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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lien Deyers
Nicolina Spanier

(1909-11-05)5 November 1909
Diedafter March 1982
Other namesNicolina Dijjers Liefjes
Lien Deyers Rubin
Lien Deyers-Wallburg
Years active1928–1937
(m. 1934; div. 1939)
Frank Orsatti
(m. 1940; div. 1942)
Victor Rubin
(m. 1944; div. 1948)
Lawrence Adlon
(m. 1951, divorced)

Lien Deyers (formerly Nicolina Dijjers Spanier, born Nicolina Spanier; 5 November 1909 – after March 1982) was a Dutch actress based in Germany.

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Early life

Lien Deyers was born Nicolina Spanier in Amsterdam on 5 November 1909, the daughter of Nathan Spanier, a piano teacher (1857–1916), and Johanna Adriana Nicolina Liefjes, a seamstress (1889–1920). She had a half-brother, Andries Liefjes, (1906–1960), who was from a previous relationship of Liefjes. After Spanier’s death, Johanna married the hotel-owner Egbert Dijjers (1874–1948) and the family moved to The Hague.[1]

At the early age of five her potential was noted by Amsterdam theatre owner and film producer David Sluizer, but she did not enter the film business. Deyers spent most of her childhood years in The Hague until her stepfather, Dijjers, remarried to the Austrian actress Lotte Erol. Deyers then traveled between The Hague, Vienna (where the family mostly lived), and Lausanne, where she went to a private school and became fluent in French.


In August 1926 the Austrian weekly Mein Film staged a competition for new young screen talent and Lien submitted her photograph. Together with twenty other contestants she was chosen for a screen-test by director Hans Otto, which she won. Subsequently, during an autograph session in the Mein Film offices in 1927, she was introduced to the well-known Austrian director Fritz Lang, who happened to be in need of a young blonde for a role in his new movie Spione, written by his wife, the novelist and screenwriter Thea von Harbou. Lang had her travel to Berlin for a screen test, and she was indeed given a secondary, racy role in Spione. She was billed as Lien Deyers because Dijjers frequently was misspelled or mispronounced in German-speaking countries.

Lang had her sign a six-year contract to the UFA studios in Berlin. The contract soon turned out to be mere slavery, and Deyers sought a court decision to end it. In November 1928, the court ruled in her favor, a verdict welcomed by hundreds of Berlin-based actors with similar contracts. In turn Lang appealed and was granted a 10,000 Reichs-mark pay-off, to be fulfilled in monthly payments. Deyers and Lang already had grown to dislike each other during the shooting of Spione.

She was featured in nine silent movies and 25 talkies over the following eight years, mostly comedies, some of them French productions. Her initial popularity, especially with women, was due to her sentimental role in William Dieterle's The Saint and Her Fool.[2]

In 1934, she married the American-born German producer and director Alfred Zeisler, who had worked in Germany since 1924. She had met him when he directed the movie Sein Scheidungsgrund, in which she played the main character. Starting with this movie, Deyers concentrated on comedy, only occasionally appearing in dramatic roles.[3]

Deyers got into conflict with the new politics of Nazi Germany: She had to take on German citizenship to remain assured of roles. She mainly was typecast for typical "Aryan" characters like the exemplary girlish blonde in The Company's in Love (1932) and Gold (1934). Most importantly, she feared the Nazis would discover she was half-Jewish (her father Spanier was Jewish). Because Zeisler was Jewish, too, they fled Germany in 1935. Zeisler settled in Britain, and in 1936, he directed Cary Grant in The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss. Deyers traveled between London and The Hague, and in 1937, she signed for a major role in the Dutch-Italian movie The Three Wishes. For unknown reasons, she did not play the part and joined her husband in London in 1938. By this time, their marriage was faltering and a divorce was inevitable. In 1939, the couple moved to California, where they soon divorced.

Later years

Deyers, who had a reputation of being "extremely mentally unstable", could not find work in Hollywood. There were many exiled German actors all vying for the few roles that required a foreign accent. She developed an alcohol addiction and relied financially on old contacts like the German actor and director William Dieterle and in particular the Austrian-American film agent Paul Kohner and his European Film Fund that he had founded to aid German actors in exile. Over a brief period, she married three more times: with kingpin actors' agent Frank Orsatti, one of the Orsatti Brothers (who evidently could not get her involved in movies either), from 1940 until 1942; with furrier Victor Rubin from 1944 to 1948; and with Lawrence Adlon, grandson of the Berlin hotel-magnate Lorenz Adlon in January 1951.

On 3 August 1949, Deyers petitioned for American citizenship.[4]

The Dutch actor/comedian Wim Sonneveld met with her in 1957 during the shooting of Silk Stockings with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, in which he played a supporting role. He reportedly was shocked by her appearance.

After 1957, she faded from public view. She was arrested in Las Vegas in 1964 for loitering and disorderly conduct, and she sent a greeting card congratulating German actor and former co-star Heinz Rühmann on his 80th birthday in 1982. The postcard was signed L. Dyers-Wallburg, suggesting she had married for a fifth time.



  • Kay Weniger: 'Es wird im Leben dir mehr genommen als gegeben …'. Lexikon der aus Deutschland und Österreich emigrierten Filmschaffenden 1933 bis 1945. Eine Gesamtübersicht. S. 138 f., Acabus-Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8
  • Gemünden, Gerd. A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films. Berghahn Books, 2008.


External links

Media related to Lien Deyers at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last edited on 7 June 2024, at 23:35
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