Christians, Mady

Actress

Biography

By Caitlin Moffett and Carol Stabile

Marguerita Maria "Mady" Christians was born in Vienna, Austria on January 19, 1900. Her father, Rudolph Christians, was a well-known German actor and stage manager; her mother, Bertha Christians, was an opera and concert singer. Her family emigrated to the United States in 1912, where her father managed the German Repertoire theater in New York City. When Christians decided to pursue a career as an actress, her mother accompanied her to Berlin, where she studied at Max Reinhardt’s acting school. 

Taller than many leading men, Christians was a talented actress, with a fine soprano voice.  Christians made her debut in New York in 1915, in a one-act operetta titled Bruederline Fein Fine. In 1933, Christians was cast by MGM in A Wicked Woman and signed to a long term contract. Like many performers, Christians was relieved to flee the rising fascism of Germany. After returning to New York City, she performed in seven Broadway productions, including House, directed by Orson Welles.1. Her talent was never in question: of her performance in A Divine Drudge, theater critic Brook Atkinson said, “It would be worth sitting through fifty bad plays to see her perform.”2

Playbill for The Constant Wife

  • 1.  Milly S. Barranger, Unfriendly Witnesses: Gender, Theater, and Film in the McCarthy Era (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008)
  • 2. “Mady Christians, Actress, Is Dead,” New York Times, October 29, 1951.

 

Mady Christians

In 1939, Christians played Lady Percy in King Henry IV, Part 1, directed by Margaret Webster—the beginning of a collaboration and friendship that would last the remainder of Chirstians’ life. Christians and Webster shared a circle of friends that included producer and actor Eva Le Gallienne and Marion Evenson, vacationing and working together on Martha’s Vineyard whenever they could. Webster admired Christians' talent, describing her as “distinguished, opulent with a slight German accent.” 1 ; In 1938, Webster cast Christians in the role of Queen Gertrude in Hamlet in what would become one of the defining moments of Christians’ career. Atkinson claimed “Mady Christians’ frightened, tortured, grieving queen is the best one this theatre-goer has ever seen.”2 Other successes followed, including a role in Lillian Hellman’s Watch on the Rhine, as well as a starring role in the hit I Remember Mama, produced by Rogers & Hammerstein, which was adapted for radio and then television. 

Christians also appeared in numerous films in Germany and Hollywood, including Seventh Heaven (1937), Heidi (1937), Tender Comrades (1943), and All My Sons (1948).

Christians taught acting classes at Columbia University in the 1940s.3

Christians died of a stroke on October 28th, 1951.

  • 1. Milly S. Barranger, Unfriendly Witnesses: Gender, Theater, and Film in the McCarthy Era (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008),
  • 2. “Mady Christians, Actress, Is Dead.”
  • 3.  “Overacting without a Trace of Ham,” New York World Telegram, July 30, 1945.

Contributions

Film

Audrey (1916) as Evelyn Byrd

Die Krone von Kerkyra (1917)

The Lost Paradise (1917) as Edith Bernardi

Die fremde Frau (1917)

Am Scheidewege (1918) as Cornelia

Frau Marias Erlebnis (1918) as Maria - ihre Tochter

Die Verteidigerin (1918) as Linda Saltarin - Doktor der Rechte

Die Dreizehn (1918)

Eine junge Dame von Welt (1918)

Nightshade (film) [it] (1918) as Fürstin Tscharkowska

Am anderen Ufer (1918)

Fidelio (1919) as Sonja Maderewska - singer

Die Sühne der Martha Marx (1919) as Mady

The Peruvian (1919) as Fernades Matamorer

The Golden Club (1919) as Marga von Olsberg, junge Witwe

Not und Verbrechen (1919) as Ruth

Die Nacht des Grauens (1919)

Die Gesunkenen (1919) as Reta de Lorni

Der indische Tod (1920) as Inge, Frau von Ralph Leyen

Indian Revenge (1920)

Wer unter Euch ohne Sünde ist... (1921)

