Lil Dagover

Active - 1919 - 1979  |   Born - Sep 30, 1894   |   Died - Jan 23, 1980   |   Genres - Drama, Fantasy, Historical Film, Comedy, Romance

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Actress Lil Dagover was born in Java to a Dutch family working in that country. She was educated in Baden-Baden and Weimar, Germany. While pursuing an acting career she married a much-older stage performer, Fritz Daghofer. The marriage was brief but it did give Lil her professional last name, which she respelled. Somewhat reminiscent of American film star Theda Bara in her dark-lined makeup and florid acting mannerisms, Dagover was ideal for the surrealistic ambience of her first important film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), and soon other European actresses were adopting Lil's heavy-lidded, highly stylized technique. Ms. Dagover was a particular favorite of director Fritz Lang, who cast the actress in such exotic silent classics Die Spinnen [Spiders] (1919), Destiny (1921) and Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (1922). Lil made one American film, Warner Bros.' The Woman From Monte Carlo (1931) -- yet another attempt by Hollywood moguls to create a "new" Greta Garbo, even though Dagover preceded Garbo by nearly a decade. Returning to Germany, Dagover avoided overt political involvement during the Third Reich, concentrating on harmless costume musicals and comedies during World War II. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she managed to retain her stature in the post-war years. Lil Dagover's final appearance was a small part in the German-Italian co-production End of the Game (1976)--an appropriate title for the climax of nearly half a century's worth of film roles.

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