Romy Schneider (German: [ˈʁoː.mi ˈʃnaɪ̯.dɐ] ; born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach; 23 September 1938 – 29 May 1982) was a German-French actress. She is regarded as one of the greatest screen actresses of all time and became a cult figure due to her role as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Sissi trilogy in the mid-1950s.[1][2][3][4] She later reprised the role in a more mature version in Luchino Visconti's Ludwig (1973). She began her career in the German Heimatfilm genre in the early 1950s when she was 15. Schneider moved to France, where she made successful and critically acclaimed films with some of the most notable film directors of that era. Her performance in That Most Important Thing: Love is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of cinema.[5][6] Coco Chanel called Romy “the ultimate incarnation of the ideal woman.”[7] Bertrand Tavernier remarked: “Sautet is talking about Mozart with regard to Romy. Me, I want to talk of Verdi, Mahler…”[8]

Romy Schneider
Schneider in 1973
Rosemarie Magdalena Albach

(1938-09-23)23 September 1938
Vienna, German Reich
Died29 May 1982(1982-05-29) (aged 43)
Paris, France
Burial placeBoissy-sans-Avoir, Yvelines, France
Other namesRomy Schneider-Albach
Years active1953–1982
(m. 1966; div. 1975)
Daniel Biasini
(m. 1975; div. 1981)
Partner(s)Alain Delon (1958–1963)
Laurent Pétin [fr] (1981–1982; her death)
Children2, including Sarah Biasini
Parent(s)Wolf Albach-Retty (father)
Magda Schneider (mother)
RelativesRosa Albach-Retty (grandmother)

Early life


Schneider was born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach in Vienna, six months after the Anschluss of Austria into the German Reich. She was born to a theatrical couple;[9] her father Wolf Albach-Retty was a leading actor of Vienna's Volkstheater, and her mother Magda Schneider starred in scores of lavish musical films in Germany. Her paternal grandmother Rosa Albach-Retty had been one of the most popular actresses of the Austrian theater. Rosemarie, known to family as Romy from her earliest years, was educated at private schools in Berchtesgaden and Salzburg. Interested in painting, she planned to continue her education at art school, but she was also interested in school plays, not only acting in them but directing as well.[9]

Four weeks after her birth, her parents took her to Schönau am Königssee in Germany where she and later her brother Wolf-Dieter (born 1941) grew up with their grandparents Franz Xaver and Maria Schneider on the country estate Mariengrund. In her first year, Schneider was cared for by a governess. Her parents were very rarely present due to their acting engagements. In 1943, they separated and divorced in 1945.[10][11]

In September 1944, Schneider was enrolled in the elementary school of Schönau and from July 1949 she attended the girls' boarding school at Castle Goldenstein [de], a private secondary school of the Augustinian Canonesses of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Elsbethen near Salzburg. During her schooldays, she discovered her passion for acting which is why she was often on stage at theatrical performances at the residential school. In her diary entry of 10 June 1952, she wrote: "If it were up to me, I would immediately become an actress. ... Every time I see a nice movie, my first thoughts are about the idea: I definitely have to become an actress. Yes! I have to!"[12] On 12 July 1953, she left the residential school Goldenstein with the degree of Mittlere Reife. After the summer holidays, she moved to Cologne to join her mother who lived there with the restaurateur and entrepreneur Hans Herbert Blatzheim [de].[13]

After her parents' divorce in 1945, Magda took charge of Schneider and her brother Wolf-Dieter, eventually supervising her career, often appearing alongside her daughter. Her career was also overseen by her stepfather Blatzheim who, Schneider indicated, had an unhealthy interest in her.[vague][14][15][16][17][18]

Early career

Schneider as Elisabeth of Austria in Sissi (1955)

Schneider's first film, made when she was 15, was When the White Lilacs Bloom Again (1953), credited as Romy Schneider-Albach. In 1954, Schneider, for the first time, portrayed a royal, playing a young Queen Victoria in the Austrian film Mädchenjahre einer Königin (known in the U.S. as The Story of Vickie and in Britain as Victoria in Dover).

