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Lya de Putti
Amália Helena Mária Róza Putti

(1897-01-10)10 January 1897
Died27 November 1931(1931-11-27) (aged 34)
Other namesLia de Putti
Years active1918–1929
Zoltán Szepessy
(m. 1913; div. 1918)
Ludwig Christensen
(m. 1920; died 1922)
Louis Jahnke
(m. 1922)

Lya de Putti (born Amália Helena Mária Róza Putti;[1][2] Hungarian: Putti Amália Helena Mária Róza, 10 January 1897 – 27 November 1931) was a Hungarian film actress during the silent era. She was noted for her portrayals of vamp characters.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Marlene Dietrich silent film: "Manon Lescaut" starring Lya de Putti. (Excerpt, 1926)
  • Variety, dir. E.A. Dupont, 1925, Full Restored Movie in HD, English and French Subtitles
  • The best actresses of the silent film
  • 'Smoking' Beauties Of The Past Who Lit Up Movie Screens
  • Woman Trap (1929) Movie Review


Early life and career

Amália Helena Mária Róza Putti was born in Vécse, Austria-Hungary on 10 January 1897 (however, the date of birth on her tombstone says 1899,[3] and other sources say 1896[4]). She was one of the four children of Gyula Julián Gábor József Putti (Hungarian: Putti Gyula Julián Gábor József, 1863–1901), a cavalry officer,[5] and his wife, Mária Rozália Kamilla, Countess Hoyos Baroness to Stichsenstein[6][7] (Hungarian: Hoyos Mária Rozália Kamilla, 1868–1945). She had two brothers, Géza and Sándor, the latter serving as a first lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army,[6] and a sister, Mária.

She began her stage career on the Hungarian vaudeville circuit. She soon progressed to Berlin, where after performing in the ballet, she made her screen debut in 1918. She became the premiere danseuse at the Berlin Wintergarten in 1924.

Lya de Putti in the film Manon Lescaut (1926) by Arthur Robinson. Photography by Alexander Binder. Collection EYE Film Institute Netherlands.

Around that time German film director Joe May noticed her and cast her in The Mistress of the World (1919), her first important film. She followed this success with noteworthy performances in Manon Lescaut and Varieté (1925). The latter featured her opposite Emil Jannings and directed by E.A. Dupont. Both films are UFA productions. While in Germany, de Putti starred with such actors as Conrad Veidt, Alfred Abel, Werner Krauss, Grete Mosheim, and Lil Dagover and was filmed by directors F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang.

De Putti came to America in February 1926. At the time, she told reporters she was 22 years old but her ocean liner's records list her as having been 26. De Putti generally was cast as a vamp character, and often wore her dark hair short in a style similar to that of Louise Brooks or Colleen Moore. De Putti starred in D.W. Griffith's The Sorrows of Satan (1926). The film was released in two versions, one shown in the U.S. and the other in Europe. In the U.S. version, one scene had de Putti fully dressed whereas the same scene in the European release had de Putti topless.[8]

de Putti c. 1928

The following year, de Putti went to Hollywood but found little success. Despite working with distinguished actors such as Adolphe Menjou and Zasu Pitts, she failed to make it big and left the screen by 1929 to attempt to restart her career on Broadway.

Later, she went to England to make silent movies and studied the English language. She then returned to the U.S. to attempt sound films.

Alleged suicide attempts and death

On 5 March 1926 the Ogden Standard Examiner published a story alleging that de Putti had attempted suicide by jumping out of her apartment window at the Wilmersdorf quarters. She and her lover of one year, who was also an actor, had been arguing prior to the attempt. One of her arms and a foot was broken as a result of the fall. de Putti later claimed that she was saying goodbye to friends when she leaned too far over the railing and fell.[9]

In November 1927, de Putti was injured when she fell down the stairs and through a window. Some press accounts speculated that it was another suicide attempt, but de Putti denied this.[10][11][12]

De Putti nearly died in August 1930 when the small plane she was flying in crashed.[13] In 1931, she was hospitalized to have a chicken bone removed from her throat. De Putti contracted a throat infection,[14] and was taken to the Harbor Sanitarium, then located at 667 Madison Avenue, where reportedly she behaved irrationally and eluded her nurses. Eventually, she was found in a corridor. She developed pleurisy in her right side, followed by pneumonia in both lungs.

