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Asta Nielsen posters

Birthday

September 11, 1881

Birth Sign

Virgo

Height

About

Danish leading woman of German films who became one of the greatest stars of the silent era. A native of the Copenhagen suburb of Vesterbro, Nielsen was the daughter of a coppersmith and a washerwoman, both of whom died before Nielsen was fifteen. Her stage debut came as a child in the chorus of the Kongelige Teater's production of Boito's opera "Mephistopheles." She studied at the Royal Theatre School of Copenhagen and embarked upon a stage career in her late teens. She toured Scandinavia and became one of the highest-paid and most popular stage actresses of her time and place. In 1909, director Urban Gad suggested that the silent screen would allow her to transcend her Danish language barrier, and she agreed appear in his film 'Afgrunden (1910)'. The film was successful and Nielsen was encouraged to continue in this new art form. A German distributor, Paul Davidson, invited Nielsen to Germany, where he was building a film studio which would eventually become Europe's largest--the Universum Film Union A. read more

-G. (or Ufa). Nielsen and her director, Gad, whom she had married, went to Germany and spent the next quarter century there. She became one of the true superstars of the silent screen, a tragic heroine whose photograph during the First World War accompanied German and also British and French troops into battle. Among her notable films after the war was a version of "Hamlet, " which was not so much a Shakespearean film as it was an exploration of a then-current theory that the real Hamlet had been, in fact, a woman. Nielsen played the title role. She continued to play a wide variety of roles in Germany and occasionally in Denmark and Norway, never losing the respect and popularity she had maintained almost from the beginning of her career. She abandoned her film work just as sound was taking over the industry. Aside from one or two brief forays in talkies, her acting was thereafter confined to the stage. She died in 1972 at the age of 89, shortly after her fifth marriage.

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