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Elisabeth Bergner
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    (August 22, 1897-May 12, 1986)
    Born in Drohobych, Ukraine
    Birth name was Elisabeth Ettel
    Appeared in the films ‘The Evangelist’ (1924), ‘Dona Juana’ (1927), ‘Fraulein Else’ (1929), ‘The Rise of Catherine the Great’ (1934), ‘Escape Me Never’ (1935), ‘As You Like It’ (1936), ‘Stolen Life’ (1939), ‘49th Parallel’ (1941), ‘The Cry of the Banshee’ (1970), ‘The Pedestrian’ (1973), and ‘High Society Limited’ (1982)
    Appeared on Broadway in ‘Escape Me Never’ (1935), ‘The Two Mrs. Carrolls’ (1943-45) and ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ (1946)
    She modeled for sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, who fell in love with her and committed suicide when she rejected his advances (1919).
    She joined the Austrian Communist Party.
    During a Communist uprising in Hungary, she served as a courier between Party leaders in Austria and Hungary (1919).
    Her only Hollywood film, ‘Paris Calling’ (1941), was unsuccessful. (Also, her name was misspelled ‘Elizabeth’ in the onscreen credits.)
    She and her husband, director Paul Czinner, fled Germany for England when the Nazis took power.
    She sent other actors money to help them escape from Nazi Germany.
    Theater critic Alexander Woollcott hailed her as ‘probably the ablest living actress today.’
    J.M. Barrie wrote his last play, ‘The Boy David’ (1936), for her, and left her a legacy in his will for ‘the best performance ever given in any play of mine.’
    She inspired a classic movie: While starring in ‘The Two Mrs. Carrolls’ on Broadway, she befriended an aspiring actress who she had seen standing outside the theater for days on end. She hired the young woman as a secretary, but broke off with her when she tried to take over Bergner’s life. Bergner related the incident to author Mary Orr, who used it as the basis for the short story ‘The Wisdom of Eve,’ which was adapted into the film ‘All About Eve’ by Joseph Mankiewicz (1950).

Credit: C. Fishel

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