25 September 2017

Jetta Goudal

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Also this year, EFSP presents its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival from 20 to 29 September. Today, a temperamental Hollywood star who was born in the heart of old Amsterdam as Jetje Goudeket. She became successful as the exotic beauty Jetta Goudal (1891-1985) in American films of the silent era. In 1984, Life Magazine called her “the most alluring femme fatale in silent movies, also the smartest, best dressed and feistiest.”

Jetta Goudal
French postcard.

Jetta Goudal
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Édition, Paris, no. 511.

Jetta Goudal
French postcard, no. 37. Photo: Erka-Prodisco. Erka-Prodisco Films was a French film distribution company. Her name is erroneously written as Jetta Gondal.

A Parisienne from Versailles

Jetta Goudal was born Julie Henriette Goudeket in 1891. She was the daughter of Mozes Goudeket, a wealthy, orthodox Jewish diamond cutter in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam, and Geertruida Warradijn. Decades later, during World War II, her father and his second wife would be murdered in the concentration camp of Sobibor.

Tall and regal in appearance, Julie began her acting career on stage, traveling across Europe with various theater companies. In 1917 or 1918 (the sources differ about the date), Julie Goudeket left a Europe, ravaged by World War I to settle in New York City.

There she hid her Dutch and Jewish ancestry; she generally described herself as a ‘Parisienne’ and on an information sheet for the Paramount Public Department she later wrote that she was born at Versailles in 1901 as the daughter of Maurice Guillaume Goudal, a lawyer.

Her publicist at one point even claimed that she was the daughter of legendary Dutch spy Mata Hari, but no one took that statement seriously, though. Goudal first appeared on Broadway in the drama The Hero by Gilbert Emery in 1921, using the stage name Jetta (pronounced with a French J) Goudal. Later that year she returned with the melodrama The Elton Charm.

She met film director Sidney Olcott in a box at Carnegie Hall, who encouraged her to venture into film acting. She accepted a bit part in his film Timothy's Quest (Sidney Olcott, 1922) as a tubercular mother with children, in a pathetic scene with a drunken husband. Convinced to move to the West Coast, Goudal appeared in two more Olcott films in the ensuing three years.

Jetta Goudal
French postcard by Europe, no. 461. Photo: Regal Film / United Artists.

Jetta Goudal
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5187. Photo: Paramount.

Jetta Goudal
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 273.

Different and Distinctive

Jetta Goudal's real film debut came in The Bright Shawl (John S. Robertson, 1923) with Richard Barthelmess. Jetta created quite a stir with her striking, exotic appearance in a secondary role as a Chinese/Peruvian spy. Critics found her "different" and "distinctive."

She quickly earned more praise for her following film work, especially for her performance in Salome of the Tenements (Sidney Olcott, 1925), a film based on the Anzia Yezierska novel about life in New York's Jewish Lower East Side.

Goudal then worked in the Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky co-production of The Spaniard (Raoul Walsh, 1925) opposite Ricardo Cortez – ‘the new Sheik’- in his first starring role.

Her growing fame brought her to the attention of producer/director Cecil B. DeMille. He hired her for what turned out to be some of her (and his) greatest critical successes, including her emotional roles in the highly romantic melodrama The Coming of Amos (Paul Sloane, 1925) starring Rod LaRocque, The Road to Yesterday (Cecil B. DeMille, 1925), the excellent mystery melodrama Three Faces East (Rupert Julian, 1926), the extremely powerful drama White Gold (William K. Howard, 1927) and the lush desert romantic melodrama The Forbidden Woman (Paul L. Stein, 1927) with Victor Varconi.

Unfortunately, the exotic allure and element of mystery that made Goudal so popular on-screen came with a price. She was an unrepentant theatrical ‘grand dame’ and possessed a fierce temper well known to the film community. DeMille later claimed that Goudal was so difficult to work with that he eventually fired her and cancelled their contract.

Goudal filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against him and DeMille Pictures Corporation. Although DeMille claimed her conduct had caused numerous and costly production delays, in a landmark ruling, Goudal won the suit when DeMille was unwilling to provide his studio's financial records to support his claim of financial losses.

Jetta Goudal
British postcard by Real Photograph.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3332/1, 1928-1929. Photo: DPC.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1475/1, 1927-1928. Photo: DPC.

Vamp or Joan of Arc?

Jetta Goudal appeared as a vamp opposite Marion Davies and Nils Asther in The Cardboard Lover (Robert Z. Leonard, 1928), produced by William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies.

