Pretty, soulful-eyed Austrian actress Rose Stradner was a rising 30s ingénue on the Viennese stage and in a few German film romances and musicals when MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, who was in Europe searching for exotic talent, discovered Rose. Along with Greer Garson, Ilona Massey and Hedy Lamarr, she was brought to Hollywood and groomed as a foreign import. Unfortunately, her personal life became a shambles and eventually overwhelmed her ability to perform.
She was born Rosa Stradner in Vienna in 1913 and educated at a convent. Her desire to become an actress came young. At 16 she studied at the Academy for Music and Art in Zurich, Switzerland, and at the age of 19, she auditioned for Max Reinhardt and handed a contract. She appeared for Reinhardt at the Voks and Josefstadt Theaters, often in the classics (Shakespeare, Ibsen, Moliere) but handled modern pieces (Dreiser, O'Neill) just as well. In Europe she also appeared in some films between 1933 and 1936.
Fleeing Austria during the Nazi invasion, Rose, her then-husband Karl Heinz Martin, a stage director, and her mother arrived in the States in 1936. She and her husband divorced soon after however. Making her U.S. debut as Edward G. Robinson's put-upon wife in The Last Gangster (1937), she showed promise and was signed by MGM. Her second film Blind Alley (1939), which was more Freudian in nature, starred Chester Morris as a psychologically-disturbed mobster who abducts psychiatrist Ralph Bellamy. Rose had less to do in this picture.
The budding star met well-known writer/producer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz at around this time and she placed her career on hold. The couple married in 1939 had two sons, Chris and Tom. Christopher Mankiewicz, who was born a year later, went on to become a modest film producer in the 1980s. Although Rose returned for a small but key role as a Mother Superior in her husband's film The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), her career was officially over after only three films. In 1948 she was cast in the Edna Ferber play "Bravo!" but she had to be replaced during tryouts which caused her severe mental strain.
On a positive note, her fluency in several languages helped her husband's screenplays but the marriage was rocky almost from the start. In addition to Mankiewcz' infamous affairs with such stars as Judy Garland and Linda Darnell, Rose did not take to being strictly a "hausfrau" easily and soon turned destructive with alcohol used to deaden her unhappiness. She would be known for going into emotional tirades and eventually she was admitted into clinics for her violent rages and psychological disturbances. Constantly threatening suicide, a lethal mix of bitterness and depression set in and on September 27, 1958 ended her pain with an overdose of sleeping pills in her Mt. Kisco, New York, residence. She was only 45.
|Joseph L. Mankiewicz||(31 July 1939 - 27 September 1958) (her death) 2 children|
|Karl Heinz Martin||(? - 1937) (divorced)|
It is said that the famed birthday party scene ("Fasten your seat belts...it's going to be a bumpy night!") with a tipsy, vitriolic Margo Channing in husband Mankiewicz's classic film All About Eve (1950) was "inspired" by a very despondent and unhappy Rose.
Mother of Tom Mankiewicz.
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