Singer, Actress. A longtime star of the Cabaret world, she is remembered for interpreting the music of her twice husband Kurt Weill (1900-1950). Born Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blaumauer in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, she moved to Zurich, initially to study dance, in 1914 and began performing under the name Lotte Lenja. Relocating to Berlin in 1921 she was first spotted by Weill in 1922 while auditioning for one of his plays; the two were formally introduced in 1924 and married in 1926, then in 1928 Lotte created the role of Jenny in Weill's "The Threepenny Opera". For a time she was kept busy with both film and theatre, even singing Jenny in a 1931 production of "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" after the music was transposed for her, while recording several of Weill's songs; the couple slowly drifted apart and divorced in 1933 with Lotte traveling to Paris where she appeared in Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins". The pair got back together in 1935 and moved to New York, then Connecticut, and were to remarry in 1937, a union that did not, despite the couple's mutual devotion, prevent Lotte from having a number of sexual affairs. During World War II she remained active, achieving success with "A Candle in the Wind" and "Lady in the Dark", and supported the war effort with Voice of America broadcasts but the bad reviews she received for Weill's "The Firebrand of Florence" were to temporarily drive her from show business. Following her husband's death in 1950 she returned to Broadway with "Barefoot in Athens" and married editor George Davis (1906-1957). Lotte was a major factor in the renewed attention Weill's music received during the 1950s as she appeared in a number of productions, earning a 1956 Tony Award for a revival of "The Threepenny Opera", while returning to Germany to give recitals and to search for lost scores. She continued her focus on Weill after Davis' sudden death in 1957 but also took on other projects, earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the Countess in Tennessee Williams' 1961 "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and playing villainess-with-knives-in-her-shoes Rosa Klebb who ultimately is killed by one of the Bond Girls in the 1963 James Bond thriller "From Russia With Love". (She was to comment that for a time people to whom she was introduced would look down at her shoes). Lotte married the much younger Russell Detwiler in 1962, another union destined to be cut short by her husband's untimely death, and in 1966 created the role of Fraulein Schneider in the original Broadway production of "Cabaret". With advancing age she remained as active as she could though musical adjustments became increasingly necessary; her final screen appearance came as Clara Pelf in the 1977 Burt Reynolds comedy "Semi-Tough". Lotte died of cancer, on her deathbed annointing Teresa Stratas to carry the Kurt Weill torch. Today most of her vast recorded legacy remains in print, singers performing "Mack the Knife" continue Louis Armstrong's convention of interpolating her name into the lyrics, and the Eastman School of Music hosts the annual Lotte Lenya Competition. The story of her life with Weill was told in 2007's "Lovemusik" in which she was portrayed by Donna Murphy.
Bio by: Bob Hufford