Signe Hasso

Signe Hasso
Paramount Pictures


Signe Hasso
Film: South side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Signe Eleonora Cecilia Larsson on Aug. 15, 1910 in Stockholm, Sweden
Died June 6, 2002 in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Calif.

Signe Hasso was a Swedish-born stage and film actress who played strong leading ladies in American movies in the 1940s, most notably in George Cukor's "A Double Life."

At 12, she fell into acting work somewhat by accident.

"A playmate of mine who used to act took ill. She was the niece of a stage manager, and so he asked her if she knew of any other little girl who could act, and she gave him my name," she told the Swedish Press.

"I was 12 then and didn't want to go and neither did my sister, so my mother flipped a coin. I lost," she said. "My mother promised me an orange if I would go. They were very rare in those days. And so, with an orange in my pocket, I went to the Royal Dramatic Theatre."

Her audition for the role in a Moliere play was a success. She started earning a living as an actress and, despite her family's economic situation, was able to attend one of the better schools in Stockholm.

At 16, she was back at the Royal Dramatic Theatre as a student — the youngest acting pupil in its history. By age 19, she was married and had a baby.

Hasso found work in Swedish films and in theater throughout Scandinavia.

She came to Hollywood in 1940 and signed a contract with RKO, but few acting roles materialized.

As she later said, she was nearly out on the street when she decided to go to New York, where she found work in the theater.

Toward the end of World War II, she returned to Hollywood and signed a contract with MGM. Over the next few years Hasso worked with some of the industry's leading directors.

She made Fred Zinnemann's "The Seventh Cross" with Spencer Tracy, Cecil B. DeMille's "The Story of Dr. Wassell" with Gary Cooper, Henry Hathaway's "The House on 92nd Street" with Lloyd Nolan, and Richard Brooks' first movie as a director, "Crisis," with Cary Grant.

But her favorite and the movie that critics apparently liked best was 1947's "A Double Life." It starred Ronald Colman as an actor so immersed in playing Othello that his stage character takes possession of his off-screen personality. Hasso played his wife, and Colman won the lead actor Academy Award for his performance.

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