|Died||20 October 1978(1978-10-20) (aged 89)
(m. 1918; div. 1947)
|Children||3, including Peter Viertel|
While under contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1933 to 1937, Viertel co-wrote the scripts for many movies, particularly those starring her close friend Greta Garbo, including Queen Christina (1933) and Anna Karenina (1935).
She also played opposite Garbo in MGM's German-language version of Anna Christie in 1930.
Early life and career
Her father, Joseph Steuermann, was a lawyer and the mayor of Sambor before antisemitism forced him to renounce his office.
Her mother, Auguste Steuermann, died in 1952 at Viertel's home in Santa Monica.
Her siblings were the composer and pianist Eduard Steuermann; Rosa (Ruzia; 1891–1972), married from 1922 until her death to the actor Josef Gielen ; and the Polish national football player Zygmunt Steuermann.
After debuting as Salome Steuermann at the Pressburg Stadttheater (regional theater), Viertel had engagements in typical spas of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
There she met her husband, author and director Berthold Viertel, and they married in 1918.
They raised three sons—Hans, Peter, and Thomas—before divorcing in 1947.
Her husband worked from 1920 in Berlin, where he founded the collective theatre "Die Troupe" and worked for UFA, the major German film production company.
The Viertels were part of “Hitler’s gift to America,” according to one biographer, since so many film artists throughout Europe and the German-speaking artistic community in particular fled his regime, including, notably, fellow Austrian writer Vicki Baum.
As was the case with US universities in the 1930s, Saunders notes that Hollywood studios could be so selective "that the list of emigres reads almost as a who's who of Weimar production"; he places Berthold Viertel as "only marginally less significant" than other emigres whom he considers "without peer."
Despite her success on German and Austrian stages, Salka Viertel was only modestly successful as an actor in movies.
Agreeing with Max Reinhardt, whom the Viertels ran into in New York on their way to Los Angeles, Viertel herself said she was "neither pretty nor young enough" for a career in film.
One of her most successful roles was Marthy in the German version of Anna Christie, which she took over at the request of Garbo (it was originally intended for Marie Dressler).
However, the plan to write a commercial script for Hollywood together with Bertolt Brecht, who also lived in exile in the United States, failed.
The Viertels, members of the intelligentsia in Europe, moved to the United States in 1928 for a planned four-year stay.
The Viertels initially lived on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, before renting a house on Mabery Road in Santa Monica, California.
In 1932, following Hitler's rise, they decided to stay in Santa Monica, where their sons grew up.
Their home in Santa Monica Canyon was the site of salons and meetings of the Hollywood intelligentsia and the émigré community of European intellectuals, particularly at their Sunday night tea parties.
Salka Viertel played an active role in fundraising for Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico!
She acted as a broker for Charles Boyer, among others, helping them to gain a foothold within the Hollywood film industry.
In the 1930s and 1940s, she was involved in the fight against National Socialism.
Viertel was also active aiding those still trapped in Europe.
She helped found the European Film Fund, which brokered contracts with major Hollywood studios.
After her divorce in 1947, Salka lived in Brentwood, Southern California.
In 1969, her autobiography, The Kindness of Strangers, was published.
Salka Viertel died in Klosters, Switzerland, on 20 October 1978, aged 89.
- Seven Faces (1929), as Catherine the Great
- Anna Christie (1930, German-language version), as Marty Owens
- The Mask Falls (1931)
- The Sacred Flame (1931)
- Queen Christina (1933)
- The Painted Veil (1934)
- Anna Karenina (1935)
- Conquest (1937)
- Two-Faced Woman (1941)
- Deep Valley (1947)
- Loves of Three Queens (1954)
- Prisoner of the Volga (1958)
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salka Viertel.