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Actress Elisabeth Bergner Dies at 85

May 12, 1986

LONDON (AP) _ Actress Elisabeth Bergner, who performed on stage and screen for nearly five decades in Europe and the United States, died Monday after a long illness. She was 85.

Miss Bergner, who was born in Vienna, died at her London home, said her lawyer, Anthony Newton.

She trained at the Vienna Conservatory. After making her debut in 1919 at the City Theater in Zurich, Switzerland, she played Ophelia in Shakespeare’s ″Hamlet″ and Rosalind in ″As You Like It.″

She also performed in Vienna, Munich and Berlin before gaining international fame in 1924 with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in Bernard Shaw’s ″Saint Joan.″

During the next three years, she performed in several other hit plays. She played the title role in ″The Last of Chevney,″ Tessa in ″The Constant Nymph,″ and Portia in ″The Merchant of Venice.″

In 1928, she toured Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Austria playing a variety of Shakespearean and dramatic roles. The following year, she starred as Nina Leeds in ″Strange Interlude″ and in 1930-31 she played Juliet with Francis Lederer as Romeo.

After two years in Paris making films, Miss Bergner made her debut on the English stage in Manchester in November 1933 as Gemma Jones in ″Escape Me Never″ and her London debut at the Apollo Theater the following month in the same role.

She was an instant success in the part in Britain and again in New York when the show opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theater in January 1935.

Back in London in December 1936, she played David in ″The Boy David,″ Sir James Barrie’s last play, which was written for her.

Other New York appearances included lead roles in ″The Two Mrs. Carrolls″ from 1943-44, ″The Overtons″ in 1945, ″The Duchess of Malfi″ in 1946 and ″The Cup of Trembling″ in 1948.

During the 1950s she worked in Australia, Britain, Germany and Austria.

At the Berlin Festival in October 1959, she played Mrs. Patrick Campbell in ″Dear Liar″ and later toured Germany and Austria in the production.

In 1962, she was awarded the Schiller Prize by the West German city of Mannheim for contributing to cultural life in Germany. She also received the Goldene Band Prize of the International Film Festival in Berlin in 1963 and 1965.

Miss Bergner first appeared in films in 1923 in ″Der Evangelimann″ and also had roles in ″Ariane,″ ″Dreaming Lips,″ ″Catherine The Great,″ and ″Stolen Lives.″

Miss Bergner’s husband, Dr. Paul Czinner, died many years ago. They had no children. Funderal plans were not immediately known.

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