Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress whose early career was defined by her performance in the controversial Czech erotic film Ecstasy. Apart from gaining popularity as a beautiful Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr became known as an inventor after co-inventing frequency-hopping spread spectrum. Her career has inspired several works of art. She was also the inspiration behind the iconic character Catwoman.
The mother of 16 children, Maria Theresa was the only female monarch of the Habsburg empire which she ruled with absolute power. She was known for industrial and educational reforms which led to the development of Austria during her 40-year reign. The devout Roman Catholic, who overtly disliked Jews and the Protestants, was sometimes criticized for her religious intolerance.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria was Queen of Hungary and Empress of Austria from 1854 to 1898, making her the longest-reigning Austrian empress. Often visiting Hungary for its relaxed environment, Elisabeth developed a deep kinship with Hungary, which in turn helped her influence the rise of the dual monarchy of Austria–Hungary in 1867.
German-French actor Romy Schneider began her career with the Heimatfilm genre of films as a teenager. She appeared as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Austrian Sissi trilogy and in Ludwig. She is also remembered for her César Award-winning roles in Une histoire simple and L'important c'est d'aimer.
Maria Altmann was an Austrian-American Jewish refugee who fled her home country fearing the Nazis. She is remembered for her successful legal campaign to reclaim Gustav Klimt's family-owned paintings from the Government of Austria, which were stolen during the Second World War by the Nazis. Her life and career inspired documentary films, novels, and feature films, including Woman in Gold.
Virginia Hill was an American woman best remembered for her association with the Chicago Outfit crime organization. She served as the outfit's courier, passing important messages between mobsters, during the mid-1930s. She became the subject of a 1974 TV film. Her relationship with mobster Bugsy Siegel was dramatized in the 1991 movie Bugsy, where she was portrayed by Annette Bening.
10 Miep Gies
Miep Gies was one of the Dutch nationals who hid many Dutch Jews, including Anne Frank and her family, from the Nazis during the Second World War. In 1994, she was honored with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her bravery. In 1995, she received the Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Emilie Schenkl was the partner of Subhas Chandra Bose, a major leader of Indian nationalism. It is believed they were married in a secret Hindu ceremony but no records exist to prove the same. The couple had a daughter. Bose allegedly died in 1945. Emilie raised her daughter by working shifts in the trunk exchange.
Natascha Kampusch is an Austrian woman who was kidnapped at age 10 and held captive in a cellar by Wolfgang Přiklopil, who raped and abused her repeatedly. She escaped after 8 years, following which she hosted a show and became a PETA activist. Her book 3096 Tage inspired a movie.
13 Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner was an Austrian-Swedish physicist best remembered for her contributions that led to the discoveries of nuclear fission and the element protactinium. Nicknamed the German Marie Curie by Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner became the second woman in the world to receive a doctorate in physics in 1905. In 1997, chemical element 109 meitnerium was named in her honor.
Emilie Schindler is best remembered as the wife of Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved over a thousand Jews from the Nazis by employing them at his factory and later inspired the iconic Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List. She later fled to Argentina with Oskar but was abandoned by him.
Austrian actor Barbara Valentin, or the Queen of Nudity, was known for her saucy films and for her friendship with Queen star Freddie Mercury. She appeared in the Queen video It’s A Hard Life. Though Freddie was queer, close friends claimed he had shared a bed with Valentin multiple times.
Marie Louise was an Austrian archduchess who reigned as Duchess of Parma from 1814 until her death. The eldest child of Emperor Francis II of Austria and his second wife, Maria Theresa, she grew up during a tumultuous period in the history of Austria. She was married to Napoleon I from 1810 to 1821. She died of pleurisy in 1847.
Nauheed Cyrusi is an Indian model, actress, and VJ. Cyrusi is best known for appearing in TV commercials for well-known brands like Head & Shoulders, Britannia, and Himalaya. Over the years, Cyrusi has become a household name in India, thanks to her acting skills and visibility across the country.
22 Emily Cox
23 Bibi Besch
Bibi Besch was an Austrian-American actress best known for her role in the science fiction film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The daughter of an actress, she chose to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Making her debut in the mid-1950s, she remained active in the entertainment industry until her death. Her daughter is also an actress.
24 Senta Berger
It is believed Austrian actor Senta Berger was suspended by the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar, where she studied drama, after she bagged her first movie role. The three-time Bambi Award winner is known for her roles in films such as The Quiller Memorandum. She is also involved with peace and environmental activism.
26 Lotte Lenya
27 Lída Baarová
Lída Baarová was a Czech actress whose professional life was overshadowed by her personal counterpart; she is best remembered as the mistress of Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi propaganda minister. Her life and career inspired the 2016 film The Devil's Mistress, a dramatization of Lída Baarová's life, in which Baarová was played by Slovak actress Tatiana Pauhofová.
German-Austrian actress, author, and businesswoman Christine Kaufmann gained attention of post-war German movie audiences with her performances in films like Rosen-Resli, Der schweigende Engel and Ein Herz schlägt für Erika. She became the first German to be honoured with Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance in the drama film Town Without Pity.
29 Maria Schell
30 Alma Mahler
Alma Mahler, remembered as the wife of composer Gustav Mahler and the daughter of landscape painter Emil Schindler, initially studied art but later acquired skills as a pianist. However, Mahler discouraged her from composing after marriage. She later had other affairs and married architect Walter Gropius and author Franz Werfel.
32 Waris Dirie
Somali model, writer, and women’s rights activist Waris Dirie is best known for her advocacy against female genital mutilation through the Desert Flower Foundation. Born into a poor nomadic family, she ran away at 13 to avoid marriage and then worked as a maid in London, before gaining a modeling contract.
33 Eva Schloss
Once a governess of the four daughters of the affluent Suttner family, Bertha von Suttner later married the sisters’ elder brother, Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner. The Austrian novelist was known for her peace activism, which made her the first female to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
35 Inge Morath
Melanie Klein was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalyst. A key figure in the development of object relations theory, she is best known for her work in child analysis. She began her studies by observing her own children’s behavior while they were growing up. As a woman in a field dominated by men, she was also a feminist icon.
41 Joy Adamson
Best known for her iconic book Born Free, which describes her experiences of raising a lion cub named Elsa, Joy Adamson was a noted Austro-Hungarian wildlife conservationist. She excelled in music and medicine in her younger days and later settled in Kenya with her third husband, conservationist George Adamson.
Elfriede Jelinek is an Austrian novelist and playwright who was honored with the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature. Widely regarded as the most prominent playwright of the German language, Elfriede Jelinek has several prestigious awards and honors under her belt.