Rosa Vallentin was born in Berlin in March 1878. She was an actress, cabaret performer and singer whose career started in suburban Berlin theatre and graduated to cabaret after meeting political satirist and writer Kurt Tucholsky.
In 1920 she founded ‘Cabaret Grössenwahn” (Cabaret Megalomania) at the Theater de Westens in the Kurfürstendamm. It was very much a model of the great Parisian cabarets of the 1890′s and it’s work tended to reflect the plight of the Berlin working class. One of the earlier successes of the cabaret was the work of Friedrich Hollaender and his wife, the singer Blandine Ebinger.
Rosa Valetti herself also regularly performed, her most famous song being ‘Die Rote Melodie’ (The Red Melody) a powerful anti-war song written specifically for her by Kurt Tucholsky with music by Hollaender.
The state of the German economy and the rampant inflation forced the closure of Cabaret Grössenwahn in 1922, after just two years. She mostly returned to acting but was also the director of the Rakete cabaret venue and another of her own ventures, the Rampe Cafe.
In the late 1920′s she was among the founders of an umbrella organisation of Left-leaning writers and actors ‘Larifari” who promoted a ‘floating cabaret’, performing at more alternative venues and tending to avoid the commercial theatres of Western Berlin.
In 1928, she was part of the original cast of Brecht and Weill’s ‘Die Dreigroschenoper” (The Threepenny Opera) playing Mrs. Peachum.
Like many of her contemporaries she acted in films, numbering over 40 from 1911 through to 1934, most notably opposite Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel in 1930, and in Fritz Lang’s classic ‘M’ in 1931
She has a street named after her in Berlin’s Malsdorf district ‘ Rosa-Valetti-Straße”