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Ilka Grüning as Mrs. Leuchtag in Casablanca
Ilka Henriette Grunzweig
September 4, 1876
|Died||November 11, 1964 (aged 88)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica|
Ilka Grüning (September 4, 1876 – November 11, 1964) was an Austrian-Hungarian actress. Born in Vienna in the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire, she was one of many Jewish actors and actresses that were forced to flee Europe when the Nazis came to power in 1933. A respected and famous actress in Germany, she was forced to play bit parts in Hollywood.
At age 17, Ilka Grüning made her stage debut in Miss Julie and quickly became a famous stage actress. Grüning's first film, at age 43, was a German silent movie called Todesurteil in 1919. Next, she starred with Conrad Veidt in Peer Gynt. Later that year, she and Veidt appeared in Die sich verkaufen.
She continued making silent movies in Germany into the 1920s. In 1920, she appeared in the film Die Bestie im Menschen based on the novel La Bête humaine by Émile Zola. This were two of 11 films she appeared in that year. Grüning appeared in Veidt's two Christian Wahnschaffe movies: Weltbrand in 1920 and Die Flucht aus dem goldenen Kerker in 1921. In 1922, she had a small part as a landlady in Lady Hamilton starring Veidt as Lord Horatio Nelson. This was one of four movies that she and Hans Twardowski appeared in together; F.W. Murnau's drama Phantom, Es leuchtet meine Liebe and The False Dimitri.
In 1923, she portrayed Frau Gött in Max Mack's The Beautiful Girl. Later that year, she portrayed the wife of Johann Friedrich Schiller in Friedrich Schiller - The Young Poet. Next she played Rosalindes' mother in Max Mack's Die Fledermaus (this was the 5th film she did with the German director). In 1924, she appeared in F.W. Murnau's drama The Grand Duke's Finances; (this was the third film she made with Murnau, the legendary German director).
In 1925, Grüning appeared in the silent Joyless Street, directed by the legendary Georg Wilhelm Pabst, which featured a 20-year-old Greta Garbo. The following year, Grüning appeared in her third Pabst' movie Secrets of a Soul. In 1927, Grüning appeared in Hello Caesar! which S.Z. Sakall helped write. Later that year, she and Sakall appeared together in Family Gathering in the House of Prellstein.
In 1929, Grüning appeared in her first 'talkie', Melody of the Heart. It would be three years before she appeared in another film. In 1932, she received a part in Max Neufeld's Hasenklein kann nichts dafür , which would be her last movie in Germany.
Grüning, had played Strindberg and Ibsen for German director Max Reinhardt and had run the second most important drama school in Berlin, left 1938 Germany after Hitler and the Nazis came to power. After arriving in America in february 1939, she received help from the European Film Fund in resettling to America. It would be nine years before she appeared in another movie.
Sometime in the 1930s, she left Germany for Paris, France, and, in 1939, sailed from LeHavre on the S/S Paris, arriving at the Port of New York on February 8, 1939. It was her first time in America. With the outbreak of World War II and the need for older German women for war movies, Grüning started receiving parts. Her first Hollywood movie was in 1941 as Erwin Kalser's husband in Warner Bros.' war drama Underground starring Philip Dorn and Martin Kosleck (as the evil Nazi Colonel Heller) and Ludwig Stössel (who would play her husband in Casablanca).
Grüning was busy in 1942. First, Grüning (playing Anna) and Stössel appeared in the Oscar-nominated Kings Row starring Ronald Reagan, Ann Sheridan and Claude Rains. She then played Christian Rub's wife in the spy thriller Dangerously They Live starring Nancy Coleman and Raymond Massey. This was followed by playing the wife of Karl Pfeiffer, a German millionaire living in America (played by Charles Winninger) in Friendly Enemies. Grüning (playing Aunt Sophie) and Stössel appeared together again in a Sonja Henie film Iceland (film). Next, playing a Gestapo impostor, she appeared in Desperate Journey with Ronald Reagan and Errol Flynn.
Also in 1942, at the age of 66, Grüning received the role of Mrs. Leuchtag, who along with her husband (played by Ludwig Stössel) are leaving Europe for America in Casablanca. She has only one scene (a total of 30 words) in the movie when she and her husband are having a drink in Rick's Cafe with their good friend Carl the waiter (S. Z. Sakall) and struggling a bit with their English. Her husband (Ludwig Stössel) asks her for the time, "Liebchen – sweetnessheart, what watch?" She answers, "Ten watch" and he replies, "Such much?" Carl assures them they will get along beautifully in America.
