PEOPLE

The Stars of the Show
Hans Albers

Hans Albers

Hans Albers moved to Berlin after World War I and found work playing comic roles in theatre and cabaret. After appearing in over 100 silent films, his big break came in the first German talking movie Die Nacht gehört uns (The Night Belongs to Us) in 1929. He then starred alongside Marlene Dietrich in Der …

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Siegfried Arno

Siegfried Arno

The extraordinary career of Hollywood star Sig Arno is mostly remembered through the 150 films he appeared in from 1921 to 1962, but his roots in the cabaret scene of Weimar Berlin is a lesser told story. Born Siegfried Aron in Hamburg in December 1895, he attended the Talmud Torah school before training as a …

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Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

In December 1925, the American cabaret performer Josephine Baker brought her show La Revue Négre from Paris to Berlin’s Theater De Westens. Jazz was rapidly replacing the more traditional musical forms in cabaret and revue but it was not until after the stabilisation of the currency in 1924 that many Berliners had the chance to …

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Wilhelm Bendow

Wilhelm Bendow

Wilhelm Emil Boden was born on September 29th 1884 in Einbeck, Germany. He began his stage career as a serious actor at Hamburg’s Thalia Theater. By 1906, he had moved to Berlin’s Schiller Theatre and found himself drawn to the city’s vibrant cabaret scene. He first appeared in cabaret in 1919 and was one of …

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Anita Berber

Anita Berber

Anita Berber was born in Dresden on June 10th 1899 to Felix and Lucie Berber. Felix was First Violinist with the Municipal Orchestra and Lucie, an aspiring actress and singer. She was mostly raised by her grandmother in her early years and then exclusively so after her parents divorced in 1901. Four years later, her …

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Curt Bois

Curt Bois

Curt Bois was born on April 5th 1901 at Ansbacher Straße 28, in Berlin’s Schöneberg district. He was one of four children, his elder sister being the actress and comedian Ilse Bois. They were brought up by their single mother after their father had left them. He began acting at six years old, and was …

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Ilse Bois

Ilse Bois

Surprisingly little is known about the life of the comedian and actress Ilse Bois, possibly due to being overshadowed by the stellar career of her younger brother, Curt Bois. She was born in Berlin around 1900, and from an early age was acting in children’s theatre to assist her mother, who was left to bring …

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Sally Bowles

Sally Bowles

Sally Bowles is a fictional character from the novels of Christopher Isherwood, Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye To Berlin, published in 1935 and 1939. She is a 19-year-old English actress and cabaret singer who has come to Berlin with dreams of stardom. Isherwood’s description of seeing her perform for the first time, at a …

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Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht was 26 when he moved to Berlin. He was about to take up the role of Dramaturg at Max Reinhardt’s Theater am Kurfürstendamm and moved into a fifth-floor attic apartment in nearby Spichernstraße. His first two full-length plays Baal and Trommeln in der Nacht (Drums In The Night) had already been produced in …

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Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich

Maria Magdelene Dietrich was born on 27th December 1901 in the Schöneberg district of Berlin. She was the second daughter of Louis Dietrich, a police lieutenant, and Wilhelmina Felsing, the daughter of a well-to-do Berlin family. Her sister Elisabeth was a year her senior. Their father died when she was ten and, five years later, …

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Blandine Ebinger

Blandine Ebinger

Blandine Ebinger was born in Berlin in 1899, the daughter of pianist Gustav Loeser and the actress Margarete Wezel. Her theatre career began as early as age eight, with an appearance in Leipzig and then in many other stage productions. (pic: filmnoirphotos.blogspot.com) In 1919 she married the up and coming songwriter Friedrich Hollaender and became …

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Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades

Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades

Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades was a stalwart of Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz bar and nightclub scene. From 1929 to 1932 he was a regular transvestite door-host and ‘taxi-dancer’ at the famous Eldorado club on Motzstrasse. Customers could buy tokens at the bar to exchange for dances and at the end of the evening the proceeds were divided between …

