Elfi von Dassanowsky

Active - 1943 - 2004  |   Born - Feb 2, 1924   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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At age 15, the youngest female of her time to gain admission to Vienna's renowned Academy of Music, Elfi von Dassanowsky was soon recruited by director Karl Hartl to instruct Curd Jurgens in piano for his performance in the 1942 Mozart film, Wen die Götter Lieben. Von Dassanowsky's career as opera singer and pianist was halted when she refused to join Nazi organizations, and in 1944 she declined a star film contract from UFA Studiosin Berlin. Two years later she made her opera debut and followed this with concerts for the Allied High Command, performances as a stage and film actress, a one-woman-show tour, and on-air duties for the BBC. She remains one of the few women in cinema history to found and administer a film studio -- Belvedere Film Vienna -- which she created with August Diglas and silent-film director Emmerich Hanus in 1946. Their productions redefined the traditional Heimatfilm and musical comedy genres for the postwar audience, offered the first film roles to such future international stars as Nadja Tiller and Gunther Philipp, and began the noted careers of several members of the studio production team. Von Dassanowsky also attempted to bring stage actorOskar Werner to the screen before his debut in Karl Hartl's Der Engel Mit der Posaune (1948). In 1951 she became an administrator of Phoebus International Films in Hamburg as well as the first female casting director in West Germany. Since 1962, Von Dassanowsky has been a distinguished Hollywood vocal coach, businesswoman, and arts consultant.