Salka Viertel

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Salka Viertel_table_infobox_0

Salka ViertelSalka Viertel_header_cell_0_0_0
BornSalka Viertel_header_cell_0_1_0 Salomea Steuermann

(1889-06-15)15 June 1889 Sambor, Austro-Hungarian EmpireSalka Viertel_cell_0_1_1

DiedSalka Viertel_header_cell_0_2_0 20 October 1978(1978-10-20) (aged 89)

Klosters, SwitzerlandSalka Viertel_cell_0_2_1

OccupationSalka Viertel_header_cell_0_3_0 Actress/ScreenwriterSalka Viertel_cell_0_3_1
Years activeSalka Viertel_header_cell_0_4_0 1929–1959Salka Viertel_cell_0_4_1
Spouse(s)Salka Viertel_header_cell_0_5_0 Berthold Viertel

​ ​(m. 1918; div. 1947)​Salka Viertel_cell_0_5_1

ChildrenSalka Viertel_header_cell_0_6_0 3, including Peter ViertelSalka Viertel_cell_0_6_1

Salka Viertel (15 June 1889 – 20 October 1978) was an Austrian Jewish actress and Hollywood screenwriter. Salka Viertel_sentence_0

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). Salka Viertel_sentence_1

She also played opposite Garbo in MGM's German-language version of Anna Christie in 1930. Salka Viertel_sentence_2

Early life and career Salka Viertel_section_0

Viertel was born Salomea Sara Steuermann in Sambor, a city then in the province of Galicia, which was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but today is in western Ukraine. Salka Viertel_sentence_3

Her father, Joseph Steuermann, was a lawyer and the mayor of Sambor before antisemitism forced him to renounce his office. Salka Viertel_sentence_4

Her mother, Auguste Steuermann, died in 1952 at Viertel's home in Santa Monica. Salka Viertel_sentence_5

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. Salka Viertel_sentence_6

After debuting as Salome Steuermann at the Pressburg Stadttheater (regional theater), Viertel had engagements in typical spas of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Salka Viertel_sentence_7

In 1911 she played briefly under Max Reinhardt in Berlin, whereupon she followed an offer in 1913 to go to Vienna to work on the New Vienna stage. Salka Viertel_sentence_8

There she met her husband, author and director Berthold Viertel, and they married in 1918. Salka Viertel_sentence_9

They raised three sons—Hans, Peter, and Thomas—before divorcing in 1947. Salka Viertel_sentence_10

In 1920, Salka Viertel went to Hamburg to the Great Theater, later to Düsseldorf. Salka Viertel_sentence_11

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. Salka Viertel_sentence_12

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. Salka Viertel_sentence_13

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." Salka Viertel_sentence_14

In 1928, at FW Murnau's instigation, the family went to Hollywood, where Berthold Viertel received a contract with Fox Film Corporation as a director and writer. Salka Viertel_sentence_15

Despite her success on German and Austrian stages, Salka Viertel was only modestly successful as an actor in movies. Salka Viertel_sentence_16

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. Salka Viertel_sentence_17

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). Salka Viertel_sentence_18

She became a mentor and friend to Greta Garbo and contributed to scripts for the famous actress for such films as Queen Christina, Anna Karenina, and Two-Faced Woman. Salka Viertel_sentence_19

However, the plan to write a commercial script for Hollywood together with Bertolt Brecht, who also lived in exile in the United States, failed. Salka Viertel_sentence_20

Social activism Salka Viertel_section_1

The Viertels, members of the intelligentsia in Europe, moved to the United States in 1928 for a planned four-year stay. Salka Viertel_sentence_21

The Viertels initially lived on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, before renting a house on Mabery Road in Santa Monica, California. Salka Viertel_sentence_22

In 1932, following Hitler's rise, they decided to stay in Santa Monica, where their sons grew up. Salka Viertel_sentence_23

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_sentence_24

Her guests included not only Sergei Eisenstein and Charlie Chaplin but also Arnold Schoenberg, Christopher Isherwood, Hanns Eisler, Bertolt Brecht, Max Reinhardt, and Thomas Mann. Salka Viertel_sentence_25

Salka Viertel played an active role in fundraising for Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico! Salka Viertel_sentence_26

project. Salka Viertel_sentence_27

Composer Franz Waxman met James Whale through her and wrote his first Hollywood soundtrack for Whale. Salka Viertel_sentence_28

She acted as a broker for Charles Boyer, among others, helping them to gain a foothold within the Hollywood film industry. Salka Viertel_sentence_29

In the 1930s and 1940s, she was involved in the fight against National Socialism. Salka Viertel_sentence_30

Viertel was also active aiding those still trapped in Europe. Salka Viertel_sentence_31

She helped found the European Film Fund, which brokered contracts with major Hollywood studios. Salka Viertel_sentence_32

Through its assistance, notable artists such as Leonhard Frank, Heinrich Mann, Alfred Polgar, Walter Mehring, and Friedrich Torberg received emergency visas that enabled them to escape the Nazis. Salka Viertel_sentence_33

With the onset of the Cold War and the McCarthy era, Viertel was among the Hollywood writers, suspected of being communists, who were blacklisted. Salka Viertel_sentence_34

Later life Salka Viertel_section_2

After her divorce in 1947, Salka lived in Brentwood, Southern California. Salka Viertel_sentence_35

In 1953 she left the U.S. and settled in Klosters in Switzerland, where later her son Peter and his second wife, actress Deborah Kerr, lived. Salka Viertel_sentence_36

In 1969, her autobiography, The Kindness of Strangers, was published. Salka Viertel_sentence_37

Salka Viertel died in Klosters, Switzerland, on 20 October 1978, aged 89. Salka Viertel_sentence_38

Selected filmography Salka Viertel_section_3

Actress Salka Viertel_sentence_39

Salka Viertel_unordered_list_0

Screenwriter Salka Viertel_sentence_40

Salka Viertel_unordered_list_1

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Viertel.