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Evelyn Künneke

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Evelyn Künneke was an singer, dancer, and actress who saw some considerable success in Germany from the early ’40s through the end of the 1950s.

Born Eve-Susanne Kunneke, she was the daughter of opera and operetta composer Eduard Künneke. She spent her youth very much in the shadow of her father’s renown, and achieved her first success under the stage name Evelyn Konig, as a dancer. Her most prominent fan during the mid- to late ’30s was Adolf Hitler. She took back her family name as a performer at the end of the decade and scored her first success as a singer in the 1942 with “Sing, Nightingale, Sing. ” But she fell out of favor with the government when she gave unfavorable observations of the progress of the war and was imprisoned, and it was only the reported intercession of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl — a personal friend of Hitler and perhaps the most influential artistic figure in his circle of acquaintances — that prevented worse from happening to her and her family.

After the war she continued as a cabaret artist and even recorded a considerable about of pseudo-rock & roll/rhythm numbers during the mid-’50s, such as “Bongo Boogie” — of the sort that would have gone onto compilations such as Rockin’ Is Not Our Business! She began appearing in movies — mostly music-oriented features — in the late ’50s, but her recording career faded in the 1960s. Her film work never ceased entirely, however, and she was visible as an actress on television and in occasional film work throughout the decade in Germany. Künneke made something of a comeback in the mid-’70s when director/producer Rainer Werner Fassbinder cast her in Fox and His Friends (1975), and from then on was busy on-stage and in movies.

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