Hildegard Knef in Diplomatic Courier (1952).
Hildegard Knef on Wikipedia
Hildegard Knef on the Internet Movie Database
Hildegard Knef with Oskar Werner
Forecourt Ceremony held on Thursday, December 13, 1951
Born: December 28, 1925, in Ulm, Germany
Age at the time of the ceremony: 25
Died: February 1, 2002, in Berlin, Germany, age 76
Hildegard Knef was a German actress who made an attempt at stardom in the U.S. as well as in Europe. She eventually became known for her recordings and writings.

Knef's father died when she waas only six years old. Her mother moved to Berlin in 1931 to work in a factory. Young Hildegard was interested in apprenticing to an animator, but drifted toward the State Film School, where she studied acting and dance. The story goes that National Socialist Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels wanted to drool over her, but her friends advised against it. . .

Knef had small roles in some films during the war: Die Brüder Noltenius - The Brothers Noltenius (released in February, 1945), and Frühlingsmelodie - Spring Melody (released in 1945). As the Allied armies moved in on Berlin, Knef dressed as a soldier in order to remain with her lover, Ewald von Demandowsky (1906-1946), a Nazi Party overseer of films and head of his own film company. She was present at the defense of the Berlin suburb of Schmargendorf, where she and von Demandowsky were captured by the Soviets; Knef was sent to a prisoner of war camp, while von Demandowsky was executed. But he had made sure Hildegard had a spot in a theatrical troupe run by Viktor de Kowa in Berlin.

It was here that Knef starred as Fanny in French writer Marcel Pagnol's play Marius, as well as some Shakesperian roles. Knef starred in the film Die Morder sind unter uns - The Murderers Are Among Us (released in the Soviet Zone of Berlin in October, 1946). If that weren't enough, Knef attracted a great deal of controversy over doing a nude scene in the film Die Sünderin - The Sinner (released in January, 1951).

So what happens to a young actress after she does a nude scene and is criticized by the Catholic Church? You get invited to Hollywood! Knef was offered a contract by producer David O. Selznick, but she turned the offer down. When director Anatole Litvak came to Germany to shoot his war picture Decision Before Dawn (released in December, 1951), he cast several German actors, including Knef and Oskar Werner.

Knef was in Hollywood finally, working on the film Diplomatic Courier (released in June, 1952), when she was asked to place her (and Oskar Werner's) footprints in the Forecourt. Since Werner was busy filming projects in Germany, Knef imprinted plaster casts of Werner's hands, his borrowed shoes, and a metal die of his signature.

Knef got fourth billing for the film The Snows of Kilimanjaro (which played the Chinese in October, 1952), but Knef seems to have veered into "B" movie territory at Fox: Night Without Sleep (released in September, 1952).

Returning to Europe, she co-starred with Erich von Stroheim (!) in a reverse Frankenstein story called Alraune - Mandragore (released in October, 1952), starred in La fête à Henriette - Holiday for Henrietta (released in December, 1952), and generally found herself in one or two films in Europe per year, including England: The Man Between (released in November, 1953); Germany: Geständnis unter vier Augen - Confession Under Four Eyes (released in September, 1954); and Italy: La Strada dei giganti - Road of the Giants (released in April, 1960).

In the meantime, Knef made her Broadway debut playing Ninotchka in the Cole Porter musical Silk Stockings from February, 1955 to April, 1956. Knef had such a positive experience that she began concentrating on a singing career, recording and concertizing, as well as writing lyrics. She recorded many studio albums, while working on the occasional film, such as playing the title role in Caterina di Russia - Catherine of Russia (released in January, 1963), played Jenny Diver in Die Dreigroschenoper - Three Penny Opera (released in February, 1963), starred in a cheezy disaster flick The Lost Continent (released in June, 1968), and was recruited by director Billy Wilder to join his cast of Fedora (released in May, 1978).

Her autobiography, Der geschenkte Gaul: Bericht aus einem Leben - The Gift Horse: Report on a Life, was published in 1971. in 1975, she published Das Urteil - The Verdict, which was an account of her struggle with breast cancer.

A life-long smoker, Knef moved to Berlin after the reunification of Germany in 1990; she died of emphysema in 2002, at the age of 76.
Caption TK
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Oskar Werner / Hildegard Knef Forecourt ceremony, Thursday, December 13, 1951. Hildegard Knef places the plaster casts of actor Oskar Werner into the cement in his place.
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