Childhood & Early Life
Lida Baarova was born Ludmila Babkova on September 7, 1914. She was born in Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. Her father was a civil servant. Her mother was an opera singer who was employed as a chorus singer at the National Theatre.
Her early interest was in music since her mother was an opera singer. Early on she wanted to become a ballet dancer, but her interest gradually shifted to theatre. She enrolled at the State Conservatory in Prague to study acting.
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Lida Baarova got her first role at the age of seventeen. The film was titled ‘Kariera Pavla Camrdy’. She was soon flooded with offers. She left her studies at the State Conservatory to do films.
She appeared in movies like, ‘Senkyrka u divoke krásky’ (1932), ‘Okenko’ (1933), ‘Zlata Katerina’ (1934), and ‘Dokud mas maminku’ (1934).
In 1935, she was seen in the German movie ‘Barcarole’. Her co-stars in this movie included Gustav Fröhlich and Willy Birgel. She soon became engaged to Gustav. They moved to a house on Lake Wannsee. Her affair with Goebbels, who lived three houses away from her, soon overshadowed her career. However, she continued to work for both Czech and German movies. ‘Virginity’ (1937) was one such movie. It was directed by Otakar Vavra and Lida played the main role of Hana Polackova.
They moved to a house on Lake Wannsee. Her affair with Goebbels, who lived three houses away from her, soon overshadowed her career. However, she continued to work for both Czech and German movies. ‘Virginity’ (1937) was one such movie. It was directed by Otakar Vavra and Lida played the main role of Hana Polackova.
In 1938, Hitler ordered Goebbels to stop his affair with Baarova and banned her from shooting in Germany. Even her movie ‘A Prussian Love Story’ was prevented from being shown in theatres. The plot of the movie revolved around a Polish Princess Elisa Radziwill, which was essayed by Baarova, and Prince Wilhelm I of Russia, which was essayed by Willy Fritsch. The love affair closely resembled that of Goebbels and Baarova, so the movie was banned.
‘The Gambler’ was another German drama movie of Lida Baarova that premiered in 1938. The movie had to be stopped because people would shout obscenities every time Lida’s character would appear on the screen.
Both, ‘A Prussian Love Story’ and ‘The Gambler’ were re-released in 1950.
In 1938, she fled to Prague. In 1942, she moved to Italy and appeared in movies like, ‘Grazia’ (1943), ‘La Fornarina’ (1944), and ‘Vivere Ancora’ (1945).
In 1945, she was arrested by American forces and accused of being a Nazi collaborator and extradited to Czechoslovakia, where she was in jail for a year and a half. She was released in 1946.
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She married Jan Kopecky, who was a theatre agent and was the nephew of Václav Kopecky, who was the then Czechoslovakia’s Interior Minister, in 1947. They first moved to Argentina, then to Spain and thereafter to Italy.
Lida Baarova tried to kickstart her acting career and appeared in several movies like, ‘La Bisarca’ (1950) and ‘I Vitelloni’ (1953).
In 1956, her marriage to Jan Kopecky ended and she moved to Salzburg, Austria. In 1960, she tried her luck in theatre but Austrians never actually forgave her for her liaisons with the Nazi.
In 1975, she appeared in German theatrical production of the famous Rainer Werner’s ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant.’
She went off the radar only to be rediscovered in 1990s. ‘Lida Baarova’s Bittersweet Memories,’ a documentary on her life, was released in 1995.
Family & Personal Life
Lida Baarova had a younger sister named, Zorka Janu. She was also an actress. After Lida Baarova sister was arrested, Zorka was banned from the Czech film industry and was ostracized. She committed suicide in 1946.
It is said that her mother was also arrested in 1945 and she died during interrogation.
While Lida Baarova was in prison in Czechoslovakia, she met Jan Kopecky. They got married in 1947. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1956
She married Dr. Kurt Lundwall in 1969. He was a gynecologist and was twenty years her senior. He died three years later and she inherited his property.
Later on in life, Lida Baarova suffered from Parkinson's disease. She died on 27 October 2000, in Salzburg. She died alone and poor.