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Lotte Lenya Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Vienna-Penzing, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameKaroline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blamauer

Mini Bio (1)

Lotte Lenya was a Tony Award-winning and Academy award-nominated actress and singer who is best remembered for her supporting role as Rosa Klebb in the classic Bond film From Russia with Love (1963).

She was born Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blaumauer on October 18, 1898, in Vienna, Austria (at that time Austro-Hungarian Empire), into a working class family. Young Lenya was fond of dancing. In 1914 she moved to Zurich, Switzerland. There she began using her stage name, Lotte Lenya. In Swizerland she studied classical dance, singing and acting and made her stage debut at the Schauspielhaus. In 1921 she moved to Berlin and blended in the city's cosmopolitan cultural milieu. In 1924 she met composer Kurt Weill, and they married in 1926. Lotte Lenya was the inspiration behind Weill's most popular hit 'Mack the Knife'. She performed in several productions of 'The Threepenny Opera', which became an important step in her acting career.

In 1933, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, Lotte Lenya escaped from the country. At the same time, being stressed by the circumstances of life, she divorced from Kurt Weil, to be reunited with him two years later. In 1935 both emigrated to the United States and remarried in 1937. After Kurt Weill's death, she dedicated her efforts to keeping Weill's music played in numerous productions worldwide. In 1957 she won a Tony award for her role as Jenny, performed in English, in a Broadway production of 'The Threepenny Opera'.

Lotte Lenya shot to international fame with her portrayal of Contessa Magda Terbilli-Gozales, Vivien Leigh's friend in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961). The role brought Lenya an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. She gained additional fame after she appeared as Rosa Klebb, former head of operations for SMERSH/KGB, and now a sadistic Spectre agent with poisonous knife in her shoe, in From Russia with Love (1963). She died of cancer on November 27, 1981, in New York. She is entombed with Kurt Weill in a mausoleum, in Mount Repose Cemetery, in Haverstraw, New York, USA.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (5)

Richard Siemanowski (9 June 1971 - 6 June 1973) ( divorced)
Russell Detweiller (2 November 1962 - 30 October 1969) ( his death)
George Davis (7 July 1951 - 25 November 1957) ( his death)
Kurt Weill (1937 - 3 April 1950) ( his death)
Kurt Weill (28 January 1926 - 1933) ( divorced)

Trivia (60)

