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Lotte Lenya

Lotte Lenya, singer and actor, born Karoline Wilhelmine Blamauer, in Vienna, Austria.

As a child of working class parents, Lenya wanted to be a dancer. She moved to study in Zürich, Switzerland in 1914, taking up her first jobs at the Schauspielhaus. She moved to seek work in Berlin, Germany in 1921, where the following year she was seen by her future husband, the German composer Kurt Weill during an audition, although they did not meet properly until 1924, marrying him for the first time in 1926.

After she accepted the part of Jenny in Die Dreigroschenoper in 1928, she was accepted into the local stage community and performed in a variety of musicals, especially those of Weil and his collaborator Bertolt Brecht. With the rise of Nazism in Germany, and being Jewish, and having become estranged from Weill, Lenya fled to Paris, France in March 1933, then on to the United States of America. She divorced Weill in 1933, and remarried him in 1937: he died in 1950.

During World War II Lenya sang on stage and performed on Voice of America. After being coaxed back on stage after her husband's death, she appeared on Broadway in Barefoot in Athens and married writer George Davis. In 1954 she won a Tony Award for her role as Jenny in the English version of Die Dreigroschenoper, The Threepenny Opera.

Lenya went on to record a number of songs from her time in Berlin, as well as songs from the American theatre, in a distinctive husky low voice - satirized along with that of Marlene Dietrich in the song Lieder by cult British trio Fascinating Aïda.

After 1957 death of George Davis, she married the artist Russell Detwiler in 1962, who died aged 44 in 1969.

Lenya appeared in a number of films, including:

  • The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone (movie) (1965) which won her a nomination for an Academy Award
  • the part of the lesbian villain Rosa Kleb in the James Bond movie From Russia With Love (movie) (1963)
  • Frau Schneider in Cabaret (movie) (1972)
  • the role of a masseuse in Semi-Tough (movie) (197?)
Lenya died in New York from cancer in 1981. She is entombed, with her first husband, in a mausoleum at the Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Lotte Lenya Facts

Birth NameKaroline Blamauer
OccupationActress, Musician
BirthdayOctober 18, 1898
BirthplaceVienna, Austria
Date of deathNovember 27, 1981 (age 83)

Selected Filmography

From Russia With Love
The Threepenny Opera
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
The James Bond Collection, Vol. 2
Ten Blocks on the Camino Real
James Bond 007 Collection Volume 3
Sean Connery 3 Film Collection 1/2/3 Dr. No
Semi-Tough / Johnny Be Good
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