Fern Andra

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Baroness Fern Andra von Weichs
Fern Andra.png
Vernal Edna Andrews

(1893-11-24)November 24, 1893
DiedFebruary 8, 1974(1974-02-08) (aged 80)
OccupationActress, writer, film director/producer
Years active1913–1930
Spouse(s)Baron Friedrich von Weichs
(19??; d. 1917)
Kurt Prenzel
(1923/24–div. 19??)
Ian Keith
(m. 1932; div. 1934)

General Samuel Edge Dockrell
(m. 1938; died 1973)

Fern Andra, Dowager Baroness von Weichs (November 24, 1893[1] – February 8, 1974) was an American actress, film director, script writer and producer. Next to Henny Porten and Asta Nielsen she was one of the most popular and best-known actresses in German silent film.


Born as Vernal Edna Andrews in Watseka, Illinois in 1893, the daughter of a William P. Andrews and Sarah Emily Evett, also known as Sadie. When her father died in 1898, Sadie remarried Frank St. Clair, a vaudeville actor, circus performer and tight-rope walker. Andra was already appearing in public in a tightrope act by the age of four. She later trained in song and dance. As early as 1899, in New York, she made her first film, a version of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

However, she remained with the circus, with which she embarked on an extensive tour across the United States, Canada and Europe. For a time, she was a member of Bird Millman's acclaimed troupe of wire artists.[2] In Berlin she met Max Reinhardt, who gave her acting lessons. In 1913, aged 19, she appeared in her first German film, Das Ave Maria. Still only moderately well-known, she made her only Austrian film in 1915: Zwei Freunde. From 1916-18 she appeared almost exclusively on camera with Alfred Abel. In 1920 she starred in Robert Wiene's expressionist horror film Genuine. In the mid-1920s she lost her public appeal in Germany.[citation needed]

On July 4, 1922, she was involved in the Hamburg-Berlin mail plane accident. The pilot, Lothar von Richthofen, younger brother of World War I flying ace Manfred von Richthofen (the "Red Baron"), was killed. Andra was initially misreported as dead,[3] but survived. Her companion, director Georg Bluen, also survived and continued working with her until 1925.[4]

From 1928 she worked in the UK and the US, later expanding her range to include radio and television.[citation needed]


Fern Andra was married four times; all of the unions were childless:

  • Baron Friedrich von und zu Weichs (died in 1917)
  • Kurt Prenzel (married 1923 or 1924; divorced)[when?]
  • Ian Keith (married 1932; they wed again in 1934, when the legality of the first ceremony was questioned; divorced)[when?]
  • Gen. Samuel Edge Dockrell (1938–1973; his death)


Fern Andra died in Aiken, South Carolina, on February 8, 1974, aged 80.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Born in 1893 per the 1900 United States Census, June 1, 1900, which gives her age as of her last birthday as six years old
  2. ^ "Marriages: Millman-[O’Day]; Fern Andra," Billboard, May 10, 1924, p. 114
  3. ^ New York Times/Chicago Tribune (July 5, 1922) Fern Andrea, Formerly of Illinois, Killed [sic] by Fall-Richtoff, Airman, Also Killed Hamburg-Berlin mail plane accident for original article
  4. ^ Stars and Stripes Forever: "Von Richthofen's mother, actress Fern Andra meet November 14, 1954; Retrieved November 17, 2016

External links[edit]