Marika Roekk, the Hungarian actress who was born in Cairo, launched her movie career in Britain, and achieved cult-like stardom in the Nazi-ruled German cinema of the ’30s, died suddenly on Sunday of heart failure in her home in Baden, Germany. She was 90 years old.
After her birth in Egypt, Roekk was brought to Budapest as child where she began her study of dance, an enduring love that led to stints with the ballet company Hoffman in Paris, and appearances at the Moulin Rouge. Roekk went from there to Broadway and an American tour, but eventually returned to Europe to forge a successful career as a dancer and singer in revues across the continent.
Her film debut occured in Britain in “Kiss Me, Sergeant” (1930), followed by a part in “Why Sailors Leave Home” the same year. In 1933 she appeared in the Hungarian feature “Kisertetek Vonata — Geisterzug,” but it was her popularity on stage as a revue singer and cabaret vamp that earned her a contract with Ufa, and led to her appearance in major German features like “Leichte Kavallerie” (1935), “Der Bettelstudent” (1936), and “Hallo Janine” (1939). Famous for her seductive Hungarian accent and wild ghoulash temperament, Roekk married director Georg Jacoby and became the Eva Gabor of her era, starring alongside the likes of Johannes Heesters and Zahra Leander.
Despite her reputation as a favorite of the Hitler regime, Roekk’s career survived the war. After a temporary post-war ban from the industry, during which time she appeared in stage shows entertaining U.S. troops stationed in Germany, Roekk went on to appear in the movies “Die Czardasfurstin” (1951), and “Buhne frei fur Marika” (1958).
She retired from the screen in 1962, but continued her appearances in operettas and stage revues in Germany, Holland and Belgium.
Roekk is survived by a daughter.