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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 16 November 1913Gothenburg, Västra Götalands län, Sweden
Date of Death 4 June 1983Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden  (cancer)
Birth NameGunnel Margareta Wållgren

Mini Bio (1)

Constantly considered to be one of the greatest actresses in modern Swedish theater history, Gunn Wållgren is mostly known for her many roles in plays by Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov, and internationally; for her wonderful part as the grandmother in director Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander (1982). In her native Sweden she is also remembered, a side from a brilliant stage career, for a number of great performances in classic 1940s and 50s films, and for a generation of children; for her beloved lady with the doves, Sofia, in the popular film adaption of Astrid Lindgren's tale of "The Brothers Lionheart" (1977).

The always very shy and withdrawn actress was 21 years old when she applied for the Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school in Stockholm (where she trained 1934-37) and one of her teachers there was the "grand old lady of theater" in Sweden, miss Hilda Borgström. Following her graduation in 1937 Wållgren was immediately contracted at national stage where she came to become one of the theaters top actresses and where she worked, more or less permanently, until 1981.

Often described as an unbeaten character actress with absolute naturalness; full of wit, warmth and playful sensuality - as well as a "serious beauty", "poetic and fragile", with a "rare and true inner strength". Between 1942-1954 Wållgren came to co-operate with her husband to be, director Per-Axel Branner, at a number of private theaters in Stockholm (a.o. The Vasa Theater, The Blanche Theater, The New Theater) and here made some of her greatest performances of her life, in particular, her leading role of Masja in Anton Chekhov's "Three Sisters". This role established Wållgren as the highest respected female star of Swedish theatre, by both critics and stage directors, as well as fellow actors and audience. Onwards her roles on stage included works by, not only Strindberg and Tjechov, but also Steinbeck, Moliere, Dostojevsky, O'Neill, Goethe and Shakespeare. She played classic drama as well as farce and comedy equally good.

She made her debut on film as a young teenage criminal in Kvinnor i fångenskap (1943). After that she appeared in various parts in movies throughout the years, being one of Sweden's most acclaimed and appreciated actresses in films. Memorable are her leading parts in Kejsarn av Portugallien (1944) (The Emperor of Portugal), The Girl and the Devil (1944) (The Girl And The Devil), Woman Without a Face (1947) (aka Woman Without Face) - script by Ingmar Bergman - and Glasberget (1953) (The Mountain of Glass). Fine and strong supporting performances she delivers in Miss and Mrs Sweden (1969), The Man Who Quit Smoking (1972) (The Man Who Gave Up Smoking), The Brothers Lionheart (1977) (The Brothers Lionheart), Sally and Freedom (1981) (Sally and The Freedom) and, her extremely celebrated performance as the grandmother, in Fanny and Alexander (1982), which sadly became her last work as an actress.

Gunn Wållgren was later in the year 1982 diagnosed with terminal cancer and past away in her home at Öregrundsgatan in Stockholm on the 4th of June 1983, at age 69, surrounded by her family.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Cresta

Spouse (2)

Per-Axel Branner (1954 - 31 July 1975) (his death)
Hampe Faustman (1941 - 1949) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (6)

She loved dogs. Had a white poodle.
Daughter of Harald Wållgren and Greta "Kristi" Gimberg.
The Eugene O'Neill acting award (1959)
The Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school (1934-1937), Stockholm, Sweden.
Two daughters.
Her first name Gunn (a normal short version of the old Nordic name Gunnel) is pronounced with a soft "u", like in June; "Gune", but with short vowel and without the "e"-sound at the end.

Personal Quotes (1)

I love my work, I really do. I love it because it is so difficult. You long for perfection. You never reach it, but you have your longing." "The loneliness is my hobby. At home I hide away in the attic. I've always loved loneliness. When I have time I go to convents.

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