Today is the 129th birthday of silent film star Pola Negri. She married a prince and a count, and dated Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Milton Berle, and (maybe) Margaret West. Hitler liked her and she titled her ghostwritten biography Memoir of a Star. She was no shrinking violet. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Pola Negri
AKA: Barbara Apolonia Chalupec
DATE OF BIRTH: 31-Dec-1894 (or 1897, or 1899)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lipno, Poland
DATE OF DEATH: 1-Aug-1987
PLACE OF DEATH: San Antonio, TX
CAUSE OF DEATH: Pneumonia
REMAINS: Buried, Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME: 6933 Hollywood Blvd
BEST KNOWN FOR: Pola Negri was a Polish stage and film actress and singer who achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles and was acknowledged as a sex symbol.
The beginning of Negri’s life is as dramatic as any Hollywood film: born in Lipno in central Poland as Barbara Apolonia Chałupiec, Negri was the youngest of three children and the only one to survive. Negri’s father was exiled to Siberia by the Russians for alleged revolutionary activity, which sent the young Negri and her mother to Warsaw to scrape by in poverty. After storming the Warsaw stage scene Negri’s popularity helped the actress launch a silent film career in Berlin. The popularity of her 1919 film Madame Dubarry in the US brought down the embargo on German films in America. After several more successes in German cinema Paramount invited Negri to bring her talents to Hollywood, and her 1922 contract with the film company was the first to be signed by a European star.
Negri’s career with Paramount included films like The Spanish Dancer and Forbidden Paradise which came out right before the industry moved away from silent movies and into the “talkies.” Negri starred in the lackluster A Woman Commands, but her song “Paradise” from the film became a hit and took Negri on a Vaudeville tour to promote the song. Negri also returned to Europe in the late 1930s to make films like Fanatisme and Mazurka, the latter of which was a favorite of Adolf Hitler. The war sent Negri back to the US, where she landed the role of high-strung opera singer Genya Smetana in the 1943 comedy Hi Diddle Diddle.
Almost as famous for her love affairs as for her screen roles, Negri counted Charlie Chaplin and Rod La Rocque among her conquests (not to mention two husbands, Count Eugeniusz Dąmbski and Georgian prince Serge Mdivani) but claimed Rudolph Valentino was the love of her life. The two were introduced by William Randolph Hearst and were lovers until Valentino’s death in 1926.
Negri eventually retired from Hollywood in the 1950s and moved with her oil heiress friend Margaret West to San Antonio, Texas where she lived for the remainder of her life. While Negri would occasionally reconnect with Hollywood for a film role she largely stayed out of the public eye, dying on August 1, 1987 from a bout with pneumonia. Today Negri is memorialized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on Poland’s Walk of Fame in Łódź and in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, where she was the 11th star to place her hands and footprints in cement.
Silent Films Poland:
1914 – Slave to her Senses / Niewolnica zmysłów, by Jan Pawłowski
1915 – Wife / Żona, by Aleksander Hertz
1916 – Students / Studenci, by Aleksander Hertz
1916 – The Beast / Bestia, by Aleksander Herz
1917 – Secrets of Warsaw / Tajemnice Warszawy, by Aleksander Hertz
1917 – His Last Gesture / Jego ostatni czyn, Aleksander Hertz, Stanisław Jerzy Kozłowski
Silent Films Germany:
1917 – Zügelloses Blut, by ?
1917 – Nicht Lange Täuschte Mich das Glück, Kurt Matull
1917 – Küuss, die Man Stiehlt im Dunkeln, by ?
1917 – Wenndas Herz in Hass Erglüht, by ?
1917 – Rosen, die der Sturm Entblättert, by ?
1918 – Die Toten Augen, by ?
1918 – Mania. Die Geschichte einer Zigarettenarbeiterin, by Eugen Illes
1918 – Die Augen de Mumie Ma, by Ernst Lubitsch
1918 – Der Gelbe Schein, by Eugen Illes, Victor Janson
1918 – Carmen, by Ernst Lubitsch
1919 – Das Karussel des Lebens, Georg Jacoby
1919 – Vendetta (Blautrache), by Georg Jacoby
1919 – Kreuzigt Sie!, by Georg Jacoby
1919 – Madame Dubarry, by Ernst Lubitsch
1919 – Komtesse Doddy, by Georg Jacoby
1920 – Die Marchesa d’Armiani, by Alfred Halm
1920 – Sumurun, by Ernst Lubitsch
1920 – Das Martyrium, by Paul Ludwig Stein
1920 – Die Geschlossene Kette, by Paul Ludwig Stein
1920 – Arme Violetta, by Paul Ludwig Stein
1921 – Die Bergkatze, by Ernst Lubitsch
1921 – Sappho, by Dymitri Buchowetzki
1922 – Die Flamme, by Ernst Lubitsch
Silent Films USA:
1923 – Bella Donna, by George Fitzmaurice
1923 – The Cheat, by George Fitzmaurice
1923 – The Spanish Dancer, by Herbert Brenon
1923 – Hollywood, by James Cruze
1924 – Shadows of Paris, by Herbert Brenon
1924 – Forbidden Paradise, by Ernst Lubitsch
1924 – Lily of the Dust, by Dymitri Buchowetzki
1924 – Men, by Dymitri Buchowetzki
1925 – East of Suez, by Raoul Walsh
1925 – The Charmer, by Sidney Olcott
1925 – Flower of Night, by Paul Bern
1925 – A Woman of the World, by Malcolm St. Clair
1926 – The Crown of Lies, by Dymitri Buchowetzki
1926 – Good and Naughty, by Malcolm St. Clair
1926 – Hotel Imperial, by Mauritz Stiller
1927 – Barbed Wire, by Rowland V. Lee
1927 – The Woman on Trial, by Mauritz Stiller
1928 – The Secret Hour, by Rowland V. Lee
1928 – Three Sinners, by Rowland V. Lee
1928 – Loves of an Actress, by Rowland V. Lee
1928 – The Woman of Moscow, by Ludwig Berger
1929 – The Way of Lost Souls, by Paul Czinner (United Kingdom)
1932 – A Woman Commands, by Paul L. Stein (USA)
1934 – Fanatisme, by Tony Leikan, Gaston Ravel (France)
1935 – Mazurka, by Willi Forst (Germany)
1936 – Der Wegnach Shanghai, by Paul Wegener (Germany)
1937 – Madame Bovary, by Gerhard Lamprecht (Germany)
1937 – Tango Notturno, by Fritz Kirchhoff (Germany)
1938 – Die Fromme Lüge, by Nunzio Malasomma (Germany)
1938 – Die Nacht der Enstscheidung, by Nunzio Malasomma (Germany)
1943 – Hi Diddle Diddle, by Andrew L. Stone (USA)
1964 – The Moon-Spinners (USA), by James Neilson