Romy Schneider

Romy Schneider (German: [ˈʁoː.mi ˈʃnaɪ̯.dɐ] (About this soundlisten); born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach, 23 September 1938 – 29 May 1982) was a German-French actress. She began her career in the German Heimatfilm genre in the early 1950s when she was 15. From 1955 to 1957, she played the central character of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Austrian Sissi trilogy, and later reprised the role in a more mature version in Visconti's Ludwig (1973). Schneider moved to France, where she made successful and critically acclaimed films with some of the most notable film directors of that era.

Romy Schneider
Romy Schneider 1973.jpg
Schneider in 1973
Rosemarie Magdalena Albach

(1938-09-23)23 September 1938
Vienna, Nazi Germany
Died29 May 1982(1982-05-29) (aged 43)
Paris, France
Burial placeBoissy-sans-Avoir, Yvelines, France
CitizenshipGerman, French
Years active1953–1982
(m. 1966; div. 1975)

(m. 1975; div. 1981)
Partner(s)Alain Delon (1959–1963)
Laurent Pétin (1981–1982)
ChildrenDavid Christopher Haubenstock
Sarah Biasini
Parent(s)Wolf Albach-Retty
Magda Schneider
RelativesRosa Albach-Retty (grandmother)

Early lifeEdit

Schneider was born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach in Vienna into a family of actors that included her paternal grandmother Rosa Albach-Retty, her Austrian father Wolf Albach-Retty, and her German mother, Magda Schneider.

Four weeks after Romy's birth, the parents brought 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 estate named Mariengrund. In her first year Romy was given into the hands of a governess. Her parents were very rarely present due to their acting engagements. In 1943 they separated, and were divorced in 1945.

Schneider was enrolled in the elementary school of Schönau in September 1944 and attended from July 1949 the girls residential school at Castle Goldenstein [de], a private secondary school of the Augustinian Canonesses of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Elsbethen near Salzburg. Already 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 June 10, 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!"[1] On July 12, 1953, she left the residential school Goldenstein with the degree of Mittlere Reife.

After the summer holidays, it was intended she would study at the Kölner Werkschulen in Cologne, as she had shown a talent for painting and drawing during art classes at school. Further, Magda Schneider was already in Cologne with the restaurateur and entrepreneur Hans Herbert Blatzheim [de]. However, she abandoned this plan in favour of her first film role.

After her parents' divorce in 1945, Magda took charge of Romy and her brother Wolf-Dieter, eventually supervising the young girl's career, often appearing alongside her daughter. Her career was also overseen by her stepfather Blatzheim, who, Schneider indicated, had an unhealthy interest in her.[2][3][4][5][6]

Early careerEdit

Schneider as Elisabeth of Austria in Sissi (1955)

Romy 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.

Schneider soon 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 movie. She left Germany to join him in Paris, and they announced their engagement in 1959.[7]

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 upon Franz Kafka's The Trial. She was also introduced by Delon 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, while What's New Pussycat? (1965), although American-financed, was shot in and around Paris. Schneider co-starred with Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen.

Schneider and German Chancellor Willy Brandt, 1971

Schneider and Delon decided to separate in 1963, although they remained close life-long friends. They continued to work together in such films as La Piscine (The Swimming Pool, 1968), which revitalized her career, and The Assassination of Trotsky (1972).

Later careerEdit

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.[8]

Other successes from this period included Le Train (1973), where she played a German-Jewish refugee in World War II, 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 created one of the most memorable moments on German television. She was the second guest on Dietmar Schönherr's talk show Je später der Abend (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.)[9][10][11]

She also acted in Le Trio infernal (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",[12] to which she responded by declaring she would never work with such a "beast".[13] Fassbinder cast Hanna Schygulla instead, reviving his professional association with an actress to whom he had also been offensive.[12]

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 lifeEdit

Following the end of her relationship with Delon, Schneider married German director and actor Harry Meyen in July 1966. The couple had a son, David Christopher (1966–1981), but later divorced.

She 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.[14]

In 1975, Schneider married Daniel Biasini [fr], her private secretary; they separated in 1981. Their daughter, Sarah Magdalena, is an actress.


