1897 - 1960
The actress Lya Mara was born as Alexandra Gudowicz in Riga. She showed an interest in chemistry and went to the Brandsil secondary school. But her father died very early. Her single mother with six children couldn't afford the expensive school any longer and Lya Mara had to leave it.
Here she remembered an other preference she had in the past and was admitted to the ballet school of Riga.
One year later she became already a solo dancer and in the following years she danced for the Rigaer State theater and became astonishingly famous. This success was crowned with her promotion to a prima ballerina in 1913.
During World War I she stood in Warsaw and went through the invasion of the German troops. Because Lya Mara had a good command of German since her childhood, she was able to continue her work. When finally newspaper articles and pictures of her appeared in several Berliner newspapers, she was spotted by the director Friedrich Zelnik, who summoned her to Berlin. After some screen tests she signed a contract which obligated her for a total of seven pictures with Zelnik. Their first common movies were "Das Geschlecht der Schelme" (17), "Die Rose von Dschiandur" (18) and "Margarete - Die Geschichte einer Gefallenen" (18)
Lya Mara got married with Friedrich Zelnik in 1918. The couple became
a popular hub for other filmworkers who met often at the house of Mara/Zelnik
and polished their scripts and talked.
In the next fourteen years she shot with her husband several more moview like "Manon" (19), "Anna Karenina" (20), "Die Ehe der Fürstin Demidoff" (21), "Lyda Ssanin" (22), "Die Försterchristel" (26) and "Der rote Kreis (28).
With her celebrated sex appeal and her youthful lightness she soon belonged to the young savages who became a darling of the public.
Besides Zelnik she acted especially in her early years for some other directors for movies like "Die Serenyi (18), "Die Rothenburger/Leib und Seele" (18) and "Die Prinzessin vom Nil" (20).
At the end of the 20's she became above all very famous for her performance as a typical Vienna girl and produced a real boom of Vienna movies. When she had a serious car accident there was a immensely huge sympathy of the audience.
With the rise of the sound film her career drew to a close very fast.
She only shot one sound film with the title "Jeder fragt nach Erika" (31),
after that she went with her husband to London. When Friedrich Zelnik died
there was not a trace of Lya Mara, her scent disappeared.
Other movies with Lya Mara: