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Anniversary: Silent film star Pola Negri died 35 years ago

01.08.2022 14:00
Pola Negri, the Polish silent film star who conquered Hollywood, died 35 years ago.
Pola Negri
Pola NegriNarodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (NAC)

Negri starred in more than 60 American and European films. She is credited with creating a prototype of the femme fatale.

"Pola Negri was a true diva in the full sense of the word," said Mariusz Kotowski, a researcher of her life and work, as cited by Polish state news agency PAP.

He added: "Her star shone in Hollywood even before Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. She was the first European actress brought to the Dream Factory and cast in leading roles during a period of exceptional flourishing of the art of filmmaking."

Born in Poland and discovered for film in Germany, Negri had a careful education in both acting and dancing, and could speak five languages.

Negri was born Apolonia Chałupiec on January 2, 1897, into a poor family. In her early teens, she auditioned and was accepted to a ballet school in Warsaw. Her dancing career was soon interrupted by tuberculosis. She then enrolled at the Academy of Dramatic Arts to become an actress.

Negri made her stage debut at the age of 15. A year later, she appeared in her first film. Soon she was a top star in Poland, prompting German director Max Reinhardt to invite her to act in Berlin theatres as well as in films.

Flooded with contract offers from Hollywood, Negri moved to America and in 1922 became the first European actress to sign a contract with Paramount Pictures.

Her close friends and romances included Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Margaret West.

After the introduction of the sound era in film put an end to her career, Negri returned to Europe. After residing in Germany, and subsequently on the French Riviera, she returned to the United States in 1941, becoming a US citizen 10 years later.

She died in San Antonio, Texas in 1987 at the age of 90.  She appeared in over 60 films, only three of which were made after World War II.


Source: PAP