Lenya, as the wife of famous composer Kurt Weill, would often star in his operas and musicals. At the world premiere of his "Threepenny Opera" in 1928, her name was inadvertently left out of the program guide, despite her playing the female lead.
Awarded a Tony in 1956 for Supporting Actress in Marc Blitzstein's version of "The Threepenny Opera".
The Bobby Darin version of the song "Mack the Knife" (written by Lotte Lenya's husband Kurt Weill) mentions her by name.
Moved to Zurich in 1914 to be trained in classical dance and gained experience in opera and ballet at the Schauspielhaus.
After Kurt Weill's death in 1950, Lotte, no longer confident of her talent, reluctantly agreed to appear in a memorial concert at Town Hall. The concert was such a huge success that it prompted annual revivals until 1965. She also spent the rest of her life dedicated to keeping Kurt's music alive through exhaustive searches of lost work, administering copyrights and, of course, her legendary concerts.
In addition to her husband's legacy, Lenya was also a specialist in Brechtian theatre.
Won Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for "TheThreepenny Opera.'" She was also nominated in 1967 as Best Actress (Musical) for "Cabaret", where she created the role of "Fräulein Schneider" and acted as a consultant for the musical styles of 1930s Berlin, especially her husband's.
After wearing a pair of shoes with knives sticking out on From Russia with Love (1963), some people looked at her shoes, when she first met them.
Is entombed, with Kurt Weill, at the Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 490-492. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Her portrayal of Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love (1963) became the inspiration for two other villains: Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Was cast in Vosstaniye rybakov (1934) as Maria the prostitute when that film originally went into production in 1931. Sets were constructed and the cast arrived at the Yalta location, but due to financial difficulties and supply interruptions (for instance, the typing paper intended for the scripts was used by the crew as rolling paper for their cigarettes), the production was disbanded with no footage shot. The role was eventually played by Vera Yanukova.
Lenya appears in the Pabst 1931 German film version of the Brecht/Weill play with music, The Threepenny Opera, recreating the role that brought her fame in 1928, Jenny.
Born in 1898, Lenya is, and always will be the oldest actor ever to play a James Bond villain at age 65.
She got the first artistic education as a ballet dancer in Zurich before she dedicated to the acting as well.
Her huge success led to filming in 1931 also called "Die 3 Groschen-Oper" (31) and in this movie Lotte Lenya played the role of Jenny again. This movie became popular as well. Despite this movie hit Lotte Lenya concentrated to the stage again exclusively.
In 1956, Louis Armstrong recorded the song "Mack the Knife", both as a solo number and as a duet with Lenya. Armstrong added Lenya's name into the lyrics, in place of one of the characters in the play.
She went to Berlin where she used the name Lotte Lenya. She appeared as a singer and actress in the next years. After few years with modest success she managed her breakthrough with the world premiere of "Die Dreigroschenoper" where she impersonated the role of Jenny.
In 1966, Lenya originated the role of Fräulein Schneider in the original Broadway cast of the musical Cabaret.
Lotte Lenya got married with the composer Kurt Weill in 1926. When her husband went to Paris after the rise of the National Socialists their marriage ended. But she returned to Kurt Weill in 1935 and they both emigrated via England to the USA where they got married again.
The Michael Kunze play, Lenya, is about Brecht's favorite singer, Lotte Lenya.
Lenya's second husband (1951-57) was American editor George Davis. After Davis' death in 1957, she married artist Russell Detwiler in 1962. He was 26 years her junior but she was widowed for a third time when Detwiler died at the age of 44 in 1969.
In 2007, the musical LoveMusik, based on Lenya's relationship with Weill, opened on Broadway. Lenya was portrayed by Donna Murphy.[.
Lotte Lenya was able to continue her stage career in the USA and from the 50s she appeared in Germany again.
Lenya and Weill did not meet properly until 1924 through a mutual acquaintance, the writer Georg Kaiser. They married in 1926, and later divorced in 1933, only to reconcile in September 1935 after emigrating to the United States. They remarried in 1937. In 1941, the couple moved to a house of their own in New City, Rockland County, New York, roughly 50 km north of New York City. Their second marriage lasted until Weill's death in 1950.
She is mentioned in the Fascinating Aïda song "Lieder", which originally described her as German but was corrected for later performances.
Donovan's 1968 song "Laleña" was inspired by Lenya.
Lenya died in Manhattan of cancer in 1981, aged 83. She is buried next to Weill at Mount Repose Cemetery in Haverstraw, New York.[.
She made her stage debut in Zurich and she remained active there till 1921.
Lenya went on to record a number of songs from her time in Berlin, as well as songs from the American stage. Her voice had deepened with age. When she was to sing the soprano part in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Seven Deadly Sins, the part needed transposition to substantially lower keys.
After a badly received part in her husband's musical The Firebrand of Florence in 1945 in New York, she withdrew from the stage.