In 1929, she starred with Lupe Velez and cowboy star William Boyd in Lady of the Pavements (D.W. Griffith, 1929), a romantic drama set in the time of Napoleon in Paris. At IMDb, reviewer Drednm loves it: "While William Boyd hasn't much to do here as the Count, the two leading ladies tear the place apart. Fiery Lupe Velez is superb as Nanon, taking full advantage of the comic scenes but then turning in a terrific dramatic performance in the finale. Jetta Goudal is gorgeous and lethal as Diane, using her haughty beauty to good effect."

The next year Jacques Feyder directed Goudal in her only French language film, Le Spectre vert/The Green Spectre (Jacques Feyder, 1930), a made-in-Hollywood, alternate language version of The Unholy Night (1929).

Because of her audaciousness in suing DeMille and her high-profile activism in the Actors Equity's fight for the unionisation of film actors she became known as the Joan of Arc of Equity. However, some of the Hollywood studios refused to employ her and with the arrival of sound her very thick accent left her with limited offers.

At age forty-one, she made her last screen appearance in a talkie, the comedy Business and Pleasure (David Butler, 1932), co-starring with Will Rogers. In 1930, she had married Harold Grieve, an art director and founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Along with her husband, she went into interior design and faded from the Hollywood scene. They had no children.

Plagued by health problems (heart condition) in the 1960s, she suffered a serious fall in 1973 which left her virtually an invalid. She told an interviewer in 1985: "I don't like being called a silent star. Who was silent? I was never silent!"

Shortly after, Jetta Goudal died in 1985 in Los Angeles, at age 94. For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3332/2, 1928-1929. Photo: LPG.

Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3947/1, 1928-1929. Photo: United Artists.
Jetta Goudal
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3791/1, 1928-1929. Photo: MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer).

Sources: Charles C. Benham (Classic Images), Hans J. Wollstein (AllMovie), Operator_99 (Allure), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

24 September 2017

Coen Hissink

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Also this year, EFSP presents its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival from 20 to 29 September. Coen Hissink (1878-1942) was a Dutch stage and screen actor who acted in many silent films by Theo Frenkel Sr. First in the Netherlands in such films as Levensschaduwen (1916), Het proces Begeer (1918) and Menschenwee (1921) and afterwards in Berlin in Alexandra (1922) and other films. He also played in various silent Hollandia films. In the 1930s he acted in Dutch sound films. Hissink died in concentration camp Neuengamme.

Coen Hissink
Dutch postcard. Coen Hissink as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. This postcard may date c. 1907-1908 when Hissink played Shylock on the Dutch stage.

A Dutch Western

Johan Coenraad ‘Coen’ Hissink was born in 1878 in Kampen, The Netherlands.

After studying at the Toneelschool (Stage School) for a year, he began his acting career in the theatre in 1902. He made his stage debut in the Revue De Nieuwe Haring (The New Herring) and would have a long career on stage in both the Netherlands and Flanders.

He was also known as a writer. In 1910, he published the dissertation Louis Bouwmeester's Shylock-creatie. When legendary Dutch actor Louis Bouwmeester starred as Shylock in Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice - his most famous - Hissink sat in the stalls with pen and paper and recorded everything he saw and heard.

Hissink was best known for his stage work, both on and behind the stage. Together with Albert van Dalsum and Eugene Gilhuys, he founded the stage company Het Groot Toneel (The Big Stage) in the Plantage theater in Amsterdam. He also played many classic stage roles, such as Othello in 1918.

Hissink made his film debut in the Dutch Western (!) Een telegram uit Mexico/A Telegram from Mexico (Louis H. Chrispijn sr., 1914), a silent short film produced by Maurits Binger for his film studio Filmfabriek Hollandia. Hissink played the blind father of the Dutch colonist Willem (Willem van der Veer), who gets lost in the revolution in Mexico. The home front waits eagerly for news.

Next followed the silent drama De Vloek van het Testament/The Fatal Woman (Maurits Binger, Louis H. Chrispijn sr., 1915) starring Dutch diva Annie Bos. At the time, it was for the Netherlands a huge production with 48 copies through Europe and 12 copies crossing to America.

Hissink continued to appear in a stream of silent Dutch films. In Fatum (Theo Frenkel, 1915) he again played with the legendary Louis Bouwmeester. Annie Bos was the star in Ontmaskerd/Unmasked (Mime Misu, 1915). Still existing is the seaman’s drama Het wrak van de Noordzee/The Wreck in the North Sea (Theo Frenkel, 1915).

Another relatively large-scale production was Het geheim van Delft/The Secret of Delft (Maurits Binger, 1916). The film required the construction of a 20 metre high ruined lighthouse, and a 15 metre long pier of the coast of Zandvoort. These constructions meant high production costs and the film starred the most famous actors in the Netherlands at that time, including Willem van der Veer, Esther De Boer-van Rijk, Jan van Dommelen and Annie Bos.

