Paula Wessely, considered one of the great Austrian actresses of the 20th century, died May 11 in a Vienna hospital at the age of 93, according to wire reports.
The movie and stage actress had a flourishing post-World War II career despite appearances in Nazi propaganda films. Her long career included playing some of the great stage roles, including major women in Schiller's Mary Stuart, Schnitzler's Anatol, Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
Ms. Wessely had long been associated with The Burgtheater, a company she joined in 1951. Born in 1907, she made her stage debut at Vienna's Volkstheater in 1925.
She was instantly recognizable to European audiences for her distinctive vocal style. She was known as "The Wessely" to her fans. In 1987, she appeared Deutsches Theater in Berlin, reading pieces from literature.
According to the Associated Press, Ms. Wessely was acclaimed, also accused of having been a voluntary tool of the Nazis for her work in Nazi propaganda films throughout World War II. Before and during the war, Ms. Wessely thrived under Nazi rule and her talent was exploited by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, the AP reported.
After the war, her career at the Vienna Burgtheater began and Ms. Wessely expressed regret for her appearances in Nazi films such as "Heimkehr" ("Homecoming") in 1941. She became a huge star after the war, but some still disdained her shadowy cinematic past.
She has been married to actor Attila Hoerbiger.
-- By Kenneth Jones