Pola Negri

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pola Negri, photograph by Ernst Sandau, around 1917

Pola Negri (actually Apolonia Chałupec , also Barbara Apolonia Chałupiec ; born January 3, 1897 in Lipno , Russian Poland , † August 1, 1987 in San Antonio , USA ) was a Polish actress and a great star of silent films . The choice of her stage name pays homage to the Italian writer Ada Negri .


Pola Negri came from the Polish city of Lipno in the Kuyavian region . Her father, Jerzy Chalupec (1871–1920), was a Slovak from Rome and a plumber by profession. Her mother, Eleonora Kiełczewska (1861–1954), was Polish .

Negri, who grew up in a petty-bourgeois family in Warsaw , started out with ballet training, which she had to break off because she was diagnosed with tuberculosis . She moved to the Warsaw Drama School and made her debut in 1913 as a stage actress in a play by Henrik Ibsen . Shortly after her debut , she received an engagement at the Polish National Theater , of which she finally became a star at the age of just 17. Together with her partner Edward Kuryłło she promoted the Polish tango in the Warsaw variety theaters . In 1914 she got a role in the silent film Niewolnica Zmysłów (Slave to the Senses) by the film production company Sfinks .

After the end of the war , Pola Negri had the chance of a lifetime. Ryszard Ordyński , a Polish director who worked with Max Reinhardt in Berlin at the Deutsches Theater , discovered her and engaged her directly for the Polish premiere of the pantomime Sumurûn , which was later also made into a film. Her international breakthrough came as Carmen and Madame Dubarry , both under the direction of Ernst Lubitsch .

Pola Negri, 1927

Other films with Lubitsch followed. At the height of its success, Negri went to the USA with a lucrative contract with the Paramount film company . She was built by the studio as a potential competitor to Gloria Swanson . However, her Hollywood films mostly did not reach the level of her collaboration with Lubitsch. After several disappointing productions the studio left the two together again in 1924 for The Forbidden Paradise work (Forbidden Paradise), with Negri as Empress Catherine the Great .

Negri was best known in the US for her headlines about romances with Charlie Chaplin , whom she first met in 1921, and Rudolph Valentino . After the news of Valentino's death, she is said to have left the location of one of her films for the funeral in New York , in order to throw herself dramatically over the actor's coffin. Her marriage to Serge Mdivani fitted into her self-portrayal as a “grande dame”. After this marriage she carried the title "Princess Mdivani" and lived with her husband in the 18th century Ruel Castle in the French community of Seraincourt . After the marriage was divorced in 1931 amid much press coverage, she had her more or less imaginative memoirs printed in various German newspapers, which she - contrary to Serge Mdivani's complaint - signed with “Pola Negri, Princess Mdivani”.

Pola Negri and Serge Mdivani at their wedding on May 14, 1927

Although she received critical acclaim for her role as Catherine the Great, it was the last financial success for the actress. With the exception of Hotel Imperial , which she shot with Mauritz Stiller in 1927 , audiences and critics turned down her other films. Negri's North American career came to an end with the sound film: Her heavy accent did not go down with the audience.

As a result, she ran into financial difficulties. She went back to Europe and made some films for UFA at Willi Forst's invitation . Her most famous film was Mazurka in 1935 , which became one of Hitler's favorite films; Hilde Seipp took over the vocal part of the high notes . Although she was initially banned from filming by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels because of her alleged Jewish descent , she was allowed to play the role after Hitler's personal intervention. Two years later, the film was made under the title Confession with Kay Francis in America as a remake.

Negri recorded some of her film hits in German and partly in English on shellac records , including Peter Kreuder's When the Sun Sinks Behind the Roofs . However, her second career in Germany suffered from repeating the same roles over and over again. She first went to France and in 1941 back to the USA. There, however, she had great difficulties due to her supposed closeness to Hitler. After the meantime on Ellis Iceland was fixed, it was only in 1943 in Hi Diddle Diddle a satire playing on their old Vamprollen.

From the 1950s she lived in San Antonio, Texas and became a successful real estate agent. She only made two films, in 1943 and 1964. In the Disney production The Moon Spinners from 1964, she took stock of her life: "I survived two world wars, four revolutions and five men".

She briefly got back into conversation for the cast of Norma Desmond in Boulevard der Twilight by Billy Wilder . Wilder reported that Negri's accent made casting impossible. Other sources claim Negri himself found it an affront to play a former star.

Pola Negri's remains are interred in the great mausoleum of Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles .

Her life is told in the 3D musical “Polita”, which premiered in Warsaw in 2011 and is still on the program. In the docu-drama series War of Dreams broadcast on ARTE on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in 2018, Pola Negri's experiences after 1918 are presented episodically.


Silent films

Sound films



  • Pola Negri: Memoirs of a Star. Doubleday, New York NY 1970.
  • Axel von Cossart (ed.): Pola Negri. Life of a star. Voco-Edition, Cologne 1988, ISBN 3-926566-26-4 .
  • Daniela Dröscher : Pola. Novel. Berlin-Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-8270-1106-0 .
  • Robert Florey : Pola Negri. Their debut, their films, their experiences. Nilsson, Leipzig 1927.
  • Rachel M. Gaikowa: Demonic Women. Pola Negri, Mata Hari (= Eva-Privat-Bücherei. Vol. 1). Eva-Verlag, Leipzig 1930.
  • F.-B. Habel : Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. A passionate look back to the time of the first stars. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-89602-128-1 .
  • Jürgen Kasten:  Negri, Pola. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , p. 35 ( digitized version ).
  • Mariusz Kotowski: Pola Negri: Hollywood's first femme fatale , Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, 2014, ISBN 978-0-8131-4488-7 .
  • Frank Noack: Pola Negri - actress. In: CineGraph - Lexicon for German-language film . Delivery 51, 2012.
  • Jerzy Nowakowski: Boska Pola i inni. To My, Warsaw 2000.
  • Jürgen W. Schmidt: Pola Negri and Bromberg - A film star under suspicion of espionage. In: Bromberg. Magazine of the Bidegast Association. No. 136, December 2004, ISSN  0171-1644 , pp. 3-4.
  • Tony Villecco: Pola Negri - The Hollywood Years, Birmingham 2017.

Web links

Commons : Pola Negri  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ A copy of the birth certificate made out on April 18, 1978 (in a handwritten copy of the birth certificate made on July 15, 1960, January 3, 189 6 is notarized, while here, too, the source of the copy is given as 11 / L / 1897 )
  2. Pola Negri in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  3. Waldemar Ireneusz Oszczęda: Pola Negri - filmowa gwiazda Hollywood o słowackim rodowodzie. In: TOP - Tygodnik Opoczyński. Retrieved December 31, 2013 .
  4. F.-B. Habel: Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. 1999, p. 70.
  5. F.-B. Habel: Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. 1999, p. 75.
  6. Altonaer Nachrichten / Hamburg's newest newspaper . January 12, 1932.
  7. F.-B. Habel: Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. 1999, p. 76.
  8. Ulrich J. Klaus: Deutsche Tonfilme 6th year 1935. P. 141 (082.35), Berlin 1995
  9. F.-B. Habel: Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. 1999, p. 77.
  10. F.-B. Habel: Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. 1999, p. 78 f.
  11. a b F.-B. Habel: Crazy with desire. The film divas from the silent film era. 1999, p. 80.
  12. Website for the musical (Polish)