Maria Schell

Active - 1948 - 2016  |   Born - Jan 15, 1926   |   Died - Apr 26, 2005   |   Genres - Drama, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The older sister of actor Maximillian Schell, Viennese-born leading lady Maria Schell was one of four children born to a Swiss author and Austrian actress. Billed as Gritli Schell, Maria Schell made her screen debut at 16 in the Swiss-filmed Steibruch; it would be six years before she'd appear before the cameras again, in 1948's Der Engel Mit der Posaune. This last-named Austro-German production was simultaneously filmed in an English-language version, Angel With a Trumpet, which brought Schell to the attention of international filmgoers. In 1954, she won a Cannes Film Festival award for her enigmatic portrayal of a German nurse imprisoned in wartime Yugoslavia in The Last Bridge; two years later, she claimed a Venice Film Festival prize for her work in Gervaise (1956). Schell's American film career consisted of starring roles in The Brothers Karamazov (1958, as Grushenka), the Gary Cooper vehicle The Hanging Tree (1959), and the remake of Edna Ferber's Cimarron (1961). Dissatisfied with the diminishing value of the characters she was called upon to play, Maria Schell retired in 1963, but made a comeback in character roles five years later; among these later assignments was her fleeting appearance as a Kryptonian judge in Superman: The Movie (1978) and her portrayal of Albert Speer's mother in the made-for-TV Inside the Third Reich.

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