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Kurt Gerron

Kurt Gerron

Kurt Gerron was born in Berlin on May 11th 1897. He initially studied medicine but after being wounded in the First World War became a stage actor in 1920. He was one of the Weimar era’s biggest stars. He appeared in every major cabaret and revue of the era and starred in over seventy films, …

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Paul Graetz

Paul Graetz

Paul Graetz was born on July 2nd 1890 in Glogau, in the west of Poland. (image: virtual-history.com) He made his acting debut in 1911 at the Neuen Theater in Frankfurt am Main and in 1916 joined the Deutschen Theater in Berlin. His first production was The Merchant Of Venice directed by Max Rheinhardt, with whom …

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Max Hansen

Max Hansen

Max Hansen was born Max Josef Haller on 22nd December 1897 in Mannheim, Germany. His mother was the Danish actress Eva Haller and his father was thought to be Swedish Army officer, Schürer von Waldheim. He grew up with foster parents in Munich and whilst still at school was performing at the Munich Opera House …

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Trude Hesterberg

Trude Hesterberg

Gertrud Johanna Dorothea Helene Hesterberg was born in Berlin on May 2nd 1892. She was first taught to sing by her opera-singer aunt and began her formal classical training at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin in August 1911. She made her stage debut in a production by Moliere in 1912 and, also in that year, …

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Hilde Hildebrand

Hilde Hildebrand

Emma Minna Hilde Hildebrand was born in Hannover on September 10th 1897. The daughter of Julius and Louise Hildebrand, she first attended ballet school at the age of 8 and joined the ballet ensemble of the Residenz Theater in 1913. Her theatre debut came in 1914 under the name of Emmy Hildebrand. By the end …

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Magnus Hirschfeld

Magnus Hirschfeld

Coming soon!
Friedrich Hollaender

Friedrich Hollaender

Friedrich Holländer was born in London where his father Victor Holländer was the Musical Director for the Barnum & Bailey circus. The family returned to Berlin in 1899 and young Friedrich was steeped in music and theatre throughout his childhood. One of the outstanding songwriters of the Weimar-era, Friedrich Holländer first came to the attention …

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Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood was 24 years old when he first arrived in Berlin in March 1929. Initially, it was for a week-long visit to catch-up with his old school friend WH Auden, who had been there for 8 months already. Auden had been writing to Isherwood about what he was seeing and doing in the city …

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Walter Jurmann

Walter Jurmann

Austrian-born musician and songwriter Walter Jurmann was drawn to Berlin at the height of the Weimar era. He immediately found both a home in the ultra-modern new Erich Mendelsohn housing development on the Ku’Damm and work playing the piano in the bar at the luxurious Eden Hotel in Budapester Straße. The Eden Bar was one …

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Walter Kollo

Walter Kollo

Elimar Walter Kollodzieyski was born in Neidenburg, East Prussia on January 28th 1878, the son of an affluent businessman and a concert pianist. He was encouraged to study music from an early age by his mother, much to the disappointment of his father who later disinherited him. His first professional engagement was as a teacher …

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Kate Kühl

Kate Kühl

Elfriede Katharina Nehrupt was born on December 16th 1899 in Cologne, Germany. Encouraged by her doctor father she came to Berlin aged 19, shortly after the First World War, to study classical music and song at the Stern Conservatory. Fiercely political and drawn to the bohemian world of the west Berlin cabaret scene she was …

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Margo Lion

Margo Lion

Marguerite Hélène Constantine Barbe Elisabeth Lion was a French Singer and Actress, born in Istanbul (then Constantinople) on February 28th 1899. She first came to Berlin in 1921 and made her debut at Trude Hesterbergs cabaret ‘Wild Bühne’ (The Wild Stage) in 1923. She performed the songs of her long-term boyfriend, the lyricist Marcellus Schiffer, …

