Betty Nansen

Active - 1914 - 1915  |   Born - Mar 19, 1873 in Odense, Denmark  |   Died - Mar 15, 1943 in Copenhagen, Denmark  |   Genres - Drama

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A dramatic stage actress of the old school, Danish theater star Betty Nansen (born Müller) was a favorite of Ole Olsen, the founder of Scandinavia's largest film concern, The Great Northern Film Company. Unaccountably, Olsen preferred the then 40-year-old Nansen to the younger, much more vibrant Asta Nielsen, whose bohemian personality he just did not understand. Honored by the presence of the great lady, Olsen lavished the studio's heretofore largest budgets on Mrs. Nansen's nine star vehicles released in 1913 and 1914. The public remained unmoved, however, although contemporary reviewers heaped praise on the actress out of sheer habit. Her artistic reputation reached America, where producer William Fox needed an antidote to the vastly popular but overly melodramatic Theda Bara. Counting on the European prima donna to lend his upstart company some much needed dignity, Nansen was hurried through five films for Fox in one single year, all of them helmed by the company's leading director, J. Gordon Edwards. The Nansen vehicles were perhaps overly ambitious -- she did Tolstoy twice: Anna Karenina (1915) and A Woman's Resurrection (1915) -- and although the reviews were again mostly laudatory, audiences stayed away in droves. When Fox failed to renew her contract, Nansen opened negotiations with competitor World Film Corp., but no projects materialized. By then, World War I was raging in Europe, and fearful of being left stranded in America for the duration, she hurried home on the last oceanliner bound for Copenhagen. Following her rather disappointing American sojourn, Nansen abandoned films for good but continued her successful stage career. At the time of her death, she was heading a theater named in her honor.