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Lilian Harvey
Lilian Harvey in 1932
Helene Lilian Muriel Pape

(1906-01-19)19 January 1906
London, United Kingdom
Died27 July 1968(1968-07-27) (aged 62)
Years active1924–1940
SpouseHartvig Valeur-Larsen (1953–1957)

Lilian Harvey (born Helene Lilian Muriel Pape; 19 January 1906[1] – 27 July 1968[2]) was a British-German actress and singer, long based in Germany, where she is best known for her role as Christel Weinzinger in Erik Charell's 1931 film Der Kongreß tanzt.

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  • A Hollywood Nazista - As Estrelas #05



Lilian Harvey, photographed by Alexander Binder. Ross Verlag. Collection EYE Film Institute Netherlands.
Lilian Harvey, photographed by Alexander Binder. Ross Verlag. Collection EYE Film Institute Netherlands.

After an engagement as a revue dancer in Vienna in 1924, Harvey received her first movie role as the young Jewish girl "Ruth" in the Austrian film The Curse directed by Robert Land. Subsequently, she starred in many silent films. In 1925, she was cast in her first leading role in the film Passion by Richard Eichberg, alongside Otto Gebühr.

Because of her training as a singer, Harvey was able to pursue a successful acting career during the initial talkie era of the early 1930s. Her first movie with Willy Fritsch was the operetta film Chaste Susanne in 1926. Harvey and Fritsch became the "dream couple" of German movies in the early 1930s with the romantic love story Waltz of Love; she was called the "sweetest girl in the world" by the press, after a song featured in the film. She and Fritsch starred in a total of 11 movies together, among them the criminal comedy Hokuspokus (1930) after a play by Curt Goetz, directed by Gustav Ucicky, which became a box office success. An English version (The Temporary Widow) was filmed simultaneously, starring Lilian Harvey and Laurence Olivier, who thereby made his film debut. She also appeared in the musical film The Three from the Filling Station of the same year, which also became a major success and gave the young actor Heinz Rühmann his break. During this period she became the muse of the composer Charles Koechlin who, in his sixties, wrote numerous pieces in her honour; initially flattered, she soon became disturbed by his apparent obsession with her.[3]

In 1931, Harvey played the leading part in the film Der Kongreß tanzt (The Congress Dances); her song Das gibt's nur einmal written by Werner R. Heymann became a most popular melody. Her subsequent movies were filmed in English and French versions, so Harvey became known outside of Germany. She was invited to Hollywood and made four movies for the Fox Film Corporation, but these were not as successful as her German films. She eventually abandoned George White's Scandals, leading executives to cast Alice Faye in the part, and Faye became an overnight sensation. After leaving Hollywood she appeared in a British film Invitation to the Waltz. In 1935, Lilian Harvey returned to Germany.

Emigration from Germany

Berlin memorial plaque in Wilmersdorf

As she was still in touch with her Jewish colleagues, Harvey was placed under close observation by the Gestapo.[citation needed] Nevertheless she pushed the career of her protégé, director Paul Martin, performing in his screwball comedy Lucky Kids (1936) and further successful movies for the UFA until 1939, such as Seven Slaps, the biographical film Fanny Elssler (1937) together with Willy Birgel and Capriccio; as well as Woman at the Wheel in 1939.

In June 1937 Harvey had helped the choreographer Jens Keith, prosecuted under the homosexual acts Paragraph 175, by posting a bail for him. Released from custody, Keith escaped to Paris; this led to a stern interrogation by the Nazi authorities. He subsequently returned to Berlin and UfA. In spring 1939, Harvey left Germany and her real-estate fortune, which was confiscated;[citation needed] she was to be deprived of her German citizenship in 1943 because she had performed for French troops.[citation needed]

Harvey went to live at her residence in Juan-les-Pins in Vichy France. In France she made two movies in 1940 – Serenade and Miquette (her last), both directed by Jean Boyer. After the occupation of southern France by German forces in November 1942, Harvey emigrated to the USA spending most of the time in Los Angeles working as a volunteer nurse, but also went on tour performing in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit.[citation needed]

After World War II

Lilian Harvey (1963)

After the war, Harvey moved to Paris. In the following years, she travelled as a singer through Scandinavia and Egypt. In 1949, she returned to West Germany giving several concerts. Harvey retired to the resort town of Antibes on the French Riviera, where she operated a souvenir shop and raised edible snails. In 1955/1956 she met Else Wirth on a tour of the GDR, who from then on became her partner and colleague. Harvey received compensation in the form of a pension from the federal government for the assets confiscated during the Nazi era.[4]

Private life

On 7 February 1953 Harvey married the Danish concert manager Hartvig Valeur-Larsen in Copenhagen, Denmark.[5]


Lilian Harvey died in her own hotel in Juan-les-Pins of liver failure on 27 July 1968, aged 62.[2] She was buried at the Robiac Cemetery in Antibes.


