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Asta Nielsen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (25)

Overview (4)

Born in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark
Died in Frederiksberg, Denmark  (after a leg fracture)
Birth NameAsta Sofie Amalie Nielsen
Nicknames The Silent Muse
Die Asta

Mini Bio (1)

Danish leading woman of German films who became one of the greatest stars of the silent era. A native of the Copenhagen suburb of Vesterbro, Nielsen was the daughter of a coppersmith and a washerwoman, both of whom died before Nielsen was fifteen. Her stage debut came as a child in the chorus of the Kongelige Teater's production of Boito's opera "Mephistopheles." She studied at the Royal Theatre School of Copenhagen and embarked upon a stage career in her late teens. She toured Scandinavia and became one of the highest-paid and most popular stage actresses of her time and place. In 1909, director Urban Gad suggested that the silent screen would allow her to transcend her Danish language barrier, and she agreed appear in his film 'Afgrunden (1910)'. The film was successful and Nielsen was encouraged to continue in this new art form. A German distributor, Paul Davidson, invited Nielsen to Germany, where he was building a film studio which would eventually become Europe's largest--the Universum Film Union A.-G. (or Ufa). Nielsen and her director, Gad, whom she had married, went to Germany and spent the next quarter century there. She became one of the true superstars of the silent screen, a tragic heroine whose photograph during the First World War accompanied German and also British and French troops into battle. Among her notable films after the war was a version of "Hamlet, " which was not so much a Shakespearean film as it was an exploration of a then-current theory that the real Hamlet had been, in fact, a woman. Nielsen played the title role. She continued to play a wide variety of roles in Germany and occasionally in Denmark and Norway, never losing the respect and popularity she had maintained almost from the beginning of her career. She abandoned her film work just as sound was taking over the industry. Aside from one or two brief forays in talkies, her acting was thereafter confined to the stage. She died in 1972 at the age of 89, shortly after her fifth marriage.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (3)

Anders Christian Theede (21 January 1970 - 25 May 1972) ( her death)
Ferdinand Wingårdh (31 December 1919 - 1923) ( divorced)
Urban Gad (11 May 1912 - 1918) ( divorced)

Trivia (25)

Other sources state 1881 as her year of birth
Offered her own studio in Germany by Goebbels when Nazi's took power - refused.
Married five times.
She was so famous that the name Asta became a trademark for cigarettes and perfumes. Her beauty was praised by Guillaume Apollinaire too.
Asta Nielsen had a daughter, Jesta, born in 1901 outside of marriage. Jesta committed suicide in 1964 after the death of her husband.
With her documentation "Asta Nielsen" (68) she said goodbye to her audience. Four years later she died as a result of an accident.
Nielsen had four long-term relationships and was divorced twice. In 1912, she married the Danish film director Urban Gad following their move together to Germany in 1911 to build their own film studio. They were divorced by 1919 when Nielsen married the Swedish shipbuilder Freddy Windgardh. That marriage was short-lived and ended in divorce in the mid-1920s.
She and her family lived for several years in Malmö, Sweden where her father worked in a corn millery and then a factory. After he lost those jobs, they returned to live in the Nørrebro section of Copenhagen.
Nielsen fell in love with the Russian actor Gregori Chmara whom she met through their mutual friend Georg Brandes. They began a long-term common-law marriage that lasted from 1923 until the late 1930s.
The actress Asta Nielsen came from a poor family.
During the Second World War she provided money for Allan O. Hagedorff, a young Dane living in Germany, to assist Jews. Using money provided by Nielsen, Hagedorff sent so many food parcels to the Theresienstadt concentration camp that he was warned by the Gestapo. Among others, Victor Klemperer, the diarist and philologist, was offered money by Hagedorff.
The couple Nielsen/Gad separated in 1915 and with it their cooperation came to an end too.
In the twenties over and over again Asta Nielsen was pushed out by younger colleagues, her acting attracted less attention than the beautiful faces of new stars. The scripts she get offered were subsequently more and more worse and Asta Nielsen decided to go back to the theater where she was able to achieve triumphs. Only one time she returned to the screen with the movie "Unmögliche Liebe" (32), her first and last sound film.
Because of her previous successes she became established as an international greatness long ago and she participated in producing her next movies. She shot "Das Liebes-ABC" (1916), "Dora Brandes" (1916) and "Der erste Patient" (1916). The remaining years of World War I she spent thereafter in Denmark.
Nielsen began a relationship in the late 1960s with Danish art collector, Christian Theede, whom she had met through dealings of her own artwork. In 1970, at the age of 88-years-old, Nielsen married the 77-year-old Theede. Nielsen and Theede's outward joy for marrying at an elderly age was celebrated in the world press.
At the age of 14 she already left school. When her father died in the same year, she should graduate from sales education in order to be able to contribute some money to the living of her family. But inside Asta Nielsen had already matured her wish to become an actress. She got an audition and as a result a free drama education.
After the war she returned to Germany where she was able to continue her career smooth.
At the age of eighteen, Nielsen was accepted into the acting school of the Royal Danish Theatre. During her time there, she studied closely with the Royal Danish Actor, Peter Jerndorff.
She got first contacts to the theater during her school time, where she joined in the singing of the royal theater of Copenhagen thanks to her beautiful voice.
The World War II concluded her theater career in Germany and she went back to Denmark again. But also after the war she didn't return to the stage.
In spite of her succes in Abgründe the film offers from Denmark kept rare. Therefore she decided to find her luck in the arising German film business and landed a bull's eye. In no time at all she became the first film star in film history at all.
In 1901, twenty-year-old Nielsen became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter, Jesta. Nielsen never revealed the identity of the father, and chose to raise her child alone with the help of her mother and older sister.
Daughter of an often unemployed blacksmith and a washerwoman. Nielsen's family moved several times during her childhood while her father sought employment.
In the beginning she played at different stages but the success didn't arise yet. This changed immediately when she met director Urban Gad (1879-1947) and cherished intentions in shooting movies. In 1910 their first common movie "Abgründe" came into being, which achieved an unexpected international success. Asta Nielsen got married with director Urban Gad in 1912 and shot together with him about 30 movies.
After some more successes in Germany she signed a lucrative contract which guaranteed her eight movies a year and a free hand for the completion.

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