Elissa Landi

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Elissa Landi
Elissa Landi in After the Thin Man trailer.jpg
Elizabeth Marie Christine von Kühnelt [1]

(1904-12-06)December 6, 1904
Venice, Italy
DiedOctober 21, 1948(1948-10-21) (aged 43)
Years active19261943
Spouse(s)John Cecil Lawrence (m. 1928; div. 1936)
Curtis Kinney Thomas (1905-2002) (m. 1943)
Children1 [2] [3]
Landi in 1932 Elissa Landi (1904-1948).jpg
Landi in 1932

Elissa Landi (born Elisabeth Marie Christine von Kühnelt; [1] [4] December 6, 1904 October 21, 1948) was an Austrian-American actress born in Venice, who was popular as a performer in Hollywood films of the 1920s and 1930s. [5] She "claims descent from Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary", [6] and was noted for her alleged aristocratic bearing. [7]



Landi was born Elizabeth Marie Christine von Kühnelt in Venice, Italy, to Austrian military officer Richard Kühnelt and his wife Caroline (later, "Countess Caroline Zarnardi Landi" [8] ). She was raised in the village of Kleinhart in Lower Austria near Vienna until the divorce of her parents. Later on she was educated in England. From 1928 to 1936, she was married to John Cecil Lawrence,[ citation needed ] and from 1943 to 1948 to Curtis Kinney Thomas. [2]

Landi's first ambition was to be an author. She wrote her first novel at the age of twenty, and returned to writing during lulls in her acting career. [9] She debuted on stage in Dandy Dick (1923). [10] She joined the Oxford Repertory Company at an early age, and appeared in many successful British and American stage productions. In 1926 she starred in Dorothy Brandon's Blind Alley in the West End.[ citation needed ]

During the 1920s she appeared in British, French, and German films before traveling to the United States to appear in a Broadway production of A Farewell to Arms (1930). [9] Her other Broadway credits included Empress of Destiny (1938), Apology (1943), and Dark Hammock (1944). [11]

She was signed to a contract by Fox Film Corporation (later 20th Century Fox) in 1931. She was paired successfully with some of the major leading men, including David Manners, Charles Farrell, Warner Baxter, and Ronald Colman, in romantic dramas such as Body and Soul (1931, which also featured Humphrey Bogart).

In 1931, she starred in the Fox feature The Yellow Ticket along with a young Laurence Olivier, Lionel Barrymore, and Boris Karloff. Raoul Walsh directed. The film was based on Michael Morton's 1914 play and was about a young Jewish girl who obtains a prostitute's passport during a period when Jews were not allowed such freedom so that she can travel in Czarist Russia to visit her sick father.

Trailer for The Sign of the Cross (1932) Elissa Landi in The Sign of the Cross trailer.jpg
Trailer for The Sign of the Cross (1932)

Fox loaned her to Paramount in 1932 to play Mercia, the female lead in Cecil B. DeMille's The Sign of the Cross adapted from the play of the same name. DeMille said he chose her for the role because "[t]here is the depth of the ages in her eyes, today in her body and tomorrow in her spirit." [12]

Landi traveled with Katharine Hepburn. [8]

She starred in the box office hit The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) with Robert Donat.

Her contract with Fox was abruptly cancelled in 1936 when she refused a particular role. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed her, and after a couple of romantic dramas, she played the cousin of Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man (1936). She retired from acting in 1943, after making only two more films.

Landi became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1943 and dedicated herself to writing, producing six novels and a series of poems. She had published her first novel as early as age nineteen. She continued writing novels at the height of her movie fame and for the rest of her short life.

