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Lotte Lenya

Biography

She starred in The Threepenny Opera, that was directed by her husband at that time, Kurt Weill. Her Academy Award-nominated efficiency in The Roman Springtime of Mrs. Rock bolstered her popularity. She acted in little movie theater productions until getting cast on her behalf breakthrough function as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera. She performed Rosa Klebb in the Adam Bond film From Russia with Appreciate. She wedded Kurt Weill in 1926 and divorced him in 1933; the few remarried four years afterwards. She starred in the 1964 spy thriller From Russia with Like with Sean Connery.

Quick Facts


Date Of Birth October 18, 1898
Died November 27, 1981, New York City, New York, United States
Place Of Birth Vienna, Austria
Profession Movie Actress
Nationality Austrian
Spouse Richard Siemanowski, Russell Detweiller, George Davis, Kurt Weill, Kurt Weill
Parents Johanna Blamauer, Franz Blamauer
Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Grammy Hall of Fame
Nominations Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Movies Semi-Tough, The Appointment, From Russia with Love, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, The Threepenny Opera, Ten Blocks on the Camino Real
Star Sign Libra

  • Facts
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#Fact
1 Lotte Lenya was a Tony Award-winning actress/singer who appeared primarily on stage from the 1920s to the '70s, while also recording and making occasional appearances on film, radio, and television.
2 She revealed an interest in singing and dancing as early as the age of five, when she performed in a neighborhood circus.
3 On October 22, 1941, she opened in the play Candle in the Wind on Broadway. It ran 95 performances.
4 More broadly, she was identified with the interwar era in Germany, which led, for example, to her casting in the Broadway musical Cabaret. Her Tony Award, however, came for her 1954 appearance in Weill's The Threepenny Opera, a show in which she also had been featured when it premiered in Germany in 1928.
5 She returned to the New York stage in the Off-Broadway revue Brecht on Brecht, which opened January 3, 1962. It ran over 200 performances, with Columbia recording a cast album. Continuing her stage support of Weill's lyric partner, she starred in a production of Brecht's play Mother Courage in June and July 1965 in Recklinghausen, Germany.
6 A more significant appearance was in a new English-language adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Marc Blitzstein performed as a concert at Brandeis University on June 13, 1952. The performance led to a full-fledged stage revival that opened Off-Broadway on March 10, 1954, and became a substantial hit, running until December 1961. Lenya appeared in the show for two years; sang on the cast album; and won the 1956 Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical.
7 Lenya made her debut as a nightclub singer at Le Ruban Bleu in New York, beginning on April 7, 1938.
8 In 1943, she was contracted by Bost Records and recorded the album Six Songs by Kurt Weill, consisting of three 78s.
9 She had an important role in one of her husband's shows when she starred in the operetta The Firebrand of Florence, which opened on Broadway on March 22, 1945, but was a failure, running only 43 performances.
10 In 1960, Lenya went to London, where she acted in her first film in 30 years, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which brought her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. (Although she did not actively pursue film acting, she was cast in a few more movies during the rest of her career, appearing in From Russia with Love [1964], The Appointment [1969], and Semi-Tough [1977].
11 Her final theatrical appearance came with another run in The Threepenny Opera at Florida State University in Tallahassee in April 1972.
12 She made several recordings of Weill's songs.
13 In 1979, two years before her death, Lotte Lenya was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
14 Lenya made her debut as a nightclub singer at Le Ruban Bleu in New York, beginning on April 7, 1938. On October 22, 1941, she opened in the play Candle in the Wind on Broadway. It ran 95 performances.
15 During the summer of 1936, Weill, Lenya, Paul Green and Cheryl Crawford rented a house at 277 Trumbull Avenue in Nichols, Connecticut, about two miles from Pine Brook Country Club, the summer rehearsal headquarters of the Group Theatre. Here, Green and Weill wrote the screenplay and music for the controversial Broadway play Johnny Johnson, which was titled after the most frequently occurring name on the American casualty list of World War I. During this period Lenya had a love affair with playwright Paul Green.
16 In 1922 Lenya was seen by her future husband, German composer Kurt Weill, during an audition for his first stage score Zaubernacht but because of his position behind the piano, she did not see him. She was cast but owing to her loyalty to her voice coach she declined the role.
17 After Weill's death in 1950, she was coaxed back to the stage. She appeared on Broadway in Barefoot in Athens and married editor George Davis.
18 She accepted the part of Jenny in the first performance of The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) in 1928, and the part became her breakthrough role.
19 Her role as Vivien Leigh's earthy friend Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales in the screen version of Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) brought Lenya an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress.
20 During World War II, Lenya did a number of stage performances, recordings and radio performances, including for the Voice of America.
21 She was present in the studio when Louis Armstrong recorded Brecht-Weill's "Mack the Knife". Armstrong improvised the line "Look out for Miss Lotte Lenya!" and added her name to the list of Mack's female conquests in the song.
22 During the last years of the Weimar Republic, she was busy in film and theatre, and especially in Brecht-Weill plays.
23 In 1956 she won a Tony Award for her role as Jenny in Marc Blitzstein's English version of The Threepenny Opera, the only time an Off-Broadway performance has been so honored.
24 In March 1933, she moved to Paris where she sang the leading part in Brecht-Weill's "sung ballet", The Seven Deadly Sins.
