Elissa Landi ~ The Tragic Bisexual Beauty

Elissa Landi

Elissa Landi was an Austrian actress who had a romance with Katherine Hepburn and died young

She was born Elizabeth Marie Christine von Kühnelt on December 6, 1904 in Venice, Italy. Her Austrian father, Richard Kühnelt, was a military officer and her mother claimed to be descended from royalty. The family lived in Austria until her parents divorced. Elissa was educated in England and dreamed of becoming an author. At the age of eighteen she starred in the stage play Dandy Dick. Then she joined the Oxford Repertory Company and appeared in several more plays. She made her film debut in the 1926 British silent film London. Elissa had starring roles in the British films Underground and Knowing Men. In 1928 she married John Cecil Lawrence, an English barrister. She came to the New York in 1930 to star in a Broadway production of A  Farewell To Arms. Soon after she was offered a contract at Fox. Elissa appeared in numerous films including Body And Soul, Wicked, and Devil's Lottery. Cecil B. Demille cast her in the 1932 biblical drama The Sign Of The Cross. She appeared nude in the film and performed an erotic dance that was so controversial it had to be cut out. Elissa also became a successful writer publishing six novels and a series of poems.

Elissa Landi The Sign Of The Cross

Her marriage to John ended in 1934. Then the bisexual actress began a love affair with Katherine Hepburn. She was extremely private and never attended Hollywood parties. The press called her "the loneliest woman in Hollywood." In an interview she said "I adore solitude. I mean, when I am alone puttering around my garden, I am alone only as far as human beings are concerned. My pets, six dogs and five cats, are at my heels." Her contract with Fox was cancelled in 1936 when she refused a role. Elissa costarred with Zasu Pitts in Mad Comedy and with Myrna Loy in After The Thin Man. Unfortunately by the early 1940s her career had stalled. Her final film was the 1943 war drama Corregidor. She moved to New York City and married author Curtis Thomas in 1943. Although she knew her husband was gay the couple enjoyed a happy marriage. Their daughter, Carolyn, was born in December of 1944. Tragically in 1948 Elissa was diagnosed with cancer that started in her abdomen and spread to her brain. On October 21, 1948 she died at the young age of forty-three. She was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Elissa LandiElissa Landi

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