Anny Ondra

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Anny Ondra
Anny Ondra 1926.jpg
Anny Ondra in 1926
Born Anna Sophie Ondráková
(1903-05-15)15 May 1903
Tarnów, Galicia, Austria–Hungary (now Poland)
Died 28 February 1987(1987-02-28) (aged 83)
Hollenstedt, Germany
Nationality Czech
Years active 1919–1951
Spouse(s) Max Schmeling (1933–1987)

Anny Ondra (15 May 1903 – 28 February 1987) was a Czech film actress whose husband was German boxing great Max Schmeling. She was born Anna Sophie Ondráková in Tarnów, Galicia, Austria–Hungary, now Poland, and died in Hollenstedt near Harburg, Germany.


The daughter of a Czech, Austro-Hungarian officer, Ondra spent her childhood in Tarnów, Pula and Prague. Her father's name was Bohumír and mother's name Anna. She had two brothers, Tomáš (Tomas) and Jindřich (Henry).

At seventeen she played in the theater and was acting in her first film. The film was directed by her boyfriend, director Karel Lamač (Karell Lamatch).[1] When her family learned of it, they had a shouting match in which the teenager got a beating from her father - to be an actress, after the First World War, was socially almost at the level of a beggar. Anne was a graduate of the convent school and her father had for her a place government official. Anna decided otherwise, for a film career and began to live with Karel Lamač. "I swim like a fish, ride a cowboy, and I would do it all in the film applied," summarized the nineteen-year-old lady of her education. After some years, she wanted to start a family, but Lamač did not want to marry. So, after a three-year romance, on 6 July 1933 Ondra married German boxer Max Schmeling, with whom she appeared in the film Knock-out (1935). Their marriage was a happy one, although childless. Ondra miscarried after a car accident in 1936 and could no longer have children. They were married until her death in 1987. Lamac remained her friend for a lifetime. He died in her arms in 1952 in Hamburg.

Wedding of Max Schmeling and Anny Ondra (1933)

German fascists were trying throughout their marriage to exploit their fame and popularity. Often were seen their photos with Goebbels and Hitler - Max as a German superman and Anny such blond Aryan (Max was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932). But they never collaborated. Brave Max refused to accept honors and even secretly helped to hide two Jewish children, saving their lives. In Nazi Germany it was a capital offense. Yet after the war, they got a big financial penalty for collaboration, and in the Czech Republic they issued an arrest warrant. That was the reason why he never visited the homeland. The Nazi propaganda won.

After the war they were left without funds and assets. In 1949 they moved to Hollenstedt near Hamburg and her husband started their business on their land. Later Max Schmeling begun working for The Coca-Cola Company.

Ondra was buried in the Saint Andreas Friedhof cemetery in Hollenstedt, Germany. Her husband Max Schmeling died in 2005 and was buried next to her.[2] The heritage of Anny and Max has been referred to Max-Schmeling-Stiftung foundation.

Film career[edit]

She acted in Czech, Austrian, and German comedies in the 1920s; and in some British dramas, most notably Alfred Hitchcock's The Manxman and Blackmail (both 1929). Ondra formed a production company, Ondra-Lamac-Films, with her boyfriend, director Karel Lamač.[3] Lamac directed her in several silent films, acted with her in films directed by other filmmakers, and continued to work together after her marriage with Max.[4] However, when Blackmail was remade with sound, Ondra's thick accent was considered unacceptable, so her dialogue was recorded by actress Joan Barry. Ondra made some 40 more films in the sound era, the last in 1957. Total were counted over 90 film figures.

Ondra's career in the UK was hurt by the introduction of talking pictures. She returned to Germany and retired from films after making a few additional movies and marrying boxer Max Schmeling in 1933. However, an amusing test film has survived of Hitchcock "interviewing" Ondra, in which the director teases the actress and asks her some personal questions.

