Elke Sommer – MovieActors.com

Elke Sommer in A SHOT IN THE DARK.

About Elke Sommer (1940 – )

Sommer was born in Berlin to a Lutheran minister and his wife, Renata (nee Topp). After the Second World War, the family was evacuated to Erlangen, a small university town in Southern Germany, where she attended the prestigious Gymnasium (high school) in Erlangen. However her father's death when she was 14 precluded further formal education, and she moved to England to be an au pair, to perfect her English and earn a living.

She was spotted by film director Vittorio De Sica while on holiday in Italy, and started appearing in films there in the late 1950s. She quickly became a noted sex symbol and moved to Hollywood in the early 1960s. She also became one of the most popular pin-up girls of the time, and posed for several pictorials in Playboy magazine (September 1964 and December 1967).

She became one of the top film actresses of the 1960s and made 99 film and television appearances between 1959 and 2005, including A Shot in the Dark (1964) with Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, The Art of Love (1965) with James Garner and Dick Van Dyke, The Oscar (1966) with Stephen Boyd, Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966) with Bob Hope, the Bulldog Drummond extravaganza Deadlier Than the Male (1966) and The Wrecking Crew (1968) with Dean Martin; Sommer was the leading lady in each of these films.

In 1964, she won a Golden Globe award as Most Promising Newcomer Actress for The Prize, a film in which she co-starred with Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson.

A frequent guest on television, Sommer sang and participated in comedy skits on episodes of The Dean Martin Show and on Bob Hope specials, made 10 appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show and was a panelist on the Hollywood Squares game show many times between 1973-80.

Sommer's films during the 1970s included the thriller Zeppelin, in which she co-starred with Michael York, and a remake of Agatha Christie's oft-filmed murder mystery, Ten Little Indians. In 1972, she starred in two Italian horror films directed by Mario Bava: Baron Blood and Lisa and the Devil. The latter was subsequently re-edited (with 1975 footage inserted) to make a different film called House of Exorcism. Sommer went back to Italy to star in additional scenes that were inserted into the film by its producer, against the wishes of the director.

In 1975, Peter Rogers cast her in the British comedy Carry On Behind as the Russian Professor Vrooshka. She became the Carry Ons' highest paid performer, at £30,000 (an honor shared with Phil Silvers for Follow That Camel).

Most of her movie work during the decade came in European films. After the 1979 comedy The Prisoner of Zenda, which reunited her with Sellers, she did virtually no more acting in Hollywood films, concentrating more on her artwork.

Sommer has also performed as a singer, making several albums.

She provided the voice for Yzma in the German release of The Emperor's New Groove.

Since the 1990s, she has concentrated more on painting than on acting. As an actress, she worked in half a dozen countries learning the languages (she speaks seven of them) and storing up images which she has subsequently expressed on canvas. Her artwork shows a strong Marc Chagall influence. Sommer had a long-running feud with Zsa Zsa Gabor that began in 1984 when both appeared on Circus of the Stars and escalated into a multi-million dollar libel suit by 1993.

In 2001, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.

She now lives in Los Angeles.

In 1964, she married Hollywood columnist Joe Hyams, who was 17 years her senior, in Las Vegas in front of a Justice of the Peace. Sommer suffered her first miscarriage while working on the set of The Money Trap, in which she co-starred with Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth.

A second miscarriage came exactly one year later during the filming of Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number, where she starred with Bob Hope under the direction of George Marshall.

In 1973, Sommer and Hyams tried again to start a family. While working on the set of Die Reise nach Wien she suffered her third miscarriage, and her marriage floundered.

Her mother, Renata von Schletz, accompanied her to film sets as well as on cinema tours even after Elke Sommer’s marriage to Joe Hyams had failed and a new man came into her life: Tom Bohla. Bohla moved in with Sommer, who had separated from her husband, but was still sharing the house with him and had no intention of filing for divorce.

She subsequently met Wolf Walther, eight years her junior and the general manager of New York City's luxury hotel Essex House. They were married on 29 August 1993 in Franconia.