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

In July 1981, Schneider's son David died 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. Schneider began drinking alcohol excessively after his death. However, Schneider's friend, Claude Pétin, said that Schneider no longer drank at the time of her death.[15]

Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment on 29 May 1982. The examining magistrate Laurent Davenas [fr] declared that she died from cardiac arrest.[16] Pétin said that Schneider's cardiac arrest was due to a weakened heart caused by a kidney operation she had months before.[15]

Her tombstone at Boissy-sans-Avoir, Yvelines, bears her birth name, Rosemarie Albach. Funeral guests were her brother Wolf-Dieter, Gérard Depardieu, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Piccoli, Claude Sautet, Claude Lelouche, Jean Rochefort, former husband Daniel Biasini and Laurent Pétin. Shortly afterwards, Delon arranged for David to be buried in the same grave.[17]

Enduring popularityEdit

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".[18][19]

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.[20][21] The project was cancelled in July 2009.[22] A musical about Schneider, Romy – Die Welt aus Gold (Romy – The Golden World) was premiered in 2009 at the Theater Heilbronn.[23] In November 2009, the ARD broadcast the feature film Romy [de] with Jessica Schwarz in the title role.[24] The film 3 Days in Quiberon (2018) by Emily Atef describes a 1981 episode in Schneider's life in the French town of Quiberon.[25]

On 23 September 2020, Google celebrated her 82nd birthday with a Google Doodle in Germany, France, Austria, Iceland and Ukraine.[26]


Title Year Role Director Notes
When the White Lilacs Bloom Again 1953 Evchen Förster Hans Deppe
Fireworks 1954 Anna Oberholzer Paul Burkhard, Erik Charell, and Kurt Hoffmann
Victoria in Dover (Mädchenjahre einer Königin) 1954 Princess Victoria / Queen Victoria Ernst Marischka
Die Deutschmeister [de] 1955 Stanzi Hübner Ernst Marischka
The Last Man 1955 Niddy Hoevelmann Harald Braun
Sissi 1955 Sissi Ernst Marischka
Kitty and the Great Big World 1956 Kitty Dupont Alfred Weidenmann
Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin 1956 Sissi Ernst Marischka
The Girl and the Legend 1957 Maud Josef von Báky
Love from Paris (Monpti) 1957 Anne-Claire Jouvain Helmut Käutner
Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin 1957 Sissi Ernst Marischka
Scampolo 1958 Scampolo Alfred Weidenmann
Mädchen in Uniform 1958 Manuela von Meinhardis Géza von Radványi
Christine 1958 Christine Weiring Pierre Gaspard-Huit
Eva (Die Halbzarte) 1959 Nicole Rolf Thiele
Mademoiselle Ange (Ein Engel auf Erden) 1959 Stewardess / Angel Géza von Radványi
Die schöne Lügnerin [de] 1959 Fanny Emmetsrieder Axel von Ambesser
Magnificent Sinner (Katia) 1959 Katia Robert Siodmak
Purple Noon (Plein soleil) 1960 Freddie's companion René Clément Cameo, Uncredited
Die Sendung der Lysistrata [de] 1961 Myrrhine / Uschi Fritz Kortner TV movie
Boccaccio '70 1961 Pupe Luchino Visconti (segment "Il lavoro")
Le Combat dans l'île [fr] 1962 Anne Alain Cavalier
The Trial 1962 Leni Orson Welles
The Victors 1962 Regine Carl Foreman
The Cardinal 1963 Annemarie von Hartman Otto Preminger
Good Neighbor Sam 1964 Janet Lagerlof David Swift
L'Enfer 1964[F 1] Odette Henri-Georges Clouzot
L'Amour à la mer 1964 The star Guy Gilles
What's New Pussycat? 1965 Carole Werner Clive Donner
La Voleuse 1966 Julia Kreuz Jean Chapot
10:30 P.M. Summer 1966 Claire Jules Dassin
Triple Cross 1966 Countess Terence Young
Is Paris Burning? (Paris brûle-t-il ?) 1966 René Clément (scenes deleted)
Romy: Anatomy of a Face (Romy. Porträt eines Gesichts) 1967 Herself Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
The Swimming Pool 1969 Marianne Jacques Deray
Otley 1969 Imogen Dick Clement
The Things of Life 1970 Hélène Claude Sautet
My Lover My Son 1970 Francesca Anderson John Newland
Qui ? [fr] 1970 Marina Léonard Keigel [fr]
Bloomfield 1971 Nira Richard Harris
La califfa 1970 Irene Corsini Alberto Bevilacqua
Max et les ferrailleurs 1971 Lily Claude Sautet
The Assassination of Trotsky 1972 Gita Samuels Joseph Losey
César and Rosalie 1972 Rosalie Claude Sautet
Ludwig 1972 Elisabeth of Austria Luchino Visconti
The Train 1973 Anna Kupfer Pierre Granier-Deferre
Le Mouton enragé 1974 Roberte Groult Michel Deville
Un amour de pluie [fr] 1974 Elizabeth Jean-Claude Brialy
Le Trio infernal [fr] 1974 Philomena Schmidt Francis Girod
L'important c'est d'aimer 1974 Nadine Chevalier Andrzej Żuławski
Innocents with Dirty Hands 1975 Julie Wormser Claude Chabrol
Le vieux fusil 1975 Clara Dandieu Robert Enrico
Mado 1976 Hélène Claude Sautet
A Woman at Her Window (Une femme à sa fenêtre) 1976 Margot Santorini Pierre Granier-Deferre
Group Portrait with a Lady 1977 Leni Gruyten Aleksandar Petrović
A Simple Story 1978 Marie Claude Sautet
Bloodline 1979 Hélène Martin Terence Young
Clair de femme 1979 Lydia Tovalski Costa-Gavras
Death Watch 1979 Katherine Mortenhoe Bertrand Tavernier
The Lady Banker 1980 Emma Eckhert Francis Girod
Fantasma d'amore 1981 Anna Brigatti Zighi Dino Risi
Garde à vue 1981 Chantal Martinaud Claude Miller
The Passerby 1982 Elsa Wiener / Lina Baumstein Jacques Rouffio (final film role)
  1. ^ L'Enfer remained unfinished in 1964; much footage from the film was included in the documentary L' Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot (2009) by Serge Bromberg [fr].


