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.


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 Real Film presented her as a new discovery in 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 Marriage for One Night. Her next film was 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 Māori chieftain's seductive wife in The Seekers and created a worldwide stir by baring her breasts, 10 years before Rudi Gernreich's 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.



  1. ^ or in Calvörde near Helmstedt
  2. ^ ___ Laya Raki – Biography
  3. ^ Ecran Magazine #1581, 32pages, published in Chile in Spanish on 12 May 1961
  4. ^ "Top British film star visits Sydney". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 3 February 1954. p. 38. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 

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