22 October 2015

Lu L'Arronge

Little is known about Lu L'Arronge (1902-1991), who was a star of the German silent cinema, just after the First World War. The actress, who specialized in playing high-spirited teenagers,  had her own production company with which she produced several films.

Lu L'Arronge
German postcard by Zander & Labisch, Berlin.

Lu L' Arronge
German postcard by Rotophot in the Film-Sterne series, no. 225/1, 1919-1924.

Half a woman, half a girl

Five years ago, when I wrote the first version of this post, there were some star postcards to prove that Lu L'Arronge must have been a well known actress at the time, but that surprisingly little was known about her. This has changed since then. Thanks to the sources mentioned below, we can now tell a bit more about Lu's life and work. But a lot still stays unclear.

Lu L'Arronge was born in 1902 and came from an old theatre family. Arronge is a variant for the Jewish names Aaron, Arons and Aronsohn. Her father was a cousin of stage writer Adolf L'Arronge. Her grandfather belonged to the founders of the Bühnengenossenschaft (the union organization of the German stage members) in 1871.

At an early age, Lu cherished the wish to become a stage actress, but her mother didn't accept that her daughter would become an actress. When the German film industry became 'modern' during World War I and conquered a huge public, Lu's wish to become an actress returned and she knew to convince her mother.

Thomas Schaedeli writes at his site Cyranos that Lu conquered the big screen from 1917 on. She played in films like Die Schlange der Kleopatra (1917), Lu's Backfischzeit (1917), Lu'chens Verlobung am Gartentor (1917), s'Liserl vom Loischtal (1917) and Kain (1918).

Schaedeli adds that she finally founded her own company in 1919, to star in films including Wenn's Landlüferl weht (1918), Anna Karenina (1919), Die weisse Maus/The White Mouse (1919), and Die Geisterbraut/The Ghost Bride (1919).

Lya Mara
Lya Mara. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 241, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.

The Ghost Bride

IMDb shows that Lu's production company L'Arronge Film GmbH was already founded in 1917 for the comedy Lu's Backfischzeit/Lu's Backfisch times (Franz Schmelter, 1917). L'Arronge Film GmbH produced 9 films including Wenn's Landlüferl weht (Karl Moos, 1918), and Die weisse Maus/The White Mouse (Leonhard Haskel, 1919), but then the film company halted.

In the Leo Tolstoy adaptation Anna Karenina (Friedrich Zelnik/Frederic Zelnik, 1919), Lu only had a minor part. Star of the film was Lya Mara and the film was produced by her and her husband-director's company Zelnik-Mara-Film.

L'Arronge's screen career quickly went downhill. IMDb lists only one more film appearance after her minor part in Anna Karenina (1919). Her final film was Die Geisterbraut/The Ghost Bride (Herbert Gerdes, 1920), produced by Georg Alexander's company Neue Berliner Film. It must have been her final film.

A few years before, Lu was interviewed for the publication Die Frau im Film 1919 (The Woman in Film 1919), in which several female stars of the silent German cinema (including Erna Morena, Pola Negri, Lya Mara) answered questions about their work. Lu said that she had "the big luck to be engaged at a new-created firm, for one year, which I gave my name. Here I prefer to play the high-spirited teenager things, half a woman, half a girl."

IMDd notes that Lu L'Arronge acted during her career in 14 films and that she produced 9 films. When she stopped she must have been only 18 or 19 years old. What happened with Lu after her film dream was over? I only know that she died in 1991 at the age of 89, but that's more than I could tell you five years ago.

Erna Morena
Erna Morena. German postcard by Messter Film GmbH, no. 10. Photo: Karl Schenker, 1914.

Pola Negri
Pola Negri. German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 407/5, 1919-1924. Photo: Rembrandt.

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Die Frau im Film 1919, Filmportal.de, and IMDb.

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