Lilli Palmer

Active - 1931 - 1985  |   Born - May 24, 1914   |   Died - Jan 27, 1986   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Crime, Spy Film

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The daughter of a German surgeon and an Austrian actress, Lilli Palmer was ten years old when she began appearing in amateur theatricals in Berlin. She studied for a theater career with Ilka Gruning, a character actress best known for her brief appearance as a refugee in Casablanca (1942). Shortly after her professional bow in 1932, Palmer fled from Germany to escape the incoming Nazi government. She worked at Paris' Moulin Rouge, then learned English well enough to appear in British films from 1935 and on the London stage from 1938. In the company of her first husband, Rex Harrison (whom she married in 1943), Palmer came to America in 1945, appearing in such stage productions as Anne of a Thousand Days and Bell, Book and Candle, and in such films as Cloak and Dagger (1946) and Body and Soul (1948). In 1952, she co-starred with Harrison in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit The Four Poster. Her marriage dissolved when Harrison became interested in movie leading lady Kay Kendall; her second -- and last -- husband was actor Carlos Thompson. Resettling in Europe in 1954, Palmer periodically returned to Hollywood for such projects as the well-circulated 1955 TV anthology The Lilli Palmer Theater. She continued to star in films produced in virtually every corner of the world, and to appear on Broadway. A prolific writer, Lilli Palmer published several books, including her 1975 autobiography Change Lobsters and Dance.

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