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Mady Christians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mady Christians
Marguerita Maria Christians

(1892-01-19)January 19, 1892
DiedOctober 28, 1951(1951-10-28) (aged 59)
Years active1916–1949
SpouseSven von Müller (editor of the Hamburger Fremdenblatt)
RelativesChrista Tordy (cousin)

Marguerita Maria Christians (January 19, 1892 – October 28, 1951), known as Mady Christians, was an Austrian-born German-American actress who had a successful acting career in theatre and film in the United States until she was blacklisted during the McCarthy period.

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Mady Christians and Paul Lukas in the original Broadway production of Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine (1941)

She was born on January 19, 1892, to daughter of Rudolf Christians and Bertha (née Klein) Christians. Her father was a well-known German actor. Her family moved to Berlin when she was one year old, and to New York City in 1912, where her father became the Irving Place Theatre's general manager.[1] Five years later she returned to Europe to study under Max Reinhardt.

She appeared in several European films before the early 1930s. In 1929, she starred in the first full sound film made in Germany It's You I Have Loved. In 1933, she toured the United States in a play called Marching By and was offered a Broadway contract the following year that allowed her, as several other German artists, to seek refuge from the Nazi regime in the United States.[citation needed]

On Broadway, Christians played Queen Gertrude in Hamlet and Lady Percy in Henry IV, Part I, staged by director Margaret Webster. Webster was part of a small but influential group of lesbian producers, directors, and actors in the theater (a group that included Eva Le Gallienne and Cheryl Crawford). Webster and Christians became close friends. According to Webster biographer Milly S. Barranger, it is likely that they also were lovers.[2]

She also starred in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine.[3] She originated the title role in the 1944 play I Remember Mama. Her last movie roles were in All My Sons, based on the play by Arthur Miller, and Letter from an Unknown Woman, both released in 1948. On February 13, 1949, Christians starred in "Silver Cord", an episode of Ford Television Theatre on CBS.[4]

During World War II, Christians was involved in political work on behalf of refugees, rights for workers (especially in theater and film), and Russian War relief, political efforts that would bring her to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other anti-communist institutions and organizations.[citation needed]


In addition to her political work, Christians publicly criticized the House Committee on Un-American Activities in early 1941 and likened the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee's investigation of propaganda in US film to Nazi harassment of film and radio artists in the 1930s.[1]

In 1950, the FBI's internal security division began investigating Christians, who had been identified as a "concealed communist" by a confidential informant.[1] When Christians' name appeared in Red Channels, the so-called bible of the broadcast blacklist, her career was effectively over.[5]


On October 28, 1951, aged 59, Christians died of a cerebral hemorrhage, which some attributed to the stress of being subjected to FBI surveillance and being blacklisted.[6]

Selected filmography

Hungarian poster for the 1917 German film Das verlorene Paradies (The Lost Paradise)


  1. ^ a b c Barranger, Milly S. (2008). Unfriendly Witnesses: Gender, Theater, and Film in the McCarthy Era. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780809328765.
  2. ^ Barranger, Milly S. (2004). Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater. Ann Arbor: U Michigan Press. p. 87. ISBN 9780472113903.
  3. ^ "Watch on the Rhine". Internet Broadway Database.
  4. ^ "Tele Follow-up Comment". Variety. February 16, 1949. p. 36. Retrieved January 29, 2023.
  5. ^ Barranger, Milly S. (2008). "Death by Innuendo: Mady Christians". Unfriendly Witnesses: Gender, Theater, and Film in the McCarthy Era. Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 34–48. ISBN 978-0-8093-8733-5. Project MUSE chapter 811139.
  6. ^ "Mady Christians profile". HighBeam Research, Inc. Retrieved January 15, 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 May 2024, at 17:21
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