Romy Schneider

Romy Schneider

Schneider in 1973
Born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach
(1938-09-23)23 September 1938
Vienna, Austria
Died 29 May 1982(1982-05-29) (aged 43)
Paris, France
Cause of death Cardiac arrest
Occupation Actress
Years active 1953–1982
Partner(s) Alain Delon (1959–1963)
Laurent Pétin (1981–1982)

Romy Schneider (23 September 1938 29 May 1982) was a film actress born in Vienna who held German and French citizenship. She started her career in the German Heimatfilm genre in the early 1950s when she was 15. From 1955 to 1957, she played the central character of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Austrian Sissi trilogy. Schneider moved to France where she made successful and critically acclaimed films with some of the most notable film directors of that era.

Early life

Schneider was born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach in Nazi-era Vienna, six months after the Anschluss, into a family of actors that included her paternal grandmother Rosa Albach-Retty, her Austrian father Wolf Albach-Retty and her German mother Magda Schneider. After her parents' divorce in 1945, Magda took charge of Romy and her brother Wolfi, eventually supervising the young girl's career, often appearing alongside her daughter. Her career was also overseen by her stepfather, Hans Herbert Blatzheim, a noted restaurateur who Schneider indicated had an unhealthy interest in her.[1][2][3][4][5]

Early career

Schneider as Elisabeth of Austria in Sissi (1955)

Romy Schneider's first film, made when she was 15, was Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht (When the White Lilacs Bloom Again) in 1953, credited as Romy Schneider-Albach. In 1954, Schneider for the first time portrayed a royal, playing a young Queen Victoria in the Austrian film Mädchenjahre einer Königin (known in the U.S. as The Story of Vickie and in Britain as Victoria in Dover). Schneider's breakthrough came with her portrayal of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, in the romantic biopic Sissi (1955) and its two sequels, Sissi – The Young Empress (1956) and Sissi – Fateful Years of an Empress (1957), all with Karlheinz Böhm, who became a close friend. Less stereotypical films during this busy period include The Girl and the Legend (1957), working with a young Horst Buchholz, and Monpti (1957), directed by Helmut Käutner, again with Buchholz.

Schneider soon starred in Christine (1958), a remake of Max Ophüls's 1933 film Liebelei (itself based upon a play by Arthur Schnitzler and starring her mother Magda Schneider). It was during the filming of Christine that Schneider fell in love with French actor Alain Delon, who co-starred in the movie. She left Germany to join him in Paris and they announced their engagement in 1959.

Schneider decided to live and to work in France, slowly gaining the interest of film directors such as Orson Welles for The Trial (1962), based upon Franz Kafka's The Trial and was introduced by Delon to Luchino Visconti.

Under Visconti's direction, she gave performances in the Théâtre Moderne as Annabella (and Delon as Giovanni) in John Ford's stage play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1961) and in the film Boccaccio '70 (segment: "The Job"). In 1962 Schneider played Anna in Sacha Pitoëff's production of Chekhov's play The Seagull, also at the Théâtre Moderne. A brief stint in Hollywood included a starring role in Good Neighbor Sam (1964) a comedy with Jack Lemmon, while What's New Pussycat? (1965), although American financed, was shot in and around Paris. Schneider co-starred with Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen; the film was made from his first screenplay.

Schneider and Delon decided to split up in 1963 although they remained close lifelong friends. They continued to work together in such films as La Piscine (The Swimming Pool, 1968), which revitalized her career, and The Assassination of Trotsky (1972).

Later career

Schneider during the filming of La califfa (1970)

Schneider continued to work in France during the 1970s, most notably with director Claude Sautet on five films. Their first collaboration, The Things of Life (Les choses de la vie, 1970) with Michel Piccoli, was a great success and made Schneider an icon in France. The three colleagues teamed up again for the noir thriller Max et les ferrailleurs (Max and the Junkmen, 1971), and she appeared with Yves Montand in Sautet's César et Rosalie (1972). Schneider portrayed Elisabeth of Austria again in Ludwig (1972), Visconti's film about the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. This time she played the Empress as a much more complex, mature, even bitter woman. "Sissi sticks to me just like oatmeal", Schneider once said.[6]

Other successes from this period included Le Train (1973), where she played a German-Jewish refugee in World War 2, Claude Chabrol's thriller Innocents with Dirty Hands (Les innocents aux mains sales, 1975) with Rod Steiger, and Le vieux fusil (1975). The gritty That Most Important Thing: Love (L'important c'est d'aimer, 1974) garnered her first César Award (France's equivalent of the Oscar), a feat she repeated five years later, in her last collaboration with Sautet, for A Simple Story (Une histoire simple, 1978).

