Laya Raki

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Raki (left) during a 1954 visit to Indonesia

Laya Raki (born Brunhilde Marie Alma Herta Jörns on July 27, 1927) is a former dancer and film actress popular in Germany in the 1950s and early 1960s. She also became an international star for her roles in English films and TV productions.

Biography[edit]

Laya Raki was born in Hamburg, Germany,[1] to acrobat Maria Althoff, and her partner, acrobat and clown Wilhelm Jörns. As she was an admirer of the famous dancer La Jana and liked to drink raki, she assumed the stage name Laya Raki.

She attracted attention for the first time in 1947 - 1950 as a dancer in Frankfurt and other German cities. When she performed in Berlin, her star began to rise: her 38-23-36[2] figure (5.35 ft, 110 lbs)[3] and erotic radiance became the talk of the town.

The film company DEFA engaged her for a small role as a dancer in the film The Council of the Gods, which won two awards. One newspaper, the Berliner Morgenpost, wrote that she was a great dancer with an expressive face rich in nuances. In the same year the press department of Realfilm presented her as a new discovery in Die Dritte von rechts ("The Third from the Right"), a rather boring dance film, the highlight of which was the scene in which the scantily clad dancer Laya Raki (with only two white stars on her nipples) exposes herself to the lustful gazes of the male cinema audience. In 1953, she danced in the film Ehe für eine Nacht ("Marriage for One Night"). Her next film was Die Rose von Stambul ("The Rose of Stamboul"), in which the Austrian actor Paul Hörbiger wants to marry her upon seeing her dancing. In Roter Mohn ("Red Poppy") she played the gypsy girl Ilonka who also conducted refreshing dialogues with the famous Viennese comic actor Hans Moser.

In 1954, she was lured to London by empty promises of film roles in the United Kingdom and in Hollywood. There she found herself unemployed, but her situation made headlines that opened opportunities. The J. Arthur Rank Film Company, which needed a slightly exotic type for a film in New Zealand, received her with open arms.[4] She was given the role of the Maori chieftain's seductive wife in "The Seekers" and created a worldwide stir by baring her breasts, 10 years before Rudi Gernreich invented the first topless swimsuit.

After having taken acting lessons in Hollywood, she appeared in several UK TV productions, including 39 episodes of the popular series Crane (1962–1965), which made her a well known actress. In it Laya Raki starred as Halima, a Moroccan dancer and bartender, who is the partner of the title character, the bar owner and smuggler Richard Crane, played by Patrick Allen.

She appeared in revealing outfits in film and photographs, and captured men's attention like no other German showgirl in the 1950s. She modeled for postcards, pin-up photographs and magazines all over the world. The Broadway columnist Earl Wilson noted her preference for scanty clothing: “You should have seen Laya Raki. Even if she is dressed, she looks like, as if she only wears the zipper and has forgotten the material”. Of course he placed some photos of her in "Earl Wilson’s Album of Showgirls (1st Issue! 1956)".

In 1962, she sang and recorded "Faire l`amour" and "Oh Johnny hier nicht parken", which are still available as singles and on CD-ROMs. The latter was banned by a Nuremberg court who thought her ecstatic moaning was imitating coitus.

At the age of 30, Laya Raki married the Australian actor Ron Randell in London. “He is the best and most beautiful man of the world”, she said, and remained at his side until he died on June 11, 2005, in Los Angeles.

Filmography[edit]

1950 The Council of the Gods
1950 Die Dritte von rechts (a.k.a. The Third from the Right)
1953 Ehe für eine Nacht (a.k.a. Marriage for One Night)
1953 Die Rose von Stambul (a.k.a. The Rose of Stamboul)
1954 Up to His Neck
1954 Am Anfang war es Sünde (a.k.a. The Beginning Was Sin a.k.a. V zacetku je bil greh (Yugoslavia: Slovenian title) )
1954 The Seekers (a.k.a. Land of Fury, a.k.a. Dämonen der Südsee)
1955 Die Frau des Botschafters (a.k.a. The Ambassador's Wife)
1955 Gesperrte Wege (a.k.a. Camino cortado)
1955 The Adventures of Quentin Durward (a.k.a. Liebe, Tod und Teufel)
1956 Küss mich noch einmal
1956 Roter Mohn
1957 TV Episode O.S.S. - Operation Sweet Talk (#1.10)
1958 Ascoltami (a.k.a. Song of Naples, a.k.a. Das Lied von Neapel, ...und vergib mir meine Schuld)
1960 TV Episode Hawaiian Eye - Kim Quixote (#1.26)
1960 TV Episode Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond - House of the Dead (#2.37)
1962 TV Episode The Beachcomber - Long Live the Sultan (#1.30)
1962 TV Episode The Beachcomber - Pat Hand (#1.3)
1962 TV Episode The Beachcomber
1962 TV Episode Tales of Wells Fargo - The Gold Witch (#6.31)
1963 - 1965 TV Series Crane, as "Halima" in 39 episodes
1963 Die Nylonschlinge (a.k.a. The Nylon Noose)
1963 Das Rätsel der roten Quaste (a.k.a.: Das Geheimmnis der roten Quaste)
1964 The Galant One
1964 Das Haus auf dem Hügel (a.k.a. Le Hibou chasse la nuit)
1965 TV Episode I Spy - Dragon's Teeth (#1.5)
1966 Poppies are Also Flowers (a.k.a. Danger Grows Wild (UK), Mohn ist auch eine Blume (AU, GER), a.k.a. Opération opium (FR), a.k.a. The Opium Connection (USA: video title)
1966 Savage Pampas

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ or in Calvörde near Helmstedt
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0705225/bio ___ Laya Raki - Biography
  3. ^ Ecran Magazine #1581, 32pages, published in Chile in Spanish on the 12th of May 1961
  4. ^ "Top British film star visits Sydney.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) (1933 - 1982: National Library of Australia). 3 February 1954. p. 38. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 

External links[edit]