Leni Riefenstahl Biography
Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl was born on August 22, 1902 in Berlin. Her father, Alfred Theodor Paul Riefenstahl, owned a successful heating and ventilation company and hoped that his daughter would follow in his footsteps. Alfred wanted Riefenstahl to carry on the family name and secure the family fortune because she had been the only child for several years. Her mother, Bertha Ida (Scherlach), a part-time seamstress before her marriage, had faith in Riefenstahl and saw her daughter’s future in show business. Heinz Riefenstahl, Riefenstahl’s younger brother, was killed on the Eastern Front in Nazi Germany’s war against the Soviet Union at the age of 39.
Leni Riefenstahl Career
Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl was a German film director, photographer, and actress best known for her role in Nazi propaganda production. Riefenstahl attended dance academies and rose to prominence for her self-described interpretive dancing abilities, touring Europe with Max Reinhardt in a show funded by Jewish producer Harry Sokal. Riefenstahl met Luis Trenker, an actor who had appeared in Mountain of Destiny, on one of her adventures. She met Arnold Fanck, the director of Mountain of Destiny and a pioneer of the mountain film genre, at a meeting arranged by her friend Gunther Rahn. In 1932, Riefenstahl produced and directed her own film, Das Blaue Licht (“The Blue Light”), which was co-written by Carl Mayer and Béla Balázs. Riefenstahl blamed the critics, many of whom were Jewish, for the film’s lack of universal acclaim.
Leni Riefenstahl Personal Life
Horst Kettner was her second husband, whom she married in 2003.
Leni Riefenstahl Death
Riefenstahl turned 101 on August 22, 2003, at a hotel in Feldafing, Bavaria, near her home on Lake Starnberg. She became ill the day after her birthday celebration.
Riefenstahl had been battling cancer for some time, and her condition rapidly deteriorated in the final weeks of her life. “Ms. Riefenstahl is in great pain, she has become very weak, and she is taking painkillers,” Kettner said in an interview in 2002. Riefenstahl died in her sleep on September 8, 2003, around 10:00 p.m., at her home in Pöcking, Germany. Following her death, there was a mixed reaction in the obituary pages of major publications, though most acknowledged her technical achievements in filmmaking.