Year Title Role Language Notes
1925 The Motorist Bride (uncredited) Silent Stunt double for Lee Parry
The Curse Ruth Silent
Passion Hella von Gilsa Silent
Love and Trumpets Komtesse Maria Charlotte Silent
The Girl on the Road Die 'Kleine' Silent
1926 Princess Trulala Prinzessin Trulala Silent
Chaste Susanne Jacqueline Silent
It's Easy to Become a Father Harriet Silent
1927 Fabulous Lola Tänzerin Tilly Schneider aka Lola Cornero Silent
Vacation from Marriage Hella Strakosch Silent
1928 The Love Commandment Lotte Silent
A Knight in London Aline Morland Silent
1929 Her Dark Secret Lilian von Trucks / Yvette Silent
Rund um die Liebe Silent Archive footage
The Model from Montparnasse Mascotte Silent
Once You Give Away Your Heart Dolly German
1930 Waltz of Love Princess Eva German MLV
The Love Waltz Princess Eva English MLV
Hocuspocus Kitty Kellermann German MLV
The Three from the Filling Station Lilian Cossmann German MLV
The Temporary Widow Kitty Kellermann English MLV
Burglars Reneé German
The Road to Paradise Liliane Bourcart French MLV
1931 The Girl and the Boy Jenny Berger / Ria bella French MLV
Princess, At Your Orders! La princesse Marie-Christine French
No More Love Gladys O'Halloran German MLV
Calais-Dover Gladys O'Halloran French MLV
Der Kongreß tanzt Christel Weinzinger, Gloves-seller German MLV
Le congrès s'amuse Christine "Christel" Weizinger French MLV
1932 Two Hearts Beat as One Jenny Müller German MLV
Congress Dances Christel English MLV
Quick Eva German MLV
Quick Christine Dawson French MLV
A Blonde Dream Jou-Jou German MLV
Un rêve blond Jou-Jou French MLV
Happy Ever After Jou-Jou English MLV
1933 The Empress and I Juliette German MLV
Moi et l'impératrice Juliette French MLV
The Only Girl Juliette English MLV
My Weakness Looloo Blake English
My Lips Betray Lili Wieler English
I Am Suzanne Suzanne English
1935 Let's Live Tonight Kay 'Carlotta' Routledge English
Invitation to the Waltz Jenny Peachey English
Schwarze Rosen Tania Fedorovna German MLV
1936 Roses noires Tatiana French MLV
Black Roses Tania Fedorovna English MLV
Lucky Kids Ann Garden German MLV
Les gais lurons Ann Garden French MLV
1937 Seven Slaps Daisy Terbanks German
Fanny Elssler Fanny Elssler German
1938 Capriccio Madelone d’Estroux German
1939 Castles in the Air Annie Wagner Italian MLV
Ins blaue Leben Annie Wagner German MLV
Woman at the Wheel Maria Kelemen German
1940 Serenade Margaret Brenton French
Miquette Miquette Grandier French

In popular media

In Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, Lillian Harvey's duet with Willy Fritsch from the 1936 film Lucky Kids, "Ich wollt' ich wär ein Huhn" ("I wish I were a chicken") can be heard playing on a phonograph in the basement scene "La Louisiane" as well as in the extended scene "Lunch With Goebbels", as Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) happily sings a portion of the song after deciding to hold a private screening of the film. After the screening, cinema owner Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), under the alias "Emmanuelle Mimieux", comments on liking Lilian Harvey in the film – to which an irritated Goebbels angrily insists her name never be mentioned again in his presence. The song as performed by the Comedian Harmonists remains popular in Germany to date.

The music from Der Kongreß tanzt appears in the movie The Wind Rises (2013) from Miyazaki.


  1. ^ Friedemann, Beyer (1992). Die Gesichter der UFA: Starportraits einer Epoche. München: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag. Page 58. ISBN 3-453-05971-9.
  2. ^ a b "Lilian Harvey, Actress, Dead. Star of 'The Congress Dances'. Popular Screen Performer of the 20s and 30s. Operated Souvenir Shop in Antibes". The New York Times. 28 July 1968. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  3. ^ Orledge, R. (1989) Charles Koechlin, 1867 – 1950, his life and his works. Harwood Academic Publishing.
  4. ^ "Gerade auf LeMO gesehen: LeMO Biografie".
  5. ^ "Lillian Harvey, Actress, Wed". The New York Times. Associated Press. 8 February 1953. p. 76. Retrieved 23 September 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 April 2024, at 13:41
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