Anny Ondra

Anny Ondra (born Anna Sophie Ondráková, 15 May 1903 28 February 1987) was a Czech film actress. She began her career in 1920 and appeared in Czech, German, Austrian, French and English films. In 1933, she married to German boxing champion Max Schmeling.

Anny Ondra
Ondra, c. 1930
Anna Sophie Ondráková

(1903-05-15)15 May 1903
Died28 February 1987(1987-02-28) (aged 83)
Years active19191951
Spouse(s)Max Schmeling (19331987)
Partner(s)Karel Lamač


Ondra was born in Tarnów to Czech parents, Bohumír Ondrák, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, and Anna Ondráková (née Mracek). She had two brothers, Tomáš and Jindřich. She spent her childhood in Tarnów, Pula and Prague. At seventeen she played in the theater and acted in her first film. The film was directed by her boyfriend, director Karel Lamač.[1] When her family learned of it, they had a shouting match in which the teenager received a beating from her father - to be an actress, soon after the First World War, was socially almost at the level of a being a beggar. Anna had been educated at a convent school and her father had found for her an official government position. Anna preferred a film career and began to live with Karel Lamač. "I swim like a fish, ride like a cowboy, and I would do it all if the film required it," summarized the nineteen-year-old. After some years she wanted to begin a family, but Lamač did not want to marry. So, after a three-year romance, on 6 July 1933 Ondra married German boxer Max Schmeling, with whom she appeared in the film Knock-out (1935). Their marriage was a happy one, although childless: Ondra miscarried after a car accident in 1936 and could no longer have children. They were married until she died in 1987. Lamač remained her friend throughout his lifetime. He died in her arms in 1952 in Hamburg.

Throughout their marriage, German fascists tried to exploit the fame and popularity of Ondra and Schmeling. They were often seen in photos with Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler - Max as a German superman and Anny as a blonde Aryan (Max was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932). However, they never collaborated: Max refused to accept honours and even secretly helped to hide two Jewish children, saving their lives. In Nazi Germany this was a capital offence. After the war, they were penalised financially for collaboration, and an arrest warrant was issued in Czechoslovakia. Nazi propaganda was taken literally and Schmeling never visited Ondra's homeland.

After the war, they were left without funds and assets. In 1949 they moved to Hollenstedt near Hamburg, and in the 1950s Schmeling began working for The Coca-Cola Company.

Ondra was buried in the Saint Andreas Friedhof cemetery in Hollenstedt, West Germany. Her husband Max Schmeling died in 2005 and was buried next to her.[2] The heritage of Anny and Max has been referred to as the Max-Schmeling-Stiftung foundation.

Film career

She acted in Czech, Austrian, and German comedies in the 1920s; and in some British dramas, most notably Alfred Hitchcock's The Manxman and Blackmail (both 1929). Ondra formed a production company, Ondra-Lamac-Films, with her boyfriend, director Karel Lamač.[3] Lamac directed her in several silent films, acted with her in films directed by other filmmakers, and continued to work together after her marriage with Max.[4]

Ondra's career in the UK was hurt by the introduction of talking pictures. A minute-long test film where Ondra speaks English has survived, in which Hitchcock chauvinistically asks the actress if she is a "bad woman" and if she sleeps with men, making her leave before the reel ends. When Blackmail was remade with sound, Ondra's thick accent was considered unacceptable, so her dialogue was recorded by actress Joan Barry. She returned to Germany and married boxer Max Schmeling in 1933.

Ondra made some 40 more films in the sound era, the last in 1957, and in total over 90 films.

Ondra was portrayed by Britt Ekland in the television movie Ring of Passion (1978), wherein the character was named "Amy Ondra Schmeling". She was also portrayed by Peta Wilson in the historical boxing docudrama Joe and Max (2002).

