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Signe Hasso Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (8)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 15 August 1910Stockholm, Sweden
Date of Death 7 June 2002Los Angeles, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameSigne Eleonora Cecilia Larsson

Mini Bio (2)

Young Signe Larsson was only 12 when she started to work as a child extra at The Royal Dramatic Theater and was the youngest ever enrolled for acting studies there at 16. She quickly got leading roles in movies and always received very good reviews. In 1940 she went to Hollywood and signed a contract with RKO. Despite her talent, it didn't lead to any work and she ventured off to New York and the theater. She signed a contract with MGM and made a dozen of movies, including George Cukor's A Double Life (1947), possibly her best. However, she longed to go back to the theater and has worked in London and New York as well as touring around the US.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mattias Thuresson <mattias.thuresson@mbox300.swipnet.se>

Signe Hasso was born Signe Larsson in Stockholm, Sweden, and lived with her mother, grandmother and two siblings in a one-room apartment; her father and grandfather had died when she was only four. Her mother, once an aspiring actress, cooked waffles to support the family.

Ms. Hasso began working on stage at age 12 at the famed Royal Dramatic Theatre, and she became one of the youngest students to study drama at the theater. The free schooling led her into acting. In 1933, she made her screen debut and during the next seven years switched between stage and film before going to Hollywood, where she was signed by RKO Studios, touted as the "next Garbo" who had retired in 1941. Ms. Hasso arrived in Hollywood after starring in numerous European films, the studio cutting five years off her actual age for publicity reasons.

Although beautiful and with a Swedish accent, the unrealistic "Garbo" hope never was realized, but she appeared successfully in many 1940's films such as The Seventh Cross (1944), The House on 92nd Street (1945), Johnny Angel (1945) and A Double Life (1947) co-starring with Hollywood stars including Spencer Tracy, Lloyd Nolan, George Raft, Ronald Colman and others.

Ms. Hasso's Hollywood career lasted about a decade and put her opposite leading men like Gary Cooper and Cary Grant. But, she never really caught on with audiences in the United States, at least not as another Garbo. After an uncredited debut in Journey for Margaret (1942), which starred child actress Margaret O'Brien, Ms. Hasso made a humorous splash in Ernst Lubitsch's comedy Heaven Can Wait (1943) as the lusty French maid who provides the young hero (played as an adult by Don Ameche) with an early bedside education.

It was a rare foray into comedy in a career noted for dramatic roles, often with a wartime or espionage setting. Such films included Assignment in Brittany (1943) and The House on 92nd Street (1945), notable for director Henry Hathaway's documentary-like staging. In Fred Zinnemann's The Seventh Cross (1944), she and Spencer Tracy played concentration camp escapees on the run from Nazis in World War II.

She said that her favorite screen part was as Ronald Colman's ex-wife in A Double Life (1947), a story about an actor (Colman) who identifies too closely with his roles. As Othello, he adopts the same rages as Shakespeare's jealous "Moor" and endangers Ms. Hasso's character, an actress who plays "Desdemona". Her reaction to finding real blood on the bed during the climactic death scene of the play within the movie was memorable. Ms. Hasso also appeared in Cecil B. DeMille's The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) with Gary Cooper and Crisis (1950) with Cary Grant.

She mostly stopped acting in Hollywood films after her son's death in a car accident in 1954; her movie career had stalled anyway. She concentrated on a stage career on Broadway, and she helped start a national repertory theater in Sweden. She made many television appearances, most recently in a documentary about Greta Garbo.

In a 1995 interview, she said she could not care less if people remembered her acting; instead, she wanted to be known for her prose and poetry. She was a lyricist whose English translation of Swedish folk songs won her acclaim. Her books, such as "Kom Slott" or "Momo", can be found listed on major sites even still, although as second-hand orders. In 1989, the Vasa Order of America named her Swedish-American of the Year, an honor for those of Swedish birth or descent. She died at 91 apparently of pneumonia resulting from the debilitation of lung cancer. Among those who were with her at the end was Swedish actor Peter Stormare, who met Signe Hasso for the first time when he toured in America with The Royal Swedish Dramatic Theatre, Dramaten, and became a friend when he moved to Los Angeles six years ago. He was one of the friends and relatives that spent time with Signe Hasso on her last days and nights. Peter Stormare sat with her and held her hand the day she died. Signe Hasso had quite a life. We are thankful for it and will remember her.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Thomas E. Hilton. Hilton_TE@juno.com

Spouse (2)

Harry Hasso (1933 - 1941) (divorced) (1 child)
William Langford (? - 20 July 1955) (his death)

Trade Mark (1)

Striking green eyes and a mass of reddish brown hair

Trivia (8)

Studios shaved 5 years off her age for many years. Holds dual US and Swedish citizenship.
Last seen publicly at the "Night of 200 Stars" tribute to Gene Autry and Whitney Houston in New York City in 1995.
Her son Henry was killed in an automobile accident in 1957.
Signe Hasso related her Hollywood bound journey to the USA was very difficult with the impending Nazi war actions in the early 1940's. Signe Hasso departed Sweden traveling by Siberian Railroad across Russia, into China, sailing from Singapore to San Francisco, then traveling by train to Los Angeles, where she met with RKO studio chiefs discussing film roles. Signe reported the entire trip took six months in reaching the United States because of travel restrictions, passport problems, and the unstable military undercurrent encountered because threats of the Nazi regime affected all of Asia.
Starred in the National Broadway Musical Tour of "Cabaret" playing the Fräulein Schneider role. Melissa Hart (Sally) and Leo Fuchs (Herr Schultz) also were in the cast. Hasso and Fuchs did not get along.
In her early Hollywood career, Signe Hasso lived above the Sunset Strip. Moving to New York where she performed with Eva Le Galliene's American Repertory Company, and also on tour with various ARC productions across the United States. Returning to Hollywood in 1957, Hasso lived at Hollywood Boulevard and Stanley Ave. in an apartment building, the rear 2nd floor 2BR apartment. Fifteen years later, moving to Park LaBrea into a two story complex, adjacent to Farmers Market.
Signe's hair style remained the same blond cut and style because she wore wigs made by her wig maker friend Renata. She smoked cigarettes constantly. She maintained her weight and figure, never gaining pounds because she used her Scandinavian diet. Signe loved jewelry, usually bracelets and necklaces, painted with gold leaf paint, since she did not like the look of silver! Even painting pearl necklaces with the gold leaf paint. She was a marvelous cook entertaining friends with her Scandinavian meatball or salmon with dill specialties. At parties, late evening after midnight, she spontaneously would herd guests into the host's kitchen preparing egg specialties while relating her theatrical stories and humorous adventures. Signe had a "throaty sounding" laughter in response when told an amusing tale. She had a generous interested spiritual personality and nature. Many of her friends were members of the Hollywood Foreign Press due to her membership with the organization. Many of her newsletters and articles were printed in Swedish Newspapers. She composed both the lyrics and music for her catalog of songs, and poems. Signe published several books on numerology in Sweden. She gave an incredible numerology reading to fortunate individuals when she felt that they needed assistance in their life course. Signe often said, would she have had the opportunity, she would have become a medical doctor.
Because they were both Swedish, Signe and Ingrid Bergman were "thespian friends", both actresses usually considered by casting agents and directors for the same film role. Signe's stage theatrical career evolved because she was not being cast in Hollywood films. Ingrid Bergman, envious of Hasso's acting success on stage, followed Hasso's lead by accepting theatrical stage roles. Signe always "chuckled" when ever she heard of Ingrid accepting another stage acting assignment.

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