roles in the German version.

Johanna Matz
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4157. Photo: K.L. Haenchen / Ufa. Publicity still for Man müßte nochmal zwanzig sein/One would have to be twenty again (Hans Quest, 1958).

Johanna Matz
German collector's card.

Johanna Matz
German postcard by Rüdel Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 1242. Photo: Filmaufbau / Schorchtfilm. Publicity still for Ingrid - die Geschichte eines Fotomodells/Ingrid, the Story of a Model (Géza von Radványi, 1955).

Operettas and Classic Dramas

In 1954 Johanna Matz also made Mannequins für Rio (Kurt Neumann, 1954), a melodrama about white slavery co-starring Scott Brady and Raymond Burr. This film was also made in an English language with the same stars as They Were So Young.

That year she returned to the stage, because she considered herself primarily a theatre actress. She became a popular performer of the heroines of the classic dramas by Arthur Schnitzler, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but also as the star in operettas.

Occasionally she played in such films like Mozart/The Life and Loves of Mozart (Karl Hartl, 1955) opposite Oskar Werner, Regine (Harald Braun, 1956) with Horst Buchholz, Frau Warrens Gewerbe/Mrs. Warren's Profession (Ákos Ráthonyi, 1960) with Lilli Palmer, Die Glücklichen Jahre der Thorwalds/The Happy Years of the Thorwalds (John Olden, Wolfgang Staudte, 1962) with Elisabeth Bergner, and the Heimatfilm Ruf der Wälder/Call of the Forests (Franz Antel, 1965) with Mario Girotti (Terence Hill).

Since the end of the 1960s she was mainly seen in Austrian TV productions.

In the cinema she was seen in the Heinz Rühmann vehicle Der Kapitän/The Captain (Kurt Hoffmann, 1971) and the Eric Malpass adaptation Als Mutter streikte/When Mother Went on Strike (Eberhard Schröder, 1975) with Peter Hall.

One of her last screen appearances was as herself in Bellaria - So lange wir leben!/Bellaria: As Long as We Live! (Douglas Wolfsperger, 2002), a wonderful documentary about the traditional Viennese cinema Bellaria, which is specialized in German cinema from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and its regular customers.

Johnna Matz was married twice. First to actor Karl Hackenberg (1956-2002) with whom she had a child. After his death, she married to Harry von Wutzler. The couple lives retired in Unterachen am Attersee in Austria.

Johanna Matz
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. S 773. Photo: Wesel / Berolina. Publicity still for Es wird alles wieder gut/Everything Is Going to Be All Right (Géza von Bolváry, 1957).

Johanna Matz
Austrian postcard by Verlag Hubmann (HDH), Wien, no. 218. Photo: Hämmerer, Wien.

Lilli Palmer, Johanna Matz
East-German postcard by Progress, no. 1306, 1960. Photo: publicity still for Frau Warrens Gewerbe/Mrs. Warren's Profession (Ákos Ráthonyi, 1960).

Trailer for Mannequins für Rio/They Were So Young (1954) with Raymond Burr, Scott Brady and Ingrid Stenn. Source: Rudi Polt (YouTube).

Johanna Matz sings Das Gibt's Nur Einmal in the Der Kongress Tanzt/Congress Dances (Franz Antel, 1956), a remake of the classic film operetta of 1931 starring Lilian Harvey.

Sources: Rudi Polt (IMDb), Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line) (German), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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