With a platinum-blonde beauty that could command as much attention on-stage as it could with a flattering close-up on a giant cinema screen, actress Marika Rökk won the hearts of Nazi Germany with roles in such features as Leichte Kavallerie and Der Bettelstudent. Miraculously surviving the post-war years despite her popularity with the Hitler regime, the multifaceted screen star would remain active onscreen until the early '60s.
Rökk was born in Cairo in November of 1913, and when her family moved to Budapest shortly thereafter, the talented youngster took up dance -- a pass-time at which she quickly excelled. A move to Paris in 1924 found Rökk joining the Hoffman Ballet Company, which quickly resulted in an engagement at the Moulin Rouge. A move to Broadway and a tour of the U.S. followed shortly thereafter, and though the Hoffman Ballet Company soon disbanded, Rökk's stage career continued to flourish in Europe. In 1930, Rökk transferred her stage success to the screen with a role in the U.K. comedy Why Sailors Leave Home, with subsequent roles in Leichte Kavallerie and Und du Mein Schatz Fährst Mit only serving to blast her screen presence to stratospheric heights among Teutonic cinemagoers. A role opposite handsome German star Johannes Heesters in 1936's Der Bettelstudent proved the start of a lucrative onscreen pairing, and over the next two decades, the duo would frequently appear together in such efforts as Die Geschiedene Frau and Die Czardasfürstin. Though a temporary post-war ban from the industry found her momentarily absent from the screen, Rökk remained active on-stage by entertaining U.S. troops stationed in Germany. Rökk officially retired in 1962, notwithstanding the occasional stage role in Germany, Holland, and Belgium. On May 16, 2004, Marika Rökk died suddenly of a heart attack in her home in Baden, Germany. She was 90.