Obituary: Anna Sten

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The Independent Online
YOUR obituary of Anna Sten (by David Shipman, 19 November) repeated some oft-published errors which I hope you will allow me to correct, writes Dave Godin.

Sten was never married to Fedor Ozep, though he was her 'discoverer' when he took her from the ranks of bit-players to act the female lead in his film The Earth in Chains (which was only known in Germany as The Yellow Passport). This was made and shown before The Girl with the Hatbox and, as co-owner of the Mezhrabpom-Russ Studio, Ozep was able to help develop her career considerably. She was briefly married to the Soviet cinematographer Anatoly Golovnia (another Mezhrabpom-Russ employee), but divorced him soon after Ozep took her to Berlin to star in his Der Morder Dimitri Karamazov.

Since she had no intention of returning to the Soviet Union, it was fortuitous that she met and married Eugene Frenke in Berlin who, at that time, was working as a razor-blade salesman. Ozep had made her a star in both the Soviet Union and Germany but, when Goldwyn showed an interest, it was Frenke who took command. It can safely be said that it was he who blighted her subsequent movie career. With his autocratic brinkmanship, his self-awarded 'doctorate', and his imagined entrepreneurial skills, he managed to alienate everybody who could have helped her achieve fame in the West. But Sten was besotted with Frenke, and Goldwyn was besotted with Sten, so it was almost inevitable that it would all end in tears. It should be mentioned, however, that Goldwyn finally settled her contract on the most generous terms, but Frenke wasted much of this in part-financing the production of A Woman Alone in Britain in 1936.

Unlike in the United States, Sten had always received glowing reviews from the British press, but Frenke again miscalculated, thinking that this, together with Ozep back's directing her, could demonstrate to Hollywood that he knew best.

Ozep quit the movie halfway through in desperation over Frenke, and Frenke finished the film; it was the beginning of the end of Sten's cinematic career.

Finally, Sten was born not in 1908 as stated, but in 1900. The former date was simply one of Hollywood's customary 'readjustments'.