In 1943, Grüning received a bit part as George Tobias's mother in This Is the Army. Next she appeared in The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler with Stössel and Twardowski. Grüning received bit parts in Madame Curie starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon (as the Curies). Grünig appeared in only one movie in 1944 as Mrs. Vronsky in the drama An American Romance starring Brian Donlevy, Ann Richards, and John Qualen. Grüning would not get another part until 1946 when she received a bit part in the mystery Murder in the Music Hall. She received a couple of other small parts that year; the first as Herman Bing's wife in Rendezvous 24.
Next Grüning and Stössel got to play husband and wife again. Instead of being the Leuchtags, they were now the Muellers in Temptation starring Merle Oberon, George Brent and Paul Lukas. The following year, she played Paul E. Burns's wife in the film-noir Desperate which featured Raymond Burr. Playing Mattie, she appeared next in Repeat Performance. In 1948 appeared in Letter from an Unknown Woman starring Joan Fontaine. Later she played a German woman in Billy Wilder's comedy romance A Foreign Affair starring Marlene Dietrich. She also had a small part in the M-G-M musical Words and Music.
The following year, she played a grandmother in the film-noir Caught starring James Mason and Barbara Bel Geddes. Later that year, Grüning and Stössel appeared in their last film together when they received roles in the drama The Great Sinner starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. She played another old woman in Mr. Soft Touch with Glenn Ford.
In 1950, she received a good part as Edgar Bergen's wife in the adventure film Captain China starring John Payne and Gail Russell. She had another good role in the film-noir Convicted starring Glenn Ford and Broderick Crawford. The following year, she appeared as Brett King's mother in Payment on Demand with Bette Davis. Her last Hollywood movie was as Mama Ludwig, Griff Barnett's wife, in the western Passage West starring John Payne.
Like many German and Austrian actors, Grüning went back to Berlin in the 1950s, but found that Germany was not the same country she had left. Many former Nazis returned and it became difficult for Grüning to integrate back into the film industry. She did, at age 76, appear in a small Swiss movie in 1952 called Die Venus vom Tivoli, which was her last movie. After this Grüning returned to America.
- Peer Gynt – 2. Teil: Peer Gynts Wanderjahre und Tod (1919) – Aase
- Peer Gynt (1919) – Aase
- Pogrom (1919) – Wera Cheberiak
- Prostitution (1919)
- Rose Bernd (1919) – Frau Flamm
- Todesurteil (1919)
- Der Sklave seiner Leidenschaft (1920)
- Monika Vogelsang (1920) – Witwe Walterspiel
- Mary Magdalene (1920) – Ehefrau von Meister Anton
- Das Grauen (1920) – Mutter Claar
- Eine Demimonde-Heirat (1920) – Anuschka
- Können Gedanken töten? (1920) – Bäuerin
- The Prisoner (1920)
- The Marriage of Figaro (1920) – Marcelline
- Fanny Elssler (1920)
- Der Abenteurer von Paris (1920)
- Catherine the Great (1920)
- Christian Wahnschaffe (1920)
- Menschen (1920)
- Die Bestie im Menschen (1920)
- Hannerl and Her Lovers (1921)
- The Conspiracy in Genoa (1921) – Matrone
- Die Diktatur der Liebe, 2. Teil – Die Welt ohne Liebe (1921) – Ihre Mutter
- Die große und die kleine Welt (1921) – Frau aus dem Volke
- Aus den Tiefen der Großstadt (1921)
- About the Son (1921)
- The Fateful Day (1921) – Gräfin
- The Stranger from Alster Street (1921)
- Trix, the Romance of a Millionairess (1921)
- The Inheritance of Tordis (1921) – seine Frau
- Seafaring Is Necessary (1921)
- Der Leidensweg eines Achtzehnjährigen (1921)
- Memoirs of a Film Actress (1921)
