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Elisabeth Bergner


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Elisabeth Bergner (August 22, 1897 – May 12, 1986) was an actress.

She was born Elisabeth Ettel in Drohobycz, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Drogobych, Ukraine).

She went on stage when fourteen years old and began acting in Innsbruck at the age of 15. In Vienna. Age sixteen she toured Austrian and German provinces with a Shakespearean company, later becoming accepted as the greatest Shakespearean actor on the Continent. She worked as an artist's model, posing for sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, who fell in love with her. She eventually moved to Munich and then Berlin.

In 1923 she made her film debut in Der Evangelimann. With the rise of Naziism, Bergner moved to London with director Paul Czinner and they were married in 1933. Her stage work in London included The Boy David (1936) by J.M. Barrie, his last play which he wrote especially for her, and Escape Me Never by Margaret Kennedy. Catherine the Great was banned in Germany because of the government's racial policies, reported Time magazine (March 26, 1934). She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Escape Me Never (1935). She repeated her stage role of Rosalind, opposite Laurence Olivier's Orlando, in the 1936 film As You Like It, the first sound film version of Shakespeare's play, and the first sound film of any Shakespeare play filmed in England. Ms. Bergner had previously only played the role on the German stage, and several critics found that her accent got in the way of their enjoyment of the film, which was not a success. Throughout, she returned intermittently to the stage, for instance in the title role of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi in 1946.

In 1973 she starred in the Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winner for Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film of 1974, Der Fußgänger (English title: The Pedestrian). The film was directed by Austrian actor-director Maximilian Schell, and starred international former early screen peers Peggy Ashcroft, Käthe Haack, Lil Dagover and Françoise Rosay.

She temporarily returned to Germany in 1954, where she acted in movies and on the stage; the Berlin district of Steglitz named a city park after her. Later she moved to London, where she died aged 88.

All About Eve

Bergner is considered by several critics to be the inspiration for the character of Margo Channing in Joseph L. Mankiewicz classic film, All About Eve.

Bergner had a true life incident about a real-life would-be Eve Harrington that she recounted to writer Mary Orr (1910–2006). Ms. Orr published a piece about the matter for Cosmopolitan magazine and named it The Wisdom of Eve, in which Eve does not get a comeuppance—as was required by the Hollywood Production Code for the film—but gets away with everything and is last seen heading to Hollywood with a "thousand dollar a week contract in her pocketbook."
















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