|x extra x
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birth name: Asta Sofie
date of birth: 11
place of birth:
date of death: 24 May
Danish leading woman of
who became one of the greatest stars of the silent era. A native of the
Copenhagen suburb of Vesterbro, Nielsen was the daughter of a
and a washerwoman, both of whom died before Nielsen was fifteen.
Her stage debut came as a
the chorus of the Kongelige Teater's production of Boito's opera
She studied at the Royal Theatre School of Copenhagen and embarked upon
a stage career in her late teens. She toured Scandinavia and became one
of the highest-paid and most popular stage actresses of her time and
In 1909, director Urban Gad
that the silent screen would allow her to transcend her Danish language
barrier, and she agreed appear in his film 'Afgrunden (1910)'. The film
was successful and Nielsen was encouraged to continue in this new art
A German distributor, Paul
invited Nielsen to Germany, where he was building a film studio which
eventually become Europe's largest--the Universum Film Union A.-G. (or
Ufa). Nielsen and her director, Gad, whom she had married, went to
and spent the next quarter century there.
She became one of the true
of the silent screen, a tragic heroine whose photograph during the
World War accompanied German and also British and French troops into
Among her notable films after
war was a version of "Hamlet, " which was not so much a Shakespearean
as it was an exploration of a then-current theory that the real Hamlet
had been, in fact, a woman. Nielsen played the title role.
She continued to play a wide
of roles in Germany and occasionally in Denmark and Norway, never
the respect and popularity she had maintained almost from the beginning
of her career.
She abandoned her film work
as sound was taking over the industry. Aside from one or two brief
in talkies, her acting was thereafter confined to the stage. She died
1972 at the age of 89, shortly after her fifth marriage.
x trivia x
- Offered her own studio in
by Goebbels when Nazi's took power - refused.
- She was so famous that the
Asta became a trademark for cigarettes and perfumes. Her beauty was
by Guillaume Apollinaire too.
x more x
Nielsen at imdb.com
Nielsen Der Stern des Stummfilms [german]
Nielsen at Bright Lights Film Journal [english]
Nielsen at Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen [english]