“Your story has not been told to the end”

A life full of contradiction and turmoil

Close, but yet so far. Because this mysterious Romy Schneider could never really be grasped. Sometimes she was the lively, self-confident and lascivious, sometimes the reserved, insecure and shy Romy. Her life was full of contradictions, full of turmoil – between love and work, between the desire for privacy and fame, between her homeland Germany and her adopted country France. Romy Schneider remained a mystery to herself and to the others until after her death. Because the exact circumstances are still unclear.

1975: Romy Schneider in a scene from the film "L'important c'est d'aimer" (German title: Nachtblende).
1975: Romy Schneider in a scene from the film “L’important c’est d’aimer” (German title: Nachtblende). (Source: IMAGO / Granata Images)

Was it really an accident? Or is it suicide? There was never an autopsy. And so this mysterious and, above all, so early death manifested their legend formation. “The so-called ‘myth’ about Romy Schneider certainly has a lot to do with the fact that she died so early. In such cases, a story remains that cannot be told to the end. That opens up room for speculation and interpretation,” knows Günter Krenn, who spoke to many companions such as actor Karlheinz Böhm and director Volker Schlöndorff for his book “Romy Schneider: Die Biographie”. “In addition, there is a tragic fate, especially in the last years of life, that moves people and an artistic work of around 60 films, many of which are unbrokenly popular,” said Krenn in an interview with t-online.

“I can do everything in film, nothing in life”

A “tragic fate” that reached its lowest point with Romy Schneider’s death 40 years ago. Her then partner Laurent Pétin found the actress lifeless at her desk, her heart had stopped beating. Because of too many pills – and, according to cheesy tabloids, because of too much pain and too much unhappiness. Fate was actually not kind to Romy Schneider. Her dearest wish, to be a happy wife and a loving mother, was denied to her: two marriages failed and she lost her 14-year-old son David in an accidental death. “I can do everything in film, nothing in life,” said Romy Schneider once about herself.

Karlheinz Böhm and Romy Schneider as Emperor Franz and Sissi: The two played in three "Sissy"-Film side by side.
Karlheinz Böhm and Romy Schneider as Emperor Franz and Sissi: The two played side by side in three “Sissi” films. (Source: IMAGO / United Archives)

The probably longest relationship in her life – the one with the film – was tragic, at least in Germany: Throughout her life Romy Schneider could not really emancipate herself from her image as a cute empress. “On the one hand, Romy Schneider was always aware of how much success she owed to Ernst Marischka and the ‘Sissi’ trilogy. On the other hand, she suffered throughout her life from the fact that parts of the German-speaking press and the local audience only reduced her to this role and man virtually forbidding her any artistic development,” says Günter Krenn.