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Erich Lowinsky

Erich Lowinsky

Erich Lowinsky was a Weimar-era cabaret Conferencier who performed under the stage name of Elow. He is perhaps most famous for his Kabarett De Namenlosen (Cabaret Of The Nameless) which debuted in 1926 at the Monbijou Cabaret – formally The Weisse Maus – in Berlin’s Friedrichstraße. The concept was simple and would be easily recognisable …

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Jeanne Mammen

Jeanne Mammen

Artist and Illustrator Jeanne Mammen lived and worked on the fourth floor of the rear building at Ku’damm 29 for over 50 years. Berlin born, she studied art in Paris, Brussels and Rome before returning home to work as an Illustrator for fashion magazines and as a poster designer for film company Ufa. (pic: db-artmag.com) …

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Heinrich Mann

Heinrich Mann

For some years in the late 1920s, the five-storey residential block at Ku’damm 60 was the home of Heinrich Mann, brother of Thomas Mann. He was the author of the 1905 novel Professor Unrat which was the basis for the film Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel), nearly 25 years later. Heinrich Mann came to …

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Leo Monosson

Leo Monosson

Leo Monosson was born 7th December 1897 in Moscow, to a family of wealthy jewellers. He completed his schooling in Russia before travelling through Warsaw, Paris and Vienna studying music and singing. He settled in Berlin in 1923. In Warsaw, he married for the first time, to Charlotte Frank, and they had two children by …

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Paul Morgan

Paul Morgan

Georg Paul Morgenstern was born in Vienna in 1886, and as Paul Morgan was one of the biggest stars of Weimar-era Berlin. By the 1920s, he was a well-known Conferencier, or MC, on the Berlin cabaret circuit and in 1924, together with Kurt Robitschek and Max Hansen, founded the KadeKo – Berlin’s famous Cabaret of …

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Renate Müller

Renate Müller

Renate Müller was born in Munich on April 26th, 1906. Her father was one of Munich’s leading newspaper publishers and her mother was a painter. A keen interest in acting and poetry led her to the Harzer Bergtheater in Thale where, under the tutelage of Georg Wilhelm Pabst, she made her stage debut in Ein …

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Rudolf Nelson

Rudolf Nelson

Born-and-bred Berliner Rudolf Nelson was one of the leading lights of the cabaret and revue scene from the early twentieth century on into the heady days of the Weimar era. From the earliest cabarets in 1904, to the ground- breaking Roland von Berlin in Potsdamer Straße, (which launched the career of Claire Waldoff), and on …

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Günter Neumann

Günter Neumann

Günter Neumann was a major figure in the renaissance of cabaret in the devastated city of Berlin after World War II. His work was very much in the style of Friedrich Hollaender and Rudolf Nelson, whom he collaborated with on the show Berlin-W Weh! in 1949. His radio cabaret show Die Insulaner (The Islanders) ran …

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Paul O’Montis

Paul O’Montis

Paul O’Montis was born Paul Wendel, on April 3rd 1894 in Budapest. He was brought up and spent most of his youth in Hannover before moving to Berlin in 1924, where he began performing in cabarets. He was an accomplished singer, comedian and impersonator. His style was witty and, at times, bawdy incorporating double-entendres, puns …

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Hans Otto

Hans Otto

Hans Otto was born in Dresden on August 10th, 1900 and attended school with the author Erich Kästner. He made his stage debut at the Künstlertheater in Frankfurt am Main in 1921 and, in October 1922, married the actress Mie Paulin, adopting the son from her previous marriage, Armin-Gerd Kuckhoff. From 1924 to 1926, he …

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Max Reinhardt

Max Reinhardt

Vienna-born Max Reinhardt was the father of the modern German cabaret and a leading light in the revolution in German theatre that happened in the early years of the twentieth century. Coming to Berlin in 1894, he joined the Deutsches Theater and soon made a name for his himself playing older characters, but was already …

