Brigitte Helm

Brigitte Helm (17 March 1906 11 June 1996) was a German actress, best remembered for her dual role as Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, in Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis.

Brigitte Helm
Brigitte Eva Gisela Schittenhelm

(1906-03-17)17 March 1906
Died11 June 1996(1996-06-11) (aged 90)
Years active19271935; 1978
Spouse(s)Rudolf Weissbach
Dr. Hugo von Kuenheim (m. 1935-1986)


Born Brigitte Eva Gisela Schittenhelm in Berlin, Helm's first role was that of Maria in Metropolis which she began work on while only 18 years old. After Metropolis, Helm made over thirty other films, including talking pictures, before retiring in 1936. Her other appearances include The Love of Jeanne Ney (1927), Alraune (1928), L'Argent (1928), Gloria (1931), The Blue Danube (1932), L'Atlantide (1932), and Gold (1934). Helm was considered for the title role in Bride of Frankenstein before Elsa Lanchester was given the role.[1]

Though having a 10-year contract with UFA expiring in 1935, Helm incurred the wrath of Nazi Germany for "race defilement" in marrying her second husband Dr. Hugo Kunheim, an industrialist of Jewish background.[2] Helm was also involved in several traffic accidents, and was briefly imprisoned.[3][4] According to Otto Dietrich's book The Hitler I Knew, Adolf Hitler himself saw that manslaughter charges against her from an automobile accident were dropped.[5]

Helm retired from films because she was "disgusted with the Nazi takeover of the film industry".[6] In 1935, she moved to Switzerland where she later had four children with von Kunheim. In her later years, she refused to grant any interviews concerning her film career.

Selected filmography


  1. Curtis, pp. 243–44
  2. p.127 Huff, David Stewart Film in the Third Reich University of California Press
  3. Obituary: Brigitte Helm - Obituaries - News. The Independent (1996-06-18). Retrieved on 2013-11-02.
  4. Portrait of the actress Brigitte Helm by Thomas Staedeli Archived February 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2013-11-02.
  5. p.218 Dietrich, Otto The Hitler I Knew Methuen, 1957
  • Curtis, James (1998). James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters. Boston, Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-19285-8.
  • Semler, Daniel (2008). Brigitte Helm: Der Vamp des deutschen Films. Munich, Belleville. ISBN 3-936298-56-4
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