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Romy Schneider

Romy Schneider

Austrian actress
Romy Schneider
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Austrian actress
A.K.A. Rosemarie Magdalena Albach, Romy Albach-Retty, Rosemarie Magdelena Alb...
Was Actor Film actor Stage actor
From France Germany
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 23 September 1938, Vienna
Death 29 May 1982, Paris (aged 43 years)
Mother: Magda Schneider
Father: Wolf Albach-Retty
Spouse: Harry MeyenDaniel Biasini
Children: Sarah BiasiniDavid Haubenstock
Height: 1.61925 m
The details


Romy Schneider (23 September 1938 – 29 May 1982) was a film actress born in Vienna who held German and French citizenship. She started her career in the German Heimatfilm genre in the early 1950s when she was 15. From 1955 to 1957, she played the central character of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Austrian Sissi trilogy. Schneider moved to France where she made successful and critically acclaimed films with some of the most notable film directors of that era.

Early life

Schneider was born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach in Vienna into a family of actors that included her paternal grandmother Rosa Albach-Retty, her Austrian father Wolf Albach-Retty and her German mother Magda Schneider. After her parents' divorce in 1945, Magda took charge of Romy and her brother Wolfi, eventually supervising the young girl's career, often appearing alongside her daughter. Her career was also overseen by her stepfather, Hans Herbert Blatzheim, a noted restaurateur who Schneider indicated had an unhealthy interest in her.

Early career

Schneider as Elisabeth of Austria in Sissi (1955)

Romy Schneider's first film, made when she was 15, was Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht (When the White Lilacs Bloom Again) in 1953, credited as Romy Schneider-Albach. In 1954, Schneider for the first time portrayed a royal, playing a young Queen Victoria in the Austrian film Mädchenjahre einer Königin (known in the U.S. as The Story of Vickie and in Britain as Victoria in Dover). Schneider's breakthrough came with her portrayal of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, in the romantic biopic Sissi (1955) and its two sequels, Sissi – The Young Empress (1956) and Sissi – Fateful Years of an Empress (1957), all with Karlheinz Böhm, who became a close friend. Less stereotypical films during this busy period include The Girl and the Legend (1957), working with a young Horst Buchholz, and Monpti (1957), directed by Helmut Käutner, again with Buchholz.

Schneider soon starred in Christine (1958), a remake of Max Ophüls's 1933 film Liebelei (itself based upon a play by Arthur Schnitzler and starring her mother Magda Schneider). It was during the filming of Christine that Schneider fell in love with French actor Alain Delon, who co-starred in the movie. She left Germany to join him in Paris and they announced their engagement in 1959.

Schneider decided to live and to work in France, slowly gaining the interest of film directors such as Orson Welles for The Trial (1962), based upon Franz Kafka's The Trial and was introduced by Delon to Luchino Visconti.

Under Visconti's direction, she gave performances in the Théâtre Moderne as Annabella (and Delon as Giovanni) in John Ford's stage play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (1961) and in the film Boccaccio '70 (segment: "The Job"). In 1962 Schneider played Anna in Sacha Pitoëff's production of Chekhov's play The Seagull, also at the Théâtre Moderne. A brief stint in Hollywood included a starring role in Good Neighbor Sam (1964) a comedy with Jack Lemmon, while What's New Pussycat? (1965), although American financed, was shot in and around Paris. Schneider co-starred with Peter O'Toole, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen; the film was made from his first screenplay.

Schneider and Delon decided to split up in 1963 although they remained close lifelong friends. They continued to work together in such films as La Piscine (The Swimming Pool, 1968), which revitalized her career, and The Assassination of Trotsky (1972).

Later career

Schneider during the filming of La califfa (1970)

Schneider continued to work in France during the 1970s, most notably with director Claude Sautet on five films. Their first collaboration, The Things of Life (Les choses de la vie, 1970) with Michel Piccoli, was a great success and made Schneider an icon in France. The three colleagues teamed up again for the noir thriller Max et les ferrailleurs (Max and the Junkmen, 1971), and she appeared with Yves Montand in Sautet's César et Rosalie (1972). Schneider portrayed Elisabeth of Austria again in Ludwig (1972), Visconti's film about the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. This time she played the Empress as a much more complex, mature, even bitter woman. "Sissi sticks to me just like oatmeal", Schneider once said.

Other successes from this period included Le Train (1973), where she played a German-Jewish refugee in World War 2, Claude Chabrol's thriller Innocents with Dirty Hands (Les innocents aux mains sales, 1975) with Rod Steiger, and Le vieux fusil (1975). The gritty That Most Important Thing: Love (L'important c'est d'aimer, 1974) garnered her first César Award (France's equivalent of the Oscar), a feat she repeated five years later, in her last collaboration with Sautet, for A Simple Story (Une histoire simple, 1978).

