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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 4 September 1876Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]
Date of Death 11 November 1964Los Angeles, California, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Ilka Grüning was born on September 4, 1876 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. She was an actress, known for Kings Row (1942), Secrets of a Soul (1926) and The Joyless Street (1925). She died on November 11, 1964 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Trivia (14)

After working in the US during the Nazi era, she returned to Germany in 1950, but later returned to the US.
Like many German and Austrian actors, Grüning went back to Berlin in the 1950s, but found that Germany was not the same country she had left. Many former Nazis returned and it became difficult for Grünig to integrate back into the film industry. She did, at age 76, appear in a small Swiss movie in 1952 called Die Venus vom Tivoli, which was her last movie. After this Grüning returned to America.
Grüning, had played Strindberg and Ibsen for legendary German director Max Reinhardt and had run the second most important drama school in Berlin, left Germany after Hitler and the Nazis came to power. After arriving in America, she received help from the European Film Fund in resettling to America. It would be nine years before she appeared in another movie.
With the outbreak of World War II and the need for older German women for war movies, Grüning started receiving parts. Her first Hollywood movie was in 1941 as Erwin Kalser's husband in Warner Bros.' war drama Underground starring Philip Dorn and Martin Kosleck (as the evil Nazi Colonel Heller) and Ludwig Stössel (who would play her husband in Casablanca).
Grüning died on November 11, 1964, in Los Angeles, at the age of 88. She was cremated and her ashes rest in Columbarium of Faith in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California. Actors Paul Henreid and George Bancroft are also buried here.
She was one of many Jewish actors and actresses that were forced to flee Europe when the Nazis came to power in 1933.
Grünig's first film, at age 43, was a German silent movie called Peer Gynts Wanderjahre und Tod in 1919with Conrad Veidt.
In 1925, Grüning appeared in the silent Die freudlose Gasse, directed by the legendary Georg Wilhelm Pabst, which featured a 20-year old Greta Garbo. Marlene Dietrich was also in the film, uncredited as "Maria's friend", making this the only film featuring both Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. Dietrich is the dark-haired friend of Maria's who actually catches Garbo when she collapses from hunger in the Vienna butcher shop line.
In 1942, at the age of 66, the oldest actor in the movie, Grüning received the role of Mrs. Leuchtag, who along with her husband (played by Ludwig Stössel) are leaving Europe for America in Casablanca. She has only one scene (a total of 30 words) in the movie when she and her husband are having a drink in Rick's Cafe with their good friend Carl the waiter (S.Z. Sakall) and struggling a bit with their English. Her husband (Ludwig Stössel) asks her for the time, "Liebchen - sweetnessheart, what watch?" She answers, "Ten watch" and he replies, "Such watch?" Carl assures them they will get along beautifully in America.
When she returned to Europe for the first time since 15 years she appeared in a theater play in Germany and other countries. They were able to win her over to play in the Swiss movie "Die Venus vom Tivoli" (1953). It was her only European movies after the war and her last film at all. After this Grüning returned to America.
Besides her acting career Ilka Grüning founded together with Lucie Höflich her own acting school. To her well-known students belong Inge Meysel, Brigitte Horney and Lilli Palmer.
As a Jew she was no longer able to work as an actress in Germany and she earned her living with her acting school. But in 1938 she had to leave Germany and she emigrated via France to the USA where she arrived in 1939.
Like many German and Austrian actors, Grüning went back to Berlin in the 1950s, but found that Germany was not the same country she had left. Many former Nazis returned and it became difficult for Grüning to integrate back into the film industry.
She became already established at the theater at the end of the 19th century and she was successful on stages in Berlin and Bremen.

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