Dolly Haas

Dolly Haas, originally uploaded by Truus, Bob & Jan too!.

Stage and screen actress Dolly Haas (1910-1994) was popular in the 1930’s as a vivacious, red-haired gamine often wearing trousers in German and British films. She was born in Germany to British-Austrian parents. Trained in ballet, Dolly had her first public dance performance at age 7. In 1930 the famous director Max Reinhardt offered her an engagement and in the same year she made her film debut as a singing and dancing doll in Eine Stunde Glück (1930, Wilhelm Dieterlich; the later William Dieterle). The title of her second film, Dolly macht Karriere (1930, Anatole Litvak), seemed prophetically for her future. While she continued her stage career as dancer, singer, and streetwise girl, in her films she often embodied a delicate and lovely child-woman who is superior to her male partners because of her wit and energy. She often acted in a ‘Hosenrolle’ like in Liebescommando (1932), where she played a girl who masquerades as her brother in order to join the military academy. Anti-semitic protests followed the premiere of Das hässliche Mädchen (1933, Hermann Kosterlitz). It came to riots against her Jewish partner Max Hansen and the names of the Jewish Kosterlitz (the later Henry Koster) and writer Felix Joachimson (later Felix Jackson) were taken off the credits.

After the rise of Nazism Dolly Haas went with her first husband, the director Hans Brahm (later John Brahm), to England. She again donned trousers for Girls Will Be Boys (1934, Marcel Varnel). It involved her getting work at the all-male estate of a mysogynistic duke. Only when she is saved from drowning while swimming in the nude is her gender revealed. She played in two more British films, including Broken Blossoms (1936, John Brahm), a remake of the silent masterpiece by D.W. Griffith. In 1936 she signed a contract with Columbia, but after an 18-month wait for the right role, she returned to the stage in New York. As of 1943 she had a successful Broadway career and thereafter also sporadically appeared on television. Her only major movie role was in the high-profile I Confess (1953, Alfred Hitchcock), where she played with O. E. Hasse an artist couple whose emigration to the US ends in tragedy. In real life her second husband was famous caricaturist Al Hirschfeld and they remained happily married until her death in 1994. Her last screen appearance was in the documentary Dolly, Lotte und Maria (1987, Rosa von Praunheim).

Sources: The Guardian,, German Continental Strangers (, Wikipedia and IMDB.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, nr. 8157/1. Photo: Walther Jaeger, Berlin.

Posted by on September 17th, 2010 at 10:00 am

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