Hissink often played supporting parts as the bad guy. He had a rare leading role in the silent crime film Levensschaduwen/Life's Shadows (Theo Frenkel, 1916). He was also one of the leads in another crime film, Het Proces Begeer/The Begeer Case (Theo Frenkel, 1918). He played smaller parts in the silent dramas Pro domo (Theo Frenkel, 1918) with Louis Bouwmeester, Theo Mann-Bouwmeester and Lily Bouwmeester, and Schakels/Connections (Maurits Binger, 1920) based on a play by Herman Heijermans and starring Annie Bos, Jan van Dommelen and Adelqui Migliar.

Esther de Boer van Rijk and Coen Hissink in Op hoop van zegen (1934)
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z / M.H.D. Film. Photo: Maarseveen, Den Haag. Publicity still for Op hoop van zegen/The Good Hope (Alex Benno, 1934) with Esther de Boer van Rijk.

Decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine

During the 1920s, Coen Hissink continued to appear in such silent films as the British-Dutch silent crime film Bloedgeld/Blood Money (Fred Goodwins, 1921), with Adelqui Migliar, the adventure film De zwarte tulp/Black Tulip (Maurits Binger, Frank Richardson, 1921) based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas père, Menschenwee (Theo Frenkel, 1921) with Louis Davids, and De Bruut/The Brute (Theo Frenkel, 1922) with Willem van der Veer, Erna Morena and Bruno Decarli.

He also appeared in such international films as the German-Dutch co-productions Der Mann im Hintergrund/The Man in the Background (Ernst Winar, 1922) with Adolphe Engers, and Frauenmoral/Women's Morals (Theo Frenkel, 1923) with Olga Engl, Helena Makowska and Theo Mann-Bouwmeester.

His final silent film was De cabaret-prinses/The Cabaret Princess (Theo Frenkel, 1925) with Emmy Arbous.

In 1928, he wrote a volume of short stories about decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine. For inspiration, he visited a gay club in Berlin where he sniffed cocaine in a toilet. The book about his experiences was titled Cocaïne: Berlijnsch zedenbeeld (Cocaine: Berlin's pictorial image).

He returned to the screen in the sound film Op Hoop van Zegen/Hoping for the best (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934) starring Esther de Boer van Rijk and Frits van Dongen (Philip Dorn). The film was based on a 1900 play by Dutch socialist dramatist Herman Heijermans, situated in a fishing village, about the conflict between the fishermen and their employer.

It was the third filming of the play in less than twenty years. The film ends in tragedy with the unsound boat setting out to sea and sinking with all hands and the owner pocketing the insurance money. The film won an award at the Venice Film Festival in 1935 and is known as one of the most successful film productions of the Dutch pre-war cinema.

The success lead to more small roles for Hissink in the film dramas Merijntje Gijzens Jeugd/Merijntje Gijzen's Youth (Kurt Gerron, 1936) after the popular novel of the same title by A.M. de Jong, and the Dutch-French film De Man Zonder Hart/The Man Without Heart (Léo Joannon, Louis de Bree, 1937), starring Louis de Bree and Dolly Mollinger. During the 1930s he also often worked for radio plays.

Hissink’s final film role was in De Laatste Dagen van een Eiland/The Last Days of an Island (Ernst Winar, 1942) with Max Croiset. It was already shot in 1938, but premiered in 1942. The film mixes a documentary that tells about the last days of the island of Urk and its inhabitants, and a story of a young couple.

During the Second World War, Hissink refused to join the Kulturkammer (Culture Room) of the Nazi regime and he joined the Resistance. In 1941, he was caught by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp Neuengamme in Germany. There Coen Hissink was killed in 1942. He was 64.

Esther de Boer-van Rijk, Coen Hissink, Willem v.d. Veer, Op Hoop van Zegen
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag/M.H.D. Film. Publicity still for Op Hoop van Zegen (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934) with Esther de Boer van Rijk and Willem van der Veer. Collection Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Sources: Piet Hein Honig (Acteurs – en Kleinkunstenaars-Lexicon – Dutch), Eye, Wikipedia (English and Dutch) and IMDb.

23 September 2017

Theo Mann-Bouwmeester

During the Netherlands Film Festival, EFSP presents the Unofficial Dutch Film Star Postcards Festival. Today's spotlight is on Dutch stage and film actress Theo Mann-Bouwmeester (1850-1939), born in a famous Dutch stage family and sister of Louis Bouwmeester. Inspired by Sarah Bernhardt, she had her breakthrough in 1880. From then on she was known for her wide repertoire, from classical tragedies to contemporary pieces. ’The Grand Dame of the Dutch stage’ also appeared in several Dutch silent films often directed by her son Theo Frenkel Sr. In 1926 she said farewell to the stage after playing her most famous role, Liane Orland in Henry Bataille's The Child of Love, in 67 cities.

