BERGNER, ELISABETH (1897–1986), actress. Born as Ella Ettel in the Galician town of Drohobycz (today Ukrainian Drogobyc), she came in her youth to Vienna, where she studied. She acted there and in Berlin for Victor Barnowsky, Max Reinhardt, and her future husband, Paul Czinner. Especially as Rosalind in As You Like It on stage and in many films of the 1920s and early 1930s, she gained an international reputation, bolstered by her interpretation of the title role of Shaw's Saint Joan. Her androgynous type, which combined sex appeal with a female aspiration for emancipation, made her an idol on stage and screen in interwar Europe. Bergner toured the Continent and made her first appearance in Great Britain in Margaret Kennedy's Escape Me Never (1933). This was an immediate success, which she repeated two years later in New York. She remained there as an émigré until 1950, when she returned to London. Under the direction of her husband, Paul Czinner, she appeared in a number of films. Her films included Der traeumende Mund and Stolen Life (1939). She was not a success in Hollywood films. After World War II she toured Germany and Austria. In 1978 she published her memoirs, Bewundert und viel gescholten – Elisabeth Bergners unordentlichen Erinnerungen.
K. Voelker, Elisabeth Bergner (Ger., 1990); D. Wuensche: Elisabeth Bergner. Dokumente ihres Lebens (1990); Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, Unsere schwarze Rose (catalogue, 1993).
[Pnina Nave /
Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.