Christine Maria Kaufmann (11 January 1945 – 28 March 2017) was a German-Austrian actress, author, and businesswoman. The daughter of a German father and a French mother, she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress for Town Without Pity in 1961, the first German to be so honoured.
Kaufmann was born in Lengdorf, Styria, Austria, then part of Nazi Germany. Her mother, Geneviève Kaufmann (née Gavaert), was a French make-up artist; her father, Johannes Kaufmann, was a German Luftwaffe officer and engineer. Christine Kaufmann also had Circassian ancestry.
Growing up in Munich, Bavaria, Kaufmann became a ballerina at the Munich Opera. She began her film career at the age of seven in The White Horse Inn (1952) and appeared as a lead actress in Der Schweigende Engel the same year, but gained big attention with Rose-Girl Resli in 1954. She achived international recognition when she starred with Steve Reeves in The Last Days of Pompeii (1959) and with Kirk Douglas in Town Without Pity (1961). The following year she appeared in Escape from East Berlin (1962).
Kaufmannn resumed her career, which she had interrupted during her marriage, after her divorce with Tony Curtis, notably with supporting roles in the Rainer Werner Fassbinder films Lili Marleen and Lola. She often worked with German director Helmut Dietl, for example in the satirical television series Monaco Franze – Der ewige Stenz. In 1987, she played a glamerous tattoo artist in the cult classic Bagdad Cafe, an offbeat comedy set in a desolate truck stop cafe and motel in the Mojave Desert. Her last role was Aunt Polly in the American film Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2014), co-starring Jake T. Austin and Val Kilmer.
Kaufmann was in her later years also a successful businesswoman, promoting her own cosmetics products line that sold well in Germany. From her 40s until her death, the media often called Kaufmann the "most beautiful grandmother in Germany". She wrote several books about beauty and health, as well as two autobiographies.
At age 18 in 1963, Kaufmann married Tony Curtis, whom she had met during the filming of Taras Bulba (also 1962). They had two daughters, Alexandra (born 19 July 1964) and Allegra (born 11 July 1966). The couple divorced in 1968. Kaufmann married three more times: television director Achim Lenz (1974–76), musician and actor Reno Eckstein (1979-1982) and illustrator Klaus Zey (1997-2011). On German television, Kaufmann admitted to having an affair with Warren Beatty.
Kaufmann enjoyed travelling. She moved from one place to another frequently—a pattern that she believed she had inherited from her Circassian forefathers. She spoke three languages: German, English, and French.
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