Ingeborg Wells: Actress and singer who was a star in Hitler's Germany before continuing her career in postwar Britain

Ingeborg von Kusserow was a star of stage and screen in Germany in the 1930s and the war years, after which she contined her career as Ingeborg Wells in Britain. In conversation she would say little about her childhood and early life. She tended to make light of her films of the 1930s but was prouder of her stage work, which is unfortunately less well documented.

She was born in 1919 in Wollstein, Posen, Germany (now Wolsztyn in Poland) and embarked on her stage career in Berlin in her teens. She first danced and sang in operetta (records of her singing survive) but also played straight roles such as Eliza in Pygmalion. Her first film was Das Hofkonzert (1936), directed by Detlef Sierck, who as Douglas Sirk would perfect the art of the Hollywood melodrama in the 1950s. It was the first of around 30 features and shorts she made in Germany.

In 1940 she married Percy von Welsburg, a Hungarian national born in England. They hoped to get to Britain via Switzerland but this proved impossible and they spent the war in Berlin, experiencing all its deprivations and terrors. She described these experiences in a 1948 memoir, Enough, no More.

In 1947 they were finally able to move to England. As Ingeborg Wells she had a modest role in Raoul Walsh's Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), with Gregory Peck in the title role, followed over the next 10 years by around a dozen more films and many television appearances. One of her last films was Women of Twilight, directed by Gordon Parry in 1952, which has its place in cinema history as the first film to receive the new "X" certificate.

She and Percy divorced and in 1968 she married Kenneth Slingsby-Fahn, a retired RAF officer; they continued to live in her garden flat in St John's Wood. In 1968 she was invited back to West Berlin to star in a German version of an American play, You Know I Can't Hear You When The Water's Running by Robert Anderson. She found she was still well remembered there and was approached by many old fans.

In 1979, seeking a country life, they moved to a cottage in Houghton, West Sussex. After Kenneth's death in 2007 Ingeborg lived on alone but in late 2013 she was obliged to enter a care home. Recently she had a fall, breaking a femur, and although she survived the operation to set it this was followed by an inevitable decline.

She had had a tough early life, and she was strong-minded, even at times controlling. This had made her life with Percy stormy; Kenneth, however, was happy to go along with everything she proposed and so harmony prevailed during their 40 years together.

Ingeborg von Kusserow (Ingeborg Wells), actress: born Wollstein, Posen, Germany (now Wolsztyn, Poland) 28 January 1919; married 1940 Percy von Welsburg (divorced 1965; one son), 1968 Kenneth Slingsby-Fahn (died 2007); died Hove, Sussex 14 April 2014.

News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Retail Business Architect

Flexible for the right candidate: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: I have a fa...

IT Developer/Analyst

£35000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A market leading financia...

Pricing Manager, Finance, Edinburgh, £250-350p/d

£250 - £350 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is cur...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis