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Marie Versini, Lex Barker

German postcard, no. E 30.

 

French actress Marie Versini (1940) is best known as Winnetou’s sister. The lovely, beguiling, dark-haired actress had an international film career in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

 

Marie Versini was born in 1940, in Paris, France. She was the daughter of a grammar school teacher. In 1954 she started to follow classes at the Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique. Her film career started at the age of 16 with Mitsou (1956, Jacqueline Audry), based on the novel by Colette. In 1957 she became the youngest company member of the Comédie Française in ParisShe would play roles in the plays of Moliére, Racine, Beaumarchais, Victor Hugo, and Shakespeare.Her film debut was followed by parts in the British Charles Dickens adaptation A Tale of Two Cities (1958, Ralph Thomas) with Dirk Bogarde, and the French tv-film Britannicus (1959, Jean Kerchbron). She played at Eddie Constantine's side in the gangster film Chien de pique/Jack of Spades (1960, Yves Allégret), in Paris Blues (1961, Martin Ritt) with Paul Newman, in Roger Corman's actioner The Young Racers (1963), and was the love interest of Steve Reeves in the adventure film Sandokan, la Tigre di Mompracem/Temple of the White Elephant (1963, Umberto Lenzi). Her breakthrough came in the German/French/Yugoslav coproduction Winnetou I. Teil/Apache Gold (1963, Harald Reinl). This was one of a series of European Technicolor westerns based on the Winnetou-stories of German author Karl May. As in most of these films, French actor Pierre Brice starred as the brave Indian Winnetou, and former Hollywood Tarzan Lex Barker co-starred as his his loyal friend Old Shatterhand.

 

Marie Versini played Winnetou’s sister Nscho-tschi, who also became friends with Old Shatterhand. With this role she became – overnight - tremendously popular in Germany. She would play again in four more Karl May adventures: Der Schut/The Shoot (1964, Robert Siodmak), Durchs wilde Kurdistan/Wild Kurdistan (1965, Franz Josef Gottlieb), Im Reich des silbernen Löwen/Attack of the Kurds (1965, Franz Josef Gottlieb) and Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand/Thunder at the Border (1966, Alfred Vohrer). Beside the Karl May films she also took part in the popular German productions Kennwort...Reiher/The River Line (1964, Rudolf Jugert) and Liebesnächte in der Taiga/Code Name Kill (1967, Harald Philipp), and in the French war film Paris brûle-t-il?/Is Paris Burning? (1966, René Clément) with Jean-Paul Belmondo. In the 1970’s her activity in front of the film camera diminished, but she was regularly seen in tv productions. To her later work belong an episode of the serial Paul Temple: Antique Death (1970), Der Lift/The Elevator (1972, Georg Tressler), Pour une poignée d'herbes sauages (1973), an episode of the serial Arsène Lupin: Le film révélateur (1974), the serial Die Pawlaks/The Pawlaks (1982, Wolfgang Staudte) and the serial Die schöne Wilhelmine/The Beautiful Wilhelmine (1984). Since 1974 Marie Versini is married to author and director Pierre Viallet, with whom she often cooperated. In 2007 she returned to the screen in the documentary Winnetou darf nicht sterben/Winnetou May Not Die (2007, Oliver Schwehm), a portrait of Pierre Brice. She published two books: her memoirs Ich war Winnetous Schwester/I Was Winnetou’s Sister (2003), and the western novel Rätsel um N.T/ Mysteries Around N.T. (2008).

 

Source: marie-versini.de, Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), All Movie Guide, Wikipedia and IMDb.

  

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Taken on March 17, 2009