Society

Actress Christine Maria Kaufmann Dead At 72

| by Michael Howard

Christine Maria Kaufmann, the Austrian-born actress who won a Golden Globe at 17 and later married actor Tony Curtis, has died at the age of 72.

Kaufmann died in Munich on March 27 following a prolonged battle with leukemia, according to her management company.

She was born in Austria in 1945 and grew up in Munich. Her mother was a French makeup artist and her father was a German engineer, according to AOL. She started acting at the age of 7, appearing in the German musical "The White Horse Inn."

Her first big role came in 1954, when she played an orphan in the drama "Rose Girl."

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In 1961 she made her name in Hollywood, starring alongside Kirk Douglas in "Town Without Pity." Her portrayal of a German girl assaulted by U.S. soldiers earned her the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.

Kaufmann met Curtis the following year on the set of "Taras Bulba." Curtis had recently divorced his first wife, Janet Leigh, with whom he had two children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Kaufmann and Curtis married in 1963. She was 18 and he was 38. The couple had two daughters -- Alexandra and Allegra, both of whom became actresses. The couple divorced in 1968.

Kaufmann would go on to marry three more times, to TV director Achim Lenz from 1974 to 1976, musician and actor Reno Eckstein from 1979 to 1982 and illustrator Klaus Zey from 1997 to 2011.

She returned to Germany following her split with Curtis, where she resumed her acting career, performing in numerous movies and TV series. In 1987 she appeared in Percy Adlon's "Baghdad Cafe," now a cult classic.

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Later in life Kaufmann -- who had become known as "the most beautiful grandmother in Germany" -- began a second career as an entrepreneur. She had her own line of cosmetics and wrote a number of books on health and beauty.

She also penned two autobiographies, in which she revealed she had affairs with actor Warren Beatty and musician Eric Clapton while in her 20s, according to the Daily Mail.

When Kaufmann's family disclosed in the days leading up to her death that she was in a coma, her former co-star Douglas, who is now 100 years old, paid tribute to her with a public statement.

"She is one of the most charming and affectionate women I have ever met," Douglas said, according to DW.

Sources: AOL, Daily Mail, DW / Photo credit: Horst58/Wikimedia Commons

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