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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Marisa Mell" by Angelo Frontoni - Photobook

I am on holiday at the moment for a few weeks on the island of Tenerife, Spain! So I finally found the time to fulfill a long standing wish in creating a hard copy personal photobook for myself with the most stunning pictures of Marisa Mell taken by Italian star photographer Angelo Frontoni over the three decades that Marisa Mell was a world movie star!  I had more than 650 pictures to make a selection from! Whawza! The pictures are so beautiful, most of them are in B/W and have such a strong visual image! The beauty of Marisa Mell and the professional qualities of photographer Angelo Frontoni are a match made in heaven! So it was really hard work in making a first selection down to 220 pictures that were qualified to make it into the book! But even that amount of pictures were to many to put in the book so at the moment I am down sizing them to around a 100 pictures! And what is the best? Most of them have never been seen before since more than 40 years! The cover of the book is already done and I love it! Plain and simple! Now I need to find a system to select and order the pictures in the book! So it will take a while to finish the project but in the end it will make together with the André Schneider Marisa Mell book "Die Feuerblume" a smashing companion for it in my book case! I'll  keep you all posted! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Equitazione di Marisa Mell

During the production of "Objectif 500 millions" in France Marisa Mell had some sparetime that she loved to use to  go horseriding! There are not many photos of Marisa Mell on a horse most of them are from the movie "Der Letzte Ritt nach Santa Cruz" so I am glad that this picture has surfaced in recent days. Here is a previous entry about Marisa Mell and her horseriding skills: Equus

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shocker: Marisa Mell on "Peanuts" by Charles M. Shultz!

As many loyal followers of this blog know I am always on the lookout for new information on the life and work of my favorite actress Marisa Mell. Finding new material is not always easy and is often the work of a detective but once in a while you struck gold like some entries in the past on this blog have proven! So you can imagine my surprise last week when a reader of the blog in the States send me this newspaper clip per mail from the Charles M. Schultz world famous cult cartoon "Peanuts". Sadly a lot of information is unknown to the informant and myself. What is certain at the moment is that the cartoon is from the end of the 60's around the time when Marisa Mell was in the USA trying to build up a musical career with her play "Mata Hari", first in Washington D.C. and then hopefully later on Broadway, NYC. As you can read in several entries on this blog, and of course in depth, in the André Schneider book Marisa Mell-"Die Feuerblume", Marisa Mell had an extensive promotional tour and publicity campaign to make her name and face a household one. She appeared in magazines like Vogue and McCall! So one way or the other the producers of the musicial "Mata Hari" had access to the agent of Charles M. Schultz making a commercial deal to mention her name in the cartoon. Hopefully in the near future new information will pop up about this incredible discovery! I'll keep you posted and for the moment enjoy those two rascals: Charlie Brown and his nemeses the one and only Lucy Van Pelt! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

GRAZ (A): Marisa Mell's hometown by Jochem Kulmer (text) and André Schneider (pictures)

This eerie beautiful and fascinating picture of Marisa Mell was left behind  in the Grand Café Kaiserfeld in Graz by an unknown man on February 24th 2014 during André Schneider's reading of "Die Feuerblume".  It is now probably part of the movie wall collection of the Grand Café, one of Marisa Mell's favorite restaurants.

Graz, the capital of the region Styria with 265.000 residents, is after Vienna the second largest city in Austria. The city is situated about 150 km south west of Vienna. It is famous for being a nice, cosy little town with six universities, a rich cultural scene, her Mediterranean-flair, delicious food, lots of traditions, history and some remarkable sightseeing-places like the Castle Eggenberg and the historic city center, which are part of UNESCOS World Cultural Heritage list next to the clock-tower and some famous events like art-festivals “Styriarte”, ”Steirischer Herbst”, the folk festival “Aufsteirern” and the “Grazer Advent”.  Besides tourism and culture, Graz is also well known for its high density of shopping opportunties and the so called “Autocluster”, more than  180 business companies having specialized in automotive components and research.

Amphitheatre on the river Mur

Since Austria is a very small country most of  the attention of the world is almost always drawn directly to Vienna, the capital. Graz is often regarded too small as a city to gain recognition but in recent years it tried to break out by becoming in 2003 the Cultural Capital City of Europe hence becoming a turning-point in the history of the city's public perception. Graz made the best of this unique opportunity, took the chances it was offered and the money to show the world its beauty, cultural highlights, creative output and open-mindedness in creating buildings like the “Friendly Alien” a.k.a. "Kunsthaus”, a place for contemporary and avant-garde art and the “Murinsel”, an amphitheatre and café as an island on the river Mur.