Schneider's breakthrough came with her portrayal of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the romantic biopic Sissi (1955) and its two sequels, Sissi – The Young Empress (1956) and Sissi – Fateful Years of an Empress (1957), all with Karlheinz Böhm, who became a close friend. Less stereotypical films during this busy period include The Girl and the Legend (1957), working with a young Horst Buchholz, and Monpti (1957), directed by Helmut Käutner, again with Buchholz. In an attempt to work on a higher artistic level, she starred with Lilli Palmer in the 1958 remake of Mädchen in Uniform.

Schneider on the set of What's New Pussycat? (1965)

Schneider starred in Christine (1958), a remake of Max Ophüls's 1933 film Liebelei (in which her mother Magda Schneider had played the same role). It was during the filming of Christine that Schneider fell in love with French actor Alain Delon who co-starred in the film. She left West Germany to join him in Paris, and they announced their engagement in 1959.[19]

Schneider decided to live and to work in France, slowly gaining the interest of film directors such as Orson Welles for The Trial (1962), based on Franz Kafka's The Trial. She was also introduced to Luchino Visconti. Under Visconti's direction, she gave performances in the Théâtre Moderne as Annabella (and Delon as Giovanni) in John Ford's stage play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1961), and in the film Boccaccio '70 (segment: "The Job"). In 1962, Schneider played Anna in Sacha Pitoëff's production of Chekhov's play The Seagull, also at the Théâtre Moderne.

A brief stint in Hollywood included a starring role in Good Neighbor Sam (1964), a comedy with Jack Lemmon, and What's New Pussycat? (1965), in which Schneider co-starred with Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen.

Schneider and West German chancellor, Willy Brandt, 1971

Schneider and Delon separated in December 1963, although they remained close lifelong friends. They continued to work together in such films as La Piscine (The Swimming Pool, 1968) and The Assassination of Trotsky (1972).

Later career

Schneider during the filming of La califfa (1970)

Schneider continued to work in France during the 1970s, most notably with director Claude Sautet on five films. Their first collaboration, The Things of Life (Les choses de la vie, 1970) featuring Michel Piccoli, made Schneider an icon in France. The three collaborated again for the noir thriller Max et les ferrailleurs (Max and the Junkmen, 1971), and she appeared with Yves Montand in Sautet's César et Rosalie (1972).

Schneider portrayed a more mature and realistic Elisabeth of Austria in Ludwig (1973), Visconti's film about the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria."Sissi sticks to me just like oatmeal", Schneider once said.[20]

Paris Match wrote in 1971: "Forty years after Greta and Marlene, fifteen years after Marilyn, the screen again has a great star."[21]

Other successes from this period included Le Train (1973), Claude Chabrol's thriller Innocents with Dirty Hands (Les innocents aux mains sales, 1975) with Rod Steiger, and Le vieux fusil (1975). The gritty That Most Important Thing: Love (L'important c'est d'aimer, 1974) garnered her first César Award (France's equivalent of the Oscar), a feat she repeated five years later, in her last collaboration with Sautet, for A Simple Story (Une histoire simple, 1978).

On 30 October 1974, Schneider was the second guest on Dietmar Schönherr's talk show Je später der Abend [de] (The Later the Evening) when she, after a rather terse interview, remarked passionately to the last guest, bank robber and author Burkhard Driest: "Sie gefallen mir. Sie gefallen mir sehr." (I like you. I like you a lot.)[22][23][24]

Schneider was, in 1975, to star as the female lead in U.S. filmmaker Michael Cimino's political love story Perfect Strangers, whom he cast after seeing her performance in Ludwig[citation needed]. She would have starred alongside Roy Scheider and Oskar Werner, though the film was ultimately cancelled after several weeks of pre-production shooting because of "political machinations".[25][26]

She also acted in The Infernal Trio (1974) with Michel Piccoli, and in Garde à vue (1981) with Michel Serrault and Lino Ventura. An unpleasant incident occurred during this period with leading German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who wanted to cast her as the lead in his film The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). Negotiations broke down when he called Schneider a "dumb cow",[27] to which she responded by declaring she would never work with such a "beast".[28] Fassbinder cast Hanna Schygulla instead, reviving his professional association with an actress to whom he had likewise been offensive.[27]

Schneider starred in Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch (La mort en direct, 1980), playing a dying woman whose last days are watched on national television via a camera implanted in the brain of a journalist (Harvey Keitel). It is based on David G. Compton's novel. Schneider's last film was La Passante du Sans-Souci (The Passerby, 1982).