25 Lenya and KurtWeill settled in New York City on 10 September 1935.
26 She went to Zürich to study in 1914, taking her first job at the Schauspielhaus, using the stage name Lotte Lenja. She moved to Berlin to seek work in 1921.
27 She founded the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, to administer incomes and issues regarding rights, and to spread knowledge about Weill's work.
28 With the rise of National Socialism in Germany, left-leaning artists were not appreciated and although not Jewish, she left the country, having become estranged from Weill. (They would later divorce and remarry.).
29 After a badly received part in her husband's musical The Firebrand of Florence in 1945 in New York, she withdrew from the stage.
30 Lenya went on to record a number of songs from her time in Berlin, as well as songs from the American stage. Her voice had deepened with age. When she was to sing the soprano part in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Seven Deadly Sins, the part needed transposition to substantially lower keys.
31 She made her stage debut in Zurich and she remained active there till 1921.
32 Lenya died in Manhattan of cancer in 1981, aged 83. She is buried next to Weill at Mount Repose Cemetery in Haverstraw, New York.[.
33 Donovan's 1968 song "Laleña" was inspired by Lenya.
34 She is mentioned in the Fascinating Aïda song "Lieder", which originally described her as German but was corrected for later performances.
35 Lenya and Weill did not meet properly until 1924 through a mutual acquaintance, the writer Georg Kaiser. They married in 1926, and later divorced in 1933, only to reconcile in September 1935 after emigrating to the United States. They remarried in 1937. In 1941, the couple moved to a house of their own in New City, Rockland County, New York, roughly 50 km north of New York City. Their second marriage lasted until Weill's death in 1950.
36 Lotte Lenya was able to continue her stage career in the USA and from the 50s she appeared in Germany again.
37 In 2007, the musical LoveMusik, based on Lenya's relationship with Weill, opened on Broadway. Lenya was portrayed by Donna Murphy.[.
38 Lenya's second husband (1951-57) was American editor George Davis. After Davis' death in 1957, she married artist Russell Detwiler in 1962. He was 26 years her junior but she was widowed for a third time when Detwiler died at the age of 44 in 1969.
39 The Michael Kunze play, Lenya, is about Brecht's favorite singer, Lotte Lenya.
40 Lotte Lenya got married with the composer Kurt Weill in 1926. When her husband went to Paris after the rise of the National Socialists their marriage ended. But she returned to Kurt Weill in 1935 and they both emigrated via England to the USA where they got married again.
41 In 1966, Lenya originated the role of Fräulein Schneider in the original Broadway cast of the musical Cabaret.
42 She went to Berlin where she used the name Lotte Lenya. She appeared as a singer and actress in the next years. After few years with modest success she managed her breakthrough with the world premiere of "Die Dreigroschenoper" where she impersonated the role of Jenny.
43 In 1956, Louis Armstrong recorded the song "Mack the Knife", both as a solo number and as a duet with Lenya. Armstrong added Lenya's name into the lyrics, in place of one of the characters in the play.
44 Her huge success led to filming in 1931 also called "Die 3 Groschen-Oper" (31) and in this movie Lotte Lenya played the role of Jenny again. This movie became popular as well. Despite this movie hit Lotte Lenya concentrated to the stage again exclusively.
45 She got the first artistic education as a ballet dancer in Zurich before she dedicated to the acting as well.
46 Born in 1898, Lenya is, and always will be the oldest actor ever to play a James Bond villain at age 65.
47 Lenya appears in the Pabst 1931 German film version of the Brecht/Weill play with music, The Threepenny Opera, recreating the role that brought her fame in 1928, Jenny.
48 Was cast in Vosstaniye rybakov (1934) as Maria the prostitute when that film originally went into production in 1931. Sets were constructed and the cast arrived at the Yalta location, but due to financial difficulties and supply interruptions (for instance, the typing paper intended for the scripts was used by the crew as rolling paper for their cigarettes), the production was disbanded with no footage shot. The role was eventually played by Vera Yanukova.
49 Her portrayal of Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love (1963) became the inspiration for two other villains: Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
50 Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 490-492. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
51 Is entombed, with Kurt Weill, at the Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.
52 After wearing a pair of shoes with knives sticking out on From Russia with Love (1963), some people looked at her shoes, when she first met them.
53 Won Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for "TheThreepenny Opera.'" She was also nominated in 1967 as Best Actress (Musical) for "Cabaret", where she created the role of "Fräulein Schneider" and acted as a consultant for the musical styles of 1930s Berlin, especially her husband's.
54 In addition to her husband's legacy, Lenya was also a specialist in Brechtian theatre.
55 After Kurt Weill's death in 1950, Lotte, no longer confident of her talent, reluctantly agreed to appear in a memorial concert at Town Hall. The concert was such a huge success that it prompted annual revivals until 1965. She also spent the rest of her life dedicated to keeping Kurt's music alive through exhaustive searches of lost work, administering copyrights and, of course, her legendary concerts.
56 Moved to Zurich in 1914 to be trained in classical dance and gained experience in opera and ballet at the Schauspielhaus.
57 The Bobby Darin version of the song "Mack the Knife" (written by Lotte Lenya's husband Kurt Weill) mentions her by name.
58 Awarded a Tony in 1956 for Supporting Actress in Marc Blitzstein's version of "The Threepenny Opera".
59 Lenya, as the wife of famous composer Kurt Weill, would often star in his operas and musicals. At the world premiere of his "Threepenny Opera" in 1928, her name was inadvertently left out of the program guide, despite her playing the female lead.


