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Zarah Leander Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (30)

Overview (4)

Born in Karlstad, Värmlands län, Sweden
Died in Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden  (natural causes)
Birth NameSara Stina Hedberg
Nicknames The Nazi Garbo
Replacement Dietrich
The Empress of UFA

Mini Bio (2)

Beginning her acting-singing career in provincial Swedish theaters in 1929, she soon worked her way up to starring roles in Stockholm and Vienna. In 1936 she signed a contract with the Berlin film studio, UFA, despite her imperfect command of German. During World War II she became the highest-paid star of the Nazi cinema, upsetting Dr. Goebbels, Minister of Propoganda, who felt that this role should have been filled by a German actress. After the war she tried to re-establish her career with Swedish audiences but was slow to overcome their hostility. Her few post-war films met with little success but in the 1960's she enjoyed a "comeback" of sorts appearing in musicals and concerts in German and Austria.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: steve7749

Beginning her acting-singing career in provincial Swedish theaters with operetta in 1928 and a success in a touring revue by Ernst Rolf in 1929, she soon worked her way up to starring roles in Stockholm and earned well from records. In 1935 she got a leading operetta role in Vienna, offered by 'Max Hansen', despite her initially imperfect command of German.

In 1936 she signed a contract with the Berlin film studio, UFA, that soon would be nationalized by Nazi Germany. In the following years she became the highest-paid star of German cinema. After the war broke out in 1939, she sent her family back to Sweden and shared her time between work in Germany and the family at home. She returned to Sweden in 1942 after finishing her work with the last of her films made in Nazi Germany - and after having declined a proposition by Dr. Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, for German citizenship.

In November 1944, Swedish radio decided to no longer play her records, and her career was definitely in the doldrums. Her home, a manor at the Swedish coast of the Baltic, became sanctuary for many a refugee having escaped over the Baltic in fear of the Soviet rule. After the war she strove to re-establish her career in Sweden, and succeeded in 1949 to overcome producers' fear for association with an artist that had been a prominent film star in Germany during the war. Her return was greeted enthusiastically by the audience, but in Sweden she would remain considered politically controversial in the eyes of many outside of her faithful audience.

In Austria and Germany her comeback was less difficult, but although the film Gabriela in 1950 was the third biggest box office hit in Germany, later films would prove that her film career had run its course.

In addition to a few musicals and some TV show appearances, concerts would for the rest of her life be her appearance of choice.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: steve7749

Spouse (3)

Arne Hülphers (1956 - 24 July 1978) ( his death)
Vidar Forsell (1932 - 1943) ( divorced)
Nils Leander (1 September 1927 - 1932) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Was known for portraying glamorously elegant martyrs in most of the films she made in Nazi Germany, such as: Queen Mary of Scots, a famous opera singer disowned by her father, a music hall star covering up for her lover's crimes, etc.

Trivia (30)

