German actress, ex-wife of Gustav Gruendgens

Marianne Hoppe, German actress and former wife of actor-director Gustav Gruendgens, died Oct. 23 of natural causes in Siegsdorf, Bavaria. She was 93.

While Hoppe’s work includes only a few bigscreen successes, she was nonetheless acclaimed through the sheer persistence of 70 years of life on the stage as well as the notoriety of her marriage to Gruendgens, Germany’s most influential character actor and stage director of the ’30s to ’50s.

Hoppe, who was born in Rostock, became a theater professional at 19 in Berlin. She was married to Gruendgens from the mid-1930s until shortly after World War II. Although he did not participate in any propaganda productions, his alleged wooing of Nazi leaders’ sympathy was a source of criticism, best documented in Istvan Szabo’s pic “Mephisto,” based on the novel by Klaus Mann.

While Hoppe shared that critical period with Gruendgens, her image was unstained, helped by the nonconformist, sometimes grotesque roles with which she became associated. At 81, Robert Wilson made her “King Lear” in a version he directed in Frankfurt, and at 85, she was cast as one victim of “Monsieur Verdoux” in Chaplin’s play.

She frequently appeared on TV, highlighted by a portrayal of a Dietrichesque character in satiric series “Kir Royal.”

Her only flirt with modern German cinema was Wim Wenders’ “Falsche Bewegung” in 1974.

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