ANNY ONDRA: BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED ACTRESS AND WIFE OF BOXING CHAMPION MAX SCHMELING

This risque vintage real photo postcard features actress Anny Ondra. The postcard was published by Iris Verlag. The photograph is by Verleih Norbert & Co.. The postcard is part of a series (no. 5446). The photo seen on this postcard captures Ondra in a scene from the movie “Blackmail” (1929). This particular postcard is rare. I have searched extensively and have not been able to locate this particular image elsewhere. Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Czech film actress. She was born in Tarnow, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Poland). She was active in the movie industry between 1914 and 1957. She acted in Czech, Austrian, and German films in the 1920’s. She appeared in some British dramas, most notably, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Manxman” (1929) and “Blackmail” (1929). The IMDb credits Ondra with over 90 acting credits between 1914 and 1957. She appeared in more than 40 films in the sound era. However, her career in British films was hurt by her thick accent. Check out the youtube video below. In this “test film”, Hitchcock “interviews” Ondra and makes her visibly uncomfortable and embarrassed by asking her very personal questions. She was married to German boxing champion Max Schmeling between 1933 and 1987. Schmeling was the world champion between 1930 and 1932. He is  well known for his fights with African American fighter, Joe Lewis. Ondra’s father was a Czech, Austro-Hungarian military officer and she grew up in Tarnow, Pula, and Prague. At the early age of seventeen, she acted in the theater as well as in a film. When her family learned that she had acted in a film, they were extremely angry. In fact, she reported that she was given a beating by her father. Post World War I was a time, for many people, that being an actress was akin to being a prostitute. Ondra began to live with her boyfriend (her debut film’s director) but after some time, the relationship ended because she wanted a family and he wanted nothing to do with marriage. In 1933, after a three year romance, Anny married Max Schmeling. She had been in a film with the boxer (“Knock-Out”, 1935). It was a “happy” marriage and the couple remained together until her death in 1987. Ondra and Schmeling were hot names in Nazi Germany. German fascists tried to exploit them in order to popularize their movement. Schmeling was seen as a German superman while Ondra represented the blonde Aryan type. The two celebrities refused to collaborate. Schmeling turned down honors and even helped hide two Jewish children, saving their lives. However, because of Nazi propoganda, many believed that the couple had collaborated. As a result, Schmeling and Ondra suffered financially for their fictional cooperation with the Nazis. Ondra was portrayed in two modern day movies, “Ring of Passion” (1978) and Joe and Max (2002). This vintage postcard is in excellent condition (see scans).

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BETTY BALFOUR: “BRITAINS QUEEN OF HAPPINESS” (3 VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

 

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POSTCARD 1

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POSTCARD 2

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POSTCARD 3

Have you ever heard of Betty Balfour? You would definitely know who she was if you lived in England during the silent film era because she is considered the most popular actress there during the 1920’s. She was known as the “British Mary Pickford” and “Britain’s Queen of Happiness”. Her fans knew her best for her “Squibs” series of films. Betty Balfour (1903-1977) was also known for her stage career. She made her stage debut in 1913 and worked in theater for several years before entering the film industry. She did not attempt to extend her career to Hollywood  but she did star in a number of German films. In Britain she starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Champagne” (1928). Her sound era debut was in “The Nipper” (1930), Her popularity began to drop in the 1930’s though she still was getting film roles. In all, she appeared in more than 35 films. Balfour was married to composer Jimmy Campbell but the marriage fell apart in 1941 after a ten year run. She attempted a theater comeback in 1952 but it failed. She died in Weybridge, Surrey, England at the age of seventy-four. This vintage real photo postcard was produced by Picturegoer as part of a series (no. 2a). The company was based in London. Picturegoer was a British fan magazine focussing on contemporary films and the actors and actresses who performed in them. Picturegoer also published postcards. In fact, they produced over 6500 different real photo postcards on 2000 actors and actresses.

The second real photo postcard see here is of unknown origin. The publisher is not identified nor is the photographer. Interestingly, just as in the first image, Miss Balfour is wearing pearls. She certainly was quite pretty.

The third real photo postcard features Miss Balfour in costume wearing a headpiece with very large feathers. Her v-neck dress is very beautiful. The portrait of Miss Balfour was taken by the Maull and Fox studio. The postcard was published by Cinimagazine and was part of a series (no. 84). Henry Maull (1829-1914) was a British photographer known for his portraits of famous individuals. He became a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1870. During his career he had several partnerships. One of these partnerships (c1856-1865) was with George Henry Polyblank and the pair were very talented and produced great photographs. Between 1879 and 1885 Maul partnered with John Fox (1832-1907). The partnership with Fox was ended due to bankruptcy. However, the studio’s name was maintained after the bankruptcy by Fox’s son Herbert. Examination of the date of Maull and Fox’s partnership, it is clear that this photograph was produced by a photographer operating after the reign of Maull and Fox. Much of Maull’s work can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England.

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 POSTCARD ONE

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POSTCARD TWO

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POSTCARD 3