Theo Mann Bouwmeester in Het kind van de liefde
Dutch postcard by Koninkl. Nederl. Boek- en Kunsthandel M.M. Couvée, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Het kind van de liefde (L'Enfant de l'amour/The Child of Love) by Henry Bataille.

Passionate, loving and suffering women

Theodora Antonia Louisa Cornelia Bouwmeester was born in Zutphen, The Netherlands, in 1850. She was the daughter of the actors Louis Frederik Johannes Rosenveldt and Louisa Francina Maria Bouwmeester, who happened to be on tour when their daughter was born. ‘Doortje’ was born into the most important Dutch actors family and the legendary Louis Bouwmeester was her elder brother.

Doortje made her debut as a six-year-old in the stage company of her father. She continued to play small stage parts and at 17 she married musician Maurice Frenkel, with whom she would have four sons.

At 23 however, she was a widow and she decided to continue earning the money for her family as an actress. Initially, her stage career was not remarkable while she performed in melodramas and farces. In 1880, she saw a stage performance by Sarah Bernhardt in Amsterdam and ‘la divine Sarah’ became her great source of inspiration.

That same year, Theo Bouwmeester experienced her breakthrough to the main public with the title role in the French comedy Froufrou by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy and in the following years she became the grand Dame of the Dutch theatre. She was the Dutch performer in excellence of passionate, loving and suffering women – especially in great roles as Marguerite Gauthier, Maria Stuart and La Tosca.

She had a wide repertoire, from classical tragedies to contemporary pieces. From 1885 on, she was connected to the prestigious Koninklijke Vereeniging Het Nederlandsch Toneel (The Royal Dutch Theatre). In 1920, she participated in an actors strike and this would trigger the end of her career. In 1926, she said farewell in one of her popular roles, Liane Orland in Henry Bataille's Het kind van de liefde (The Child of Love).

Theo Mann Bouwmeester in Het kind van de liefde
Dutch postcard by Koninkl. Nederl. Boek- en Kunsthandel M.M. Couvée, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Het kind van de liefde (The Child of Love). It was a scene from the third act.

Directed by her son

Theo Mann-Bouwmeester played in five silent films of which four were directed by her son, Theo Frenkel Sr. In her first film, Koning Oedipous/King Oedipus (1912), she played Queen Jocasta opposite her bother Louis Bouwmeester in the title role.

Six years later, her son directed her and her brother Louis Bouwmeester in Pro domo (Theo Frenkel, 1918) also with their niece Lily Bouwmeester. She had a supporting part in Helleveeg/The She-Devil (Theo Frenkel, 1920) featuring Mien Duymaer van Twist.

When her son started his own film company in Germany, she appeared in his Judith (Theo Frenkel, 1923) with Helena Makowkska. Her last film was Frauenmoral/Women's Morals (Theo Frenkel, 1923), again starring Helena Makowkska and Oscar Marion.

Theo Mann-Bouwmeester was married three times and thus performed under different names. Chronologically, she performed as Doortje Bouwmeester, Doortje Frenkel-Bouwmeester, Théo Brondgeest-Bouwmeester and Théo Bouwmeester) but she is best known under the name she used during her last marriage with the musician and composer Gottfried Mann.

Since 1950, the Theo d'Or prize has been awarded to the best female lead in the Dutch stage season every year. Another award named after her is the Theo Mann-Bouwmeester ring. This ring designed by Jan Eisenloeffe was donated to her by admirers in 1911. In 1934, Mann-Bouwmeester donated the ring to Else Mauhs, who was the most outstanding Dutch actress in her eyes. After that, the Theo Mann-Bouwmeesterring was worn by the Dutch actresses Caro van Eyck, Annet Nieuwenhuijzen, Anne Wil Blankers, Ariane Schluter and since 2017 by Halina Reijn.

Theo Mann Bouwmeester had four sons from her first marriage to Maurits Frenkel, including actor and film director Theo Frenkel sr. Actor Theo Frenkel Jr. was her grandson. There were many tragedies in her life, including the early deaths of her eldest and youngest sons. Her third son, Louis, died in 1900 at the age of 31.

Theo Mann Bouwmeester in Het kind van de liefde
Dutch postcard by Koninkl. Nederl. Boek- en Kunsthandel M.M. Couvée, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Het kind van de liefde (The Child of Love). It was a scene from the third act.

Sources: HHJ de Leeuwe ( – Dutch), Piet Hein Honig (Acteurs – en Kleinkunstenaars-Lexicon – Dutch), Een levenlang theater (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch) and IMDb.