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Ursula Thiess Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (19) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (3)

Born in Hamburg, Germany
Died in Burbank, California, USA
Birth NameUrsula Schmidt

Mini Bio (2)

Luscious-looking leading lady, in a mere five films, between 1953 and 1956.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Gorgeous was too tame a word for this foreigner stunner. Glamorous brunette beauty Ursula Thiess was born Ursula Schmidt in Hamburg Germany on May 15, 1924, the daughter of Hans Schmidt, who managed a printing company, and Wilhelmine Lange, her turbulent childhood including working as compulsory farm laborer on the orders of the Nazi government when the teen refused to join the paramilitary Hitler Youth Movement. She later began her entertainment career in her native homeland appearing on the stage and dubbing female voices in American films.

Married to director Georg Thieß, the couple's marriage was a relatively unhappy one and they eventually divorced. With two children (Manuela and Michael) in tow, she found work in the late 40s/early 50s as a fashion model in Berlin. She left postwar Germany at the urging of Howard Hughes and signed up with his RKO company for film representation.

Billed as "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" during her initial build-up, her debut movie was as a half caste English/India(n) girl in the outdoor drama Monsoon (1952) opposite the handsome, frequently bare-chested George Nader. While she failed to weave the same kind of foreign magic as that of Marlene Dietrich, she was far more beautiful and was voted "Most Promising Star of 1952" by Modern Screen Magazine and a Golden Globe the next year. This exotic temptation remained a fetching distraction amid the rugged scenery where, percentage-wise, the story and action remained strongly focused on her handsome he-man co-stars: Robert Stack in The Iron Glove (1954); Rock Hudson in Bengal Brigade (1954); and Glenn Ford in The Americano (1955); Robert Mitchum in Bandido! (1956), among others. Her Hollywood career wound up very short but sweet.

During her brief peak, Ursula met and eventually married the exceedingly handsome film star Robert Taylor (in 1954) and she subsequently abandoned her film career. Outside of her two children by her first marriage, Ursula had two more children (Terrance in 1955 and Tessa in 1959), by Taylor. Though she seemed quite content to be out of the limelight, she did appear with some regularity on her husband's TV series The Detectives (1959) during its first season, playing a police reporter who has a brief affair with Taylor's character. While raising her children was her prime job, she also became an active volunteer at a children's hospital.

Following son Michael's tragic suicide from a drug overdose and husband Taylor's death shortly thereafter from lung cancer, both in 1969, Ursula was glimpsed here and there in a light sprinkling of film and TV appearances before bowing out completely. Her last film was the completely overlooked Left Hand of Gemini (1972) with Richard Egan and Ian McShane.

Surviving an operation for a benign brain tumor in 1979, the former actress married wealthily for a third time and lived in Hawaii during part of that marriage, but would find herself widowed again in 1987 after 12 years. Known to be an excellent home decorator and gourmet cook, she eventually wrote an autobiography entitled "But I Have Promises to Keep" in 2003. Living in the Los Angeles area for the remainder of her life, she eventually entered an assisted facility in Burbank and died on June 19, 2010, at the age of 86, survived by her three remaining children.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Marshall Schacker (1974 - 1986) (his death)
Robert Taylor (24 May 1954 - 8 June 1969) (his death) (2 children)
Georg Thieß (1942 - 1947) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (19)

Son, Terrance ("Terry"), and daughter, Tessa, with Robert Taylor.
Her son, Michael, spent a year in jail for trying to poison his father. He committed suicide by overdose in a motel at the age of 24. She found his body.
Was up to co-star with Clark Gable in The King and Four Queens (1956) at Gable's request, but turned it down to focus on her family.
Voted the year's "Most Promising Star" by Modern Screen Magazine in 1952 along with Marilyn Monroe.
While handsome Robert Taylor was squiring her about town, the press quipped that he was *finally* dating someone prettier than he was (Taylor was previously married to Barbara Stanwyck).
Received the Golden Key Award from the Foreign Press Association in 1952.
In 1955, she was one of only three people under long-term contract at RKO.
Clark Gable taught her how to shoot.
She was widowed twice. Her second husband, Robert Taylor, and her third husband both died of lung cancer.
Son, Terrance "Terry" (b. June 18, 1955), and daughter, Theresa "Tessa" (born on August 16, 1959), with 2nd husband Taylor.
Daughter Manuela (born in 1944), and son Michael (born in 1946) with first husband Georg Thieß.
Her husband died less than two weeks after May 26, 1969, when Ursula found her son Michael's dead body.
Did volunteer work at Children's Hospital associated with the University of California at Los Angeles.
Underwent surgery for a benign brain tumor in 1979, and recovered.
After being offered a movie contract with RKO Pictures, she relocated to the United States in 1951, the same year she was featured on the June 4 cover of Life Magazine.
Was a farm laborer before she became an actress.
Her father was manager of a print shop in her native Hamburg, Germany.
Daughter, Manuela Thiess, played a few parts on TV and later became an English teacher.
When she was 12 years old in Germany she went to a movie theater and saw Camille (1936) and, she said, "swooned" when she saw Robert Taylor. Eighteen years later she married him.