She died [13] from cancer in Kingston, New York, at age 43 and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Newburyport, Massachusetts.[ citation needed ]

Landi has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to Motion Pictures, at 1611 Vine Street. [14] [15]


Robert Donat and Landi in The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) The-Count-of-Monte-Cristo-Donat-Landi.jpg
Robert Donat and Landi in The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)
Lobby card for After the Thin Man (1936) After-the-Thin-Man-LC-2.jpg
Lobby card for After the Thin Man (1936)
1926 London Alice Cranston Herbert Wilcox Lost film
1928 Bolibar Françoise-Marie / La Monita Walter Summers
Underground Nell Anthony Asquith
Sin Jeanne, Gérard's Wife Gustaf Molander
1929 The Inseparables Velda John Stafford
1930 The Parisian Yvonne Jean de Limur
Knowing Men Korah Harley Elinor Glyn
The Price of Things Anthea Dane Elinor Glyn
Children of Chance Binnie/Lia Monta Alexander Esway
1931 Body and Soul Carla Alfred Santell
Always Goodbye Lila Banning William Cameron Menzies
Wicked Margot Rande Allan Dwan
The Yellow Ticket Marya Kalish Raoul Walsh
1932 Devil's Lottery Evelyn Beresford Sam Taylor
The Woman in Room 13 Laura Ramsey Henry King
A Passport to Hell Myra Carson Frank Lloyd
The Sign of the Cross Mercia Cecil B. DeMille
1933 The Warrior's Husband Antiope Walter Lang
I Loved You Wednesday Vicki Meredith William Cameron Menzies
The Masquerader Eve Chilcote Richard Wallace
By Candlelight Marie James Whale
1934 Man of Two Worlds Joan Pemberton J. Walter Ruben
The Great Flirtation Zita Marishka Ralph Murphy
Sisters Under the Skin Judy O'Grady aka Blossom Bailey David Burton
The Count of Monte Cristo Mercedes de Rosas Rowland V. Lee
1935 Königsmark Princess Aurore Maurice Tourneur
Enter Madame Lisa Della Robbia Elliott Nugent
Without Regret Jennifer Gage Harold Young
1936 The Amateur Gentleman Lady Cleone Meredith Thornton Freeland
Mad Holiday Peter Dean George B. Seitz
After the Thin Man Selma Landis W. S. Van Dyke
1937 The Thirteenth Chair Helen Trent George B. Seitz
1943 Corregidor Dr. Royce Lee William Nigh

Radio appearances

1943 Suspense  ??? [16]

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  1. 1 2 "Elissa Landi". FDb.cz (in Czech). Filmová databáze s.r.o. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  2. 1 2 "Caroline Thomas Is Wed". The New York Times. December 6, 1970. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  3. "The Real Gals Series: Caroline Thomas". Galbraith. December 14, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  4. See also:
  5. Obituary Variety , October 27, 1948, page 55.
  6. "Leaving for England. Elissa Landi posed for this picture before departing for England to bring back to Hollywood her mother and her stepfather; Count Zanardi Landi. The film actress claims descent from Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary". Getty Images. Toronto Star. October 3, 1931. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  7. (in French) "La vie que tu t’étais imaginée", Nelly Alard, Collection Blanche, Gallimard, 03-01-2020.
  8. 1 2
    • "Elissa Landi, Countess Caroline Zarnardi Landi, and Katharine Hepburn". Getty Images. Bettmann Collection. November 1, 1933. Retrieved September 8, 2023. This photo shows from left to right: Elissa Landi, Countess Caroline Zarnardi Landi, and Katharine Hepburn (Original Caption) Countess Caroline Zarnardi Landi, mother of Elissa Landi, film actress is on her way to New York, where she would spend a few days before sailing for Europe. After two months in Naples and Genoa and Venice, the Countess was scheduled to return to California. This photo shows from left to right: Elissa Landi, Katharine Hepburn and Countess Caroline Zarnardi Landi using the Western Air Express line at United Airport. Miss Hepburn was scheduled to go into rehearsals for the stage production of The Lake.
    • https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/hepburn-landi
  9. 1 2 O'Brien, Scott (2020). Elissa Landi Cinema's Empress of Emotion. Orlando, FL: BearManor Media. pp. ix–x. ISBN   978-1-62933-631-2.
  10. Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 408. ISBN   978-1-55783-551-2 . Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  11. "Elissa Landi". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on January 21, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  12. Time, Volume 20. Time Incorporated. 1932. p. 32.
  13. "Elissa Landi, Former Screen Celebrity, Dies". Madera Tribune. cdnc.ucr.edu — California Digital Newspaper Collection. October 21, 1948. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  14. "Elissa Landi". projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  15. "Elissa Landi". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  16. "(photo caption)". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. January 4, 1943. p. 8. Retrieved January 6, 2016 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg