Emma Minna Hilde Hildebrand was born in Hannover on September 10th 1897.
The daughter of Julius and Louise Hildebrand, she first attended ballet school at the age of 8 and joined the ballet ensemble of the Residenz Theater in 1913. Her theatre debut came in 1914 under the name of Emmy Hildebrand.
By the end of the First World War, she was already well known as a star of the Revue stage and soon moved to Berlin, where, as Hilde Hildebrand, she became a huge hit, appearing in many Rudolph Nelson revues such as ‘Es hat geklingelt” and “Etwas für Sie”. Her style was said to be suggestive but never crude, erotic but never vulgar.
She soon moved into silent films appearing in over a dozen before the advent of the talking picture, where she really came in to her own, often being cast in roles that featured her impressive vocal talent in front of large orchestras.
She appeared in 108 films covering a 51 year period from 1920 to 1971 including, in 1933, the lead role in the original, German version of “Viktor, Viktoria”, a role reprised in later years by Julie Andrews.
In 1933, she became a member of the Nazi Party, although it is thought that this was more to do with her desire to continue working in Germany rather than any deeply held political convictions.
By 1941, she had fallen out of favour with party, and in particular Joseph Goebbels, and found her film roles greatly reduced, and work offers few and far between.
By the end of the war in 1945, she was part of a concert party entertaining troops in what is now the Czech Republic when she was captured and imprisoned by the Russians and, reportedly, very badly treated.
She eventually returned to Berlin in 1947, where she was able to continue her stage and film career. Her last appearance was in the cult T.V series ‘Der Kommissar” in 1971.
She withdrew from public life and spent her last few years alone in her apartment in Berlin’s Grunewald where she died in 1976, aged 79.
She is buried in Waldfriedhof Heerstraße, near the Olympic Stadium.