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Barbara Valentin

German Postcard by Krüger, no. 900/272.


Film and TV actress Barbara Valentin (1940-2002) was dubbed the 'German Jayne Mansfield' and a 'Scandal Magnet'. Her résumé includes sex films but also classics directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Her private life was fodder for the tabloids. Pop star Freddie Mercury was ‘the love of her life’.


Barbara Valentin was born Ursula ‘Uschi’ Ledersteger in Vienna. She was the daughter of the set designer Hans Ledersteger and actress Irmgard Alberti. Her film debut was in the erotic SF-thriller Ein Toter hing im Netz (Fritz Böttgers, 1959). In the 1960s she became a well known personality who was called ‘das Busenwunder’ because of her huge breasts. The German tabloids had plenty to write about her cocaine habit and other addictions, and also about her numerous love affairs. Her three marriages, including one with film director Helmut Dietl, ended all in a divorce. In the cinema she was seen in sex pot roles in films like Das Mädchen mit den Schmalen Hüften, literally The Girl with the Narrow Hips (Johannes Kai, 1961), and In Frankfurt sind die Nächte heiss/Hot Nights in Frankfurt (Rolf Olsen, 1966). Later she was also seen in international films like Carmen, Baby (Radley Metzger, 1967) and King, Queen, Knave (Jerzy Skolimowsky, 1972).


In the 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder offered Barbara Valentin a chance on a new career. Under his direction she played in the futuristic TV tale Welt am Draht (1974) and after that she became a permanent member of his troupe. She played character parts in films and TV films by Fassbinder like the Henrik Ibsen adaptation Nora Helmer (1974), the touching melodrama Angst essen Seele auf (1974), Martha (1974), the Theodor Fontane adaptation Effi Briest (1974), the controversial gay drama Faustrecht der Freiheit / Fox and his Friends (1975), the box office hit Lili Marleen (1981) and Fassbinder's acclaimed 15-hour TV mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980). She also appeared in numerous other films and TV productions, including Bomber und Paganini (1976, Nicos Perakis), Flammende Herzen (Walter Bockmayer, Rolf Buhrmann, 1978) and Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Ulrike Ottinger, 1984). In 1984-1985, she lived together with Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, whom she would come to call the love of her life. After his death in 1991 she supported the fight against Aids, and became an icon of the Munich gay scene. Her last film was Die Hunde sind schuld (Andreas Prochaska, 2001). Barbara Valentin died in 2002. She suffered a brain hemorrhage early in 2001, and was in a coma for quite some time, and was later confined to a wheelchair. She is buried in the Ostfriedhof cemetery in Munich.


Sources: Absolute, Britannica, Wikipedia and IMDb

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Taken on September 2, 2012