Austrian version of the The Statue of Liberty.

Like every other town in Austria, Graz has an inglorious and dark past during her "National Socialism"-regime when thousands of people were arrested, killed, displaced and deported. As a result the city was heavily destroyed during the War between 1943 and 1945, when allied forces dropped 29.000 bombs on Graz completely destroying districts near the central railway station. Untill this day intact active bombs can be found in these areas, forcing to evacuate the streets and areas, so these bombs could be detonated.  After the War was over, British and Soviet troops stayed in Austria until 1955 slowly rebuilding the City resulting in its significant upturn in the Seventies and Eighties.

City Hall

Trends come and go, if they are short-lived, there is always a good chance that you will miss it here in Graz, even nowadays during the Internet Age! On one hand this seems to be a disadvantage, on the other hand it is quite a good thing if you like to take everything a little more relaxed. The nature of the hospitable Styrians seems to be a little more relaxed and calm then other countrymen, even if we all like to “sudern” which means to rail and rave at something in a tongue-in-cheek-way. But after all, there seems to exist no problems or differences, which can’t be solved while drinking one or more "Schnaps" or eating a good and substantial meal in a “Buschenschank”, which you can  compare to a tavern near Vienna for peasant food and drinks called “Heurigen”. 

Entrance to the famous theatre school Schaudernak where Marisa Mell did her first steps on the theatre stage becoming in the end a world movie star

Aside the good quality of life and the manageability of the town, Graz is of minor international importance and as a resident you have to accept the limited possibilities of a small town. This is like it has ever been since decades and even if you are fond of your hometown like I am, it is a fact you can’t deny. Honestly, I don´t know much about living in Graz during the swinging Sixties or Seventies, but people always moved to Vienna or tried their luck in foreign countries, since Graz has a lower wage level and limited job-offers in else in Austria.  If you want to take the world by storm as an actor, sportsmen or an artist becoming more than a local celebrity, you have to go to the capital Vienna, neighbor Germany or even overseas.  Marisa Mell choose also this way in the early Sixties, when she moved to Vienna, to visit the “Max-Reinhardt-Seminar” and shot her first German produced films. Had she stayed in Graz Marisa Mell would never had made her way like she did since there were no big theatres, was no film-industry, were no influential people and simply put no appropriate roles for her to play.

Street view of theatre school Gaudernak in Graz

Other famous ex-inhabitants from Graz which made an international career are deceased Formula 1-pilot Jochen Rindt, who spent his childhood at his grandparents in Graz and Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, bodybuilder and actor which grew up in a little village a few kilometres outside of Graz. Schwarzenegger became an honoured citizen of the city and a soccer-stadium was named after him, which in the end had to be renamed at Schwarzenegger's demand, after a local political controversy about death penalty in California and the compatibility with an Austrian "Ring of Honour". Other Honorary Citizens of Graz are German-based actor Karlheinz Böhm (famous for the movie “Peeping Tom”) who used to live here, acclaimed music conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer and some scientists, you may never have heard about.

One of the oldest bakeries in Graz

Living in this cosy little town nowadays is like living in a city full of contrasts which seem to fit more or less harmonic together as the city is parted by the river Mur, the city offers almost two kinds of every aspect to his inhabitants. There are a lot of young people in the streets and almost 45.000 students and almost as much bikes populating the streets. On the other hand, there are also a lot of older people in Graz, which enjoy the geographical position with the moderate summers and windless winters and the cheap costs of living. Open minds and free spirits live here side by side with very old-fashioned people and modern architecture is in symbioses with historical ones, century old tradition and classical music meets contemporary art, electronic lifestyle and design.

Typical back yard in Graz

The most enjoyable thing about living in Graz is the fact, that the city never lost its countrified character and the striking distance to nature, where you can leave the city noise and the world problems easily behind you by taking a walk along the riverside or a bike- or car-ride into the countryside. Graz is also an ideal holiday-destination for short trips and even if you like to stay longer, you will find a lot of pleasant things to do to kill your time.  But do not forget that even here there are also more or less serious problems like in every other Austrian town like an empty city treasury, bad air quality, increasing rents, crime-, unemployment- and immigration-rates and a very conservative mayor but Graz is after all a cosy, mostly quiet and safe place to live for people, who enjoy a lifestyle aside from hustle and bustle.
Thanks to Jochem Kulmer from Graz (Austria) and André Schneider from Berlin (Germany) for making this entry a reality!
The Marisa Mell Blog would like to come in contact with the mysterious man who gave this beautifully framed picture of Marisa Mell to the Grand Café Kaiserfeld. Please contact us at: Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Buon Compleanno Marisa!" by Jochen Kulmer