Peter Voss, Thief of Millions (1921, part 1-7) as Gert, seine Tochter

The Fateful Day (1921) as Felicitas / Harriet Steel / Jelena / Marietta

Today's Children (1922) as Eva

The Loves of Pharaoh (1922)

It Illuminates, My Dear (1922) as Jeanne, Marquiße von Chatelet

A Glass of Water (1923) as Königin Anna

The Buddenbrooks (1923) as Gerda Arnoldsen

The Lost Shoe (1923) as Violante

The Weather Station (1923) as Die Dame

Finances of the Grand Duke (1924) as Großfürstin Olga von Rußland

Michael (1924) as Frau (uncredited)

Debit and Credit (1924) as Baroneß Leonore vin Rothensattel

Man Against Man (1924)

Slums of Berlin (1925) as Regine Lossen

In the Valleys of the Southern Rhine (1925, part 1-2) as Bettina von Wittelsbach

The Farmer from Texas (1925) as Mabel Bratt

A Waltz Dream (1925) as Princess Alix

The Adventurers (1926) as Armely - seine Frau

Nanette Makes Everything (1926) as Nanette

Sword and Shield (1926) as Prinzessin Wilhelmine

The World Wants To Be Deceived (1926) as Sefi - seine Tochter

The Queen of Moulin Rouge (1926) as Die Herzogin

The Divorcée (1926) as Gonda van der Loo

Vienna, How it Cries and Laughs (1926) as Mery, seine Frau

Out of the Mist (1927) as Lore

Queen Louise (1927-1928, part 1, 2) as Luise von Mecklenburg, Königin von Preussen

Grand Hotel (1927)

Homesick (1927) as Fürstin Lydia Trubezkoj

The Duel (1927)

 

Film (continued)

Miss Chauffeur (1928) as Steffi Walker

A Woman with Style (1928) as Dschilly Bey

The Burning Heart (1929) as Dorothee Claudius

The Runaway Princess (1929) as Princess Priscilla

My Sister and I (1929) as Prinzessin Matgarete von Marquardstein

It's You I Have Loved (1929) as Inge Lund

Lieutenant, Were You Once a Hussar? (1930) as Königin Alexandra von Gregorien

My Heart Incognito (1931) as La reine Alexandra

The Fate of Renate Langen (1931) as Renate Langen

The Woman They Talk About (1931) as Vera Moretti

The Black Hussar (1932) as Marie Luise

Frederica (1932) as Friederike

The House of Dora Green (1933) as Dora Green

The Empress and I (1933) as Empress

Manolescu, der Fürst der Diebe (1933) as Comtesse Maria Freyenberg

The Only Girl (1933) as The Empress

A Wicked Woman (1934) as Naomi Trice

Escapade (1935) as Anita

Ship Cafe (1935) as Countess Boranoff

Come and Get It (1936) as Karie Linbeck

Seventh Heaven (1937) as Marie

The Woman I Love (1937) as Florence

Heidi (1937) as Dete

Tender Comrade (1943) as Manya Lodge

Address Unknown (1944) as Elsa Schulz

All My Sons (1948) as Kate Keller

Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) as Frau Berndle

 

Broadway

The Father (Nov 16, 1949 - Jan 14, 1950)

Message for Margaret (Apr 16, 1947 - Apr 19, 1947)

I Remember Mama (Oct 19, 1944 - Jun 29, 1946)

Watch on the Rhine (Apr 01, 1941 - Feb 21, 1942)

The Lady Who Came to Stay (Jan 02, 1941 - Jan 04, 1941)

Return Engagement (Nov 01, 1940 - Nov 07, 1940)

Hamlet (Dec 04, 1939 - Jan 06, 1940)

King Henry IV, Part I (Jan 30, 1939 - Apr 01, 1939)

Hamlet (Oct 12, 1938 - Jan 1939)

Heartbreak House (Apr 29, 1938 - Jun 1938)

Save Me the Waltz (Feb 28, 1938 - Mar 1938)

Alice Takat (Feb 10, 1936 - Feb 1936)

A Divine Drudge (Oct 26, 1933 - Nov 1933)