Michiko Tanaka (Michiko Tanaka)

Michiko Tanaka

Actress, Singer and Music Professor. She came from a painter’s family in Tokyo and got her education in Hiroshima, Japan. Her uncle was the Japanese Ambassador to Austria, so in 1929 she moved to Vienna to study Violin, Music and Voice. There she married Julius Meinl and made her debut in 1930 in “Die Geisha” (music by Sidney Jones, with which she had a sensational success. She also played on stage in the Opera “Madame Butterfly” with Richard Tauber. After that she toured Tokyo, Buenos Aires and other cities around the world. In 1935 she made her first film, Letzte Liebe (1935) (“Last Love”) with Erich Bassermann. In 1936, Paul Abraham wrote for her the Operetta “Dschainah, das Mädchen aus dem Tanzhaus”, which she played at the Theater an der Wien. In the 30s she moved to Paris. While in France, MGM made her the offer to play a Chinese character, O-Lan, in “The Good Earth” in Hollywood, but local Chinese people didn’t want a Japanese woman in this role and made a demonstration, so that Michiko didn’t get the part. Instead, Luise Rainer, an Austrian actress, got the role and won the Oscar for Best Actress. After that, still in Paris, Michiko made Yoshiwara (1937) and Tempête sur l’Asie (1938) (“Storm Over Asia”). There, she met German superstar ‘Victor de Kowa’, they fell in love and got married in 1941, with the permission of Mr. Julius Meinl, who was the best man for the wedding. Then the couple moved to Berlin. Besides her work on the stage, Michiko Tanaka was a great performer as a Liedersängerin and specialized in the field of the Deutschen Kunstliedes. Right after WWII she created a Japanese embassy in Berlin and made Anonyme Briefe (1949), Skandal in der Botschaft (1950) (“Scandal at the Embassy”) (1950), _Madame Butterfly (1954)_, Das kommt nicht wieder (1958) (cinema documentary) and Bis zum Ende aller Tage (1961) (“Girl from Hong Kong”) (1961). After the death of her husband, she worked in Berlin as a Music Pédagogue. Later she retired in Munich, where she died in May, 1988. (bio by: Rudi Polt)


  • July, 15, 1913
  • Japan


  • May, 05, 1988
  • Germany


  • Waldfriedhof Heerstrasse
  • Berlin
  • Germany

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