Ondra was portrayed by Britt Ekland in the television movie Ring of Passion (1978), wherein the character was named "Amy Ondra Schmeling". She was also portrayed by Peta Wilson in the historical boxing docudrama Joe and Max (2002).[5]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Language Notes
1920 Gilly poprvé v Praze Silent
1920 Lady with the Small Foot Silent
1922 Look After Your Daughters Silent
1922 Zigeunerliebe Silent
1922 Führe uns nicht in Versuchung Silent
1926 Hraběnka z Podskalí Liduska Silent
Trude Silent
Never the Twain Zuzka Pestová / Lili Weberová Silent
1927 Die Pratermizzi Pratermizzi Silent
Pantáta Bezoušek Melanka Silent
Hotel Erzherzogin Viktoria Steffi Haidegger Silent
Anicko, vrat se! Anicka Karesová Silent
Kvet ze Sumavy Dána Silent
The Lovers of an Old Criminal Fifi Hrazánková Silent with Vlasta Burian
1928 Eve's Daughters Nina Laval / Anny de Lavais Silent
God's Clay Angela Clifford Silent Directed by Graham Cutts
Glorious Youth Eileen Silent Directed by Graham Cutts
The First Kiss Anny Cord Silent
Suzy Saxophone Anni von Aspen Silent
1929 The Manxman Kate Cregeen Silent Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Sinful and Sweet Musette Silent
Blackmail Alice White English Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
The Girl with the Whip Anny Nebenkrug Silent
1930 The Caviar Princess Annemarie Silent
Das Mädel aus U.S.A. Annemarie German
Fairground People Anny Flock German
Eine Freundin, so goldig wie Du Anny German
1931 Him and His Sister Anny Brabcová Czech with Vlasta Burian
Er und seine Schwester Anny Spatz German with Vlasta Burian
Die Fledermaus Adele German with Iván Petrovich and Georg Alexander
1932 Mamsell Nitouche Mamsell Nitouche German with Georg Alexander
A Night in Paradise Monika Böhnicke German with Hermann Thimig
La chauve-souris Arlette French with Iván Petrovich
Une nuit au paradis Monique Béchue French
Faut-il les marier? Anny French with Jean-Pierre Aumont
Die grausame Freundin Welgunda German
Kiki Kiki German with Hermann Thimig
Kiki Kiki French with Pierre Richard-Willm
Baby [6] Baby German with Anton Walbrook
1933 Baby [7] Baby French with Pierre Richard-Willm
The Ideal Schoolmaster Vera Matysová Czech
Daughter of the Regiment Mary Dreizehn German
La fille du régiment Mary French with Pierre Richard-Willm
Fräulein Hoffmanns Erzählungen Anita Limann German with Mathias Wieman
The Love Hotel Hanne Boll German with Mathias Wieman
1934 Die vertauschte Braut Virginia Vanderloo / Colly German with Anton Walbrook
L'amour en cage La baronne de Rèze / Anny French
Little Dorrit Amy Dorrit German with Mathias Wieman
Polish Blood Helena Zaremba German with Hans Moser and Iván Petrovich
Polská krev Helena Zarembová Czech
1935 Knockout Marianne Plümke German with her husband Max Schmeling
Großreinemachen Bessie German with Wolf Albach-Retty
The Young Count Billy German with Hans Söhnker
1936 Donogoo Tonka Josette German Directed by Reinhold Schünzel
Flitterwochen Ingeborg German with Hans Söhnker
1937 Ein Mädel vom Ballett Henriette Lange German
Vor Liebe wird gewarnt Anny Palme German
Cause for Divorce Anny German
Důvod k rozvodu Anny Plavcova Czech
Der Unwiderstehliche Claudette Renier German with Hans Söhnker
1938 Narren im Schnee Dorothee Heinemann German
1941 The Gasman Erika Knittel German with Heinz Rühmann
1943 Heaven, We Inherit a Castle German
1951 You Have to be Beautiful Rode de Lila German with Sonja Ziemann
1957 The Zurich Engagement Anny Ondra German with Liselotte Pulver



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