Born as Karoline Blamauer, Lotte Lenya performed in small roles in plays and operettas as a member of the corps de ballet at the Zürich Stadttheater in 1914-20 and took her stage name during her acting debut at the famous Schauspielhaus. She continued to act in theatre both in Zurich and then in Berlin, among which the most notable was her collaboration with her then husband, composer Kurt Weill, and dramatist Bertolt Brecht in the premier of Mahagonny-Songspiel (“Little Mahagonny”) at the Baden-Baden Festival in 1927. She played the role of Jessie in the short “song-play”, which later paved the way for the epic opera, ‘Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny’ (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) (1930), in which she played the role of Jenny.
In 1928, Lotte Lenya continued her collaboration with Weill and Brecht by portraying Jenny in the first performance of ‘The Threepenny Opera’ (Die Dreigroschenoper), which became her breakthrough role. While she continued to appear in more Brecht-Weill plays in the following years, she made her film debut in 1931, reprising her role in the film adaptation of ‘The Threepenny Opera’ by G. W. Pabst. However, it would be nearly three decades before she makes a return to on-screen roles, during which period, the highlight of her career was her performance in the Brecht-Weill "sung ballet", ‘The Seven Deadly Sins,’ in Paris in 1933.
Lenya made an emphatic comeback to the silver screen with the role of Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales in the screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ ‘The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone’ (1961), starring Vivien Leigh, which earned her nominations for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Awards in the “Best Supporting Actress” category. She followed it up with the iconic role of the James Bond villain and SPECTRE agent Rosa Klebb in the 1963 British spy film ‘From Russia with Love’ starring Sean Connery and Robert Shaw. She received a Golden Laurel Awards nomination for her role in the film. In 1964, she was one of the performers in the short film ‘Bertolt Brecht: Übungstücke für Schauspieler’, which showcased two of Brecht's "practice pieces for actors".
She went on to appear in the television adaptations of the Brecht play ‘Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder’ in 1965 and Williams’ one-act play ‘Ten Blocks on the Camino Real’ in 1966. Her next film role was as Emma Valadier in the 1969 psychological drama ‘The Appointment’. In the next decade, she appeared as Rosa Harcourt in the episode “Trio for Lovers” of the American drama series ‘CBS Daytime 90’ (1974) and as Clara Pelf in the American sports comedy film ‘Semi-Tough’ (1977). Her final film role was providing her voice to ‘Mahagonny’ (1980), an experimental feature based on a precise mathematical analysis of Brecht-Weill’s ‘Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny’.
The second in the James Bond series, the film centers on 007’s battle against a secret criminal organization called SPECTRE. Seeking revenge for the death of their agent Dr. No, the group plans to kill James Bond and uses ravishing Tatiana Romanova to lure him to Istanbul. Bond willingly falls in their trap.
The Appointment is a romantic drama film which revolves around Federico Fendi, a successful lawyer, who gets involved with the ex-fiancée of one of his business associates. Eventually, he begins to suspect that his wife might be a high-class prostitute. He therefore tries to come up with a plan to entrap her.
Lotte Lenya Awards
|Winner||Best Score From an Original Cast Show Album||1968|