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Language Notes
1920 Gilly poprvé v Praze Silent
1920 Lady with the Small Foot Silent
1922 Look After Your Daughters Silent
1922 Gypsy Love Silent
1922 Lead Us Not into Temptation Silent
1926 Hraběnka z Podskalí Liduska Silent
Trude Silent
Never the Twain Zuzka Pestová / Lili Weberová Silent
1927 Die Pratermizzi Pratermizzi Silent
Pantáta Bezoušek Melanka Silent
Hotel Erzherzogin Viktoria Steffi Haidegger Silent
Anicko, vrat se! Anicka Karesová Silent
Kvet ze Sumavy Dána Silent
The Lovers of an Old Criminal Fifi Hrazánková Silent with Vlasta Burian
1928 Eve's Daughters Nina Laval / Anny de Lavais Silent
God's Clay Angela Clifford Silent Directed by Graham Cutts
Glorious Youth Eileen Silent Directed by Graham Cutts
The First Kiss Anny Cord Silent
Suzy Saxophone Anni von Aspen Silent
1929 The Manxman Kate Cregeen Silent Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Sinful and Sweet Musette Silent
Blackmail Alice White English Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
The Girl with the Whip Anny Nebenkrug Silent
1930 The Caviar Princess Annemarie Silent
Das Mädel aus U.S.A. Annemarie German
Fairground People Anny Flock German
Eine Freundin, so goldig wie Du Anny German
1931 Him and His Sister Anny Brabcová Czech with Vlasta Burian
Er und seine Schwester Anny Spatz German with Vlasta Burian
Die Fledermaus Adele German with Iván Petrovich and Georg Alexander
1932 Mamsell Nitouche Mamsell Nitouche German with Georg Alexander
A Night in Paradise Monika Böhnicke German with Hermann Thimig
La Chauve-Souris Arlette French with Iván Petrovich
Une nuit au paradis Monique Béchue French
Faut-il les marier ? Anny French with Jean-Pierre Aumont
Die grausame Freundin Welgunda German
Kiki Kiki German with Hermann Thimig
Kiki Kiki French with Pierre Richard-Willm
Baby [5] Baby German with Anton Walbrook
1933 Baby [6] Baby French with Pierre Richard-Willm
The Ideal Schoolmaster Vera Matysová Czech
Daughter of the Regiment Mary Dreizehn German
La fille du régiment Mary French with Pierre Richard-Willm
Fräulein Hoffmanns Erzählungen Anita Limann German with Mathias Wieman
The Love Hotel Hanne Boll German with Mathias Wieman
1934 Die vertauschte Braut Virginia Vanderloo / Colly German with Anton Walbrook
L'amour en cage La baronne de Rèze / Anny French
Little Dorrit Amy Dorrit German with Mathias Wieman
Polish Blood Helena Zaremba German with Hans Moser and Iván Petrovich
Polská krev Helena Zarembová Czech
1935 Knockout Marianne Plümke German with her husband Max Schmeling
Großreinemachen Bessie German with Wolf Albach-Retty
The Young Count Billy German with Hans Söhnker
1936 Donogoo Tonka Josette German Directed by Reinhold Schünzel
Flitterwochen Ingeborg German with Hans Söhnker
1937 A Girl from the Chorus Henriette Lange German
Vor Liebe wird gewarnt Anny Palme German
Cause for Divorce Anny German
Důvod k rozvodu Anny Plavcova Czech
The Irresistible Man Claudette Renier German with Hans Söhnker
1938 Narren im Schnee Dorothee Heinemann German
1941 The Gasman Erika Knittel German with Heinz Rühmann
1943 Heaven, We Inherit a Castle German
1951 You Have to be Beautiful Rode de Lila German with Sonja Ziemann
1957 The Zurich Engagement Anny Ondra German with Liselotte Pulver



  1. Canning, Mike (December 2008). "At The Movies: Holiday Season Brings a New Spate of Dramas". Hill Rag. Archived from the original on 2008-12-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. "Boxing legend Max Schmeling dies at 99". USA Today. Berlin: The Associated Press. February 4, 2005.
  3. Canning, Mike (December 2008). "At The Movies: Holiday Season Brings a New Spate of Dramas". Hill Rag. Archived from the original on 2009-03-25.
  4. "Funny Ladies 1". La Cineteca del Friuli. 2002.
  5. Baby (1932) on IMDb
  6. Baby (1933) on IMDb
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