- The Story of Christine von Herre (1921) – Die alte Comtesse
- Lady Hamilton (1921) – Eine Wirtin
- Das zweite Leben (1921)
- Die Schuldige (1921) – Gräfin Wuthenow
- Lotte Lore (1921)
- Die Geheimnisse von Berlin, 3. Teil – Berlin-Moabit. Hinter Gitterfenstern (1921)
- Die Kreutzersonate (1922) – Frau Suchoff
- Die Dame und der Landstreicher (1922)
- Die siebtente Nacht (1922) – Frau Freese
- Aus den Erinnerungen eines Frauenarztes – 2. Lüge und Wahrheit (1922)
- Jenseits des Stromes (1922)
- Luise Millerin (1922) – Millerin
- Youth (1922)
- Power of Temptation (1922)
- Phantom (1922) – Baronin / Baroness
- Es leuchtet meine Liebe (1922) – Mutter von Saint Just
- Bigamy (1922)
- The False Dimitri (1922) – Amme Pawlowa
- Two Worlds (1922)
- Wem nie durch Liebe Leid geschah! (1922)
- The Big Shot (1922) – Frau Steinreich
- The Anthem of Love (1922)
- Tiefland (1923) – Die Duenna
- Nora (1923) – Marianne, Noras alte Amme
- The Treasure (1923) – Anna
- Friedrich Schiller (1923) – Elisabeth Dorothea, seine Frau
- The Woman on the Panther (1923)
- Die Fledermaus (1923) – Rosalindes Mutter
- Der Menschenfeind (1923)
- Der rote Reiter (1923)
- Resurrection (1923)
- Daisy (1923)
- Freund Ripp (1923)
- The Beautiful Girl (1923) – Frau Gött
- The Grand Duke's Finances (1924) – Augustine,die Köchin
- The Creature (1924)
- Mater dolorosa (1924)
- Kaddish (1924)
- Debit and Credit (1924) – Madame Sidonie Ehrenthal
- Gehetzte Menschen (1924) – Frau Garson
- Die Liebesbriefe einer Verlassenen (1924)
- Joyless Street (1925) – Frau Rosenow
- The Dice Game of Life (1925) – Emils Mutter
- The Elegant Bunch (1925) – Leos Mutter
- Secrets of a Soul (1926) – Die mutter
- Hello Caesar! (1927) – Frau Svoboda
- The Transformation of Dr. Bessel (1927) – Frau Regierer
- Family Gathering in the House of Prellstein (1927) – Seraphine
- Autumn on the Rhine (1928) – Frau Holm
- Dyckerpotts' Heirs (1928)
- The Three Kings (1928) – Landlady
- The Crimson Circle (1929) – Eine Vermieterin
- Zwischen vierzehn und siebzehn – Sexualnot der Jugend (1929)
- Melody of the Heart (1929) – Fräulein Czibulka
- Hasenklein kann nichts dafür (1932) – Frau Hasenklein
- Underground (1941) – Frau Franken
- Dangerously They Live (1941) – Mrs. Steiner
- Kings Row (1942) – Anna
- Friendly Enemies (1942) – Mrs. Pfeiffer
- Iceland (1942) – Aunt Sophie (uncredited)
- Desperate Journey (1942) – Frau Brahms
- Casablanca (1942) – Mrs. Leuchtag (uncredited)
- This Is the Army (1943) – Mrs. Twardofsky (uncredited)
- The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler (1943) – Middle-Class woman
- There's Something About a Soldier (1943) – Anna Grybinski (uncredited)
- Madame Curie (1943) – Seamstress (uncredited)
- Address Unknown (1944) – Grandma (uncredited)
- An American Romance (1944) – Mrs. Vronsky (uncredited)
- Murder in the Music Hall (1946) – Mom
- Rendezvous 24 (1946) – Frau Schmidt (uncredited)
- Temptation (1946) – Frau Mueller (uncredited)
- Repeat Performance (1947) – Mattie
- Desperate (1947) – Aunt Klara
- Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) – Ticket-Taker (uncredited)
- Raw Deal (1948) – Fran – Oscar's Housekeeper (uncredited)
- A Foreign Affair (1948) – German Wife (uncredited)
- Words and Music (1948) – Mrs. Rogers
- Caught (1949) – Grandmother Rudetzki (uncredited)
- The Great Sinner (1949) – Pauline's Duenna (uncredited)
- Mr. Soft Touch (1949) – Old Woman (uncredited)
- Captain China (1950) – Mrs. Haasvelt
- Convicted (1950) – Martha Lorry (uncredited)
- Payment on Demand (1951) – Mrs. Polanski (uncredited)
- Passage West (1951) – Mama Ludwig
- Die Venus vom Tivoli (1953) – Frau Stransky (final film role)
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