Ullrich, Luise (1911–1985)
Ullrich, Luise (1911–1985)
Austrian actress. Born Aloisa Ullrich on October 31, 1911, in Vienna, Austria; died on January 22, 1985, in Munich, Germany; studied acting at the Vienna Theater-Akademie; married Wulf Diether, count of Castell-Rudenhausen (an airport director).
Der Rebell (The Rebel, 1932); Liebelei (Flirtation, 1933); Versprich mir nichts! (Promise Me Nothing!, 1937); Ich liebe Dich (I Love You, 1938); Annelie (1941); Nora (1944).
Luise Ullrich was born Aloisa Ullrich in 1911 in Vienna, the daughter of a count who was a major in the Austro-Hungarian army, and she grew up in a strict, repressive household. Notes Cinzia Romani, perhaps this was what gave her "that well-bred manner that made her the ideal interpreter of so many stories of women living out lives of renunciation."
Ullrich studied acting at the Vienna Theater-Akademie while in high school, and as a teenager was offered a two-year contract with the Vienna Volkstheater. She also appeared in Richard Billinger's Rauhnacht (Brawly Night) at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin. In the audience one night was Luis Trenker, a former mountain guide who wrote, directed, and starred in his own mountain-climbing epics. He offered Ullrich the leading female part in a screenplay he was writing, released as Der Rebell (The Rebel) in 1932, in which she had little to do but cry on command and look beseechingly at the hero (Trenker).
Die Geschichte eines Lebens (Annelie: The Story of a Life), which earned 6.5 million deutsche marks for its producers—a huge sum in 1941—is considered her best film. An intimate portrayal of an ordinary woman, it drew huge audiences of women eager to see a depiction on screen of a life so like their own. The film was also a piece of Nazi propaganda, showing how Annelie was devoted to the Fatherland, but as Romani noted, "There were also truly touching moments, as when Annelie, addressing her son, who is about to leave for the front, said, 'Im Leben übersteht man alles. Es ist nicht leicht, aber mit de Zeit lernt man's.' (In this life one survives everything. It's not easy, but with time you learn.)"
The 1944 film Nora was a distorted version of Ibsen's A Doll's House, twisted to emphasize the importance of marriage rather than the stifling role it can impose on women. In the film, Ullrich plays a woman, writes Romani, who "seems to be modeled on the archetype of the woman who has learned to atone for sins that exist only in the mind of the one who condemns her."
After World War II ended, Ullrich continued to appear in television series and films. She published her memoirs, Komm auf die Schaukel, Luise; Balance eines Lebens (Come onto the Swing, Luise: Appraisal of a Life), in 1943. She also published a novel Ricarda in 1954, and several short stories, one of which appeared in the collection The 56 Best Short Stories in the World. Ullrich died in 1985 in Munich.
Romani, Cinzia. Tainted Goddesses: Film Stars of the Third Reich. NY: Sarpedon, 1992.
Kelly Winters , freelance writer