• 30 September 1887
  •  Madioen, Madioen, Dutch East Indies [now Madiun, East Java, Indonesia]

Lil Dagover


A prominent German film actress born on 30 September 1887 at Madiven, Java, the daughter of a forest ranger in the service of the Dutch authorities. Sent at the age of ten to Baden-Baden to study, she later entered the cinema thanks to her marriage in 1917 to the actor Fritz Dagover who was 25 years her senior. They divorced in 1919 but not before he had introduced her to director Robert Wiene and other notables of German cinema. She made her screen debut in Fritz Lang's Madame Butterfly (1919). Immediately after she appeared in Wiene's classic expressionist film, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (aka The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)). Apart from three trips -- one to Sweden in 1927, another to France in 1928-9 and one to Hollywood in 1931 -- most of Lil Dagover's career and fate was linked to that of the German cinema, where her role was usually that of the frail, menaced heroine. She continued to star in a great number of films during the Nazi era. Among her best performances were her roles in Le congrès s'amuse (1931), in Gerhard Lamprecht's The Higher Command (1935) and in Veit Harlan's The Kreutzer Sonata (1937). She also acted in the Deutsches Theatre Berlin, the Salzburg Festival, at forces shows and at war theaters. At one time, she was reported to have been a close friend of Adolf Hitler. In 1944, she received the War Merits Cross. Dagover continued her career in post-war Germany, playing many supporting parts until the late 1970s.