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.
Maria von Trapp was the matriarch of the Austrian singing family, Trapp Family Singers. As a young woman, she married widowed naval commander Georg von Trapp. He already had seven children from his first wife, and the couple had three more. The family began singing together at events and became a popular touring act called the Trapp Family Singers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
12 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
20 Klara Hitler
Klara Hitler was the mother of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany. Born into a modest family in Austria, she was a hardworking and energetic woman with a pleasant demeanor. She married Alois Hitler and had six children, of whom only two—Adolf and Paula—survived to adulthood. She died of breast cancer when she was 47.
22 Lotte Lenya
23 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.
24 Emily Cox
Viennese actor Emily Cox initially wished to be a dancer but later began her career as a theater actor. She is now best known for her performance as Viking warrior Brida in the hit Netflix series The Last Kingdom. She has also been part of movies such as Fatherless.
25 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.
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.
27 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.
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.
29 Eva Schloss
30 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.
Maria Carolina of Austria, the wife of King Ferdinand IV of Naples, was also the de facto queen of Naples and Sicily. It is believed, she came under the influence of French-born English Sir John Acton and imposed many pro-British and anti-French reforms. She revoked the ban on Freemasonry and enlarged the navy, too.
32 Inge Morath
34 Maria Schell
Princess Stéphanie of Belgium became the Crown Princess of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia after her marriage to Crown Prince Rudolf, the son of Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. Following the death of her husband and his mistress in a suicide-murder pact, she married a Hungarian nobleman.
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.
37 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.
Eleonore von Habsburg is an Austrian gemologist, jewelry designer, and one of the most popular members of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. Renowned for her good looks, Habsburg is also known for her work as a fashion model. Apart from walking the runway for popular brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Eleonore von Habsburg has also been featured in many advertisement campaigns.
One of the two women founder members of London’s Royal Academy, Angelica Kauffman was born to a painter father in Switzerland and was quite a prodigy, who mastered several languages and the arts of music and painting quite quickly. The history painter is best remembered for her landscapes and portraits.
María Cristina De Habsburgo-Lorena is better known as the Spanish king Alfonso XII’s queen consort, who acted as the queen regent after her husband’s death and before her son came of age to rule on his own. Her regency was the longest in the history of Spanish royalty.
45 Lisa Wagner
48 Marisa Mell
Brunhilda was queen of Austrasia, which was part of Francia. The daughter of Visigothic king Athanagild, she was also one of the most powerful fighters of Merovingian age. Her conflict with Fredegund, the queen consort of Chilperic I, ended in her death by being torn apart by four horses.
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.