Brigitte Helm (Brigitte Eva Gisela Schittenhelm)

Brigitte Helm

Brigitte Helm (17 March 1906 – 11 June 1996) was a German actress, best remembered for her dual role as Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, in Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film Metropolis. Born Brigitte Eva Gisela Schittenhelm in Berlin, Helm’s first role was that of Maria in Metropolis which she began work on while only 18 years old. After Metropolis, Helm made over thirty other films, including talking pictures, before retiring in 1936. Her other appearances include The Love of Jeanne Ney (1927), Alraune (1928), L’Argent (1928), Gloria (1931), The Blue Danube (1932), L’Atlantide (1932), and Gold (1934). Though having a 10-year contract with UFA expiring in 1935, Helm incurred the wrath of Nazi Germany for “race defilement” in marrying her second husband Dr. Hugo Kunheim, an industrialist of Jewish background. Brigitte Helm was also involved in several traffic accidents, and was briefly imprisoned. According to Otto Dietrich’s book The Hitler I Knew, Adolf Hitler himself saw that manslaughter charges against her from an automobile accident were dropped. In 1935, she moved to Switzerland where she later had four children with Hugo. After her retirement from films, she refused to grant any interviews concerning her film career. Brigitte Helm was considered for the title role in Bride of Frankenstein before Elsa Lanchester was given the role. Brigitte Helm lived a private life until her death in 1996 in Ascona, Switzerland at the age of 88.

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Born

  • March, 17, 1906
  • Berlin, Germany

Died

  • June, 11, 1996
  • Ascona, Switzerland

Cemetery

  • Ascona Cemetery
  • Locarno, Ticino
  • Switzerland

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