Senta Berger (born 13 May 1941) is an Austrian film, stage and television actress, producer and author.

Regarded by critics as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, and frequently named as one of the leading German-speaking actresses in polls, Berger has received many award nominations for her acting in theatre, film and television; her awards include three Bambi Awards, two Romys, an Adolf Grimme Award, both a Deutscher and a Bayerischer Fernsehpreis, and a Goldene Kamera.

Berger married director and producer Michael Verhoeven in 1966. They are the parents of actors Simon and Luca Verhoeven.


 [hide*1 Early life

Early life[edit]Edit

Berger is the daughter of musician Josef Berger and teacher Therese Jany.[1] She first appeared on stage at the age of four, when her father accompanied her singing on the piano. At the age of five she started ballet lessons.

Berger also took private acting lessons. In 1957, she won her first small role in one of the final films directed by Austrian auteur Willi Forst. She applied for the Max Reinhardt Seminar, a famous acting school in Vienna, and was accepted, but she left shortly afterwards after accepting a film role without permission. In 1958, she became the youngest member of the Josefstadt Theatre in Vienna.


Bernhard Wicki and Arthur Brauner produced the film The Good Soldier Schweijk with Berger and the German actor Heinz Rühmann. Brauner used Berger in several films, but she soon tired of musicals. In 1962, she went to Hollywoodand worked with stars such as Charlton HestonDean MartinFrank SinatraRichard WidmarkJohn Wayne, and Yul Brynner. She returned to Germany to accept an offer for a role in a series, which would have brought an obligation of several years.

[1][2]Berger at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1963, Berger met Michael Verhoeven, son of the German film director Paul Verhoeven (not to be confused with the Dutch Paul Verhoeven). They started their own film production company in 1965. In 1966, Senta and Michael married. In 1970, she starred for the first time in a film produced by her own company and directed by her husband. Other internationally successful films made by the duo included, amongst others, Die weiße RoseThe Nasty Girl (Das schreckliche Mädchen) and Mutters Courage. Berger continued to develop her European career in France andItaly. Also in 1966, the British film Our Man in Marrakesh, called Bang, Bang, You're Dead in the U.S., was released, starring Senta Berger opposite Tony Randall.

In November 1964, she guest starred in an episode of the U.S. television show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, entitled "The Double Affair". It was later expanded and released in cinemas as the feature film The Spy with My Face (1965). In 1966, Berger co-starred with Kirk Douglas in the movie Cast a Giant Shadow. Berger played the role of Magda, a soldier in the Israeli army during the Israeli War of Independence (1948). She played the role of a German schoolteacher involved in neo-Nazi activity opposite Max von Sydow and George Segal in The Quiller Memorandum, also released in 1966.

In 1967, Berger acted in the pilot movie for the Robert Wagner television series It Takes a Thief, which aired on American television network ABC on January 9, 1968. She reprised her role in the series in October 1969, in an episode in which her character was killed off.

[3][4]On the Berlinale (2009)

In 1977, she was head of the jury at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival.[2] 21 years later, she was part of the jury at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.[3]

In the '70s, Photoplay Film Monthly said, "Approaching motherhood, Senta, the one-time militant feminist, has reverted to a docile feminine woman, just like the girl next-door." ("Starlet," Kim Holston, 1988, McFarland).

Following the birth of her two sons (including the actor-director Simon Verhoeven), Berger returned to theatre work. She played at the Burgtheater in Vienna, at the Thaliatheater in Hamburg and at the Schillertheater in Berlin. Between 1974 and 1982, she played the “Buhlschaft” in the playJedermann at the Salzburg Festival with Curd Jürgens and Maximilian Schell. She also acted alongside Schell and James Coburn in a supporting role in the acclaimed war film Cross of Iron (1977). In 1985–86, Berger started a comeback in front of German-speaking audiences in the TV serial Kir Royal. Further serial hits followed, like The Fast Gerti, where she played a taxi driver.

In the same year, she also started a career as a singer of Chansons. 2005 saw her in the film, Einmal so wie ich will, as a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who finds love on holiday, but turns her back on the relationship.

Since February 2003, Berger has been president of the German Film Academy, which seeks to advance the new generation of actors and actresses in Germany and Europe. The Academy will decide the assignment of the German Film Awards in the future.


In the spring of 2006, Berger's autobiography was published in GermanyIch habe ja gewußt, daß ich fliegen kann ("I Knew That I Could Fly"). Among her memories of Hollywood are a less-than-subtle attempt by Darryl Zanuck to get her on his casting couch, and of all the shallow people she met in Hollywood.

