Actress. She is remembered for her brief but spectacular career as a star of the German silent screen. Born Aleksandra Gudowicz to a Polish family, she was raised in Latvia and originally intended to follow in Madame Currie's footsteps as a chemist. Relocating to Warsaw in 1913 she began her stage career as a dancer and made her 1916 silver screen bow in the short feature "The Rival". Billed as Mia Mara she had her first major role in Alexander Hertz's "I Want a Husband" (also 1916) then starred in Hertz's 1917 "The Beast". Moving to Berlin she made her German film debut in the 1918 "Halkas Gelobnis" then over the next decade was to earn praise in upwards of 60 features, many directed by Frederic Zelnik (1885-1950) whom she married in 1918. Lya had three major successes in 1919 as the leads of "Manon", "Charlotte Corday", and "Anna Karenina", then worked steadily headlining such features as "The Beautiful Blue Danube" (1926), the 1927 "Dancing Vienna", and 1928's "May Lou", her popularity augmented by her image on postcards and the trading cards dispensed with candy and cigarettes. But one of many silent stars unable to adjust to the coming of sound, Lya was seen in only one talkie, the 1933 "Jeder fragt nach Erika". In 1933 she joined her husband in fleeing to London but was finished with show business, appearing in none of Zelnik's movies. After Zelnik's 1950 death she moved to Switzerland and dropped from view.
Bio by: Bob Hufford