La Jana ~ The Doomed Dancer

 La Jana

La Jana was a popular European dancer and actress who died tragically young

She was born Henriette Margareta Niederauer on February 25 1940 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. Her Jewish mother was unmarried and worked as a maid for her father. In 1909 her parents got married and she took her father's last name of Hiebel. La Jana began taking dance lessons and made her stage debut when she was just eight years old. She danced with the Frankfurt opera ballet and performed in numerous revues. While dancing in a cabaret in Frankfurt she was discovered by producer Frederic Zelnik. He said that she "possessed the most attractive body that I had set eyes upon." La Jana made her film debut in the 1925 German film Ways To Strength And Beauty. She appeared in more than a dozen silent movies including His English Wife, Two Red Roses, and The Merry Widower. In 1930 she made her first sound film The Warsaw Citadel. The beautiful brunette was briefly engaged to actor Ulrich Bettac.

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 La Jana also enjoyed romances with Charlie Chaplin, Crown Prince Willhelm, and opera singer Michael Bonina. During the 1930s she starred in several stage revues and became one of Berlin's most popular dancers. She caused a sensation when she appeared nearly naked on stage. There were even rumors that Adolf Hitler was a fan. Her performance in the 1937 drama Truxa won rave reviews. It became one of the most successful German films of the year. In late 1939 she went on a multi-city tour of Germany. A few weeks into the tour she came down with bilateral pneumonia. Tragically on March 13, 1940 she died at the young age of thirty-five. Her final film, The Star Of Rio, was released a week after her death. La Jana was buried at Waldfriedhof Dahlem in Berlin, Germany. When she was alive she had often helped her Jewish friends escape from Germany. This led to rumors that she had been murdered by the Nazis.

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