Elke Sommer's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
1959Uomini e nobiluomini (Italian)Caterina
1959Ragazzi del Juke-BoxGiulia Cesari
1959The Death ShipMylene
1959La Pica sul PacificoRossana
1959The Friend of the JaguarGrete
1960Howlers in the DockGiulia Giommarelli
1960Himmel, Amor und ZwirnEva
1960Saffo - Venere di Lesbo
1960Femmine di lussoGreta
1961Daniella by NightDaniella
1961Don't Bother to KnockIngrid
1961Geliebte HochstaplerinBarbara Shadwell
1961Auf WiedersehenSuzy Dalton
1962Café OrientalSylvia
1962Douce ViolenceElke
1962Das Mädchen und der StaatsanwaltRenate Hecker
1962The Phone Rings Every Night
1963Les BricoleursBrigitte
1963The VictorsHelga
1963The PrizeInger Lisa Andersson
1964A Shot in the DarkMaria Gambrelli
1964Among VulturesAnnie Dillman
1965Hotel der toten GästeHerself
1965Le bambole UK title: Four Kinds of LoveUlla
1965The Art of LoveNikki
1965The Money TrapLisa
1966The OscarKay Bergdahl
1966Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!Didi
1967The Venetian AffairSandra Fane
1967The Peking Medallion (aka The Corrupt Ones)Lilly Mancini
1967Deadlier Than the MaleIrma Eckman
1968The Wicked Dreams of Paula SchultzPaula Schultz
1968They Came to Rob Las VegasAnn Bennett
1969The Wrecking CrewLinka Karensky
1970The Invincible SixZari
1971ZeppelinErika Altschul
1972Baron BloodEva Arnold
1972ProbeHeideline 'Uli' Ullman
1973Trip to ViennaToni
1974Lisa and the DevilLisa Reiner
1974Percy's ProgressClarissa
1974Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None)Vera Clyde
1974One or the Other of UsMiezi
1975The NetChrista Sonntag
1975Carry On BehindProfessor Anna Vrooshka
1976The Swiss ConspiracyRita Jensen
1976One AwayElsa
1976The Astral FactorChris Hartman
1976Meet Him and DieSecretary
1978I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses (aka Drop Dead Dearest)Magdalene Kruschen
1979The Treasure SeekersUrsula
1979The Double McGuffinPrime Minister Kura
1979A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley SquareMiss Pelham
1979The Prisoner of ZendaNathalie, Countess Montparnasse
1979Stunt Seven
1980Exit Sunset Boulevard
1981Der Mann im PyjamaFrau Lachmann
1984No One Cries ForeverLou Parker
1984Lily in LoveAlicia
1986Anastasia: The Mystery of AnnaIsabel Von Hohenstauffen
1987Death StoneKris Patterson
1988HimmelsheimHelga Münzel
1992Severed TiesHelena Harrison
1996Alles nur TarnungDie Bösen: Jutta
1998Double Game with Anne – Gotta have it
2000Flashback – Mörderische Ferien (de)Frau Lust
2000Nicht mit unsAndrea Paretti
2005Ewig rauschen die GelderFrau von Korff
2005ReblausMaria Rüppel
2010Das Leben ist zu lang (de)Alfis Mutter

Elke Sommer's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1980Top of the HillEva Heggener
1982Inside the Third ReichMagda Goebbels
1985Jenny's WarEva Gruenberg
1986St. ElsewhereNatasha
1986Peter the GreatCharlotte
1987Adventures Beyond BeliefHeadmistress Bruno
1992CounterstrikeAnita Duvalier
1993Happy HolidayIsabella Scattini
1993Destiny RidgeAnna
1994Florian IIISonja Carpenter
1999GisbertGute Reise

Memorable Quotes by Elke Sommer

“I've had a wonderful career. I've made all kinds of films and played everything from a hooker to a nun. I know I've become quite a fine actress through my stage work and taking my job seriously -- and just living longer.”

[on her painting] “I'd rather be known as a painter who acts than as an actress who paints.”

“I have no recollection of the 1960s or 1970s at all because I was working constantly. I had no time to live, or to evaluate my career, or even to speculate about what was going to become of me.”

[on Mario Bava] “I loved Bava with all my heart. He was everything to me -- a father figure, a lover figure. He was very quiet -- as quiet as Italians can be -- but he had incredible energy. He spoke very broken English, so we always conversed in Italian. His son Lamberto was the assistant director and he loyally followed all of 'Papa's' instructions. Bava was quite a patriarch among the whole group of actors and technicians.”

[on Oliver Reed] “Ollie is a real character. But the English are all a little crazy, anyhow. Everybody has their little idiosyncrasies; Ollie just has more than most people. Off the set, he's very unpredictable. But on the set, he's fine. When he's working, he shows up on time and is very disciplined -- regardless of what happened to him the night before.”

“I was in New York City starring in "Tamara" and had to stay there for four months. So I had to find an apartment but they were excruciatingly expensive, tiny and loud. As I knew the managing director of the Essex House, I wanted to talk to him about renting a room but the hotel had a new managing director, a man by the name of Wolf Walther. So we met. For him, it was love at first sight. For me, it took a little longer, but not much longer. As you may know, "Tamara" is a play, in which the audience follows the actor of their choice, and as you may also know, my husband is 6'5" and hard to miss. I saw him every night in the audience, following me. Every night. And that was the beginning of the greatest love story of my life, still unfolding and getting better by the day.”

Things You May Not Know About Elke Sommer

In the 1960s, while living in Beverly Hills, she and her then husband, Joe Hyams, believed their house to be haunted.

She is the cousin of Gudy Somer and Brazilian 1974 Miss Universe Mariza Sommer.

She hosted the 1981 Miss Universe pageant along with Bob Barker.

