Publicity photo, 1934
|Born||Annel Stenskaya Sudakevich
December 3, 1908
Kyiv, Kyiv Governorate, Russia
|Died||November 12, 1993
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Fyodor Otsep (1927–1931)
Eugene Frenke (1932–1984)
Anna Sten (Russian: Анна Стен; December 3, 1908 – November 12, 1993) was a Russian-born American actress. She began her career in stage plays and films in Russia before travelling to Germany, where she starred in several films. Her performances were noticed by film producer Samuel Goldwyn, who brought her to the United States with the aim of creating a new screen personality to rival the popular Greta Garbo. After a few unsuccessful films, Goldwyn released her from her contract. She continued to act occasionally until her final film appearance in 1962.
Early life and education
Sten was born Annel Stenskaya Sudakevych on December 3, 1908 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Her father was a Ukrainian ballet master who died when she was 12 years old, and her mother was Swedish. Sten worked as a waitress until she was discovered at the age of 15 while acting in an amateur play in Kyiv. She studied at the Kyiv theater school.
In 1926, after completing her studies at Kyiv theater school, Sten was invited by Ukrainian film director Viktor Turin to appear in his film Provokator, based on the book by Ukrainian writer Oles Dosvitnyi.[Note 1] Sten was discovered by influential Russian stage director and instructor Konstantin Stanislavsky, who arranged an audition for her at the Moscow Film Academy. Sten went on to act in other plays and films in Ukraine and Russia, including Boris Barnet's 1927 comedy The Girl with a Hatbox. She and her husband, Russian film director Fedor Ozep, traveled to Germany to appear in a film co-produced by German and Soviet studios, Zemlya v plenu (Russian: "Earth in Captivity") and Der gelbe Paß (German: The Yellow Pass). After the film was completed, Anna Sten and her husband decided not to return to the Soviet Union.
Making a smooth transition to talking pictures, Sten appeared in such German films as Trapeze (1931) and The Brothers Karamazov (1931) until she came to the attention of American movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn. Goldwyn was looking for a foreign-born actress that he could build up as the rival of Greta Garbo, and possible successor to Vilma Bánky with whom Goldwyn had great success in the silent era. For two years after bringing Sten to America, Goldwyn had his new star tutored in English and taught Hollywood screen acting methods. He poured a great deal of time and money into Sten's first American film, Nana (1934), a somewhat homogenized version of Émile Zola's scandalous 19th century novel. But the film was not successful at the box office, nor were her two subsequent Goldwyn films, We Live Again (1934) and The Wedding Night (1935), playing opposite Gary Cooper. Reluctantly, Goldwyn dissolved his contract with his "new Garbo." Goldwyn's tutoring of Sten is mentioned in Cole Porter's 1934 song "Anything Goes" from the musical of the same name: "If Sam Goldwyn can with great conviction / Instruct Anna Sten in diction / Then Anna shows / Anything goes."
In the 1940s, Sten appeared in several films, including The Man I Love (1940), So Ends Our Night (1941), Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943), They Came to Blow Up America (1943), Three Russian Girls (1943), and Let's Live a Little (1948). Sten continued making films in the United States and England, but none of them were successful. Attempting to rectify this situation by studying at The Actors Studio, Sten appeared in several television series during the 1950s, including The Red Skelton Show (1956), The Walter Winchell File (1957), and Adventures in Paradise (1959).
Most of Sten's later film appearances were favors to her husband. She had an uncredited bit in the Frenke-produced Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), and a full lead in her final film (also produced by Frenke), The Nun and the Sergeant (1962).
Sten died on November 12, 1993 in New York City at the age of 84.
Sten was married to film producer Eugene Frenke, who flourished in Hollywood after following his wife there in 1932.
|1927||Devushka s korobkoy (The Girl with a Hatbox)||Natasha|
|1927||The Yellow Pass||Maria|
|1928||Moy syn||Olga Surina|
|1930||Lohnbuchhalter Kremke||Kremkes Tochter|
|1931||Les frères Karamazoff||Grouschenka|
|1931||Der Mörder Dimitri Karamasoff||Gruschenka|
|1931||I Salto Mortale||Marina|
|1931||Bomben auf Monte Carlo||Yola|
|1932||Storms of Passion||Russen-Annya|
|1934||We Live Again||Katusha Maslova|
|1935||The Wedding Night||Manya Novak|
|1936||A Woman Alone||Maria|
|1939||Exile Express||Nadine Nikolas|
|1940||The Man I Married||Frieda|
|1941||So Ends Our Night||Lilo|
|1943||Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas||Lubitca Mihailovitch|
|1943||They Came to Blow Up America||Frau Reiter|
|1943||Three Russian Girls||Natasha|
|1948||Let's Live a Little||Michele Bennett|
|1955||Soldier of Fortune||Madame Dupree|
|1956||The Red Skelton Show||Queen of Livonia||Television program|
|1956||Runaway Daughters||Ruth Barton|
|1957||The Walter Winchell File||Frieda||Television program|
|1959||Adventures in Paradise||Antonia||Television program|
|1962||The Nun and the Sergeant||Nun|
|1964||Arrest and Trial||Mrs. Van de Heuven||Television program|
- A newly restored version of Viktor Turin's film Provokator was shown at the Silent Films Festival in Pordenone, Italy in October 2012.
- "Anna Sten". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Pace, Eric (November 15, 1993). "Anna Sten Is Dead; Film Actress Touted As Another Garbo". The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Shipman, David (November 19, 1993). "Obituary: Anna Sten". The Independent. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anna Sten.|
- Anna Sten at the Internet Movie Database
- Anna Sten at AllRovi
- Photographs and literature
- Anna Sten at Find a Grave
- Anna Sten Biography (in Russian)