Childhood & Early Life
Romy Schneider was born as Rosemarie Magdalena Albach on 23 September 1938, in Vienna. Both her parents, Wolf Albach-Retty and Magda Schneider, were actors.
While her father was Austrian, her mother was German. She had a younger brother named Wolfgang Dieter (Wolfi) Albach-Retty.
Raised in Germany, she began her formal education in 1944 at an elementary school in Schönau. Later in July 1949, she was moved to a girls’ residential school at Castle Goldenstein near Salzburg, Austria, graduating from there with the degree of Mittlere Reife in 1953.
While in high school, she discovered her passion for acting and often participated in various school productions. She also excelled in drawing and painting, and therefore, it was decided that she would enter Kölner Werkschulen (Cologne Academy of Fine and Applied Arts) after leaving school. But fate willed otherwise.
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In 1953, Romy Schneider began her acting career when she was cast as Evchen Forster in the West German drama film, 'Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht' (When the White Lilacs Bloom Again). In it, she was credited as Romy Schneider-Albach, eventually becoming popular simply as Romy Schneider.
With the success of her debut film, Romy’s career began to bloom. Working under the supervision of her mother, she appeared in the star role of Anna Oberholzer in ‘Feuerwerk’ (Fireworks) and as Princess Victoria/Queen Victoria in 'Mädchenjahre einer Königin' (Victoria in Dover) in 1954.
In 1955, she got her first real breakthrough, when she was cast as Empress Elisabeth of Austria (nicknamed Sissi) in ‘Sissi’. It became one of the most successful German-language movies of that time, making her nationally famous.
Sissi’s success led to the production of two more films on the same theme: ' Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin' (Sissy- the Young Empress) in 1956 and ‘Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin’ (Sissi – Fateful Years of an Empress) in 1957. In both films, she played the title role, garnering much acclaim.
Along with appearing in the ‘Sissi’ trilogy, Schneider continued to star in other films as well. In 1958, while working in 'Christine', she fell in love with her co-star, French actor Alain Delon. Eventually, she moved to Paris and began working in films like ‘Katia’, ‘Die schöne Lügnerin’ and ‘Mademoiselle Ange’.
In 1961, she debuted on the stage in Paris, appearing as Annabella in John Ford's stage play, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore'. Soon, she began to attract attention from established directors, and was cast as Pupe in Luchino Visconti's film, 'Boccaccio '70' and as Leni in Orson Welles’ film, ‘The Trial’ in 1962.
In 1963, she moved briefly to USA, where she starred in films like ‘The Cardinal’ (1963), ‘The Victors’ (1963) ‘Good Neighbor Sam’ (1964), and ‘What’s New Pussy Cat’ (1965). But she did not enjoy her Hollywood experience and returned to Paris in 1966.
In 1970, her career underwent rejuvenation when she was cast as Hélène Haltig in ‘Les Choses de la vie’ (‘The Things of Life’). It was followed by ‘Max et les ferrailleurs’ in 1971, ‘César et Rosalie’ in 1972, ‘Ludwig’ in 1973, and ‘Les Innocents aux mains sales’ in 1975.
In 1977, she returned to German films after almost two decades, appearing as Leni Gruyten in the French-German production of ‘Gruppenbild mit Dame’ (Group Portrait with Lady). Two of her other important films of this decade were ‘Clair de femme’ and ‘La Mort en direct’ (Deathwatch), both released in 1979.
In the 1980s, she had only four films released, her last released film being ‘La Passante du Sans-Souci’ (1982, ‘The Passerby’). The others were 'La Banquière' (1980), 'Fantasma d'amore' (1981) and 'Garde à vue' (1981).
Family & Personal Life
On 15 July 1966, Romy Schneider married German director and actor Harry Meyen, and had a son named David Christopher with him. The couple divorced in 1975. In 1981, David died in an accident while trying to climb a spiked fence. Thereafter, she developed alcoholism.
On 18 December 1975, she married her private secretary, Daniel Biasini, remaining together till 1981. Their daughter, Sarah Magdalena, became an actress.
In late 1981 or early 1982, she had a kidney operation, which probably weakened her heart. On 29 May 1982, she died from cardiac arrest in her Paris home.