With the rise of National Socialism in Germany, left-leaning artists were not appreciated and although not Jewish, she left the country, having become estranged from Weill. (They would later divorce and remarry.).
She founded the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, to administer incomes and issues regarding rights, and to spread knowledge about Weill's work.
She went to Zürich to study in 1914, taking her first job at the Schauspielhaus, using the stage name Lotte Lenja. She moved to Berlin to seek work in 1921.
Lenya and KurtWeill settled in New York City on 10 September 1935.
In March 1933, she moved to Paris where she sang the leading part in Brecht-Weill's "sung ballet", The Seven Deadly Sins.
In 1956 she won a Tony Award for her role as Jenny in Marc Blitzstein's English version of The Threepenny Opera, the only time an Off-Broadway performance has been so honored.
During the last years of the Weimar Republic, she was busy in film and theatre, and especially in Brecht-Weill plays.
She was present in the studio when Louis Armstrong recorded Brecht-Weill's "Mack the Knife". Armstrong improvised the line "Look out for Miss Lotte Lenya!" and added her name to the list of Mack's female conquests in the song.
During World War II, Lenya did a number of stage performances, recordings and radio performances, including for the Voice of America.
Her role as Vivien Leigh's earthy friend Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales in the screen version of Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) brought Lenya an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress.
She accepted the part of Jenny in the first performance of The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) in 1928, and the part became her breakthrough role.
After Weill's death in 1950, she was coaxed back to the stage. She appeared on Broadway in Barefoot in Athens and married editor George Davis.
In 1922 Lenya was seen by her future husband, German composer Kurt Weill, during an audition for his first stage score Zaubernacht but because of his position behind the piano, she did not see him. She was cast but owing to her loyalty to her voice coach she declined the role.
During the summer of 1936, Weill, Lenya, Paul Green and Cheryl Crawford rented a house at 277 Trumbull Avenue in Nichols, Connecticut, about two miles from Pine Brook Country Club, the summer rehearsal headquarters of the Group Theatre. Here, Green and Weill wrote the screenplay and music for the controversial Broadway play Johnny Johnson, which was titled after the most frequently occurring name on the American casualty list of World War I. During this period Lenya had a love affair with playwright Paul Green.
Lenya made her debut as a nightclub singer at Le Ruban Bleu in New York, beginning on April 7, 1938. On October 22, 1941, she opened in the play Candle in the Wind on Broadway. It ran 95 performances.
In 1979, two years before her death, Lotte Lenya was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
She made several recordings of Weill's songs.
Her final theatrical appearance came with another run in The Threepenny Opera at Florida State University in Tallahassee in April 1972.
In 1960, Lenya went to London, where she acted in her first film in 30 years, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which brought her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. (Although she did not actively pursue film acting, she was cast in a few more movies during the rest of her career, appearing in From Russia with Love [1963], The Appointment [1969], and Semi-Tough [1977].
She had an important role in one of her husband's shows when she starred in the operetta The Firebrand of Florence, which opened on Broadway on March 22, 1945, but was a failure, running only 43 performances.
In 1943, she was contracted by Bost Records and recorded the album Six Songs by Kurt Weill, consisting of three 78s.
Lenya made her debut as a nightclub singer at Le Ruban Bleu in New York, beginning on April 7, 1938.
A more significant appearance was in a new English-language adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Marc Blitzstein performed as a concert at Brandeis University on June 13, 1952. The performance led to a full-fledged stage revival that opened Off-Broadway on March 10, 1954, and became a substantial hit, running until December 1961. Lenya appeared in the show for two years; sang on the cast album; and won the 1956 Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical.
She returned to the New York stage in the Off-Broadway revue Brecht on Brecht, which opened January 3, 1962. It ran over 200 performances, with Columbia recording a cast album. Continuing her stage support of Weill's lyric partner, she starred in a production of Brecht's play Mother Courage in June and July 1965 in Recklinghausen, Germany.
More broadly, she was identified with the interwar era in Germany, which led, for example, to her casting in the Broadway musical Cabaret. Her Tony Award, however, came for her 1954 appearance in Weill's The Threepenny Opera, a show in which she also had been featured when it premiered in Germany in 1928.
On October 22, 1941, she opened in the play Candle in the Wind on Broadway. It ran 95 performances.
She revealed an interest in singing and dancing as early as the age of five, when she performed in a neighborhood circus.
Lotte Lenya was a Tony Award-winning actress/singer who appeared primarily on stage from the 1920s to the '70s, while also recording and making occasional appearances on film, radio, and television.
Has never appeared in a Best Picture Oscar nominated film.

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