Personal life


Following the end of her relationship with Delon, Schneider married German director and actor Harry Meyen in July 1966; they divorced in 1975.[29] They had a son, David Christopher (1966–1981). David died in July 1981, at the age of 14, after attempting to climb the spiked fence at his stepfather's parents' home and puncturing his femoral artery in the process.[30] Schneider had affairs with Willy Brandt, Sammy Davis Jr. (1964), Luis Miguel Dominguín (1970s), Oswalt Kolle (1964),[31] Giovanni Volpi (1964-1970s), and actor Bruno Ganz (early 1970s).[32][33][34][35] She also had an affair with Jorge Guinle, who said that Schneider was the great love of his life.[36][37] She had a brief affair with Jean-Louis Trintignant while filming The Train (1973).[38] She also had in 1974 a brief affair with Jacques Dutronc while filming That Most Important Thing: Love.[39]

Schneider appeared as one of 28 women under the banner "We've had abortions!" (German: Wir haben abgetrieben!) on the cover page of the West German magazine Stern on 6 June 1971. In that issue, 374 women publicly stated that they had had pregnancies terminated which at that time was illegal.[40]

In 1975, Schneider married Daniel Biasini [fr], her private secretary; they divorced in 1981. Their daughter, Sarah, is an actress. Schneider’s last romantic partner was film producer Laurent Pétin [fr] (born 1949).[41]

In her 2018 biography Romy Schneider intime, Alice Schwarzer stated that Schneider confided to her that she had sexual relationships with women and was deeply in love with her close friend Simone Signoret.[42]


Grave of Romy Schneider and her son in Boissy-sans-Avoir

Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment on 29 May 1982. The examining magistrate Laurent Davenas [fr] declared that she had died from cardiac arrest.[43] Claude Pétin said that Schneider's cardiac arrest was due to a weakened heart caused by a kidney operation she had had months before.[44] Schneider began drinking alcohol excessively after her son's death. However, Schneider's friend and sister-in-law of Laurent Pétin, Claude Pétin, said that she no longer drank at the time of her death[44] and that she is convinced it was a natural death.[41]

Her tombstone at Boissy-sans-Avoir, Yvelines, bears her birth name, Rosemarie Albach. Funeral guests were Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Piccoli, Jean-Loup Dabadie and Jean Rochefort.[45][46] Alain Delon arranged for her son David to be buried in the same grave.[47]

Enduring popularity


The French journalist Eugène Moineau initiated in 1984 the Prix Romy Schneider. It is one of the most prestigious awards for upcoming actresses in the French film industry, and is given by a jury each year in Paris in conjunction with the Prix Patrick Dewaere (formerly the Prix Jean Gabin). In 1990, the Austrian newspaper Kurier created the Romy TV Award in honour of Schneider. In 2003, she was voted 78th on the list of the greatest Germans in the German TV program Unsere Besten (the German version of 100 Greatest Britons)—the second-highest ranked actress (Marlene Dietrich was 50th) on that list. Until 2002, the Austrian Federal Railways InterCity service IC 535 from Wien Südbahnhof to Graz was named "Romy Schneider".[48][49]

Pedro Almodóvar's film All About My Mother (1999) is partially dedicated to her.[50]

A movie about Schneider's life, titled Eine Frau wie Romy/Une femme comme Romy (A Woman Like Romy), was planned by Warner Bros. for 2009; Schneider's role was going to be played by Yvonne Catterfeld.[51][52] The project was cancelled in July 2009.[53] A musical about Schneider, Romy – Die Welt aus Gold (Romy – The Golden World) was premiered in 2009 at the Theater Heilbronn.[54] In November 2009, the ARD broadcast the feature film Romy [de] with Jessica Schwarz in the title role.[55] The film 3 Days in Quiberon (2018) by Emily Atef describes a 1981 episode in Schneider's life in the French town of Quiberon.[56]