On 30 October 1974, Schneider created one of the most memorable moments on German television. She was the second guest on Dietmar Schönherr's talk show Je später der Abend (The Later the Evening) when she, after a rather terse interview, remarked passionately to the last guest, bank robber and author Burkhard Driest: "Sie gefallen mir. Sie gefallen mir sehr." (I like you. I like you a lot.)

She also acted in Le Trio infernal (1974) with Michel Piccoli, and in Garde à vue (1981) with Michel Serrault and Lino Ventura. An unpleasant incident occurred during this period with leading German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder who wanted her to play the lead in his film The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). Negotiations broke down when he called Schneider a "dumb cow", to which she responded by declaring she would never work with such a "beast". Fassbinder cast Hanna Schygulla instead, reviving his professional association with an actress to whom he had also been offensive.

Schneider starred in Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch (La mort en direct, 1980) playing a dying woman whose last days are watched on national television via a camera implanted in the brain of a journalist (Harvey Keitel). It is based on David G. Compton's novel, Her last film was La Passante du Sans-Souci (The Passerby, 1982).

Personal life

Following the end of her relationship with Delon, Schneider married German director and actor Harry Meyen in July 1966. The couple had a son, David Christopher (1966–1981), but later divorced.

In 1975, Schneider married Daniel Biasini, her private secretary; they separated in 1981. Their daughter, Sarah Magdalena, is now an actress.

David died at the age of 14 after attempting to climb the spiked fence at his stepfather's parents' home and puncturing his femoral artery in the process. Schneider began drinking alcohol excessively after the death of David.

However, Claude Pétin—a friend of hers—said that she no longer drank at the time of her death. Pétin also said that Schneider's cardiac arrest was due to a weakened heart caused by a kidney operation she had had months before.

At the time of her death, Schneider was in a relationship with film producer Laurent Pétin.


Grave of Romy Schneider and her son in Boissy-sans-Avoir

Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment on 29 May 1982. It was suggested that she had committed suicide by taking a lethal cocktail of alcohol and sleeping pills. After another post-mortem examination was carried out, authorities declared that she had died from cardiac arrest. Her tombstone at Boissy-sans-Avoir in the Canton of Montfort-l'Amaury bears the name Rosemarie Albach. Shortly afterwards, Delon arranged for David to be buried in the same grave.

Enduring popularity

The French journalist Eugène Moineau initiated in 1984 the Prix Romy Schneider. It is one of the most prestigious awards for upcoming actresses in the French film industry and is given by a jury each year in Paris in conjunction with the Prix Patrick Dewaere (formerly the Prix Jean Gabin). In 1990, the Austrian newspaper Kurier created the Romy TV Award in honour of Schneider. In 2003, she was voted 78th on the list of the greatest Germans in the German TV programme Unsere Besten (the German version of 100 Greatest Britons)—the second highest ranked actress (Marlene Dietrich was 50th) on that list. Until 2002, the Austrian Federal Railways InterCity service IC 535 from Wien Südbahnhof to Graz was named "Romy Schneider".

A movie about Schneider's life, titled Eine Frau wie Romy/Une femme comme Romy (A Woman Like Romy) was planned by Warner Bros. for 2009; Schneider's role was going to be played by Yvonne Catterfeld. The project was cancelled in July 2009. A musical about Schneider, Romy – Die Welt aus Gold (Romy – The Golden World) was premiered in 2009 at the Theater Heilbronn. In November 2009 the ARD broadcast the feature film Romy (de) with Jessica Schwarz in the title role.


