Renate Muller

Active - 1931 - 1936  |   Born - Apr 26, 1907 in Munich, Germany  |   Died - Oct 7, 1937 in Berlin, Germany  |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama, Historical Film, Musical

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The ultimately tragic Renate Müller blazed onto international screens in Die Privatesekretärin (The Private Secretary, 1931), a sort of Germanic Joan Crawford getting by in a man's world on her wits and a pair of shapely legs. The comedy was so popular that Müller also made an English-language version, entitled The Office Girl and featuring popular U.K. star Owen Nares.

The daughter of one of Munich's leading newspaper publishers, Müller had studied with Max Reinhardt and played opposite famed Italian actor Alessandro Moissi on-stage in Zweimal Oliver prior to entering films in the comedy Peter the Matrose (Peter the Sailor, 1929). The advent of talkies made her a star and she filmed in both Italy and Egypt. But storm clouds were already gathering. Recently appointed minister of propaganda and thus head of the newly "nazified" German film industry, the sardonic Joseph Goebbels liked Müller enough to try to pair her off with none other than Adolf Hitler himself. Using all kind of pretexts, she managed to escape this unwholesome fate and continued to appear in a series of popular, if lightweight, potboilers, mainly musicals. But Goebbels, who had her placed under constant surveillance by the Gestapo, kept pestering her to appear in propaganda films and she finally gave in, starring in the blatantly anti-Semitic Togger (1937). The situation made her a nervous wreck and in October 1937 she checked into a clinic, ostensibly for treatment of a knee injury. She never returned. Renate Müller's death on October 10, 1937 was in all likelihood a suicide and proved a public relations disaster for the regime in general and Goebbels in particular. To counteract the public's negative reactions, the ministry of propaganda spread rumors that she had become addicted to morphine, that she was an alcoholic and mentally disturbed, but no one really doubted that Müller was driven to her early death by Goebbel's lackeys in the Gestapo.