On 23 September 2020, Google celebrated her 82nd birthday with a Google Doodle in Germany, France, Austria, Iceland and Ukraine.[57]

The culture broadcaster Arte dedicated a documentary to Romy Schneider and Alain Delon: Romy and Alain – The Eternal Betrothed, 2022.[58]





Awards named after Romy Schneider



  1. ^ "The greatest actresses of all time". IMDb.
  2. ^ "Marion Cotillard". 23 January 2001.
  3. ^ "Fast Life - Lily Rose Depp". 26 August 2019.
  4. ^ Segrave, Kerry (1990). The Continental Actress European Film Stars of the Postwar Era--biographies, Criticism, Filmographies, Bibliographies. McFarland. ISBN 9780899505107.
  5. ^ "Best actresses of all time". IMDb.
  6. ^ "Jodie Foster : "Mes actrices préférées"". 3 October 2007.
  7. ^ Ludot, Didier (2001). La petite robe noire. Assouline. ISBN 9782843233104.
  8. ^ Tavernier, Bertrand (2016). Bertrand Tavernier: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781496807687.
  9. ^ a b Commire, Anne (1999). Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, Volume 13. Yorkin Publications. ISBN 9780787664367.
  10. ^ Wolfgang Jacobsen: "Schneider, Romy" in Neue Deutsche Biographie. pp. 306–308 (307) (in German)
  11. ^ Renate Seydel [de; fr]: Ich, Romy – Tagebuch eines Lebens, p. 27. Piper, Munich 2005 ISBN 9783492228756 (in German)
  12. ^ "Die Königin der Schmerzen" by Matthias Matussek [de] and Lars-Olav Beier [de], Der Spiegel, 21 May 2007 (in German)
  13. ^ "Romy Schneider" by Dieter Wunderlich (in German)
  14. ^ "Biography" (in French). Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Romy témoignant par la suite de l'intérêt malsain qu'il lui portait.
  15. ^ "Biography and career" (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 October 2007. waarvan Romy later aangaf dat hij een ongezonde belangstelling voor haar had
  16. ^ Surkus, Andrea. "Auch das noch – Alice Schwarzer entdeckt Romy Schneider als Frauensymbol". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 4 November 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007. und will mit ihr schlafen
  17. ^ Gretter, Susanne. "Biography" (in German and French). FemBio Frauen-Biographieforschung e.V. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Il a clairement proposé de coucher avec moi.
  18. ^ Leinkauf, Thomas (19 September 1998). "Der Liebling der Machos". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Blatzheim in ihrer Jugend mit ihr schlafen wollte.
  19. ^ Nick Rees-Roberts; Darren Waldron, eds. (2015). Alain Delon: Style, Stardom and Masculinity. Bloomsbury USA. p. 52. ISBN 9781623564452.
  20. ^ "Romy Schneider – Bilder einer Ikone". (in German). Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007. Sissi pappt an mir wie Griesbrei
  21. ^ Alice Schwarzer (2018). Romy Schneider intime (in French). L'Archipel. p. 104. ISBN 9782809824988. Translation of Romy Schneider: Mythos und Leben (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2008)
  22. ^ "Und retten kann uns nur Heinz Schenk". Stern (in German). 9 August 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  23. ^ Beier, Lars-Olav [in German] (23 May 2007). "Die Berührbare". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  24. ^ Je später der Abend: Burkhard Driest and Romy Schneider on YouTube, (October 1974, 29 seconds) (in German)
  25. ^ "Michael Cimino – Interview with Mark Patrick Carducci (1977)". 21 October 2016.
  26. ^ Kachmar, Diane C. (2015). Roy Scheider: A Film Biography. McFarland. p. 209. ISBN 9781476609034.
  27. ^ a b Malcolm, Derek (28 January 1999). "Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  28. ^ Anderson, Jason (26 October 2016). "Nothing Left to Lose". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "The son of actress Romy Schneider was killed Sunday..." United Press International. 6 July 1981. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  31. ^ "Als Oswalt Kolle mit Romy Schneider schlief" by Sven Michaelsen, Die Welt, 12 August 2008 (in German)
