Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lotte

Lotte Leynanot Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya     Not Lotte Lenya!

         (Blossom Dearie)

Today in 1898 Lotte Lenya was born in Vienna. Best known for singing the songs of Kurt Weill, her husband, including a Tony-award-winning performance as Jenny in the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera (the only off-Broadway winner ever, by the way), she also earned an Oscar nomination for playing Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, and she's also well known for From Russia With Love, in which she played the switchblade-shoe-wearing Rosa Klebb.



At 12:02 PM, October 18, 2011 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

I wish I could tell you who that picture is of, but I certainly don't think it's Lenya!

At 1:15 PM, October 18, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Quite right. I don't remember where I found it ... hmmm. Maybe she played Lenya in a film or something.

Anyone know who she is?

At 5:46 PM, October 18, 2011 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Are you old enough to remember when Dick Cavett had Lenya on his late-night talk show on ABC (opposite Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin) in the early 1970s? Cavett had been a fan of hers since the NYC production of "Three Penny Opera" back in his Yale days. Alas, decades of smoking had taken a horrendous toll on her voice.

Husband wondered if the gal in the other might be a young Barbara Stanwyck, but when I checked Google Images I thought not. Perhaps another European actress of Lenya's pre-US era?

At 5:47 PM, October 18, 2011 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Oops! The more I think about it, I may be confusing Lenya with someone else. Perhaps Cavett remembered Lenya from old German recordings of the opera.

At 6:26 AM, October 19, 2011 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

(I'm the same anonymous.) There are recordings from trhe late '20s of Lenya singing songs from 3PO and Mahagonny, in which she has a high, almost cartoonish voice. You can also hear it in the G.W. Pabst Threepenny movie, in which she plays Jenny. (There's a Criterion restoration of that film, by the way, which also contains a French version with substantially different actors but shot-for-shot identical. I must confess that I prefer the French version.) By the time she and Weill got to the U.S. though, she had pretty much the Lenya voice we knew and loved.

At 11:09 AM, November 17, 2011 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

Mystery woman is Blossom Dearie, a jazz vocalist.

At 11:00 AM, December 04, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Well, that makes sense. I'm sure she covered some Lenye numbers. I'm embarrassed not to have recognized her, though; I used to have some of her LPs before they were lost in a move.


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