Elisabeth Bergner makes her American debut in “Escape Me Never” at the Shubert Monday night. The play, which is by Margaret Kennedy, is being presented under the aegis of the Theatre Guild in association with Charles B. Cochran, and all indications point to an opening night that will bring out an exceptionally large sable and chinchilla brigade.
Miss Bergner, who arrived Wednesday morning on the Olympic, will re-create a role she first essayed in London last season. It was the first English speaking role of the Austrian Jewess who rose to fame in Germany only to be barred from the Berlin stage by the provisions of Herr Hitler’s Aryan laws.
KNOWN TO FAME HERE
Although she has never before been in this country, fame has preceded her and Miss Bergner has a loyal legion of fans throughout the United States. A motion picture, “Catherine the Great,”â€”hailed by a majority of the critics as among the “best ten” of the yearâ€”served as her calling card.
She has also been seen on American screens in “Ariadne,” awarded a prize in France as the ###ond best picture of 1932, and in “Dreaming Lips”, a German picture of pre-Hitler vintage which when being chosen the best German production of its year scored forty-seven points to the thirty-six for the cinematic “Grand Hotel.”
A TINY STAR
To those who recall the regal bearing of Miss Bergner as Catherine the Great, it will undoubtedly be a surprise to learn that she is diminutive in stature. Like Helen Hayes she finds her slightness no handicap to here career. What she lacks in size, she more than makes up in ability.
She is a slender, but shapely blonde, strawberry cheeked and demure. Attractive, winsome and possessed of a contagious charm she neverthelessâ€”judged by Hollywood standardsâ€”is not a beauty. In her first season on the London boards she scored an unprecedented success becoming the toast of the West End. She bids fair to duplicate that achievement in New York.
HAS GARBO REPUTATION
Miss Bergner comes to the metropolis with a Garboesque reputation. Though she has never resorted to dark eye-lashes as a means of evading interviewers, she has been quite successful at it. During the run of “Escape Me Never” in London she is reputed to have only met the gentlemen of the press twice. In her meeting with American reportersâ€”the boys who go down to the shipsâ€”she came off quite well. But the boys first had to promise that they wouldn’t question her on politics.
Miss Bergner came to this country without her husband, Paul Czinner, a noted European motion picture director who specializes in directing his wife. With her, it is rumored, came the script of a new play by Sir James Barrie, his first in fourteen years, one especially tailored to her charming pattern.
Her career, mainly in German, includes performances as varied as Nina in O’Neill’s “Strange Interlude,” Rosalind in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” Saint Joan in Shaw’s play of that name and the title role in Lonsdale’s “The Last Mrs. Cheney.”