Lya de Putti died at 1:05 A.M. on 27 November 1931,[15] aged 34, at the Harbor Sanitorium, leaving just $1,100 and a few bits of jewelry. She is interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

Personal life

de Putti c. 1929

In 1913, she married Zoltán Szepessy de Négyes, a county magistrate who was 10 years her senior. The couple had two daughters, Ilona (born 1914) and Judit (born 1916). Upon divorcing in 1918, Szepessy told their two daughters that their mother had died; there was even a headstone in a Hungarian cemetery that bore the inscription 'Lya de Putti - died 1920'. On 8 March 1932, Szepessy committed suicide in a Budapest hotel due to financial difficulties and grief over de Putti's death; it wasn't until his death that Ilona and Judit learned about their mother's true fate.[16]

She remarried in 1922 to Louis Jahnke, a Norwegian diplomat. Prior to Jahnke, she was married to the Norwegian merchant Ludwig Christensen, who left her widowed when he died of tuberculosis in 1922.[17]

In the late 1920s, de Putti met banker Walter D. Blumenthal. They began a relationship, and de Putti fell in love and wanted to marry him. His family did not allow the marriage, however, which resulted in de Putti going on a hunger strike in 1931.[2]

De Putti once was rumored to be engaged to Count Ludwig von Salm-Hoogstraeten, a former husband of oil heiress Millicent Rogers. She denied the engagement.

Lya de Putti in popular culture

  • De Putti appears on the cover of Jessamine's 1995 self-titled album Jessamine.
  • In the film Cabaret (1972), singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) tells a friend that Lya de Putti is her "favorite screen siren". In a subsequent scene, Bowles dismisses de Putti, claiming that she "makes too many faces."
  • Lya de Putti's life and work are dramatized in the novel Winter Under Water (Picador, 2007) by J.A. Hopkin.



Short subjects

  • A Christmas Movie for Adults (1924)



  • Herzog, Peter and Roman Tozzi. Lya de Putti: Living Life and Not Fearing Death. Corvin: 1993.
  • Los Angeles Times. "Film Star Succumbs." 27 November 1931, Page 1.
  • New York Times. "Lya de Putti Dead Here of Pneumonia." 27 November 1931, Page 20.
  1. ^ Kőniger, Miklós (October 1996). "Egy elfeledett sztár" [A forgotten star]. (in Hungarian). Budapest, Hungary: Filmvilág Alapítvány. pp. 13–14. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Vamp und Engel: Lya de Putti - "unbekannt, wie ein Dorf in China"". Der Tagesspiegel Online.
  3. ^[user-generated source]
  4. ^ Bock, ans-Michael; Bergfelder, im (September 2009). The Concise Cinegraph: Encyclopaedia of German Cinema. ISBN 9780857455659.
  5. ^ Schöpflin Aladár (2010) [1929–1931]. B. Kádár Zsuzsanna (ed.). Magyar Színművészeti Lexikon [Hungarian Actors Encyclopedia] (in Hungarian). Vienna, Austria-Hungary: Wesley Egyház- és Vallásszociológiai Kutatóközpont. p. 503. ISBN 978-1-161-27296-3. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Pesky-Rosenzweig" (PDF). (in Hungarian). Budapest: Military History Museum [de; fr; hu; it]. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2012.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Campacci, Claudio (22 August 2014). "A História Dos Primeiros 120 Anos do Cinema".
  8. ^ Saul J. Turell (1965). The Love Goddesses: A History of Sex in the Cinema (documentary film). Paramount Pictures. Event occurs at 17:43. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Lya de Putti". December 2019.
  10. ^ "Portrait of the actress Lya de Putti by Thomas Staedeli".
  11. ^ "The Divine Decadence of Lya de Putti".
  12. ^ "LYA DE PUTTI BADLY CUT.; Screen Star Falls Down Stairs and Through a Window in Berlin". The New York Times. 2 November 1927.
  13. ^ "Daily News from New York, New York on August 6, 1930 · 306".
  14. ^ Petrucelli, Alan W. (29 September 2009). Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous. Penguin. ISBN 9781101140499 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "LYA DE PUTTI DEAD HERE OF PNEUMONIA; Film Actress's Fatal Illness Developed After Removal of Chicken Bone from Throat. HAD STARRED IN GERMANY Heralded in This Country as "the Loveliest Girl in Berlin"--Was of Titled Hungarian Family. Caused Sensation in Berlin. Her First Role as a Star". The New York Times. 27 November 1931.
  16. ^ "HOLLYWOOD HEYDAY: March 23, 1932". 6 May 2009.
  17. ^ "De Pitti, Film Star, Comes Here To Act; Under Contract to Famous Players–Lasky – Denies Report of Flight". The New York Times. 24 February 1926.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 October 2023, at 18:05
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