Olga Chekhova

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Olga Chekhova.

Olga Konstantinovna Chekhova, née Knipper (Russian: Ольга Константиновна Чехова (14 April 1897, Aleksandropol, Russian Empire (now Gyumri, Armenia) — 9 March 1980, Berlin, Germany) was a Russian-German actress. Her film roles include the female lead in Alfred Hitchcock's Mary (1931).



Born Olga Knipper, she was the daughter of Konstantin Knipper, a railway engineer and the niece and namesake of Olga Knipper (Anton Chekhov's wife), both Lutherans of ethnic German descent. She went to school in Tsarskoye Selo but, after watching Eleonora Duse, joined the Moscow Art Theatre's studio. There she met the great actor Mikhail Chekhov (Anton's nephew) in 1915 and married him the same year, taking his surname as her own. Their daughter, also named Olga, was born in 1916.

Two years after the 1917 October Revolution, Chekhova divorced her husband but kept his name. She managed to get a travel passport from the Soviet government, possibly in exchange for cooperation, which led to permission to leave Russia. She was accompanied by a Soviet agent on a train to Vienna, then she moved to Berlin in 1920. Her first cinema role was in Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau silent movie Schloß Vogelöd (1921).[1] She played in Max Reinhardt's productions at UFA, the same studios where Fritz Lang directed Metropolis (1927). She made the successful transition from silent film to talkies. In the 1930s, she rose to become one of the brightest stars of the Third Reich and was admired by Adolf Hitler. She appeared in such films as Der Choral von Leuthen although she preferred comedies.[2]

Joseph Goebbels

A published photograph of her sitting beside Hitler at a reception gave the leaders of the Soviet intelligence service the impression that she had close contacts with Hitler. She had more contact with the Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who referred to her in his diaries as "eine charmante Frau" ("a charming lady").

Later years

Chekhova at the Göttinger film festival in October 1953, sitting with Walter Janssen

During World War II her acting career was less successful; her one film made in Hollywood was unpopular, largely because her accent was too strong. After the war she lived in the Soviet sector of Berlin, but eventually she managed to escape from her Soviet contacts. In 1949, she moved to Munich, Bavaria, and launched a cosmetics company. At the same time she continued acting, and played supporting roles and cameos in more than 20 films. She largely retired from acting in the 70s, after publishing a book of memoirs. Her correspondence with Russian actors Olga Knipper and Alla Tarasova was published posthumously.


  • 1921: Schloß Vogelöd
  • 1921: Hochstapler
  • 1923: Nora
  • 1923: Der verlorene Schuh
  • 1926: Familie Schikmek
  • 1927: Brennende Grenze
  • 1927: Der Florentiner Hut
  • 1930: Liebling der Götter
  • 1930: Die Drei von der Tankstelle
  • 1930: Mary (Director: Alfred Hitchcock)
  • 1932: Friedrich von der Trenck, Roman einer großen Liebe
  • 1932: Der Choral von Leuthen
  • 1932: Liebelei
  • 1934: Regine
  • 1934: Die Welt ohne Maske
  • 1934: Peer Gynt
  • 1934: Maskerade
  • 1935: Lockspitzel Asew
  • 1935: Künstlerliebe
  • 1935: Die ewige Maske [3]
  • 1935: Ein Walzer um den Stephansturm
  • 1935/36: Der Favorite der Kaiserin
  • 1936: Seine Tochter ist der Peter
  • 1936: Petersburger Romanze
  • 1936: Burgtheater
  • 1936: Hannerl und ihre Liebhaber
  • 1937: Unter Ausschluß der Öffentlichkeit
  • 1937: Liebe geht seltsame Wege
  • 1937: Gewitterflug zu Claudia
  • 1937: Die gelbe Flagge
  • 1938: Rote Orchideen
  • 1939: Die unheimlichen Wünsche
  • 1939: Ich verweigere die Aussage
  • 1939: Parkstraße 13
  • 1939: Bel Ami
  • 1939: Befreite Hände
  • 1940: Angelika
  • 1940: Leidenschaft
  • 1940: Der Fuchs von Glenarvon
  • 1941: Menschen im Sturm
  • 1942: Mit den Augen einer Frau
  • 1942: Andreas Schlüter
  • 1943: Reise in die Vergangenheit
  • 1943: Gefährlicher Frühling
  • 1943: Der ewige Klang
  • 1945: Im Tempel der Venus
  • 1949: Eine Nacht im Séparée
  • 1950: Kein Engel ist so rein
  • 1950: Der Mann, der zweimal leben wollte
  • 1950: Maharadscha wider Willen
  • 1950: Eine Frau mit Herz
  • 1950: Zwei in einem Anzug
  • 1950: Aufruhr im Paradies
  • 1951: Das Geheimnis einer Ehe
  • 1951: Mein Freund, der Dieb
  • 1951: Begierde
  • 1952: Hinter Klostermauern
  • 1953: Alles für Papa
  • 1954: Rosen-Resli
  • 1954: Rittmeister Wronski
  • 1958: U 47 – Kapitänleutnant Prien
  • 1963: Jack und Jenny
  • 1973: Die Zwillinge vom Immenhof
  • 1974: Frühling auf Immenhof

References and notes

Rose 'Olga Tschechowa' (Cocker, 1977)
  1. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich, p. 41; ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  2. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich, p. 43; ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  3. Filmed in German by a Swiss production firm, (The Eternal Mask) adapted by Leo Lapaire from his own novel. Mathias Weimann plays an idealistic doctor who believes he has discovered a cure for meningitis. Ordered not to experiment with this serum, Weimann does so anyway, utilizing the supposed wonder drug on a terminal patient. When the man dies, Weimann is reprimanded by his superiors, and wanders out of the hospital, believing himself a failure. His depression deepens into delirium, and soon the doctor is wandering through a Caligariesque world of distorted shapes and distended shadows, where he finds it impossible to separate illusion from reality. Meanwhile, Weimann's superiors determine that the meningitis serum is indeed effective; now they must snap the doctor out of his nightmare in order for him to reveal the formula. One of the very few successful attempts to convey madness on screen.
  • Beevor, Antony (2004) The Mystery of Olga Chekhova: was Hitler's favorite actress a Russian spy? ISBN 0-670-03340-5

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