Elfi von Dassanowsky (Elfriede Maria Elisabeth Charlotte von Dassanowsky)
Photos with Elfi von Dassanowsky
A musical prodigy, von Dassanowsky was the youngest female to gain admission to Vienna's Academy (now University) of Music and Performing Arts to be trained as an opera singer and concert pianist. Already a noted performer as a student, she taught Curd Jürgens piano for one of his first major roles in Wen die Götter lieben (1942). Offered a star film contract by UFA Berlin, she declined it and association with the Nazi party. Read more... and film actress, work as announcer and performer for Forces Broadcasting and the BBC, and her creation of theatrical groups in Vienna. In 1946, she co-founded Belvedere Film in Vienna with director Emmerich Hanus and producer August Diglas. As one of the few women in cinema history to create a film studio, von Dassanowsky was instrumental in the postwar rebirth of Austrian film and is today regarded as a female cinema pioneer. Among her studio's discoveries were European leading lady Nadja Tiller, comic actor Gunther Philipp and future international star Oskar Werner. In 1951 she became an administrator of Phoebus International Films in Hamburg and the first female casting director in postwar Germany. In Hollywood from 1962, she gave master classes in voice and piano, promoted Austrian culture and cinema in the U.S. and was a renowned vocal trainer, particularly for actors in productions by Otto Preminger. She became a charter member of the Austrian American Film Association in 1997 and reestablished Belvedere Film in Los Angeles and Vienna in 1999. The cultural foundation she planned before her death in 2007 was established in 2009 as a fund for non-profit arts and educational organizations. It also sponsors The Elfi von Dassanowsky Prize, a jury award for female filmmakers presented annually by the Vienna Independent Shorts Festival (VIS).