Friday, March 17, 2017

Born Today March 17: Brigitte Helm


Famed early German actress Brigitte Helm was born on this date as Brigitte Eva Gisela Schittenhelm, to a Prussian military family (her father was an officer in the Prussian army).  She made her film debut in one of the most famous of silent films:  Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927.  She was cast in the lead as Maria/The Robot.  She worked steadily throughout the end of silent era, but was ambivalent about film acting and did not last long into the sound era.  She is a prime example of an actor, so loved for her work in silents, that just could not seem to make the successful transition to sound work.  Though her fame did allow for her casting in a very early German sound film in 1929 Alraune. It's not that she lacked for talent; she had that in spades--she just didn't care for the lifestyle.  Couple that with the rise of Hitler in her native country, and incurring the wrath of the Nazi party when you married her second husband, a wealthy Jewish industrialist (she was charged with "race defilement"), she was simply fed up with it all.  In 1935 she retired from acting and fled to Switzerland, where she remained until her death.  There she raised a family of 4 children. She reportedly would not speak at any time to any one about her days in the movie industry.  The last film that she voluntarily made was Ein idealer Gatte (1935); though she was featured in the 1978 short Wie im Traum.  Helm died on the 11 June 1996 is Ascona, Switzerland at the age of 90; her husband had preceded her in death by ten years.  There are no details as to her funeral or burial.

As The Robot in Metropolis (1927)

For More:

Leave Virtual Flowers @ Find A Grave (this entry gives the wrong year of birth for her)

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