„Talking Germany“ guest Senta Berger, born in Vienna, Austria, is that rare thing: a German-speaking world star. Now 72 years old, she made films in Hollywood in the 1960s.
In the 1970s, she was one of the most familiar faces in European film. Since the '80s, she has been the queen of German television. She often has roles in films directed by her husband, Michael Verhoeven, with whom she lives in Munich.
Senta Berger was born in Vienna in 1941 and grew up in modest circumstances. At the age of 6, she began started taking lessons in ballet and free dance. At 16, she began acting school at the renowned Max Reinhardt Seminar. But because she accepted a film role, which is against the school's rules, she left the school before completing her studies. In the same year, she signed a 3-year contract with the Theater in der Josefstadt. Her breakthrough came in 1961 when she acted in the film "Operation Caviar". Then, in 1963, she signed a 5-year contract with Columbia Studio in Hollywood, working almost solely in the United States with actors like Kirk and Michael Douglas, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Frank Sinatra. Later she acted mostly in French and Italian films because German directors all associated her with the old-style entertainment movies, which they felt were beneath them. In 1965, she and her later husband, the physician and movie director Michael Verhoeven, founded the production company Sentana Film. They have repeatedly worked on joint film and television projects.
In between movie roles, Senta Berger has often acted in the theater, for example at the Salzburg Festspiele, at the Vienna Burgtheater, at the Thalia Theater Hamburg, and at Berlin's Schillertheater. Senta Berger has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Munich. In Berlin, she has a second apartment and has operated an art house cinema with her husband since 1992.
(First broadcast on 25.02.2013)