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Zarah Leander (Karlstad, March 15, 1907 – Stockholm, June 23, 1981) was a Swedish actress and singer, especially recognized in the German-speaking and Scandinavian countries. It was the maximum feminine star of the Nazi Germany, of hands of the UFA (1937-1943); but after World War II he worked in France, Italy and Germany.
Zarah Leander, was born as Zarah Stina Hedberg in Karlstad, Värmland. His parents were Lorentz Hedberg and Mathilda Wikstroem. He studied piano and singing. He was introduced as a pianist at age six.
In 1922 she finished her studies and worked as a secretary. He married in 1926 with Nils Leander. He had two children and a few years later he separated.
Since 1929 he devoted himself to the show in Sweden, presenting himself as a singer and actress. He recorded his first album in Sweden in 1929. In 1934 he married the journalist Vidar Forsell, who adopted the children of Zarah. Some time later they also divorced. In 1931 he made his first film in Sweden.
He traveled to Vienna to work in the Operetta of Benatzky, where he began his career in countries that spoke German. In Vienna he made the film Premiere (1937), the first in German speaking. He immediately joined the UFA, where he filmed ten films between 1937 and 1943. The first was Zu neuen Ufern (The Captive Swallow, 1937), by Douglas Sirk, the film director who took charge of casting her as a diva, commissioned by the UFA, who was its discoverer, in that year also acted as protagonist of La Habanera, again directed by the leftist Sirk, who came from the theater, but who found in the cinema the possibility of working until his escape; It was the second melodrama that rolled with her.
Zarah Leander turned out to be very popular in her roles as a femme fatale, becoming the highest-paid UFA star.
She was the favorite diva of the Germans, for her honeyed and grave contralto voice and her great beauty. He replaced Marlene Dietrich and the Swedish Greta Garbo, artists who emigrated to the United States. Together with Marika Rökk, she was the favorite of the time.
His songs, like his films, were passionate and tragic melodramas. His elegance, his beauty, his powerful voice and the particular circumstances of the country, contributed to his consecration. It became the favorite of the Hitler regime and the Ministry of Propaganda took advantage of its popularity, making it the symbol of German cinema.
In 1943, the economic difficulties of the UFA made her return to Sweden, where she continued with her professional career, although she never regained the success of her years in Germany.
He remarried in 1956, with pianist Arne Huelphers. He died in Stockholm in 1981, because of a stroke. He was 74 years old.
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