Pola Negri - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: American. Born: Barbara Apollonia Chalupiec in Janowa, Poland, 31 December 1894 (or 1899). Education: Attended the boarding school of Countess Platen, Warsaw; studied at the Imperial Ballet School, St. Petersburg; Philharmonia drama school, Warsaw. Family: Married 1) Count Popper (died); 2) Count Eugene Domski, 1919 (divorced 1921); 3) Prince Serge Mdivani, 1927 (divorced 1931). Career: 1913—stage debut in Hauptmann's Hannele in Warsaw; 1914—film debut in Niewolnica Zmyslow ; 1917—went to Berlin at urging of Max Reinhardt: acted in Sumurun in Berlin; 1918–20—series of German films, including several by Lubitsch; 1923—first U.S. film, Bella Donna ; late 1920s—career faltered with advent of sound: made films in Germany, Austria, and England; returned to the United States at outbreak of World War II. Awards: Deutscher Filmpreis, 1964. Died: In San Antonio, Texas, 1 August 1987.

Films as Actress:


Niewolnica Zmyslow (Pawlowski)


Pokoj no. 13 (Hertz); Bestia (Hertz); Czarna Ksiazka (Hertz)


Jego Ostatni Czyn (Hertz); Zona (Hertz); Studenci (Hertz); Arabella (Hertz)


Küsse, die man in Dunkeln stiehlt (Matull?); Nicht lange täuschte mich das Glück (Matull?); Rosen, die der Sturm entblättert (Matull?); Zügelloses Blut ( Gypsy Blood ); Die toten Augen (Matull?)


Der gelbe Schein ( The Yellow Ticket ) (Janson); Wenn das Herz in Hass erglĂĽht (Matull?); Mania ( Mad Love ) (Illes); Die Augen der Mumie Ma ( The Eyes of the Mummy ) (Lubitsch); Carmen (Lubitsch) (title role)


Das Karussell des Lebens (Jacoby); Kreuziget sie! (Jacoby); Madame DuBarry ( Passion ) (Lubitsch) (title role); Camille ( The Red Peacock ); Comptesse Doddy (Jacoby)


Geschlossene Kette (Stein); Medea (Lubitsch); Das Martyrium (Stein); Die Marchesa d'Arminiani (Halm); Sumurun ( One Arabian Night ) (Lubitsch); Vendetta (Jacoby)


Die Bergkatze (Lubitsch); Sappho (Buchowetski); Die Damme in Glashaus (Janson); Arme Violetta (Stein)


Die Flamme ( Montmartre ) (Lubitsch)


Bella Donna (Fitzmaurice) (title role); The Cheat (Fitzmaurice) (as Carmelita De CĂłrdoba); Hollywood (Cruze) (as guest); The Spanish Dancer (Brenon) (as Maritana)


Shadows of Paris (Brenon) (as Clair); Men (Buchowetski) (as Cleo); Lily of the Dust (Buchowetski) (as Lily Czepanek); Forbidden Paradise (Lubitsch) (as Catherine the Great)


East of Suez (Walsh) (as Daisy Forbes); The Charmer (Olcott) (as Mariposa); Flower of Night (Bern) (as Carlota y Villalon); A Woman of the World (St. Clair) (as Countess Elnora)


The Crown of Lies (Buchowetski) (as Olga Kriga); Good and Naughty (St. Clair) (as Germaine Morris)


Hotel Imperial (Stiller) (as Anna Sedlak); Barbed Wire (Lee) (as Mona); The Woman on Trial (Stiller) (as Julie)


Three Sinners (Lee) (as Baroness Gerda Wallentin); The Secret Hour (Lee) (as Amy); Loves of an Actress (Lee) (as Rachel); The Woman from Moscow (Berger) (as Princess Fedora); Are Women to Blame?


Street of Abandoned Children


The Woman He Scorned (Czinner)


A Woman Commands (Czinner)


Fanatisme (Ravel and LeKain)


Mazurka (Forst)


Moskau-Shanghai (Wegener)


Madame Bovary (Lamprecht) (title role)


Rudolph Valentino (short); Die Nacht der Entscheidung (Malasomma); Tango notturno (Kirchhoff); Die fromme LĂĽge (Malasomma)


Hi Diddle Diddle (Stone)


The Moon-Spinners (Neilson)


By NEGRI: books—

Memoirs of a Star , New York, 1970.

La Vie et la rêve au cinéma , Paris, n.d.

By NEGRI: articles—

"The Autobiography of Pola Negri," in Photoplay (New York), January-April 1924.