Awards named after Romy SchneiderEdit


  1. ^ "Die Königin der Schmerzen" by Matthias Matussek [de] and Lars-Olav Beier, Der Spiegel, 21 May 2007 (in German)
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "Biography and career" (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 October 2007. waarvan Romy later aangaf dat hij een ongezonde belangstelling voor haar had
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Gretter, Susanne. "Biography" (in German and French). FemBio Frauen-Biographieforschung e.V. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Il a clairement proposé de coucher avec moi.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Nick Rees-Roberts; Darren Waldron, eds. (2015). Alain Delon: Style, Stardom and Masculinity. Bloomsbury USA. p. 52. ISBN 9781623564452.
  8. ^ "Romy Schneider – Bilder einer Ikone" (in German). Compress VerlagsgesmbH & Co KG. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007. Sissi pappt an mir wie Griesbrei
  9. ^ "Und retten kann uns nur Heinz Schenk". Stern (in German). 9 August 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  10. ^ Beier, Lars-Olav (23 May 2007). "Die Berührbare". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  11. ^ Je später der Abend: Burkhard Driest and Romy Schneider on YouTube, (October 1974, 29 seconds) (in German)
  12. ^ a b Malcolm, Derek (28 January 1999). "Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  13. ^ Anderson, Jason (26 October 2016). "Nothing Left to Lose". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Stern "Wir haben abgetrieben!"" (in German). Lebendiges Museum Online [de]. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Romy Schneider ne s'est pas suicidée". Paris Match (in French). Paris. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Der frühe Tod von Romy Schneider", Die Welt, 29 May 2012 (in German)
  17. ^ Delon, Alain (11 June 1982). "Adieu ma puppelé". Paris Match (in French) (#1724). Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2009.
  18. ^ "Neues Kursbuch" by Thomas Pröglhöf, 23 November 2002 (in German)
  19. ^ Question on notice, Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie, 31 October 2002 (in German)
  20. ^ Sander, Daniel (12 February 2008). "Ein Soap-Sternchen gibt den Weltstar". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  21. ^ "Ich hatte eine Gänsehaut". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 12 February 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  22. ^ "Catterfeld sagt Projekt ab", Focus, 27 July 2009 (in German)
  23. ^ Romy – Die Welt aus Gold Archived 7 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
  24. ^ Romy – the movie at Südwestrundfunk (in German)
  25. ^ "NDR Koproduktion hat Chance auf Goldenen Bären", Norddeutscher Rundfunk, 16 January 2018 (in German)
  26. ^ "Romy Schneider's 82nd Birthday". Google. 23 September 2020.

Further readingEdit

  • 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). 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

External linksEdit