Romy Schneider

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Romy Schneider a.k.a. Romy Schneider-Albach (September 23, 1938 - May 29, 1982) was an Austrian actress. She was born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach-Retty in Vienna into a family of actors consisting of her paternal grandmother Rosa Albach-Retty, her father Wolf Albach-Retty, and her mother Magda Schneider. After her divorce in 1945, Magda Schneider took care of Romy and eventually also supervised her career, often appearing alongside her daughter, who had made her film debut already in 1953, aged 15. Young Romy's career was also overseen by her stepfather, Hans-Herbert Blatzheim, a noted restaurateur, who Schneider indicated had an unhealthy interest in her.

In the film Mädchenjahre einer Königin (Ernst Marischka, 1954) Romy Schneider for the first time portrayed a royal. Interestingly, this Austrian movie is about the early years of Queen Victoria, in particular her first encounter with Prince Albert. Her breakthrough, however, came with her portrayal of Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria -- then to become Empress Elisabeth of Austria -- in the romantic biopic Sissi (1955) and its two sequels (1956 and 1957).

Fed up with the saccharine image these movies had bestowed upon her, Schneider leapt at the chance of starring in the much more sombre Christine (1958), a remake of Max Ophüls's 1933 film Liebelei (which itself is based upon a play by Arthur Schnitzler). It was during the filming of Christine that she fell in love with French actor Alain Delon, who co-starred in the movie. Schneider became engaged to him in 1959, and the couple moved to Paris.

This meant the beginning of her international film career, which also brought her to Hollywood (Good Neighbor Sam, a 1964 comedy with Jack Lemmon, and the 1965 movie What's New, Pussycat with Woody Allen). Mainly, however, she stayed in France, working with film directors such as Orson Welles (Le Procès of 1963, based upon Franz Kafka's The Trial) and Luchino Visconti (Ludwig, a 1972 film about the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in which she played a much maturer Elisabeth of Austria again). "Sissi sticks to me just like oatmeal," she once said.

Schneider's private life was rather turbulent. Dumped by Delon in 1963, she married (1966) and divorced (1975) Harry Meyen (1924 - 1979), a German actor who committed suicide. They had a son, David-Christopher (1966 - 1981). In 1975 she married Daniel Biasini, her private secretary; they separated in 1981. Her daughter by her second marriage, Sarah Magdalena Biasini (b. July 14, 1977), an actress, startlingly resembles her mother and has been a target of German tabloids for quite some time.

Even after the breakup of their relationship, Schneider continued starring in films with Alain Delon (La Piscine -- The Swimming Pool -- of 1969). Of her other films, the macabre Le trio infernal (1974) with Michel Piccoli is worth mentioning. Her last film was La Passante du Sans-Souci (The Passerby, 1982).

A heavy smoker all her life, Schneider also took to drinking in her later years, especially after the sudden death, on July 5, 1981, of her son, who was found impaled on a fence at his stepfather's parents' house, which he was apparently attempting to climb. When she was found dead in her apartment in Paris, France in 1982, aged only 43, rumour had it that she had committed suicide by taking a lethal cocktail of alcohol and sleeping pills. However, no post-mortem was carried out and she was officially declared as having died of cardiac arrest.

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