  32. ^ Biasini, Daniel (2000). Meine Romy. Droemer Knaur. ISBN 9783426612538.
  33. ^ Amorós, Andrés Amorós (2008). Luis Miguel Dominguín. Esfera de los Libros. ISBN 9788497347204.
  34. ^ Davis, Sammy (1989). Why Me? The Sammy Davis, Jr. Story. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780374289973.
  35. ^ "Bruno Ganz erinnert sich an Affäre mit Romy Schneider", tz, 16 February 2019 (in German)
  36. ^ "Romy Schneider fut le grand amour du séducteur milliardaire décédé ce week-end Avec Jorginho Guinle, le Brésil a perdu son playboy de légende".
  37. ^ Guinle, Jorge (1997). Um século de boa vida. ISBN 9788525021328.
  38. ^ Ivana Sokola (17 June 2022). "Ein Mann, der Ambivalenzen liebte". Die Zeit (in German). Caption to image no. 5.
  39. ^ Maren Zimmermann (8 April 2021). "Romy Schneider: Wer waren die Männer, die ihr Leben geprägt haben?". AmoMama (in German).
  40. ^ "Stern "Wir haben abgetrieben!"" (in German). Lebendiges Museum Online [de]. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  41. ^ a b "Romy Schneider a fini ses jours avec Laurent Pétin, son dernier amour" by Salomé Gegout, Le Journal des femmes [fr], 24 September 2020 (in French). Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  42. ^ Marjorie Raynaud (22 March 2022). "Romy Schneider amoureuse de Simone Signoret, les révélations de sa confidente". aufeminin (in French). Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  43. ^ "Der frühe Tod von Romy Schneider", Die Welt, 29 May 2012 (in German)
  44. ^ a b Marie Desnos. "Romy Schneider ne s'est pas suicidée". Paris Match (in French). Paris. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  45. ^ "En France, à Boissy-sans-Avoir dans les Yvelines, Michel Piccoli, Jean-Loup Dabadie et Jean-Claude Brialy lors des obsèques de Romy Schneider le 2 juin 1982" (photo caption), by Rachel Henry,, 6 January 2021
  46. ^ Funeral of Romy Schneider on YouTube, Institut national de l'audiovisuel
  47. ^ Delon, Alain (11 June 1982). "Adieu ma puppelé". Paris Match (in French) (1724). Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  48. ^ "Neues Kursbuch" by Thomas Pröglhöf, 23 November 2002 (in German)
  49. ^ Question on notice, Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie, 31 October 2002 (in German)
  50. ^ "All about my mother". IMDb.
  51. ^ Sander, Daniel (12 February 2008). "Ein Soap-Sternchen gibt den Weltstar". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  52. ^ "Ich hatte eine Gänsehaut". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 12 February 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  53. ^ "Catterfeld sagt Projekt ab", Focus, 27 July 2009 (in German)
  54. ^ Romy – Die Welt aus Gold Archived 7 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
  55. ^ Romy – the movie at Südwestrundfunk (in German)
  56. ^ "NDR Koproduktion hat Chance auf Goldenen Bären", Norddeutscher Rundfunk, 16 January 2018 (in German)
  57. ^ "Romy Schneider's 82nd birthday". Google. 23 September 2020.
  58. ^ "Romy und Alain: Die ewigen Verlobten". 3 January 2024.

Further reading

  • Tast, Hans-Jürgen (2008). Romy Schneider: ein Leben auf Titelseiten; [anlässlich des 70. Geburtstags der Schauspielerin Romy Schneider] [Romy Schneider: a life on front pages; [on the occasion of the 70th birthday of actress Romy Schneider]]. Kulleraugen (in German). Vol. 36. Schellerten: Kulleraugen-Medienschriften. p. 33. ISBN 978-3-88842-036-8.
  • Töteberg, Michael [de] (2009) Romy Schneider (in German). Rowohlt Verlag. ISBN 978-3-499-50669-7