Marion Michael, a one-hit wonder from the 1950s who retained an iconic value in Teutonic cinema history, died in October of heart failure in Gartz, Brandenburg. She was 66.
In Germany’s predominantly light entertainment cinema of the 1950s, Michael came only second to Hildegard Knef as the first nude woman onscreen. But while Knef’s nude scene (in “The Sinner”) was kept brief and blurry, Michael acted topless throughout virtually the entire first half of “Liane, Jungle Goddess.”
In the 1956 adventure movie, largely shot in Africa, a female Tarzan is discovered by an expedition group (which includes Hardy Krueger), and brought back to her proper home town Hamburg. Pic had sufficient family entertainment appeal to have authorities turn one blind eye to its generous nudity, given that 16-year-old blond beauty Michael as Liane was acceptable as the nature child with no obvious erotic suggestiveness.
Michael was born in 1940 as Marion Ilonka Michaela Delonge in Koenigsberg (today’s Kaliningrad), and was selected for “Liane” out of allegedly 12,000 entries. Unfortunately, the huge success of her debut in “Liane” was not matched by any of the 10 pics Michael filmed in the coming six years.
A car accident in that period left her face temporarily scarred. Although she recovered and could return to acting, her luck in film had essentially faded by 1965, when she withdrew from filmmaking for many years.
Following a phase of depression, she took the unusual step of moving from West to East Germany, and only occasionally acted in film and on TV in later years. Her life became topic of a TV musical, “Liane” in 1996, which also was her last appearance onscreen.
She is survived by her second husband and a son.