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Paula Wessely

Death: May 11, 2000 (93)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Carl Wessely and Anna Wessely
Wife of Attila Hörbiger
Mother of Private; Private and Private
Sister of Marie Wessely

Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Paula Wessely

Paula Wessely (January 20, 1907 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, now Austria - May 11, 2000 in Vienna, Austria) was an Austrian actress. Die Wessely,(literally "The Wessely") as she was affectionately called by her admirers and fans, was Austria's foremost popular postwar actress.

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Born in Vienna in January 1907, she made her debut as an actress in 1924 in the Volkstheater Wien and in the years after several roles in theatres followed.

Her first major role in a film was that of Leopoldine Dur in the film Maskerade in 1934. In 1938 she was the speaking voice of Snow White in the first German-dubbed version of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Unfortunately this version was never shown and is not available.

In the following year, Wessely married the Austrian actor Attila Hörbiger (1896-1987), with whom she had three daughters: Elisabeth Orth (b. 1936), Christiane Hörbiger (b. 1938) and Maresa Hörbiger (b. 1945). All three daughters went on to become popular actresses in Austrian cinema, with Christiane Hörbiger becoming one of the most popular German and Austrian actresses.

Paula Wessely's most famous film role was in the anti-Polish propaganda film Heimkehr ("Homecoming") in 1941, for which she was criticized later by intellectuals in Austria. After the end of World War II, she worked mainly as a theatre actress at the Vienna Burgtheater for over 40 years until her retirement in 1987. Her husband died of a stroke in April 1987, aged 91. Paula Wessely, by then the doyenne of the Vienna Burgtheater, thereafter retired at the age of 80.

In her last years she lived a very secluded life in her hometown Vienna and suffered from major depression, caused by the death of her beloved husband. They were married for at least 52 years. On January 20, 2000, she celebrated her 93rd birthday quietly, with only her three daughters and grandchildren at her home in Vienna, Austria. In April 2000, "die Wessely" suffered an acute attack of bronchitis and was admitted to a hospital in Vienna. She died on May 11, 2000, at the venerable age of 93, "peacefully in her sleep", as the Vienna Burgtheater announced the following day. She was buried two weeks later in Vienna.


Inspirations included aunt Josephine Wessely, whom many believed or still believe was her sister.

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Paula Wessely's Timeline

January 20, 1907
May 11, 2000
Age 93