On 30 October 1974, Schneider created one of the most memorable moments on German television. She was the second guest on Dietmar Schönherr's talk show Je später der Abend (The Later the Evening) when she, after a rather terse interview, remarked passionately to the last guest, bank robber and author Burkhard Driest: "Sie gefallen mir. Sie gefallen mir sehr." (I like you. I like you a lot.)[7][8][9]

She also acted in Le Trio infernal (1974) with Michel Piccoli, and in Garde à vue (1981) with Michel Serrault and Lino Ventura. An unpleasant incident occurred during this period with leading German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder who wanted her to play the lead in his film The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). Negotiations broke down when he called Schneider a "dumb cow",[10] to which she responded by declaring she would never work with such a "beast". Fassbinder cast Hanna Schygulla instead, reviving his professional association with an actress to whom he had also been offensive.

Schneider starred in Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch (La mort en direct, 1980) playing a dying woman whose last days are watched on national television via a camera implanted in the brain of a journalist (Harvey Keitel). It is based on David G. Compton's novel, Her last film was La Passante du Sans-Souci (The Passerby, 1982).

Personal life

Following the end of her relationship with Delon, Schneider married German director and actor Harry Meyen in July 1966. The couple had a son, David Christopher (19661981), but later divorced.

In 1975, Schneider married Daniel Biasini, her private secretary; they separated in 1981. Their daughter, Sarah Magdalena, is now an actress.

David died at the age of 14 after attempting to climb the spiked fence at his stepfather's parents' home and puncturing his femoral artery in the process. Schneider began drinking alcohol excessively after the death of David.

However, Claude Pétin—a friend of hers—said that she no longer drank at the time of her death. Pétin also said that Schneider's cardiac arrest was due to a weakened heart caused by a kidney operation she had had months before.[11]

At the time of her death, Schneider was in a relationship with film producer Laurent Pétin.


Grave of Romy Schneider and her son in Boissy-sans-Avoir

Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment on 29 May 1982. It was suggested that she had committed suicide by taking a lethal cocktail of alcohol and sleeping pills. After another post-mortem examination was carried out, authorities declared that she had died from cardiac arrest.

Her tombstone at Boissy-sans-Avoir in the Canton of Montfort-l'Amaury bears the name Rosemarie Albach. Shortly afterwards, Delon arranged for David to be buried in the same grave.[12]

Enduring popularity

The French journalist Eugène Moineau initiated in 1984 the Prix Romy Schneider. It is one of the most prestigious awards for upcoming actresses in the French film industry and is given by a jury each year in Paris in conjunction with the Prix Patrick Dewaere (formerly the Prix Jean Gabin). In 1990, the Austrian newspaper Kurier created the Romy TV Award in honour of Schneider. In 2003, she was voted 78th on the list of the greatest Germans in the German TV programme Unsere Besten (the German version of 100 Greatest Britons)the second highest ranked actress (Marlene Dietrich was 50th) on that list. Until 2002, the Austrian Federal Railways InterCity service IC 535 from Wien Südbahnhof to Graz was named "Romy Schneider".[13][14][15]

A movie about Schneider's life, titled Eine Frau wie Romy/Une femme comme Romy (A Woman Like Romy) was planned by Warner Bros. for 2009; Schneider's role was going to be played by Yvonne Catterfeld.[16][17] The project was cancelled in July 2009.[18] A musical about Schneider, Romy – Die Welt aus Gold (Romy – The Golden World) was premiered in 2009 at the Theater Heilbronn.[19] In November 2009 the ARD broadcast the feature film Romy with Jessica Schwarz in the title role.[20]


Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht1953Evchen FörsterHans Deppe
Victoria in Dover (Mädchenjahre einer Königin)1954Princess Victoria / Queen VictoriaErnst Marischka
Feuerwerk1954Anna OberholzerPaul Burkhard, Erik Charell, and Kurt Hoffmann
The Last Man1955Niddy HoevelmannHarald Braun
Die Deutschmeister1955Stanzi HübnerErnst Marischka
Sissi1955SissiErnst Marischka
Kitty und die große Welt1956Kitty DupontAlfred Weidenmann
Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin1956SissiErnst Marischka
Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin1957SissiErnst Marischka
The Girl and the Legend1957MaudJosef von Báky
Love from Paris (Monpti)1957Anne-Claire JouvainHelmut Käutner
Eva (Die Halbzarte)1958 NicoleRolf Thiele
Scampolo1958ScampoloAlfred Weidenmann
Mädchen in Uniform1958Manuela von MeinhardisGéza von Radványi
Christine1958Christine WeiringPierre Gaspard-Huit
Magnificent Sinner (Katia)1959KatiaRobert Siodmak
Die schöne Lügnerin1959Fanny EmmetsriederAxel von Ambesser
Mademoiselle Ange1959Stewardess/AngelGéza von Radványi
Purple Noon (Plein soleil)1960Freddie's companion (uncredited)René Clément
Die Sendung der Lysistrata (TV movie)1961Myrrhine / UschiFritz Kortner
Boccaccio '701961Pupe (segment Il lavoro)Luchino Visconti
Le Combat dans l'île1962AnneAlain Cavalier
The Trial1962LeniOrson Welles
The Victors1962RegineCarl Foreman
The Cardinal1963Annemarie von HartmanOtto Preminger
Good Neighbor Sam1964Janet LagerlofDavid Swift
L'Enfer1964[F 1]OdetteHenri-Georges Clouzot
L'Amour à la mer1965The starGuy Gilles
Is Paris Burning? (Paris brûle-t-il ?)1965scene cutRené Clément
What's New Pussycat?1965Carole WernerClive Donner
10:30 P.M. Summer1965ClaireJules Dassin
La Voleuse1966Julia KreuzJean Chapot
Triple Cross1966CountessTerence Young
Romy: Anatomy of a Face (Romy. Porträt eines Gesichts)1967HerselfHans-Jürgen Syberberg
Otley1968ImogenDick Clement
The Swimming Pool1969MarianneJacques Deray
La califfa 1970Irene CorsiniAlberto Bevilacqua
Les choses de la vie1970HélèneClaude Sautet
My Lover My Son1970Francesca AndersonJohn Newland
Qui ?1970MarinaLéonard Keigel
Bloomfield1971NiraRichard Harris
The Assassination of Trotsky1971Gita SamuelsJoseph Losey
Max et les Ferrailleurs1971LilyClaude Sautet
César et Rosalie1972RosalieClaude Sautet
Ludwig1972Elisabeth of AustriaLuchino Visconti
Le Train1973Anna KupferPierre Granier-Deferre
Un amour de pluie1974ElizabethJean-Claude Brialy
Le Trio infernal1974Philomena SchmidtFrancis Girod
L'important c'est d'aimer1974Nadine ChevalierAndrzej Żuławski
Le Mouton enragé1974Roberte GroultMichel Deville
Le vieux fusil1975Clara DandieuRobert Enrico
Les innocents aux mains sales1975Julie WormserClaude Chabrol
Mado1976HélèneClaude Sautet
A Woman at Her Window (Une femme à sa fenêtre)1976Margot SantoriniPierre Granier-Deferre
Gruppenbild mit Dame1977Leni GruytenAleksandar Petrović
A Simple Story1978MarieClaude Sautet
Bloodline1979Hélène MartinTerence Young
Clair de femme1979LydiaCosta-Gavras
Death Watch1979Katherine MortenhoeBertrand Tavernier
La Banquière1980Emma EckhertFrancis Girod
Fantasma d'amore1981Anna Brigatti ZighiDino Risi
Garde à vue1981Chantal MartinaudClaude Miller
La Passante du Sans-Souci1982Elsa Wiener/Lina BaumsteinJacques Rouffio
  1. L'Enfer remained unfinished in 1964; it was released as L' Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot in 2009 by Serge Bromberg.


Awards named after Romy Schneider



  1. "Biography" (in French). Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Romy témoignant par la suite de l’intérêt malsain qu’il lui portait.
  2. "Biography and career" (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 October 2007. waarvan Romy later aangaf dat hij een ongezonde belangstelling voor haar had
  3. Surkus, Andrea. "Auch das noch – Alice Schwarzer entdeckt Romy Schneider als Frauensymbol". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 28 October 2007. und will mit ihr schlafen
  4. Gretter, Susanne. "Biography" (in German and French). FemBio Frauen-Biographieforschung e.V. Retrieved 28 October 2007. Il a clairement proposé de coucher avec moi.
  5. Leinkauf, Thomas (19 September 1998). "Der Liebling der Machos". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 28 October 2007. Blatzheim in ihrer Jugend mit ihr schlafen wollte.
  6. "Romy Schneider – Bilder einer Ikone" (in German). Compress VerlagsgesmbH & Co KG. Retrieved 19 December 2007. Sissi pappt an mir wie Griesbrei
  7. "Und retten kann uns nur Heinz Schenk". Stern (in German). 9 August 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  8. Beier, Lars-Olav (23 May 2007). "Die Berührbare". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  9. Je später der Abend: Burkhard Driest and Romy Schneider on YouTube, (October 1974, 29 seconds) (German)
  10. Derek Malcolm "Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun", The Guardian, 28 January 1999. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  11. "ROMY SCHNEIDER NE S'EST PAS SUICIDÉE". Paris Match. Paris. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  12. Delon, Alain (11 June 1982). "Adieu ma puppelé". Paris Match (in French) (#1724). Retrieved 24 September 2009.
  13. "Neues Kursbuch" by Thomas Pröglhöf, 23 November 2002 (German)
  14. "Question on Notice", Austrian Department for Traffic, Innovation and Technology, 31 December 2002 (German)
  15. Romy Schneider (Train) (Italian)
  16. Sander, Daniel (12 February 2008). "Ein Soap-Sternchen gibt den Weltstar". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  17. "Ich hatte eine Gänsehaut". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 12 February 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  18. "Catterfeld sagt Projekt ab", Focus, 27 July 2009 (German)
  19. Romy – Die Welt aus Gold (German)
  20. Romy – the movie at Südwestrundfunk (German)

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