Mabel May-Yong

Mabel May-Yong (1884-1945?)[1] was a German film actress of the silent era, known for her exotic roles and costumes.[4] She appeared in around twenty films during the early years of the Weimar Republic.

Mabel May-Yong
Born28 June 1884 [1][2]
Died1945? [3]
Years active1919-1925

Early years

May-Yong was born Alice Mabel Auguste Scharrer as the daughter of the businessman Max Richard Albrecht Scharrer and Elizabeth Ann "Lizzie" Hoa-Mai (either from China or Vietnam).[1][2] She started her career as a belly dancer, wearing provocative costumes in the style of Mata-Hari, and adopted her exotic stage name.[5] May-Yong married in Magdeburg, purportedly into the Schenck zu Schweinsberg noble family. In October 1914, months after the onset of World War I, she arrived in New York from Rotterdam on the ship Rotterdam, as Baroness Alice Schenk zu Schweinsberg, married and living in Berlin, but listing her father, Max Scharrer, living in Magdeburg, as her closest relative.[6] The New York Times of October 28, 1914, reported the arrival at the Astor Theatre of "Baroness Alice Mabel von Schenck zu Schweinsberg, who danced in Germany under the name of Mabel May Yong".[7] She performed at Astor and at the Victoria Theatre and returned to Germany in January 1915.[5] She crossed on the same steamer as Melvin A. Rise, a personal friend of Woodrow Wilson, who approached the German chancellor in Berlin "with a view of sounding them on peace", purportedly after the baroness (May-Yong) had suggested this to Wilson. The White House denied any knowledge of this and this action was said to have undermined Colonel House's peace envoy the next month.[8]

Film career and later life

May-Yong made her first known appearance in a movie in 1919 as Queen Nyleptha in Allan Quartermain, the first movie adaptation of the 1887 novel. After some 25 movies, her last known roles were in 1923 in Das Kabinett des Dr. Segat and in 1925 in Entsiegelte Lippen. She then disappeared from the public eye and her death is yet unknown.[5]

Selected filmography


  1. Retrieved March 1, 2016
  2. Magdeburg, Births Records, 1874-1903
  3. The year 1945 was probably copied from her IMDb entry, which erroneously identifies her with "Mabel May Trezise", born February 1883 in Moonta, South Australia.
  4. Grange p.42
  5. Album - Mabel May Yong at the Lost Gallery website, December 11, 2015
  6. Passenger List of the Rotterdam on October 15, 1914, in New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924.
  7. Baroness Dancer Arrives. Mabel May Yong Tells of Hard Times in Berlin Theatricals. Newspaper clipping at the Lost Gallery website
  8. Peace Envoy Too Late; Col. House's Mission to Berlin Spoiled by President's Friend., clipping from the Washington Post of March 21, 1915, at the Lost Gallery website


  • Grange, William. Cultural Chronicle of the Weimar Republic. Scarecrow Press, 2008.
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