Honours and awards[edit]Edit


This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
  • Bambi Prize (1968)
  • Bravo Otto in Bronze (1969)
  • Film Award in Silver (production) for the white rose in the name of their film company Sentana (1983)
  • German Actor Award (Chaplin-shoe) for her role in Kir Royal (1987)
  • Bambi Prize, Special Bambi "Unknockable Stars" (1990)
  • Golden Gong (1996)
  • Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (1999)[4]
  • Karl Valentin Orden (1998)
  • Golden Romy as the most popular actress (1998)
  • Bambi Prize in the category for the National Television ARD Vierteiler Love and Other Catastrophes (1999)
  • Federal Cross of Merit (1999)
  • Bavarian Order of Merit (2002)
  • German Hörbuchpreis (2003)
  • Medal Munich shines (for outstanding service to Munich) (2003)
  • Hessian TV award as an ensemble member of the film The Conference (2005)
  • Golden Ox - Honorary Award of the Film Arts Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to the Sentana Film Production Senta Berger and Michael Verhoeven (2005)
  • Billy Wilder Award (2006)
  • Platinum Romy for lifetime achievement (2007)
  • Special Prize of the German TV crime Award for her starring role in the WDR production Schlaflos ("Sleepless") (2009)
  • Herbert-Strate Prize of the NRW Film Foundation and the Association HDF Kino Cinema (2009)
  • German Television Award for Best Actress for her leading role in Schlaflos (2009)
  • Special Prize at the Television Film Festival in Baden-Baden for outstanding dramatic performance in Frau Böhm sagt Nein (2009)
  • Golden Camera Award in the category Best Actress in German Frau Böhm sagt Nein and Schlaflos (2010)
  • Adolf Grimme Award for her performance in Frau Böhm sagt Nein (2010)
  • Bavarian Television Award for best actress says in the "TV Movie" for her role in the film Frau Böhm sagt Nein (2010)
  • Grand Diagonale drama prize for lifetime achievement (2010)
  • Star on the Boulevard of Stars in Berlin (2010)
  • Hans Abich Award for outstanding services in television and film (Television Film Festival, Baden-Baden, 2010)
  • Cultural Award of the City of Munich (2011)
  • Bear (B.Z. culture prize) (2012)

Selected filmography[edit]Edit

Year Film Role Notes
1959 The Journey Serving Girl in Black Scarf
1961 The Secret Ways Elsa
1961 The Miracle of Father Malachia Yvonne Krüger
1963 The Victors Trudi
1964 The Spy with My Face Serena
1964 See How They Run Orlando Miller
1965 Major Dundee Teresa Santiago
1965 The Glory Guys Lou Woddard
1966 Cast a Giant Shadow Magda Simon
1966 Our Man in Marrakesh Kyra Stanovy
1966 The Treasure of San Gennaro Maggie
1966 The Quiller Memorandum Inge Lindt
1967 The Ambushers Francesca Madeiros
1967 Diabolically Yours Christiane
1969 De Sade Anne de Montreuil
1969 Giacomo Casanova: Childhood and Adolescence Giulietta Cavamacchia
1970 When Women Had Tails Filli
1971 Roma Bene Princess Dedé Marescalli
1973 Bisturi la mafia bianca Suor Maria
1973 The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne
1977 Cross of Iron Eva
1978 Nest of Vipers Carla Richter
1985 The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal Clara
1990 Tre colonne in cronaca La contessa Odessa Bonaveri
1998 Bin ich schön? Unna
2009 Ob ihr wollt oder nicht! Dorothea
2010 Satte Farben vor Schwarz Anita

Year Title Role Notes
1964 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Serena (TV series, 1 episode)
1966 The Poppy Is Also a Flower Maxine
1990 La belle Anglaise (TV series, 1 episode)
1992 Sie und Er Charlotte
1992 Lilli Lottofee Lilli
1994 Gefangene Liebe
1994-96 Ärzte Dr. Margarethe Martin (TV series, 8 episodes)
1995 Kommissar Rex Karla Wilke (TV series, 1 episode)
1996 Mein Sohn ist kein Mörder! Sarah Renzi
1997 Kap der Rache Lilian
1997 Lamorte Susa
1997 Die Nacht der Nächte Teresa
1998 Mammamia Clara
1999 Liebe und weitere Katastrophen Franziska Ackermann
1999 Rosamunde Pilcher - Das große Erbe Alex Gower
1999 Mit fünfzig küssen Männer anders Marie Mechlenburg
2000 Zimmer mit Frühstück Elisabeth
2000 Trennungsfieber Dr. Carla Severin-Bauer
2000 Scharf aufs Leben Solveigh Kronberg
2000 Probieren Sie's mit einem Jüngeren Anna
2002 Bis dass dein Tod uns scheidet Edith Mosbach
2004 Die Konferenz Cornelia Cordes
2005 Einmal so wie ich will Emma Bauer
2005 Emilia - Die zweite Chance Dr. Emilia Seiler
2005 Emilia - Familienbande Dr. Emilia Seiler
2006 Nette Nachbarn küsst man nicht Helga Forstmann
2008 Rosamunde Pilcher - Vier Jahreszeiten Julia Combe (TV mini-series, 4 episodes)
2009 Schlaflos Carla Sagmeister
2009 Frau Bähm sagt Nein Rita Böhm
2009 Mama kommt! Luise Fischer
2010 Liebe am Fjord Pernille (TV series, 1 episode)
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