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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 15 March 1925Vienna, Austria
Date of Death 28 June 1998Camarillo, California, USA
Birth NameIlonka Katerina Gerta Maria Theresa Windisch

Mini Bio (1)

Ilka Windish has played many dramatic roles in her acting career but none outweighs the fascinating drama of her own life. She was impressed by both Germans and Russians before escaping to the United States.

Ilka was born in Vienna with a name no one could remember - Gerta Maria Theresa Honka Katherina Windish. She was 12 when Hitler invaded Austria (1938), and was studying to be an actress when Hitler decided his troops on the Russian front needed the lilt of Viennese laughter in entertainment. As an entertainer she was sent to the Leningrad sector, along with 23 other students. She was reported to have said, "We were conscripted like soldiers and had to take the oath of allegiance to Hitler. This meant we could be shot if we deserted. For over six months she sang and danced and "died a little" every time applause was drowned out by the booming of the front-line guns.

Returning to Vienna, she won a contract from the Viennese Film Company and starred in eight films, until 1943 brought a change at the studio. Things were going so badly with the Nazis that the studio was converted into a factory, and all contractees were put to work making uniforms and other war apparel.

The end of the war brought the Russians to Vienna. Ilka's film company was reestablished, but the performing personnel were "under contract" to the government-operated Cabaret Simplicissimum. She sang and acted for her supper - "mostly lard, flour, and bread."

Then Ilka met American war correspondent Joseph Israels. They were married in 1946 and settled down in a New York apartment in 1947. She studied English, became miserably homesick and took Israels' suggestion that "an actress should act." She acted in a play, "Chameleon," appeared on Hollywood's Screen Test show, and then she and Joe went back to Vienna. They produced a movie in which Ilka starred, and she appeared in other films. Again they returned to New York together, where Joseph Israels suddenly died of a heart attack.

To earn money quickly, Ilka became a fashion model, which led to television acting again and to the show, "Studio One." The producer was Felix Jackson and they fell in love. They were married in 1955, and a son, Lawrence, was born to them the following year.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Sage Steps

Spouse (2)

Felix Jackson (6 August 1955 - 7 December 1992) (his death) (1 child)
Joseph Israels II (28 December 1946 - 16 July 1954) (his death)

Trivia (1)

Viennese Ilka Windish was asked by an American friend to share her old world beauty secrets. She was reported to have smiled indulgently before explaining that she had lived in Austria during the Russian occupation and could not lay hands on commercial cosmetics; she learned to use cucumber juice as a facial astringent, castor oil as a treatment for her hair, and eggs for a facial mask. "When we could spare a cucumber," Ilka explained, "we would splash its juice again and again over a clean face and you will see the difference." (As reported on page 11 of the Big Spring Daily Herald (Big Spring, Texas), June 6, 1962.

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