Irene von Meyendorff

Irene von Meyendorff (6 June 1916 – 28 September 2001) was a German-British Russian born actress.

Irene von Meyendorff was of Baltic German origin, born in 1916 in Tallinn (then Reval, Russia), Estonia as the eldest child of a German-Baltic aristocrat. Her birth name and title was Baroness Irene Isabella Margarete Pauline Caecila von Meyendorff. In the early 1930s she came to Berlin to work as a cutter in the UFA film studios of Babelsberg. Her beauty soon landed her first film roles and the attention of Joseph Goebbels. Representing the purest ideal of Aryan beauty, the actress portrayed mostly noble patricians. The sale of her promotional post cards shows that she was the number one pin-up girl among the German Army during World War II.

She was cast by propaganda director Veit Harlan twice: in 1944 in Opfergang and in 1945 in Kolberg. The production of these elaborately produced color films was strictly supervised by Goebbels; Kolberg was the most expensive film ever produced in Germany (with the budget of 8.5 million Reichsmarks), produced to celebrate the 12th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's ascent to power, opening on 30 January 1945. In 1960 she met British actor James Robertson Justice, fell in love with him and left her third husband Pit Severin, a journalist from Hamburg, to follow Justice to England. She all but gave up acting, returning only briefly in such films as the costume drama Mayerling (1968).

Last years

She became a British citizen in 1967, and changed her name to Irina. A series of strokes, starting in 1968, gradually prevented James Robertson Justice from working again and led to his eventual bankruptcy. Earning her living as a teacher at a local language school, Irina nursed him until his death in 1975. After 14 years of living together, they were finally married on his deathbed in hospital three days before he died.

Eight years after Justice's death in 1975, she married his best friend and their neighbour, millionaire and philanthropist — heir to shoe sellers Russell & Bromley — Frederick Keith ("Toby") Bromley.[1][2] At age 70, she sailed to the Arctic and the Orinoco River. On 28 September 2001 she died in Hampshire, aged 85. She was predeceased by her son, Andreas Zahler (1940–1985). She was survived by her granddaughter, Rebecca (b. 1984).



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