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Kurt Robitschek

Kurt Robitschek

Prague-born Kurt Robitschek spent his early years working as a freelance journalist before moving into comedy in the early 1920s. In 1924 he founded the Kabarett der Komiker (Cabaret of Comedians) along with Paul Morgan and Max Hansen and was the day-to-day manager and director of the venue over the next nine years. He emigrated …

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Joseph Roth

Joseph Roth

Having served in the army during World War I, Joseph Roth returned to Vienna in 1919 and became a journalist for Der Neue Tag. When it folded in 1920 he moved to Berlin and freelanced for as many as six newspapers at a time, before being contracted to the Frankfurter Zeitung in 1923. He was …

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Eva von Sacher-Masoch

Eva von Sacher-Masoch

Eva Hermine von Sacher-Masoch, Baroness Erisso, was born into Austrian aristocracy in Budapest in 1912. She spent her early years with her parents, Artur and Flora, and brother Alexander on the family estate in what is now Romania. Her great uncle was the esteemed writer and journalist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, author of Venus In Furs, …

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Joseph Schmidt

Joseph Schmidt

Tenor and actor Joseph Schmidt was born in March 1904 in the Austro-Hungarian village of Davideny It became part of Romania after WW1 and is now in Ukraine. His mother encouraged him into a career in music despite objections from his farm-worker father. He began singing at the Czernowitz Synagogue and by the age of …

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Norbert Schiller

Norbert Schiller

Norbert Schiller was born in 1899 in Vienna, Austria. (photo – Judy Sutcliffe) He was drafted into the First World War as a very young man, but his natural ability to entertain his fellow troops soon got him re-assigned to a Concert Party for the officers. After the war, and with no formal training, he …

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Camilla Spira

Camilla Spira

Camilla Spira was born on March 1st 1906 in Hamburg. At 13, she attended Max-Reinhardt acting school which lead to several theatre roles in Hamburg, Vienna and Berlin. She made her film debut in 1924 at the age of 18 and went on to appear in several more silent films over the next few years. …

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Kurt Tucholsky

Kurt Tucholsky

Kurt Tucholsky was one of the sharpest satirists of the early Weimar-era cabaret. A committed and outspoken republican, he passionately believed his work had a powerful political function and believed “a well-aimed joke is a better lighting rod for public anger than an ugly riot”. He found early success at Max Reinhardt’s Schall und Rauch …

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Rosa Valetti

Rosa Valetti

Rosa Vallentin was born in Berlin in March 1878. She was an actress, cabaret performer and singer whose career started in suburban Berlin theatre and graduated to cabaret after meeting political satirist and writer Kurt Tucholsky. In 1920 she founded ‘Cabaret Grössenwahn” (Cabaret Megalomania) at the former Cafe de Westens in the Kurfürstendamm. It was …

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Claire Waldoff

Claire Waldoff

Clara Wortmann was born in 1884, the eleventh child of a family of sixteen, and grew up in Gelsenkirchen. She attended a girls’ High School in Hanover, from where it was expected she would graduate and go on to study medicine. But her father leaving the family made this financially impossible and allowed her to …

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Kurt Weill

Kurt Weill

Kurt Weill was born in Dessau in 1900 and his prodigious talent was evident from an early age. By the mid-1920s he had arrived in Berlin and had established himself as a musical- theatre and opera composer, his first full-length work Der Protagonist (The Protagonist) was performed in April 1926. His collaborations with Bertolt Brecht …

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Conrad Veidt

Conrad Veidt

Hans Walter Conrad Veidt was born in Berlin on January 22nd 1893. In 1914 he was drafted into the German Army and then in 1915 sent to the Eastern Front, where he contacted jaundice and pneumonia. A pre-war relationship with the actress Lucie Mannheim, encouraged him to go into the theatre and having been given …

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Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder

It was Paul Whiteman, America’s ‘King Of Jazz’ that first brought Billy Wilder to Berlin in May 1926. The twenty-year-old journalist rookie journalist from Vienna had so impressed the band leader with his review of their shows at the city’s Bristol Hotel that he invited him to come along to their next stop in the …

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