Mit André Schneider hatte ich zwar seit längerer Zeit Kontakt wegen Marisa Mell und auch er konnte mir auch nur sagen, dass er relativ kurzfristig von Freunden und Kollegen von Marisa nach Graz eingeladen wurde, die am Tag ihres 75. Geburtstages im Grazer Grand Café Kaiserfeld eine kleine Feier veranstalten wollen. Als ich gestern um 19:45 ins Kaiserfeld ging, wusste ich daher auch nicht so recht, was mich tatsächlich erwarten würde und irgendwie war ich auch froh, dass ich beim Eingang gleich einmal auf André getroffen bin, der sich auch prompt als äußerst sympathischer Zeitgenosse entpuppte.

Zu meiner Überraschung war der große Bar-Bereich des Café Kaiserfeld bereits mehr als nur gut gefüllt und es hatten sich vor Veranstaltungsbeginn so um die hundert Leute versammelt, wobei der Altersdurchschnitt relativ hoch war, was aber daran lag, dass sich viele Freunde und Bekannte der 1992 in Wien verstorbenen Marisa eingefunden hatten, die auch wenige Minuten später bereits gebannt der Lesung von Andre Schneider lauschten, die von einem tonlosen Zusammenschnitt einiger ihrer prägnantesten Auftritte untermalt wurden.

André las drei längere Stellen aus seiner noch immer sehr empfehlenswerten Biografie „Die Feuerblume“ und zeichnete u.a. ihren Werdegang von der Grazer Schauspielschule Gaudernak, über das renommierte Max-Reinhard-Seminar, ihren ersten Engagement bis hin zu ihren größten Erfolgen in Italien nach und beschäftigte sich auch kurz mit den Jahren, in denen es dann nicht mehr so gut lief und die Schauspielerin wieder nach Österreich zurückkehrte. Außerdem sprach er über ihre Rollen in spanischen Filme und beleuchtete zu meiner Freude auch die Produktionsbedingungen von Mario Bavas „Danger: Diabolik“, in der Mell als Eva Kant für Genre-Fans unsterblich wurde.

Danach gab es Pasta nach Marisa Mells Rezept, in einer scharfen und milden Variante, die seinerzeit in ganz Rom berühmt waren und auch an diesem Abend bei den Besuchern sehr gut ankamen. Während ich mit André plauderte kamen immer wieder Leute zum Tisch, die von dem generösen und liebevollen Wesen Marisa sprachen und sich jeder für sich sehr positiv an die Schauspielerin erinnerten. Besonders schön war es für mich, in welcher liebevollen und respektvollen Art über Marisa gesprochen wurde und sich so nicht nur ein wunderbares Gesamtbild ergab, sondern sich auch einige tragischen Details relativierten, die ich bislang über ihre letzte Phase ihres Lebens gehört hatte.

Auch André war offensichtlich sehr von der Stadt und der Grazer Gastfreundschaft angetan und hat durch den Kontakt zu ihren Freunden und den ganzen Anekdoten wohl genug Stoff für ein neues Buch über die österreichische Künstlerin. Dass sich viele von Marisas Freunden beim Abschied nochmals persönlich für seine Texte und den schönen Abend bei ihm bedankten, ist wohl auch das Schönste, das ein Biograf erleben kann und auch den Veranstaltern zu verdanken, die hier kurzfristig ein schönes und unvergessliches Event organisiert hatten.

Was hier an diesem Abend nach all den Jahren des Vergessens an schönen Erinnerungen an Marisa mobilisiert wurde, ist als Fan natürlich ein absoluter Traum und dass im Herbst eine Retrospektive und weitere Aktionen geplant sind, ist in einer Stadt, in der die Politik Marissa längst vergessen hat und in einem Land, in dem auch die meisten ihrer Filme nicht frei erhältlich sind, ein guter Anfang. Dass sich dank einer Handvoll engagierter Leute die Menschen von Graz wieder gut und gerne an Marisa erinnern lässt Hoffnung schöpfen, dass die international wesentlich mehr beachtete Schauspielerin vielleicht auch in ihrem Geburtsort irgendwann einmal entsprechende Würdigung widerfährt.

PS: Dass aus André zweimal ein Rene geworden ist, wird Herr Schneider den Grazern und der Stadt, die sich an zwei Tagen mit schönsten Sonnenschein gezeigt hat, wohl hoffentlich verzeihen 

Jochen Kulmer aus Graz (Österreich)