She was nominated for a 1975 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Guest Artist for her performance in the play, "Born Yesterday", at the Drury Lane Theatre North in Chicago, Illinois.

She was considered for the leading female role in the Elvis Presley movie G.I. Blues (1960), but the role was eventually played by Juliet Prowse.

She was awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on December 7, 2001.

_0001_elke-sommer-zeppelin-pic1-with-michael-york _0000_elke-sommer-zeppelin-pic2-with-michael-york
Elke Sommer and Michael York in Zeppelin (1971).
Sommer and Sharon Tate in Wrecking Crew (1969).
_0007_elke-sommer-the-wicked-dreams-of-paula-schultz-pic1 _0006_elke-sommer-the-wicked-dreams-of-paula-schultz-pic2-with-bob-crane _0005_elke-sommer-the-wicked-dreams-of-paula-schultz-pic3 _0004_elke-sommer-the-wicked-dreams-of-paula-schultz-pic4 _0003_elke-sommer-the-wicked-dreams-of-paula-schultz-pic5-with-bob-crane
Sommer in The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (1968)...
with Bob Crane in second and bottom pictures.
With George Hamilton in The Victors (1963).
_0010_elke-sommer-the-venetian-affair-pic1-with-robert-vaughn _0009_elke-sommer-the-venetian-affair-pic2-with-robert-vaughn
Sommer with Robert Vaughn in The Venetian Affair (1967).
_0015_elke-sommer-the-prize-pic1-with-paul-newman _0014_elke-sommer-the-prize-pic2-with-paul-newman _0013_elke-sommer-the-prize-pic3-with-paul-newman _0012_elke-sommer-the-prize-pic4-with-paul-newman-edward-g-robinson-diane-baker _0011_elke-sommer-the-prize-pic5-with-paul-newman
Sommer and Paul Newman in The Prize (1963)...
with Edward G. Robinson and Diane Baker in second picture from bottom.
_0018_elke-sommer-the-oscar-pic1 _0017_elke-sommer-the-oscar-pic2-with-tony-bennett-stephen-boyd _0016_elke-sommer-the-oscar-pic3-with-tony-bennett
In The Oscar (1966)... middle and bottom pictures with
Tony Bennett... middle picture with Stephen Boyd.
_0023_elke-sommer-the-money-trap-pic1-with-glenn-ford _0022_elke-sommer-the-money-trap-pic2 _0021_elke-sommer-the-money-trap-pic3-with-glenn-ford _0020_elke-sommer-the-money-trap-pic4 _0019_elke-sommer-the-money-trap-pic5-with-glenn-ford
Sommer in The Money Trap (1965)... first, third, and fifth pictures with Glenn Ford.
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Sommer in The Killer Heroes.
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In The Invincible Six (1970).
With Robert Stack in The Peking Medallion — aka The Corrupt Ones (1967).
_0033_elke-sommer-the-art-of-love-pic1 _0032_elke-sommer-the-art-of-love-pic2-with-dick-van-dyke _0031_elke-sommer-the-art-of-love-pic3 _0030_elke-sommer-the-art-of-love-pic4 _0029_elke-sommer-the-art-of-love-pic5
Sommer in The Art of Love (1965)... with Dick Van Dyke in second picture.
In a production of Tamara.
_0038_elke-sommer-prisoner-of-zenda-pic1-with-peter-sellers _0037_elke-sommer-prisoner-of-zenda-pic2 _0036_elke-sommer-prisoner-of-zenda-pic3-with-peter-sellers _0035_elke-sommer-prisoner-of-zenda-pic4-with-peter-sellers
Sommer and Peter Sellers in The Prisoner of Zenda (1979).
In Percy's Progress (1974).
As the wife of Joseph Goebbels in Inside the Third Reich (1982).
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With Richard Todd in Don't Bother to Knock (1961).
In Der Mann im Pyjama (1981).
_0047_elke-sommer-deadlier-than-the-male-pic1-with-sylva-koscina _0046_elke-sommer-deadlier-than-the-male-pic2-with-richard-johnson _0045_elke-sommer-deadlier-than-the-male-pic3-with-steve-carlson _0044_elke-sommer-deadlier-than-the-male-pic4
Sommer in Deadlier Than the Male (1967)... top picture with Sylva Koscina...
second picture with Richard Johnson... third picture with Steve Carlson.
With Bob Hope in Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966).
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In Mario Bava's Baron Blood (1972).
_0057_elke-sommer-a-shot-in-the-dark-pic2-with-peter-sellers _0056_elke-sommer-a-shot-in-the-dark-pic3-with-peter-sellers _0055_elke-sommer-a-shot-in-the-dark-pic4-with-peter-sellers _0053_elke-sommer-a-shot-in-the-dark-pic5-with-peter-sellers-burt-kwouk
With Peter Sellers in A Shot in the Dark (1964)... bottom picture also with Burt Kwouk.
Elke Sommer in the CBS Comedy Playhouse.