Sometimes called "the Nazi Garbo" and, like Garbo, she was a Swede whose greatest film successes came while working in a foreign language (German)
Sister of Gustaf Hedberg.
Before and during World War II, she was on the cover of about 80 magazines in Germany due to her enormous popularity.
Her first husband -from 1926 to 1929- was the actor Nils Leander. Their children Boel, a girl, and Göran, a boy, were born in 1927 and 1929. After being married to journalist Vidar Forsell from 1932 to 1943, she finally tied the knot with pianist Arne Hülphers in 1949, with whom she worked for over 25 years. He died in 1978.
After the war she never seemed to understand why people couldn't accept that she was a non-political figure who only wanted to make happy musicals and happened to do so in Nazi Germany.
Shocked her friends in the mostly liberal (anti-Nazi) Swedish theatre community, by choosing pass on offers from England and the U.S.A. to instead make films in Germany.
In 1939, using the proceeds of her record earnings, she bought a big mansion, Lönö, at the Swedish East coast close to Norrköping.
According to a 2004 book by Anthony Beevor, ("The Mystery of Olga Chekhova"), she worked for Soviet intelligence during World War II, passing information about Nazi Germany to a Soviet contact during her visits home to Sweden.
Received a Mercedes-Benz 500K from Adolf Hitler in 1935. She was filmed in that car by Victor Tourjansky.
Born at 10:16 PM CET.
Her most popular song was "Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh'n" (lit. for I know there will be a wonder).
Retired from acting in 1979.
At a party she met the Nazi minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels, who asked her ironically: "Zarah... Isn't this a Jewish name?" "Oh, maybe" the actress told "but what about Josef?" "Hmmm... yes, yes, a good answer" Goebbels replied.
There are 2 new books out on Miss Leander - The Films Of Zarah Leander A Zarah Leander Sheet Music Album.
She has an entry in Jean Tulard's "Dictionnaire du Cinéma. Les Acteurs" published in Paris in may 2007, page 671, ISBN: 978-2-221-10895-6.
She began her career in her home country Sweden where she appeared in revues and operettas. Besides she toured through Scandinavia.
In 1929 she was engaged, as an amateur, in a touring cabaret by the entertainer and producer Ernst Rolf and for the first time sang "Vill ni se en stjärna", ("Do You Want to See a Star?") which soon would become her signature tune.
Initially shunned by much of the artistic community and public, she found herself unable to resume her career after the Second World War. It was several years before she could make a comeback in Sweden, and she would remain a figure of public controversy for the rest of her life. Eventually she returned to performing throughout Europe, but was unable to equal the level of success she had previously achieved. She spent her later years in retirement in Stockholm, and died there at the age of 74.
In 1983 New Wave singer Nina Hagen, who had idolised Leander as a child had, released the single "Zarah", based on "Ich weiss, es wird einmal ein Wunder geschehen".
Zarah Leander left the now more difficult surrounding in Germany in 1943 and returned to Sweden after her Berlin home was bombed during an air raid. But there she was meet with hostility as a Nazi sympathizer so she had difficulties to find work.
A Zarah Leander museum is open near her mansion outside Norrköping. Every year a scholarship is given to a creative artist in her tradition.
She studied piano and violin as a small child, and sang on stage for the first time at the age of six, she initially had no intention of becoming a professional performer and led an ordinary life for several years.
In the beginning of the 1930s she performed with the Swedish revue artist, producer and songwriter Karl Gerhard who was a prominent anti-Nazi. He wrote a song for Zarah Leander, "I skuggan av en stövel" ("In the shadow of a boot"), in 1934 which strongly condemned the persecution of Jews in Nazi-Germany.
In 2003, a bronze statue was placed in Zarah Leander's home town Karlstad, by the Opera house of Värmland where she first began her career. After many years of discussions, the town government accepted this statue on behalf of the local Zarah Leander Society.
With the actor Willy Birgel she found an ideal manly partner.
She wasn't able to go on in the post-war Germany from her earlier successes.
Zarah Leander became one of the greatest stars of the German film in the next years and she aroused enthusiasm with her cool kind of acting and especially with her fascinating and deep voice, which she used very successful for songs specific composed for her. From now on there were no longer movie in which Zarah Leander took part but each of her movies became Zarah-Leander movies in which she impersonated the femme fatale, surrounded with a certain sadness.
After the war she came back to Germany but she was imposed with a working prohibition too, only in 1948 she was able to gain a foothold as a singer again.
In an interview recorded shortly before his death in 1996 the senior Soviet intelligence officer Pavel Sudoplatov claimed that Leander had in fact been a Soviet agent with the code name "Rose-Marie". Recruited by the Soviet Union before the outbreak of war, she was said to have refused payment for her work because she was a secret member of the Swedish Communist Party and therefore conducted the work for political reasons. Leander herself denied any suggestion that she had acted as a spy for any country.
In 1987, two Swedish musicals were written about Zarah Leander.

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