Hildegard Knef


Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef was born on December 28, 1925 in Ulm, Germany. In 1940, she began studying acting. Even before the fall of the Third Reich, she appeared in several films, but most of them were only released after the war. To avoid being raped by Soviet soldiers, she dressed like a young man and was sent to a camp for prisoners of war. She escaped and returned to war-shattered Berlin where she played her first parts on stage. The first German movie after World War II, 凶手就在我们中间 (1946), made her a star. 大卫 invited her to Hollywood and offered her a contract - with two conditions: Hildegard Knef should change her name into Gilda Christian and should pretend to be Austrian instead of German. She refused both and returned to Germany. In 1951, she provoked one of the greatest scandals in German film history when she appeared naked on the screen in the movie Die Sünderin (1951). The Roman Catholic Church protested vehemently against that film, but Hildegard just commented: "I can't understand all that tumult - five years after Auschwitz!"

With the support of her first husband, the American Kurt Hirsch, she tried a second time to launch a Hollywood career, changed her family name from Knef to Neff (because Americans could not pronounce Knef), but the only worthwhile part she got was a supporting role in the Hemingway adaptation of 乞力马扎罗的雪 (1952). She became a leading lady in German, French and British films. Finally, America offered her another chance, this time on the stage. She achieved a kind of stardom as Ninotchka in the very popular Broadway play, "Silk Stockings". In 1963, she began a new career as a singer and surprised the audience with her typical, deep, smoky voice and the fact that many lyrics of her songs were written by herself. In 1970, she wrote the autobiographical bestseller "Der Geschenkte Gaul". She got sympathy from all over the world for her fight against cancer, which she defeated several times.

After the German reunification, Hildegarde Knef moved back to Berlin and died at age 76 of a lung infection on February 1, 2002.



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  • Known in the United States as Hildegard Neff, but she used her real name when performing back home in Germany.
  • Close personal friend of 玛琳·黛德丽, despite being in the legend's international shadow for much her career.
  • Was the cover girl for Modern Man Magazine in August 1956.
  • Knef launched a career as a singer in the 1960s and wrote her bestselling autobiography "Der geschenkte Gaul - Bericht aus meinem Leben" ("The Gift Horse - Report from my life") in 1970.
  • Her nude scene as "Marina" in Die Sünderin (1951), the first in German filmmaking, drew the criticism of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1950.
  • Gave birth to her daughter Christina (Tinta Knef) on 16 May 1968. She was 42. Christina was her first and only child.
  • Hildegard trusted her clothing and gowns to one person who was based in New York. It was Irish-born Thomas Starr, grandfather of fashion designer Karen Starr-DelloIacono.
  • Provided the voice for Grandmother Willow on the German soundtrack version of Disney's 风中奇缘 (1995).
  • When interviewed by Harald Schmidt on his talk show, she revealed that Twentieth Century Fox had planned to campaign for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in 血战莱茵河 (1951) but withdrew because of politics (she was German).
  • According to her memoirs "The Gift Horse", she found out that she had won the Best Actress award in Locarno for her role in 无名的电影 (1948) by reading an article about her success in a newspaper - one year after the award was announced at the festival!.
  • In 1951/52, when they were both working on the 20th Century Fox lot, Knef and 玛丽莲·梦露 shared a wardrobe and became friends. Monroe would borrow books from Knef; she loved Thomas Mann and 赖内·马利亚. In later years, Knef wrote a song about Marilyn (in German) and mentioned her extensively in her best-selling memoirs.


  • Typical deep smoky voice