02 February 2018

Angelika Meissner (1940-2018)

On 10 January 2018, German former actress Angelika Meissner (1940) passed away. She was a child star of German cinema in the 1950s, who became known with the three popular Immenhof films. Her mother was the stage mum from hell.

Angelika Meissner in Der erste Frühlingstag (1956)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. F 10. Photo: A. Grimm / CCC / Deutsche London. Publicity still for Der erste Frühlingstag/The first day of spring (Helmut Weiss, 1956).

Angelika Meissner
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf., no. 2080. Photo: Deutsche Film Hansa / Lilo. Publicity still for Witwer mit 5 Töchtern/Widower with 5 Daughters (Erich Engels, 1957).

Cute little girl


Angelika Meissner, a.k.a. Angelika Voelkner and Angelika Meissner-Voelkner, was born in, 1940 in Berlin. Her father was composer Peter Heinz Voelkner. Her mother, Hildegard Voelkner, nee Meissner, was the head of the advertising department at UFA.

In 1949, Angelika played her first film role in the drama Nachtwache/Keepers of the Night (Harald Braun, 1949) as the little daughter of Hans Nielsen.

In her second film Der fallende Stern/The Falling Star (Harald Braun, 1950), she played Elisabeth Hollreiser, traumatised by the post-war turmoil, as a ten-year-old girl. Maria Wimmer played the adult Elisabeth.

In the Dieter Borsche film Vater braucht eine Frau/Father Needs a Wife (Harald Braun, 1952), she played the cute Ulla who searches with her siblings in newspaper advertisements a new wife for her widowed father. Finally, she also finds her in Susanne (Ruth Leuwerik).

In these early films, she appeared as Angelika Voelkner. Later, in Die Mädels vom Immenhof/The Girls from Immenhof (1955), she is credited as Angelika Meissner-Voelkner, while in Ferien auf Immenhof/Holiday at Immenhof (1957), she is credited as Angelika Meissner. The name change was a consequence of the divorce of the parents, and Angelika and her brother both adopted the birth name of their mother.

Angelika Meissner
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 2648. Photo: Deutsche Film Hansa / Lilo. Publicity still for Witwer mit 5 Töchtern/Widower with 5 Daughters (Erich Engels, 1957).

Angelika Meissner
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 2661. Photo: Deutsche Film Hansa / Lilo. Publicity still for Witwer mit 5 Töchtern/Widower with 5 Daughters (Erich Engels, 1957).

A charming and lively teenager


Angelika Meissner became known in the role of Barbara (nicknamed Dick) in Die Mädels vom Immenhof/The Girls from Immenhof (Wolfgang Schleif, 1955) with Heidi Brühl as her sister Dalli and Margarete Haagen as Grandma Jantzen. The film about a farm with Icelandic horses became a blockbuster.

Meissner also appeared in the sequels, Hochzeit auf Immenhof/Wedding at Immenhof (Volker von Collande, 1956) and Ferien auf Immenhof/Holiday at Immenhof (Hermann Leitner, 1957).

With Matthias Fuchs, Ethelbert in the Immenhof films, she met again, now as a pretty teenager, in the film Der erste Frühlingstag/The first day of spring (Helmut Weiss, 1956).

She was one of the charming and lively daughters of Heinz Erhardt in his film Witwer mit 5 Töchtern/Widower with five daughters (Erich Engels, 1957). The others were played by Susanne Cramer, Vera Tschechowa, Elke Aberle and Christine Kaufmann.

In her last film, the Heimatfilm Hubertusjagd/Hubertus Hunt (Hermann Kugelstadt, 1959), she appeared once more with Raidar Müller, Ralf from the Immenhof-films. Then she abruptly ended her acting career, retired to private life.

Wikipedia cites Micaela Jary, who writes in her book Traumfabriken made in Germany. Die Geschichte des deutschen Nachkriegsfilms 1945–1960 (Dream factories made in Germany. The story of the German post-war film 1945-1960) that Meissner's mother, in anticipation of future salaries, was deeply in debt to her daughter and was ‘film obsessed’.

Angelika Meissner could not withstand the resulting pressure and separated. In 1963, she only played one more role in a German TV film. She studied architecture and moved to Canada, where she occasionally worked as an architect.

Angelika Meissner died on the 10th of January 2018. In German speaking countries, even after sixty years, she was not forgotten and her Immenhof films are still popular among old and new fans.

Angelika Meissner
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 689. Photo: Kolibri / Lothar Winkler.

Angelika Meissner
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf., no. 842. Photo: Carlton / Seitz / Union-Film / Huster. Publicity still for Bei der blonden Kathrein/At the blond Katherine (Hans Quest, 1959).

Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line – German), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.
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