Lotte Lenya

Lotte Lenya

After Kurt Weill's death in 1950, Lotte, no longer confident of her talent, reluctantly agreed to appear in a memorial concert at Town Hall. The concert was such a huge success that it prompted annual revivals until 1965. She also spent the rest of her life dedicated to keeping Kurt's music alive through exhaustive searches of lost work, administering copyrights and, of course, her legendary concerts.

After wearing a pair of shoes with knives sticking out on From Russia with Love (1963), some people looked at her shoes, when she first met them.

Awarded a Tony in 1956 for Supporting Actress in Marc Blitzstein's version of "The Threepenny Opera".

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 490-492. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.

Her portrayal of Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love (1963) became the inspiration for two other villains: Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

In addition to her husband's legacy, Lenya was also a specialist in Brechtian theatre.

Is entombed, with Kurt Weill, at the Mount Repose Cemetery, Haverstraw, New York.

Lenya, as the wife of famous composer Kurt Weill, would often star in his operas and musicals. At the world premiere of his "Threepenny Opera" in 1928, her name was inadvertently left out of the program guide, despite her playing the female lead.

Moved to Zurich in 1914 to be trained in classical dance and gained experience in opera and ballet at the Schauspielhaus.


The Bobby Darin version of the song "Mack the Knife" (written by Lotte Lenya's husband Kurt Weill) mentions her by name.

Was cast in Vosstaniye rybakov (1934) as Maria the prostitute when that film originally went into production in 1931. Sets were constructed and the cast arrived at the Yalta location, but due to financial difficulties and supply interruptions (for instance, the typing paper intended for the scripts was used by the crew as rolling paper for their cigarettes), the production was disbanded with no footage shot. The role was eventually played by Vera Yanukova.

Won Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical) for "TheThreepenny Opera.'" She was also nominated in 1967 as Best Actress (Musical) for "Cabaret."