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The Sun And Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler's Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood

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She has also been a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Times Literary Supplement, American Scholar, and other publications. Each Sunday afternoon for many years, her Santa Monica home was the scene of weekly gatherings, where the exiles could speak German and enjoy Salka’s extraordinary cooking and gemutlichkeit (“cozy friendliness”). In The Sun and Her Stars, Donna Rifkind delves into the fascinating, complex life and work of one of Hollywood’s unsung screenwriting legends and emerges with a rich and illuminating biography, one that Salka Viertel herself would have undoubtedly adored. Whether famous or not, though, all of them recognized that they could no longer live in a Europe under Nazi rule.

Historians have termed the exodus “…the most complete migration of artists and intellectuals in European history.

Don­na Rifkin, a long­time book crit­ic, won­der­ful­ly adds to the biog­ra­phy genre with this sto­ry of a Jew­ish woman who open­ly fought facism, pro­vid­ed aid and com­pas­sion to her fel­low refugees, and appar­ent­ly threw a hell of a party. That last, from a letter Kurt Weill wrote to his wife Lotte Lenya, may be the most excusable, for distraught refugees were brittle, often depressed, and prone to lashing out at friends and benefactors. For years, Sal She struggled with constant money worries, a long-distance marriage, and concerns about friends and family living in Europe under Nazism.

I read dozens of thoughtful, entertaining, even groundbreaking works about Hollywood in which women who were not wives, secretaries, or movie stars scarcely make an appearance. The immigration procedures were daunting, for one, war refugees had to have someone sponsor them financially if they couldn’t prove they could be self-sufficient.Much of it came from Europe, through the work of successive waves of immigrants during the first half of the twentieth century. Though well aware of Salka’s salons and screenplays, I had neither knowledge of the depth and breadth of her beneficence, nor the impact of her mitzvahs. to speak out against intolerance, censorship, political inquisitions, and the curtailing of human rights in the name of national security—all seeds of fascism in the United States that threatened to sprout as poisonously as they had in Germany: in the end, none of this has been deemed thus far to be worthy of our attention. Impressive…Rifkind chronicles in meticulous detail Salka’s substantial career in a hostile Hollywood studio system that regularly ignored the contributions of women…An impassioned and revelatory biography. His administration chose to maintain the stringent quotas for refugees that had been established in 1924, reluctant to stir up an already robust homegrown xenophobia.

This leaves read­ers won­der­ing: with lim­it­ed time at hand, is there val­ue to read­ing Rifkind, rather than Vier­tel her­self?In 2006 she was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle. In 1953 she was unable to travel to Europe and see (by then, her ex-husband) Berthold before he died. She was born in Central Europe and was a thriving actress in Germany before making her way to Southern California a few years before Hitler's rise to power. Composer Franz Waxman met director James Whale through her and wrote his first Hollywood soundtrack for Whale.

Or that it was two women, Liesl Frank and Charlotte Dieterle, who carried out most of the paperwork-heavy, unglamorous, but effective rescue work of the European Film Fund (EFF) in Hollywood.

If the opposite was true as well, that Garbo may have seen Salka onstage when the former was in Berlin during the mid-1920s, Rifkind does not say. Steuermann, Gimpel, Baller – Between the Vienna Dream and Hollywood Reality: World-Famous Jewish Pianists and Their Routes From Galicia to Vienna and the USA". Martin Sauter’s Liesl Frank, Charlotte Dieterle, and the European Film Fund not only provides the first comprehensive study of the EFF but also properly credits Frank and Dieterle as the chief administrators of the fund—credit that has previously been granted to its more high-profile male directors, Paul Kohner and Ernst Lubitsch.

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