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When she laughed, the sun rose

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Actress Hannelore Elsner would have turned 80 on July 26. A look back at his dazzling life in front of the camera.

There was that adorable smile crowned by the wrinkles around his eyes. It could ignite or break hearts and was so engaging it almost hurt. “Nobody, really nobody in the whole world could resist that smile”, as director Doris Dörrie (67) described it.

We remember it so vividly, as if the actress Hannelore Elsner, who died in 2019 and who would have celebrated her 80th birthday on July 26, was still with us. That smile acted like a force field and was her best protection against the chaos and vulnerability that Hanni, as her friends called her, often had to live with.

Playwright Moritz Rinke (54) had such a moment in 2000. He staged a stage performance with 2,000 children, the Scorpions, the Buena Vista Social Club and the then Chancellor for the Hanover World’s Fair , which Hannelore Elsner was supposed to host. , which was catastrophic went into his pants. Not least because the stage manager was “drunk”, as Rinke described him in the “Tagesspiegel”, and “the old gentlemen of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club wept after falling on the musical instruments of the Scorpions”.

The craziest scene came when Rinke wrote an introduction that was far too long for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (78), but he had received the wrong sign from the stage manager and appeared far too early. Elsner continued to tone it down, but the Chancellor said, “But Mrs. Elsner, I’ve been here a long time! She replied, ‘I don’t care at all!’

“And there was still that fabulous smile”

Then the Scorpions ‘teared down’ the stage and co-moderator Max Raabe (59) started singing his lyrics. “Hannelore Elsner was already sitting in front of a mirror in the dressing room when I ran up to her in a panic with some text changes. ‘I’m ruining myself,’ she said softly. And there was to again that fabulous smile, which she for a moment on a bewildered and marvelously beautiful face.”

Of course, she didn’t ruin herself, quite the contrary: From the year 2000, her career really picked up speed. Hannelore Elsner has become one of the best cult character film actresses alongside her colleagues Senta Berger (81) and Iris Berben (71). In “The Incorruptibles” (2000) by Oskar Roehler (63), she plays her mother, the writer Gisela Elsner, who is called Hanna Flanders in the film.

In “My last film” (2002) by Oliver Hirschbiegel (64), she shone in a 90-minute monologue, in the comedy “Alles auf Zucker” (2004) by Dani Levy (64) as Jewish wife of a notorious gambler, in “Der Grosse Rudolph” (2018), she demonstrated her ingenious versatility as the mother of Munich fashion designer Rudolph Moshammer. Another highlight of his life’s work was “Cherry Blossoms – Hanami” (2008), the story of terminally ill Rudi (Elmar Wepper, 78), whose wife Trudi died unexpectedly before him.

A tribute to his grandmother

Director Doris Dörries said the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, as she negotiated with Elsner. “She can’t really befriend Trudi, when I ask her to do the role of Bavarian, she says, I can’t do that, it’s absolutely not possible. – But Trudi is from Bavaria , you have to. – Her is silent for a long moment, then she smiles her famous dazzling smile…and says, ‘Okay, then I’m going to play my grandma.'”

She was born in Burghausen in the Bavarian province. As a child, she only spoke Bavarian, and it was so hard to break the habit of the dialect. She then never resumed a Bavarian role again. Then came Trudi, which she wanted to play as a tribute to her grandmother. “My grandmother was a farmer’s daughter from Lower Bavaria with a long braid,” she said in an interview. publisher “Emma” Alice Schwarzer (79). She loved her grandmother very much. “Everything was safe and beautiful with her.”

She never forgot the smell of the first apples. “Or when there was a thunderstorm. And when they fell like that. And there was a flower garden and a vegetable garden and a salad garden. And the meadows. In the little house there was an outbuilding and goats, chickens and geese. I drank lukewarm goat’s milk. This childhood had for me something brilliant, something wild, something very archaic.

Blows of fate

The idyllic image of childhood is also determined by tragic moments. Then there was the death of Manfred, who was three years her senior, in early 1945. He was six years old and was traveling from Burghausen to Neuötting to see his grandmother when low-flying planes attacked the train . Six projectiles were found in Manfred’s small body, which she kept in a linen bag. Later said Hannelore Elsner the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “My memories have faded, but the feelings are there. An incredible feeling of abandonment in my heart. It was an untold pain in the family.”

Then the father fell ill, tuberculosis. She was eight years old when he died. “I still remember exactly how I sat on his deathbed in my first communion dress, all night long. This endless longing for the great prince for me makes sense. My brother was my prince. And then my father was my prince. And they just become out…” she described her feelings in an interview with Alice Schwarzer.

When she moved to Munich with her mother and after dropping out of high school, she was spotted in the street by a young Turkish director: “He was in love with me, but he was too old for me, he was 24. for weeks no film came out of it.” After all, the film company sent her to acting school, the first offers came, she performed in theaters and made appearances in films such as “Freddy under strange stars” (1959), “Allotria in Zell am See” (1963) or “The thugs of the first Bench” (1967).

your loves

She was married to actor Gerd Vespermann from 1964 to 1966, and around 1970 she reportedly had another marriage to fellow actor Michael Miller. She also had a relationship with Austrian filmmaker Alf Breastellin, which ended in 1981 with his accidental death in a Munich taxi. In the meantime, she had a short relationship with the recently deceased director Dieter Wedel (1939-2022), from whom she had her son Dominik in 1981. A longer relationship with producer Bernd Eichinger (1949-2011), a marriage with playwright Uwe B. Carstensen (1973-2000) and a love for literature professor Günter Blamberger followed.

“Bernd Eichinger was the best,” she told Alice Schwarzer. “He didn’t restrict me at all. In fact, he loves it when you say what he thinks. He was in love with me and respected me. He didn’t stuff me with all that love kitsch either. . And when I said no, today no – then I could say that. Without fear of loss.”

As her son Dominik reported after her death, Hannelore Elsner had suffered from breast cancer since the mid-1990s. She even tackled the disease as an actress in “End of the Season” (2001) when ‘she played a mother with cancer – and no one on set knew how the lead actress was doing. In her latest film “Long Live the Queen”, she also played a dying cancer patient. She even had to lie in a coffin. Hannelore Elsner died while the film was still being shot.

Director Dieter Wedel, who has been repeatedly accused of rape, said of his son Dominik’s mother: “When she laughed, the room lit up. And all the men fell at her feet.” She never returned that compliment. “No, Wedel is not Dominik’s father, he is his father.”

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Source www.gala.de

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