Personal Quotes (8)

[on Monsoon (1952)] My leading man was George Nader, and it was directed by Rod Amateau, who become a lifelong friend. Ellen Corby, later to gain fame as Granny Walton [on the TV series The Waltons (1971)], was also in the cast, as was the marvelous character actor Myron Healey, who always had a camera in hand, taking pictures of everything imaginable.
I was flown over here and put up at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. They let me use my legal name at the time, Ursual Thiess. Thiess was my ex-husband's [Georg Thieß] name. He was mean and brutal.
I was in Germany during the war. The Nazis knew how I felt about them; I was considered a traitor so I tried to keep out of sight as much as possible.
Modern Screen voted me 1952's Most Promising Star - as they also did for Marilyn Monroe. That same year, I received the Golden Key Award from the Foreign Press Association, whose ceremony I helped to host. And in 1953, I received the Golden Globe Award.
[on Bengal Brigade (1954)] Rock Hudson was the star, and the other female lead was titian-haired Arlene Dahl, whose looks were a contrast to my dark hair and make-up. Arlene's dressing room was next to mine, and I heard her say, in an agitated voice, "If I'd known that woman was in the cast, I never would have signed the contract!" When I confronted our mutual agent, he said, "Don't worry about it. It's just professional jealousy. You're just too pretty to share the screen with". As for Rock, he was a sensitive, cooperative young man, ready to give a helping hand. He showed, like [Robert Taylor], a great admiration for character actors, possibly feeling trapped in his good looks. I appreciated his ever-present gallantry.
[on Bandido! (1956), her last starring feature] It had been 18 months since The Americano (1955) was finished, and at this point, I saw myself as a housewife and mother of a four-month old baby boy. I wondered if I had made the right decision, but at this time [Robert Taylor] was still encouraging me to work. But, what neither of us realized at the time I signed the contract, was the entire production called for being on location in Mexico. I had good domestic help, so I didn't have to worry about that, but I had other apprehensions, like the airline with a not-too-good reputation. Just as we approached Mexico City, the plane took a nosedive! Food, drinks, everything went everywhere. The plane leveled off and the pilot tried to make light of it with non-funny jokes.

After a one-night rest in that big city, we drove to our first location, in Cuernavaca, where we stayed for quite some time. It was here where I met my leading man, Robert Mitchum, an acquaintance who had a reputation as a womanizer. This couldn't be further from the truth. He was wrongfully labeled. What I saw was a lover of women - be they three years old, sexy and young, or 95! Each got his attention, but he was not the pursuer - he was the pursued!
[on her and Robert Taylor's friends] Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan were our closest friends, and almost next-door neighbors in the Pacific Palisades. We attended parties with David Niven and Hjördis Genberg, Ray Milland, George Sanders, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons and her then-husband Stewart Granger, and Michael Wilding and his then-wife Elizabeth Taylor. Other friends were Henry Koster and wife Peggy Moran, Lita Baron and husband Rory Calhoun, Steffi Duna and husband Dennis O'Keefe, and Lana Turner and husband Lex Barker. We were also friendly with Clark Gable and Kay Williams. Clark even taught me to shoot. Clark tried to talk Bob into letting me do The King and Four Queens (1956), but I'd already promised Bob I would give up pictures.
The ground breaking on our [her and husband Robert Taylor] first home coincided with the starting date for RKO's The Americano (1955), which began shooting in late June on location for two weeks in Riverside, California. So near yet so far, Bob decided it was time I learned to drive a car. William Castle was the director, Glenn Ford was the star. Ford early on stated he wanted realism and his point of view was demonstrated on his leading ladies, me included. "I like to treat my ladies rough," he grinned in that boyish way of his. How rough, you might ask? Well, he threw me off a saddle, onto the ground. He did it with such velocity that it resulted in a twisted neck, a torn blouse, a mouthful of sand, and a thundering 48-hour headache! This was not a good beginning, but my colleague got his scene and admittedly, it didn't lack realism. Cesar Romero, who was the second lead, came to visit and comfort me during my two-day recovery, as did other cast members. I tried to make amends for what happened, but Cesar's reply was quite direct: "Don't kid yourself, Ursula, that son of a bitch knew what he was doing. He's got a reputation for that!"

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