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Senta Berger
Berger in 2017
Born (1941-05-13) 13 May 1941 (age 82)
Other namesSenta Verhoeven
Occupation(s)Actress, producer
Years active1955–present
(m. 1966)
Children2, including Simon Verhoeven

Senta Verhoeven[1] (née Berger; Austrian German: [ˈzɛnta ˈbɛʁɡɐ] , German: [ˈzɛnta ˈbɛʁɡɐ] ; born 13 May 1941) is an Austrian-German[2] actress. She received many award nominations for her acting in theatre, film and television; her awards include three Bambi Awards, two Romys, an Adolf Grimme Award, both a Deutscher and a Bayerischer Fernsehpreis, and a Goldene Kamera.

Early life

Berger was born in Vienna to musician Josef Berger and teacher Therese Jany.[3] She first appeared on stage at the age of four, when her father accompanied her singing on the piano. At the age of five she started ballet lessons.

Berger also took private acting lessons. In 1957, she won her first small role in The Unexcused Hour, one of the final films directed by Austrian auteur Willi Forst. She applied for the Max Reinhardt Seminar, a famous acting school in Vienna, and was accepted, but she left shortly afterwards after accepting a film role without permission. In 1958, she became the youngest member of the Josefstadt Theatre in Vienna and appeared in productions of L'Œuf, Charley's Aunt, Much Ado About Nothing and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.[4]


Berger with Robert Vaughn on set of the spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964)

In 1960, Bernhard Wicki and Artur Brauner produced the comedy film The Good Soldier Schweik with Berger and the German actor Heinz Rühmann. Brauner used Berger in several films, but she soon tired of musicals. In 1962, she went to Hollywood and worked with stars such as Charlton Heston, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Richard Widmark, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Yul Brynner. She returned to Germany to accept an offer for a role in a series, which would have included an obligation of several years. Early publicity material compared her to Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren.[5]

In 1963, Berger met Michael Verhoeven, son of the German film director Paul Verhoeven (not to be confused with the Netherlands Paul Verhoeven). In November 1964, she guest starred in an episode of the U.S. television show The Man from U.N.C.L.E, entitled "The Double Affair". It was later expanded and released in cinemas as the feature film The Spy with My Face (1965). Also in 1965, she starred in The Glory Guys, a dramatic representation of Custer's Little Big horn disaster, based on the novel The Dice of God by Hoffman Birney. Filmed by Levy-Gardner-Laven and released by United Artists, it stars Tom Tryon, Harve Presnell, Senta Berger, James Caan, and Michael Anderson Jr. Berger and Verhoeven started their own film production company in 1965, and married in 1966. Berger continued to develop her European career in France and Italy.

Berger in Giacomo Casanova (1969)

In 1966, Berger co-starred with Kirk Douglas in the film Cast a Giant Shadow. Berger played the role of Magda, a soldier in the Israeli army during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Also in 1966, the British film Our Man in Marrakesh, called Bang, Bang, You're Dead in the U.S., was released, starring Senta Berger opposite Tony Randall. In The Quiller Memorandum, a third film of hers released in 1966, she played opposite Max von Sydow and George Segal in the role of a German schoolteacher involved in neo-Nazi activity. In 1967, Berger acted in the pilot film for the Robert Wagner television series It Takes a Thief, which aired on the U.S. television network ABC on 9 January 1968. She reprised her role in the series in October 1969, in an episode in which her character was killed.

In 1970, Berger starred for the first time in a film produced by her own company and directed by her husband. Other internationally successful films made by their joint production company included, Die weiße Rose (1982), The Nasty Girl (1990) and My Mother's Courage [de] (1995). In 1971, Berger participated in the media campaign "We've had abortions!" launched by German feminist Alice Schwarzer with a cover story in the Stern political magazine. In 1972, she also campaigned for Willy Brandt's Social Democratic Party.

Berger in 1975

Following the birth of her first son, Berger soon returned to theatre work. She played at the Burgtheater in Vienna, at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg and at the Schiller Theater in Berlin. Between 1974 and 1982, she played the "Buhlschaft" in the play Jedermann at the Salzburg Festival with Curd Jürgens and Maximilian Schell. She also acted alongside Schell and James Coburn in a supporting role in the acclaimed war film Cross of Iron (1977). In 1977, she was head of the jury at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival.[6] Twenty-one years later, she was part of the jury at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

In 1985–86, Berger started a comeback in front of German-speaking audiences in the TV serial Kir Royal. (In the 1980s, Berger discovered she was admired by Scottish drifter Arthur Richard Jackson who had attempted to murder American actress Theresa Saldana in 1982.) Further serial hits followed, like Die schnelle Gerdi ("The fast Gerdi", 1989–2002), where she played a taxi driver. In the same year, she also started a career as a singer of chansons. From 2003 to 2010, Berger was president of the German Film Academy, which seeks to support the careers of actors and actresses in Germany and across Europe.[citation needed] Since 2005, the academy assigns the annual German Film Awards, or Lolas.

