Monday, May 27, 2013

Miss Anita Berber

Oh man, Anita Berber. When I first read about her a few years ago, that was my response. She sounded like she was one intense lady, but she certainly lived it up like a silent film rockstar!

Anita Berber was born on June 10, 1899 in Leipzig, Germany. Her father, Felix, was a famous violinist, and her mother, Lucie, was a cabaret singer. The couple divorced when Anita was still a child, as a result, she was raised mostly by her grandmother. 

At age 16, Anita moved to Berlin where she began dancing in cabarets. It was only a short time later that she began dancing nude at her cabaret shows, heavily made up to look like a vamp. It was also around this time that she made her screen debut in the film, Das Dreimaderlhaus (The Three Girls' House). 

Anita's film career only lasted until 1925, but in that time she appeared in 26 films, including 11 with famed actor, Conrad Veidt. She was rumored to have had an affair with Veidt as well. 

What Anita was most known for at the time was her off screen antics. She was known to appear on stage in precariously draped cloth or sometimes in nothing at all. She was also open about her bisexuality, drug use, and taste for alcohol. Apparently one of her favorite things to do was to mix chloroform and ether in a bowl, dip a white rose into the mixture, and then eat the petals. The correct response to this would be, "What in the hell....?"

Anita Berber passed away on November 10, 1928 in Kreuzberg, Germany. The cause of death was  listed as tuberculosis, but years of drug and alcohol abuse had also ravaged her body (although the year she died, she had stopped drinking). She was only 29 years old. 

Sadly, Anita was buried in a pauper's grave in St. Thomas Friedhof I cemetery in Berlin, Germany. 

Anita was married three times. Her first marriage was to a screenwriter named Eberhard von Nathusius in 1919. The couple divorced in 1922. 

Her second marriage was to a dancer and poet named Sebastian Droste in 1923, and they divorced later that same year. Allegedly, Droste stole furs and jewels from Anita to fund his own schemes. The two also thought up some VERY graphic dance acts to perform on stage, but thankfully they never had the chance. I should also note that from the pictures I have seen, Sebastian was one weird looking dude.

Anita and Sebastian Droste. Told ya, goofy...

 Her final marriage was to another dancer named Henri Chatin Hofmann in 1924 and they remained married until her death. It was rumored that the two enjoyed their cocaine and hotel orgies. Oh my!

Apparently she dated Marlene Dietrich for a time. 

She had a pet monkey that she was frequently seen out on the town with.

In the mid-twenties, Anita was arrested on suspicions of being a spy. The charges were dropped, but this latest stunt caused her father to cut ties with her. She had been arrested a few years before in Vienna for assault and theft.

The one rumor I remember reading that stuck out to me when I first read about her was that she was a sex slave to a woman and the woman's daughter. So........yeah.......

Famous portrait of Anita, painted by Otto Dix


  1. Well you gotta hand it to the German gal-She lived in the decadence of Berlin in the 1920's. Marlene slept with anyone she could and as for that one hubby of hers-Boy George would love him. Too bad that she was in a pauper's grave and that was probably blown up in the war. Amazing read

    1. Haha she certainly was wild. And I am not surprised at all about Marlene. Those times were not so innocent. Everyone slept together!
      I did read that some people said that the cemetery she is buried in had gone into disrepair and that no one really knows where her grave is exactly, the just have an approximate idea. Sad.

  2. she's amazing. I love your site!

  3. "She had a pet monkey that she was frequently seen out on the town with." Of course she did! I love this woman. Wouldn't want to BE her, but am quite enjoying admiring her from afar :D

  4. Great piece, but just to clarify, it was Anita who sexually enslaved the mother and daughter, not the other way around. I doubt she would have relinquished control like that. She seems to have been fully adept at stealing wives from husbands and husbands from wives by the time she was around seventeen and became exceptionally violent when turned down. I guess most people, male, female, gay, straight or bi, were too terrified to refuse her advances! That's some achievement.

    It's her 116th Birthday today. Happy Birthday, Anita x