Norwegian Wenche Foss takes final bow / News / The Foreigner

Norwegian Wenche Foss takes final bow. Wenche Foss, Norway’s Diva star of the stage and screen, died today aged 93 after a period of illness. The Foreigner talked with Norwegian theatre critic and author of the actress’ biography, Mona Levin, who says she will always remember the stylish lady for her generosity.Born to act “Wenche was a very open and honest person who carried a royal air, but without the aloofness.”

wenchefoss, deceasednorwegianactress, diakonhjemmethospital, fabianstang, monalevin, oslo



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Norwegian Wenche Foss takes final bow

Published on Monday, 28th March, 2011 at 23:23 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 4th April 2011 at 11:14.

Wenche Foss, Norway’s Diva star of the stage and screen, died today aged 93 after a period of illness.

Wenche Foss (2006)
Wenche Foss (2006)
Photo: Bogartsmokes/24B Film DK/Wikimedia


The Foreigner talked with Norwegian theatre critic and author of the actress’ biography, Mona Levin, who says she will always remember the stylish lady for her generosity.

Born to act

“Wenche was a very open and honest person who carried a royal air, but without the aloofness.”

Eva Wenche Steenfeldt-Foss, known as Wenche Foss, was born in Christiania on 5th December 1917, the daughter of an engineer. She filled the stage from an early age, according to her biographer.

“She never went to theatre school; her acting abilities were completely self-trained. As a child, she would imagine herself as the salesperson, serving imaginary customers, from wrapping their choices, to giving them their change,” says Mona Levin.

Wenche Foss started her acting career as a light Comedienne. During her professional life, she also covered repertoire ranging from comedy to the classics such as Shakespeare, Molière and Ibsen, via the post war American playwrights, including Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, and up to Jon Fosse, termed the “new” Norwegian Ibsen.

She also sang operetta as a coloratura. Her roles included wealthy widow Hanna Glawari, in the Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow”.

Norway’s perhaps equivalent of British Dame Peggy Ashcroft “was on stage in the commercial theatres every day during the Second World War, helping to boost the morale,” says Mrs Levin.

She became a famous stage and film actress before, during, and after the Second World War, appearing in hundreds of different roles.

“Wenche visited Hollywood as well, making the acquaintance of Errol Flynn and Danny Kaye. Language was no barrier, and she spoke perfect French,” Mrs Levin says.

The show must go on

Statue of Wenche Foss
Statue of Wenche Foss
Bjørn Smestad/Flickr
The Norwegian Diva also put a face and words to what were public taboos at the time.

“Wenche created openness in the Norwegian people. She bore a child with Down’s syndrome who died at the age of four in 1957, but always said ‘I have a lovely little child’. She also had a mastectomy after contracting breast cancer in 1971, but was never afraid to talk about it. People listened when she spoke.”

Despite her pain and illnesses, Ms Foss also did a lot for ‘ordinary’ people.

“On a bad day, she would take a rotting wooden basket to visit either a complete stranger, or someone she knew in hospital with a small bottle of champagne and some foie gras, looking at them through her famous pilsner-coloured eyes. She would always talk to everybody in the ward or along the corridor. Her humanity brought her into contact with all kinds of people.

“She was also passionate about causes, and never stopped working for them. In later years, she fought for the legal rights of homosexuals,” continues Mona Levin.

Wenche Foss passed away peacefully today at approximately 12:15 at Oslo’s Diakonhjemmet Hospital, surrounded by loved ones and her son Fabian Stang, the city’s Mayor.

During her life, she was employed at a number of theatres, according to Wikipedia: Carl Johan Teateret between 1936 and 1939, Den Nasjonale Scene in 1939, Centralteateret 1940-49, Det Nye Teater 1949-51, Nationaltheatret 1952-67, reemployed in 1978, and Oslo Nye Teater 1967-78.

Her awards include Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 1972, promoted to Commander with Star in 1988, Knight of the Danish Order of Dannebrog, as well as Knight of the French Foreign Legion.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has announced Wenche Foss is to receive a State Funeral, the programme of which Mona Levin believes she had already planned.

“She spread style, happiness, and the glamour of Hollywood. Her death marks the end of an epoch,” she concludes.



Published on Monday, 28th March, 2011 at 23:23 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 4th April 2011 at 11:14.

This post has the following tags: wenchefoss, deceasednorwegianactress, diakonhjemmethospital, fabianstang, monalevin, oslo.


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