Actress

Actress

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Mahagonny 1980 voice
Semi-Tough 1977 Clara Pelf
CBS Daytime 90 1974 TV Series Rosa Harcourt
The Appointment 1969 Emma Valadier
Ten Blocks on the Camino Real 1966 TV Movie The Gypsy
Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder - Eine Chronik aus dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg 1965 TV Movie Mutter Courage
Bertolt Brecht: Übungstücke für Schauspieler 1964 Short
From Russia with Love 1963 Rosa Klebb
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone 1961 Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales
The 3 Penny Opera 1931 Jenny (as Lotte Lenja)

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Savages 2007 performer: "Salomon-Song"
Guileless Guile 2001 Short performer: "Denn wie Man sich bettet"
Seven Years in Tibet 1997 performer: "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer/The Ballad of Mack the Knife"

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Omnibus 1979 TV Series documentary Herself - Interviewee
New York, New York 1973-1978 TV Series Herself
The Dick Cavett Show 1968-1972 TV Series Herself
Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill 1969 TV Short Herself - Musician
NET Playhouse 1967 TV Series Herself
The Merv Griffin Show 1967 TV Series Herself
Camera Three 1958-1964 TV Series Herself / Nurse in Romeo and Juliet
Monitor 1961 TV Series documentary
George Grosz' Interregnum 1960 Documentary short Narrator
Lotte Lenya singt Songs von Kurt Weil 1956 TV Short Herself - Musician - Narrator

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Von Caligari zu Hitler: Das deutsche Kino im Zeitalter der Massen 2014 Documentary Herself
Cabaret-Berlin, la scène sauvage 2010 TV Movie documentary Herself, singer
Brecht vs. Pabst 2007 Video documentary Herself
From Russia with Love 2005 Video Game Rosa Klebb
Inside 'From Russia with Love' 2000 Video documentary short Rosa Kleeb
Terence Young: Bond Vivant 2000 Video documentary short Rosa Klebb (uncredited)
Opernführer 1971 TV Series
The Incredible World of James Bond 1965 TV Movie documentary Herself

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1962 Oscar Academy Awards, USA Best Actress in a Supporting Role The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)
1962 Golden Globe Golden Globes, USA Best Supporting Actress The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)

3rd place awards

3rd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1965 Golden Laurel Laurel Awards Supporting Performance, Female From Russia with Love (1963)


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