Title Year Role Director
Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht 1953 Evchen Förster Hans Deppe
Victoria in Dover (Mädchenjahre einer Königin) 1954 Princess Victoria / Queen Victoria Ernst Marischka
Feuerwerk 1954 Anna Oberholzer Paul Burkhard, Erik Charell, and Kurt Hoffmann
The Last Man 1955 Niddy Hoevelmann Harald Braun
Die Deutschmeister (de) 1955 Stanzi Hübner Ernst Marischka
Sissi 1955 Sissi Ernst Marischka
Kitty und die große Welt 1956 Kitty Dupont Alfred Weidenmann
Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin 1956 Sissi Ernst Marischka
Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin 1957 Sissi Ernst Marischka
The Girl and the Legend 1957 Maud Josef von Báky
Love from Paris (Monpti) 1957 Anne-Claire Jouvain Helmut Käutner
Eva (Die Halbzarte) 1958 Nicole Rolf Thiele
Scampolo 1958 Scampolo Alfred Weidenmann
Mädchen in Uniform 1958 Manuela von Meinhardis Géza von Radványi
Christine 1958 Christine Weiring Pierre Gaspard-Huit
Magnificent Sinner (Katia) 1959 Katia Robert Siodmak
Die schöne Lügnerin (de) 1959 Fanny Emmetsrieder Axel von Ambesser
Mademoiselle Ange (fr) 1959 Stewardess/Angel Géza von Radványi
Purple Noon (Plein soleil) 1960 Freddie's companion (uncredited) René Clément
Die Sendung der Lysistrata (de) (TV movie) 1961 Myrrhine / Uschi Fritz Kortner
Boccaccio '70 1961 Pupe (segment Il lavoro) Luchino Visconti
Le Combat dans l'île (fr) 1962 Anne Alain Cavalier
The Trial 1962 Leni Orson Welles
The Victors 1962 Regine Carl Foreman
The Cardinal 1963 Annemarie von Hartman Otto Preminger
Good Neighbor Sam 1964 Janet Lagerlof David Swift
L'Enfer 1964 Odette Henri-Georges Clouzot
L'Amour à la mer 1965 The star Guy Gilles
Is Paris Burning? (Paris brûle-t-il ?) 1965 scene cut René Clément
What's New Pussycat? 1965 Carole Werner Clive Donner
10:30 P.M. Summer 1965 Claire Jules Dassin
La Voleuse (fr) 1966 Julia Kreuz Jean Chapot
Triple Cross 1966 Countess Terence Young
Romy: Anatomy of a Face (Romy. Porträt eines Gesichts) 1967 Herself Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
Otley 1968 Imogen Dick Clement
The Swimming Pool 1969 Marianne Jacques Deray
La califfa 1970 Irene Corsini Alberto Bevilacqua
Les choses de la vie 1970 Hélène Claude Sautet
My Lover My Son 1970 Francesca Anderson John Newland
Qui ? (fr) 1970 Marina Léonard Keigel
Bloomfield 1971 Nira Richard Harris
The Assassination of Trotsky 1971 Gita Samuels Joseph Losey
Max et les Ferrailleurs 1971 Lily Claude Sautet
César et Rosalie 1972 Rosalie Claude Sautet
Ludwig 1972 Elisabeth of Austria Luchino Visconti
Le Train 1973 Anna Kupfer Pierre Granier-Deferre
Un amour de pluie (fr) 1974 Elizabeth Jean-Claude Brialy
Le Trio infernal (fr) 1974 Philomena Schmidt Francis Girod
L'important c'est d'aimer 1974 Nadine Chevalier Andrzej Żuławski
Le Mouton enragé 1974 Roberte Groult Michel Deville
Le vieux fusil 1975 Clara Dandieu Robert Enrico
Les innocents aux mains sales 1975 Julie Wormser Claude Chabrol
Mado 1976 Hélène Claude Sautet
A Woman at Her Window (Une femme à sa fenêtre) 1976 Margot Santorini Pierre Granier-Deferre
Gruppenbild mit Dame 1977 Leni Gruyten Aleksandar Petrović
A Simple Story 1978 Marie Claude Sautet
Bloodline 1979 Hélène Martin Terence Young
Clair de femme 1979 Lydia Costa-Gavras
Death Watch 1979 Katherine Mortenhoe Bertrand Tavernier
La Banquière 1980 Emma Eckhert Francis Girod
Fantasma d'amore 1981 Anna Brigatti Zighi Dino Risi
Garde à vue 1981 Chantal Martinaud Claude Miller
La Passante du Sans-Souci 1982 Elsa Wiener/Lina Baumstein Jacques Rouffio


  • Bambi: 1957 nominated for Sissi
  • Bravo Otto
    • 1957: Bronze
    • 1958: Gold
    • 1959: Silver
    • 1971: Silver
    • 1972: Bronze
    • 1977: Bronze
  • Étoile de Cristal (fr): 1963 as Best Foreign Actress for The Trial
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama: 1963 nominated for The Cardinal
  • César Award for Best Actress
    • 1975: won for L'important c'est d'aimer
    • 1976: nominated for Une femme à sa fenêtre
    • 1978: won for Une histoire simple
    • 1979: nominated for Clair de femme
    • 1982: nominated for La Passante du Sans-Souci
  • Deutscher Filmpreis Best Actress: 1977 for Group Portrait with Lady
  • Premio David di Donatello: 1979 Lifetime Achievement
  • 2008: Honorary César

Awards named after Romy Schneider

  • Prix Romy Schneider, French film award established in 1984
  • Romy, Austrian award established in 1990


  • Tast, Hans-Jürgen (2008). Romy Schneider: ein Leben auf Titelseiten ; [anlässlich des 70. Geburtstags der Schauspielerin Romy Schneider [Romy Schneider: a life on front pages; [on the occasion of the 70th birthday of actress Romy Schneider]. Kulleraugen (in German). 36. Schellerten: Kulleraugen-Medienschriften. p. 33. ISBN 978-3-88842-036-8. 
  • Töteberg, Michael (2009). Romy Schneider (in German). Rowohlt Verlag. ISBN 978-3-499-50669-7. 

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