"Robert W. Frazer," in Photoplay (New York), June 1924.

"What Is Love?" in Photoplay (New York), November 1924.

"I Become Converted to the Happy Ending," in Motion Picture Director , March 1926.

"My Ideal Screen Lover," in Pictures and Picturegoer , March 1931.

On NEGRI: books—

Rosen, Marjorie, Popcorn Venus , New York, 1973.

Von Cossart, Axel, Pola Negri: Leben eines stars , 1988.

Czapinska, Wieslawa, Polita , Warsaw, 1989.

On NEGRI: articles—

Haskins, Harrison, "Who Is Pola Negri?" in Motion Picture Classic (Brooklyn), February 1921.

Howe, Herbert, "The Real Pola Negri," in Photoplay (New York), November 1922.

Howe, Herbert, "The Loves of Pola Negri," in Photoplay (New York), November 1923.

Frazer, Robert, "Pola Negri," in Photoplay (New York), July 1924.

Lyon, Ben, "Vampires I Have Known," in Photoplay (New York), February 1925.

St. Johns, Ivan, "How Pola Was Tamed," in Photoplay (New York), January 1926.

Hall, Leonard, "The Passing of Pola," in Photoplay (New York), December 1928.

Beinhorn, C. Wyche, "Pola Negri: Tempestuous Temptress," in Take One (Montreal), September 1978.

Article in Film (Poland), 9 September 1984.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 5 August 1987.

Obituary in Films and Filming (London), September 1987.

Film Dope (Nottingham), December 1991.

Villecco, T., "Director Andrew Stone," in Films of the Golden Age (Muscatine), no. 9, Summer 1997.

Braff, R.E., "An Index to the Films of Pola Negri," in Classic Images (Muscatine), December 1997.

Golden, E., "The Opportunist: Pola Negri on Her (More or Less) Centenary," in Classic Images (Muscatine), December 1997.

* * *

Pola Negri—the very name summons up the exoticism that was her stock-in-trade. This image sometimes got in the way of the undeniable fact that she was one of the silent screen's more gifted actresses. But drama moved offscreen for Pola Negri, and as her film career in the United States faded, her life kept her in the public eye. As a personality, she was one of those characters that may justifiably be called "the self-enchanted." This is the part of her reputation that endures today, obscuring the fact that her film career was a long and notable one.

She began performing in Poland as an ingenue with the Rozmaitoczi Theatre, scoring early successes as Hedwig in Ibsen's Wild Duck , and in the title role of Hauptmann's Hannele . Her stage work brought her to the attention of Alexandr Hertz, the pioneer Polish film producer, who made several of her earliest films. She was also the star of Max Reinhardt's pantomime Sumurun , first in Poland and then in Berlin. While there, she met a member of Reinhardt's coterie, the fledgling movie director Ernst Lubitsch. After a series of wonderful comic short films (the best of which is Die Bergkatze ), she was featured in one of the early historical spectacles, Passion ( Madame DuBarry ). Her vital and uninhibited portrayal of the French courtesan won her the admiration of Europe, and also impressed the Hollywood studios. She was soon on her way to America, under contract to Paramount. Unfortunately, the caliber of her work in the United States was nowhere near that of her German pictures.

Negri was an excellent performer when guided by a forceful director such as Lubitsch, but was given to excess when unharnessed. The Americans who directed her 1920s silents were not able to contain her rebellious energy. She gained a reputation for being temperamental, and her pictures never rivaled the success of Passion . There were a few high points though: she was teamed with Lubitsch once more, and produced a brilliant comic character in Forbidden Paradise . Her dramatic performance as a hotel maid in Mauritz Stiller's Hotel Imperial was a pinnacle of silent-screen dramatics. These occasional triumphs did little to enhance her career, and she retired from the screen in 1928 (ostensibly because of her marriage to Prince Mdivani).

An English picture, Street of Abandoned Children , was made in 1929, and she returned to the United States for her first talkie, A Woman Commands , in which her good performance was wasted on a poor film. No other offers were forthcoming, so she made one film in France, Fanatisme . Her career was given a second life by a long-term contract with ufa in 1935. She was starred in a series of strong films: as the cafe singer in Willi Forst's musical Mazurka , as a cocaine addict in Tango notturno , and in the title role of Gerhardt Lamprecht's Madame Bovary . More comfortable with the German language, she proved herself to be a restrained and tasteful performer, as well as a distinctive cabaret singer. World War II interrupted her career there, and she returned to the United States, working only twice thereafter, in Hi Diddle Diddle and The Moon-Spinners .

—Joseph Arkins

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