Sisterhood Blog

Throwback Thursday: Vicki Baum Wrote a Novel Per Year

By Chana Pollack

  • Print
  • Share Share

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly photo feature in which we sift 116 years of Forward history to find snapshots of women’s lives.

Born to a comfortable though dysfunctional Jewish family in Vienna, Vicki Baum (pictured here with her sons Wolfgang and Peter in 1932), survived a difficult childhood to pen the Oscar-winning Hollywood film “Grand Hotel.” Baum left a successful music career as a harpist to write, first for a Berlin based magazine. She published one novel per year, starting in 1920 through 1964, when her posthumous memoir “It Was All Quite Different” was released.

One of Baum’s most famous quotations is “pity is the deadliest feeling that can be offered to a woman,” and her books featured modern self-reliant female characters not unlike herself. Exemplifying the concept of the “new woman” of the Weimar era, in the early 1920s Baum studied boxing in the distinguished Studio for Boxing and Physical Culture in Berlin. She was in good company — one of the three female patrons there was Marlene Dietrich.

When she desired an intimate glimpse of hotel life for the novel “People in a Hotel” that was to become the film “Grand Hotel,” she worked as a parlor maid in a Berlin hotel, and then wrote the novel in three months. When it was first produced as a play in Berlin in 1929, she performed the lead role herself. It reached Broadway in 1931 and was hailed as New York’s first successful play in three decades. Quoted as saying, “To be a Jew is a destiny,” Baum left her successful writing career in Berlin for the United States in 1932.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vicki Baum, Throwback Thursday, Jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.