Born Margaretha Keller, she studied dance from the age of 8 followed by acting classes. Her début was in "Pavillon" in Vienna. She also appeared on Stage with Marlene Dietrich in "Broadway", in which she sang and danced. A recording contract with Ultraphon in 1929 her singing took her from Vienna to Prague and Berlin, where she had a big success with Peter Igelhoff and Peter Kreuder. For over 45 years, through a life of triumphs and tragedies, her voice a legend-in radio shows, films, revues, concerts and musicals, but above all her records circled the globe. First called 'The Great Lady Of Chanson' in her native Vienna, it followed her to London and America.
In Hollywood she met and married Gaspar Griswold Bacon, Jr. son of Gaspar G. Bacon from a prominent Brahmin family. The elder Bacon was a member of the board of Harvard University, and had been a close associate of J.P. Morgan, and later served as Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt and Ambassador to France under William Howard Taft.
Known in film and theater as David Bacon, her husband was murdered in 1943, two weeks after finishing a major role in the Republic serial The Masked Marvel. Speculation involved affairs with Howard Hughes and another actor, but the murder was never solved. Not long after their child was stillborn.
Her lieder voice carried the charm of the Parisian women but never lost the heart of the girl from Vienna. Singing in a style reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich and Lilli Palmer, she made recordings throughout the world. During World War II she and Dietrich both sang "Lili Marlene" in United States and Europe and continued for the rest of their lives to include the number in most performances. While she spent many years in the United States both with a famous nightclub in the Waldorf and in later years every fall at the Stanhope where her show always included "My Way", composed by Paul Anka and a number of Noel Coward numbers. A 'singer's singer' there were often other performers in the room including the Nordstrom Sisters Beverly Sills and Hildegarde. Other regulars would book the same table most nights that she was performing which included photographer Edgar de Evia. Favorites of this Stanhope crowd were the songs of Cole Porter and Noel Coward, for their sexual innuendo and double entendres. These included "Miss Otis Regrets" and "I'm the Other Woman in His Life". She always returned to Vienna. The poet and singer Rod McKuen was introduced by her to an audience in Vienna and he in turn hosted a concert presenting her at Lincoln Center in the 1970s and wrote the song "If You Go Away" from the lyrics "Ne Me Quitte Pas" the original song as written by Jacques Brel which she always sang.
Greta's greatest strength was in her adaptability. Each song, took the caress in her voice in a unique way. Her repertoire included songs from the 1930s through the war years as well as popular songs of the day. A few years before her death, her voice appeared in the Academy Award-winning movie, Cabaret (1972), for which she sang the song, "Heirat" (Married). The last several years in New York City she traveled with a young companion by the name of Wolfgang, who some say she married.
- Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht, Der (1931) (uncredited) .... Singer... aka Jim, der Mann mit der Narbe (Germany)... aka Looking for His Murderer
- Lied vom Leben, Das (1931) .... Singer... aka Song of Life (USA: informal literal English title)
- Melodie der Liebe (1932) .... Singer... aka Right to Happiness (USA)
- Abenteurer von Paris, Der (1936) .... Cabaret Singer... aka The Paris Adventure (USA)
- Reunion in France (1942) (uncredited) .... Baroness von Steinkamp... aka Mademoiselle France (UK)... aka Reunion
- Herz spielt falsch, Ein (1953) .... Chansonniere/Cabaret Singer ... aka A Heart's Foul Play (International: English title)
- Blaue Stunde (1967) .... Singer
- Cabaret (1972) her voice was heard on a record as the singer of: "Heirat"
Filmography as: Actor, Herself, Notable TV Guest AppearancesEdit
Herself – filmographyEdit
- Underground and Emigrants (1976)
Notable TV Guest AppearancesEdit
- "Five Fingers" playing "Micheline" in episode: "Station Break" (episode # 1.1) 3 October 1959
- "'Drehscheibe, Die'" playing "Singer" 6 November 1968
- "V.I.P.-Schaukel" playing "Herself" (episode # 4.3) 15 December 1974
SR 5040 • Evening In Vienna / Rod McKuen & Greta Keller
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