Senta Berger, Movie Icon, Turns 80

Senta Berger was born on May 13, 1941 in Vienna. She grew up in sparse circumstances and yet the “Sophia Loren from municipal housing” advanced to a superstar in a very short time. After very successful Heimatfilms in Austria, she made the leap to Hollywood at the beginning of the sixties. She later founded a production company with her husband, Michael Verhoeven, and enjoyed success as a theater and television actress alongside film.

Especially with roles like Mona in the television series “Kir Royal”, the “Schnellen Gerdi” or the investigator Dr. Eva Maria Prohacek shapes a new type of female figure on German television: funny and flirtatious, but at the same time resilient and fragile. “I do believe that I’m lucky,” says Senta Berger today. “But I also believethat I’ve learned to make the right decisions at the right time. ”

Ms. Berger, when you think back to your time in Vienna, that is, to your childhood: Is that a good memory or a very bad one?

Senta Berger: No, that’s a very nice memory. I grew up in very small-bourgeois circles. At the border to the cellar child, small apartment, etc. But it was beautiful. I romped around with boys until it was banned because then I turned 15. But I believe that this youth helped me a lot to set the right standards.

Your father was an artist himself. However, he could not live out his profession as a composer and musician….

It wasn’t until much later that I understood that he had missed his life. And that he deliberately didn’t want me to repeat this mistake. That’s why he supported me so much: dance lessons, ballet, piano lessons. As soon as I made any stupid drawing in school, I was already enrolled in the Academy for Performing Arts for a children’s drawing course. He really made everything possible for me. And I felt a deep connection to him. When he was sitting at the piano and playing and I was next to singing. We’ve been a good couple for a long, long time.

How did your first film role come about?

The location was my high school in Hietzing. And the bulletin board read: “Who would like to run as an extra with Isa and Jutta Günther, down the stairs and storm out at the school gate?” I of course, of course. So I signed up there. And then it was the first time that I felt something of this atmosphere during filming. This togetherness. I felt something exciting, shimmering there. Then again and again the director shouts: “And again! And in a good mood.” I thought that was really great.

What memories do you have of your first audition for the entrance exam at the Max Reinhardt Seminar?

For the first time in my life I felt like I was seen from head to toe. It was during those minutes of audition that I became aware of my body for the first time. “What do you have, Fraulein Berger? Can you sing?” – And I couldn’t think of anything. That’s the crazy thing: stage fright makes you mute. I couldn’t think of anything. Back then I could actually sing anything: operettas, chansons, everything. I imitated Ella Fitzgerald. But I sang Nestroy’s Salomé Pockerl “Titus Feuerfuchs”: I only heard the first line and then I kept repeating it: “Yes, the men hams guat, hams guat, hams guat. Yes, the men hams guat, hams guat, hams guat. ” Until someone saw and said: “Thank you, that’s enough.”

Why didn’t you stay in Hollywood?

It was clear to me from the start that I might fit into these American films – but not necessarily. That was the time of upheaval and I felt it very strongly.