Hildegard Knef

Hildegard Knef

Additional Names: Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef (Geburtsname); Hildegarde Neff (Pseudonym)
Darstellerin, Musik
*28.12.1925 Ulm; †01.02.2002 Berlin

Biography

Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef was born in Ulm on December 12, 1925 but grew up in Berlin. After attending school in the district of Schöneberg, she started training as an animation artist at the Ufa studios, later transferring to the Federal Film School Babelsberg. From 1944 on, she was cast in small roles in Ufa productions. After the war, Knef primarily worked as a stage actress in Berlin, before she got her first major screen role in 1946, playing a former concentration camp inmate in Wolfgang Staudte's drama "Die Mörder sind unter uns", the first German feature film to be produced after the fall of the Nazi regime.

In 1948, Knef was named Best Actress at the Locarno Film Festival for her performance in Rudolf Jugert's "Film ohne Titel". After marrying American Army officer Kurt Hirsch, she permanently moved to the US for three years (1947-50), working under the stage name Hildegarde Neff.

Between 1954-65, Knef enjoyed a spectacular success as Ninotchka in the Broadway production of Cole Porter's musical "Silk Stockings". At the same time, her sometimes harsh beauty, which radiated both eroticism and confidence, made her a star in the post-war cinema of West-Germany. Her very brief – and compared to today's standards very tame – nude scene in Willi Forst's "Die Sünderin" caused a public uproar and turned the film into a box-office hit. Legendary producer Erich Pommer cast her in several features directed by Rudolf Jugert, and in 1959, Knef won a German Film Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Josef von Baky's "Der Mann, der sich verkaufte".

Meanwhile, her international career also flourished, taking her to the States, France and Great Britain. In the early 1960s, she returned to do theatre work in Berlin. French director Claude Chabrol cast her for "Landru", and Wolfgang Staudte gave her the role of Pirate Jenny in Brecht's "Die Dreigroschenoper" (Three-Penny-Opera). From 1963 onwards, Knef pursued a parallel career as a distinguished and unique singer and songwriter, and her chansons about her beloved home town Berlin became immensely popular.

Although now even more successful as a music artist, she continued to act in movies: She won an Actor's Award at the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary for her performance in Alfred Vohrer's "Jeder stirbt für sich allein" (1965), and received another German Film Award for her lifetime achievement and her contribution to German cinema in 1977. The same year, she appeared in the German-American production "Fedora", which was directed by Billy Wilder.

After a disappointing world tour in 1982, she retreated to Hollywood, but eventually returned to Berlin in the early 1990s. From time to time, she appeared in small cameos in feature films and became a regular on German Television.

Over the years, Hildegard Knef suffered from several severe health problems. She candidly talked about her private condition in public and published several books, the most famous probably her autobiography "Der geschenkte Gaul", which was published in 1970 and became a huge bestseller.

After suffering from a severe case of pneumonia, Hildegard Knef died in Berlin on February 1, 2002.

Filmography

2005 Knef - Die frühen Jahre
Participation
 
2001/2002 Marlene Dietrich - Her Own Song
Participation
 
2001 A Woman and a Half - Hildegard Knef
Participation
 
1995 Für mich soll's rote Rosen regnen
Cast, Participation
 
1993/1994 Tödliches Erbe
Cast
 
1992 Wenn ich sonntags in mein Kino geh'... Ein Film zum 75. Geburtstag der Ufa
Participation
 
1991 Hoppla, jetzt komm ich. Hans Albers, ein Idol wird 100
Participation
 
1989 In inniger Feindschaft / Champ clos
Cast
 
1984 Flügel und Fesseln
Cast
 
1982 Thalia unter Trümmern - Das Berliner Theater der Nachkriegszeit 1945 - 1951
Participation
 
1979/1980 Warum die UFOs unseren Salat klauen
Cast
 
1979 Illusionen über einen Mord
Cast
 
1978 Großstadt-Miniaturen. Geschichten zwischen Kiez und Ku'damm
Cast
 
1977/1978 Fedora
Cast
 
1976 Der Augenzeuge [Jg. 1976 / Nr. 020]: 30 Jahre DEFA / 30 Jahre Filmkunst im Auftrag der Arbeiterklasse (Erinnerungen an Filme und Filmschöpfer)
Participation
 
1975 Hildegard Knef und ihre Lieder
Cast
 
1975 Jeder stirbt für sich allein
Cast
 
1973 Knef '73
Cast
 
1971 'Ich brauch' Tapetenwechsel...'
Cast
 
1969 Die Knef. Bericht über ein Konzert
Cast
 
1968 Eine Berlinerin - Hildegard Knef
Participation
 
1964 Verdammt zur Sünde
Cast
 
1963/1964 Wartezimmer zum Jenseits
Cast
 
1963 Das große Liebesspiel
Cast
 
1963 Curd Jürgens erzählt
Cast
 
1962/1963 Nur tote Zeugen schweigen
Cast
 
1962/1963 Die Dreigroschenoper
Cast
 
1962 Laura
Cast
 
1962 Lulu
Cast
 
1959 Der Mann, der sich verkaufte
Cast
 
1957 Madeleine und der Legionär
Cast
 
1954 Geständnis unter vier Augen
Cast
 
1954 Bei Dir war es immer so schön
Cast
 
1953/1954 Eine Liebesgeschichte
Cast
 
1953 Gefährlicher Urlaub
Cast
 
1952 Alraune
Cast, Vocals
 
1952 Illusion in Moll
Cast, Vocals
 
1951/1952 Nachts auf den Straßen
Cast
 
1951 Es geschehen noch Wunder
Cast
 
1950 Die Sünderin
Cast
 
1947/1948 Film ohne Titel
Cast
 
1947 Zwischen gestern und morgen
Cast
 
1946 Die Mörder sind unter uns
Cast
 
1946 Der Augenzeuge [Jg. 1946 / Nr. 026]
Participation
 
1944/1945 Unter den Brücken
Cast
 
1944/1945 Frühlingsmelodie
Cast
 
1944/1945 Fahrt ins Glück
Cast
 
1944/1945 Die Brüder Noltenius
Cast