2005 saw her in the film, Einmal so wie ich will ("Once according to my will"), as a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who finds love on holiday, but turns her back on the relationship. In 2016, she played one of the leading roles in the film Welcome to Germany, written and directed by her son Simon Verhoeven. The film grossed more than US$20 million, making it the most successful German picture of the year.[8] It also won numerous awards, among them the Deutscher Filmpreis, the peace award Friedenspreis des deutschen Films, and was nominated for a European Film Award for Best Comedy.

She played the role of doctor Eva Maria Prohacek in the popular German crime television series Unter Verdacht ("Under Suspicion") from 2002 till March 2020, when she retired from the role.[9]

In June 2023, her romantic dramedy Weißt du noch (Remember Me; screenplay by Martin Rauhaus, directed by Rainer Kaufmann) premiered at the 40th Filmfest München.


This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately.Find sources: "Senta Berger" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (September 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

In the spring of 2006, Berger's autobiography was published in Germany: Ich habe ja gewußt, daß ich fliegen kann ("I Knew That I Could Fly"). Among her memories of Hollywood are a less-than-subtle attempt by Darryl Zanuck to get her on his casting couch, and of all the shallow people she met in Hollywood.

Personal life

Berger with her husband, Michael Verhoeven, in 2013

Berger married German film director Michael Verhoeven in 1966; their sons are actor-director Simon Verhoeven (born 1972) and actor/producer Luca Verhoeven (born 1979). She lives in Germany. She is Jewish.[10]

Selected filmography


Year Film Role Director Notes
1959 The Journey Serving Girl in Black Scarf Anatole Litvak
1960 The Good Soldier Schweik Gretl Axel von Ambesser
I'm Marrying the Director Vera Bleichinger Wolfgang Liebeneiner
O sole mio [de] Madeleine Paul Martin
1961 The Secret Ways Elsa Phil Karlson
The Miracle of Father Malachia Yvonne Krüger Bernhard Wicki
It Can't Always Be Caviar [de] Chantal Géza von Radványi
This Time It Must Be Caviar [de] Chantal Géza von Radványi
1962 Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Koffer [de] Susan Brown Werner Klingler
Doctor Sibelius Elisabeth Sibelius Rudolf Jugert
Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse Nelly Werner Klingler
Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace Mrs. Ellen Blackburn Terence Fisher
1963 The Victors Trudi Carl Foreman
Kali Yug: Goddess of Vengeance Catherine Talbot Mario Camerini Two films
Jack and Jenny Jenny Victor Vicas
1964 Full Hearts and Empty Pockets [it] Jane Camillo Mastrocinque
The Spy with My Face Serena John Newland The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
1965 Major Dundee Teresa Santiago Sam Peckinpah
Shots in Threequarter Time Captain Jenny Bedford Alfred Weidenmann
The Glory Guys Lou Woddard Arnold Laven
1966 Cast a Giant Shadow Magda Simon Melville Shavelson
Our Man in Marrakesh Kyra Stanovy Don Sharp
The Poppy Is Also a Flower Dancer Terence Young
Long Legs, Long Fingers Doris Holberg Alfred Vohrer
The Quiller Memorandum Inge Lindt Michael Anderson
The Treasure of San Gennaro Maggie Dino Risi
1967 To Commit a Murder Gertraud Sphax Édouard Molinaro
The Ambushers Francesca Madeiros Henry Levin Matt Helm film series
Diabolically Yours Christiane Julien Duvivier
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium London Saleswoman Mel Stuart Cameo
Les Étrangers [fr] May Jean-Pierre Desagnat [fr]
De Sade Anne de Montreuil Cy Endfield
Giacomo Casanova: Childhood and Adolescence Giulietta Cavamacchia Luigi Comencini
1970 Lonely Hearts Giovanna Franco Giraldi
When Women Had Tails Filli Pasquale Festa Campanile
1971 He Who Loves in a Glass House Hanna Michael Verhoeven
Le Saut de l'ange [fr] Sylvaine Orsini Yves Boisset
Roma Bene Princess Dedé Marescalli Carlo Lizzani
Lover of the Great Bear Fela Valentino Orsini
1972 Cause of Divorce Enrica Sebastiani Marcello Fondato
Die Moral der Ruth Halbfass Ruth Halbfass Volker Schlöndorff
1973 Merry-Go-Round [de] The wife Otto Schenk
The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne Wim Wenders
Hospitals: The White Mafia Suor Maria Luigi Zampa
Amore e ginnastica Maria Pedani Luigi Filippo D'Amico
1974 Puzzle Sara Grimaldi Duccio Tessari
La bellissima estate Manuela Sergio Martino
1976 MitGift [de] Alice Burgmann Michael Verhoeven
The Swiss Conspiracy Denise Abbott Jack Arnold
Diary of a Passion Roberta Decio Silla
Goodnight, Ladies and Gentlemen Signora Palese Anthology film
1977 The Chinese Miracle [de] Detta Gaspardi Wolfgang Liebeneiner
Cross of Iron Eva Sam Peckinpah
1978 Ritratto di borghesia in nero Carla Richter Tonino Cervi
1985 Fatto su misura Signora Schwartz Francesco Laudadio
The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal Clara Mario Monicelli
1986 Killing Cars [de] Marie Landauer Michael Verhoeven
1990 Tre colonne in cronaca Countess Odessa Bonaveri Carlo Vanzina
1998 Am I Beautiful? Unna Doris Dörrie
2009 Ob ihr wollt oder nicht [de] Dorothea Ben Verbong
2010 Colors in the Dark [de] Anita Sophie Heldman [de]
2012 Zettl [de] Mona Mödlinger Helmut Dietl
Glory: A Tale of Mistaken Identities [de] Rosalie Isabel Kleefeld [de]
2016 Welcome to Germany Angelika Hartmann Simon Verhoeven
2023 Weißt du noch / Remember me Marianne Rainer Kaufmann


