Schratt, Katharina (1853–1940)

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Schratt, Katharina (1853–1940)

Austrian actress. Born Sept 11, 1853, in Baden, Austria; died April 17, 1940, in Vienna, Austria; dau. of a middle-class shopkeeper; attended convent school; studied acting in Vienna; married into the von Kiss family, 1877 (sep.); children: son Anton (b. 1878).

As a member of the Stadttheater, became a popular figure on the stage; on marriage (1877), briefly retired; by 1884, was a member of the Burgtheater, a company supported privately by the emperor Franz Joseph I, then 53 years old and estranged from his wife Elizabeth of Bavaria (1837–1898), known as Empress Sissi; summoned to a private audience with the empress, who saw an opportunity to free herself from husband's emotional needs, agreed to become companion to the emperor (1886); eased Franz Joseph's loneliness and helped restore a degree of charm and civility to the royal palace.

See also Joan Haslip, The Emperor and the Actress: The Love Story of Emperor Franz Josef and Katharina Schratt (Dial, 1982); and Women in World History.