Year Title Role Notes
1963 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: The Waltz King [de] Henriette Treffz
1964 The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Double Affair Serena (TV series, 1 episode)
See How They Run Orlando Miller
1968 The Name of the Game Mariette Bern 1x04 Collectors' Edition
It Takes a Thief: A Thief Is a Thief Claire Vickers (TV series, 1 episode)
Istanbul Express [de] Mila Darvos
Babeck [de] Susanne Stefan (TV miniseries, 3 episodes)
1969 It Takes a Thief: Flowers from Alexander Claire Vickers/Laurie James (TV series, 1 episode)
1976 Perry Como's Christmas in Austria Guest star as Herself (TV Holiday special show)
1986 Kir Royal Mona (TV series, 6 episodes)
1989 Die schnelle Gerdi Gerdi (TV series, 6 episodes)
1990 La belle Anglaise (TV series, 1 episode)
1992 Sie und Er [de] Charlotte
Lilli Lottofee [de] Lilli (TV series, 6 episodes)
1994 Gefangene Liebe
1994–1996 Ärzte [de]: Dr. Schwarz und Dr. Martin Dr. Margarethe Martin (TV series, 8 episodes)
1995 Die Nacht der Nächte Teresa
Kommissar Rex Karla Wilke (TV series, 1 episode)
1996 Mein Sohn ist kein Mörder! Sarah Renzi
1997 Kap der Rache Lilian
Lamorte [de] Susa
Bella Ciao Teresa
1998 Mammamia [de] Clara
1999 Liebe und weitere Katastrophen Franziska Ackermann (TV miniseries, 4 episodes)
Nancherrow Alex Gower
At Fifty Men Kiss Differently [de] Marie Mechlenburg
2000 Zimmer mit Frühstück Elisabeth
Trennungsfieber Dr. Carla Severin-Bauer
Scharf aufs Leben [de] Solveigh Kronberg
Probieren Sie's mit einem Jüngeren Anna
2002–2019 Unter Verdacht Dr. Eva-Maria Prohacek (TV series, 30 episodes)
2002 Bis dass dein Tod uns scheidet Edith Mosbach
2004 Die schnelle Gerdi und die Hauptstadt Gerdi (TV series, 6 episodes)
Die Konferenz [de] Cornelia Cordes
2005 Einmal so wie ich will [de] Emma Bauer
Emilia – Die zweite Chance Dr. Emilia Seiler
Emilia – Familienbande Dr. Emilia Seiler
2006 Nette Nachbarn küsst man nicht [de] Helga Forstmann
2008 Rosamunde Pilcher: Four Seasons Julia Combe (TV miniseries, 4 episodes)
2009 Sleepless [de] Carla Sagmeister
Frau Böhm sagt Nein [de] Rita Böhm
Mama kommt! [de] Luise Fischer
2010 Liebe am Fjord: Das Ende der Eiszeit Pernille (TV series, 1 episode)
2011 In the Prime of Life [de] Erika Welves
2012 Operation Zucker [de] Dorothee Lessing (TV thriller)
Hochzeiten [de] Klara
2013 Und alle haben geschwiegen [de] Luisa Hamilton (TV drama)
Welcome to the Countryside! [de] Rita (TV drama)
2014 Autumn Tingles: Speed Dating for Silver Hairs [de] Maria Koppel (TV film)
2020 Tommy und Martha [de] Martha (TV drama)
2021 An seiner Seite Charlotte Kler (TV Drama)

Honors and awards

This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libelous.Find sources: "Senta Berger" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Berger's star on Berlin's Boulevard of Stars (2011)


  1. ^ Duhm, Lisa (25 March 2020). "Senta Berger heißt eigentlich anders" (in German). Der Spiegel. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  2. ^ "Senta Berger – Deutschland, deine Künstler – ARD | Das Erste". (in German). Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  3. ^ Berger, Senta: Porträt. 2 February 2004 (in German)
  4. ^ "Senta Berger". Continental Film Review. Eurap Publishing. September 1966.
  5. ^ "Senta Berger". Continental Film Review. Eurap Publishing. September 1966.
  6. ^ "Berlinale 1977: Juries". (in German). Retrieved 19 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Berlinale: 1998 Juries". (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Refugee comedy is German box office sensation". 28 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Senta Berger: 'Mein Rauswurf von der Schauspielschule war der erste Schritt'" (in German).
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Reply to a Parliamentary question" (PDF). (in German). p. 1290. Retrieved 22 October 2012.