24 September 2017

Coen Hissink

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Also this year, EFSP presents its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival from 20 to 29 September. Coen Hissink (1878-1942) was a Dutch stage and screen actor who acted in many silent films by Theo Frenkel Sr. First in the Netherlands in such films as Levensschaduwen (1916), Het proces Begeer (1918) and Menschenwee (1921) and afterwards in Berlin in Alexandra (1922) and other films. He also played in various silent Hollandia films. In the 1930s he acted in Dutch sound films. Hissink died in concentration camp Neuengamme.

Coen Hissink
Dutch postcard. Coen Hissink as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. This postcard may date c. 1907-1908 when Hissink played Shylock on the Dutch stage.

A Dutch Western

Johan Coenraad ‘Coen’ Hissink was born in 1878 in Kampen, The Netherlands.

After studying at the Toneelschool (Stage School) for a year, he began his acting career in the theatre in 1902. He made his stage debut in the Revue De Nieuwe Haring (The New Herring) and would have a long career on stage in both the Netherlands and Flanders.

He was also known as a writer. In 1910, he published the dissertation Louis Bouwmeester's Shylock-creatie. When legendary Dutch actor Louis Bouwmeester starred as Shylock in Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice - his most famous - Hissink sat in the stalls with pen and paper and recorded everything he saw and heard.

Hissink was best known for his stage work, both on and behind the stage. Together with Albert van Dalsum and Eugene Gilhuys, he founded the stage company Het Groot Toneel (The Big Stage) in the Plantage theater in Amsterdam. He also played many classic stage roles, such as Othello in 1918.

Hissink made his film debut in the Dutch Western (!) Een telegram uit Mexico/A Telegram from Mexico (Louis H. Chrispijn sr., 1914), a silent short film produced by Maurits Binger for his film studio Filmfabriek Hollandia. Hissink played the blind father of the Dutch colonist Willem (Willem van der Veer), who gets lost in the revolution in Mexico. The home front waits eagerly for news.

Next followed the silent drama De Vloek van het Testament/The Fatal Woman (Maurits Binger, Louis H. Chrispijn sr., 1915) starring Dutch diva Annie Bos. At the time, it was for the Netherlands a huge production with 48 copies through Europe and 12 copies crossing to America.

Hissink continued to appear in a stream of silent Dutch films. In Fatum (Theo Frenkel, 1915) he again played with the legendary Louis Bouwmeester. Annie Bos was the star in Ontmaskerd/Unmasked (Mime Misu, 1915). Still existing is the seaman’s drama Het wrak van de Noordzee/The Wreck in the North Sea (Theo Frenkel, 1915).

Another relatively large-scale production was Het geheim van Delft/The Secret of Delft (Maurits Binger, 1916). The film required the construction of a 20 metre high ruined lighthouse, and a 15 metre long pier of the coast of Zandvoort. These constructions meant high production costs and the film starred the most famous actors in the Netherlands at that time, including Willem van der Veer, Esther De Boer-van Rijk, Jan van Dommelen and Annie Bos.

Hissink often played supporting parts as the bad guy. He had a rare leading role in the silent crime film Levensschaduwen/Life's Shadows (Theo Frenkel, 1916). He was also one of the leads in another crime film, Het Proces Begeer/The Begeer Case (Theo Frenkel, 1918). He played smaller parts in the silent dramas Pro domo (Theo Frenkel, 1918) with Louis Bouwmeester, Theo Mann-Bouwmeester and Lily Bouwmeester, and Schakels/Connections (Maurits Binger, 1920) based on a play by Herman Heijermans and starring Annie Bos, Jan van Dommelen and Adelqui Migliar.

Esther de Boer van Rijk and Coen Hissink in Op hoop van zegen (1934)
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z / M.H.D. Film. Photo: Maarseveen, Den Haag. Publicity still for Op hoop van zegen/The Good Hope (Alex Benno, 1934) with Esther de Boer van Rijk.

Decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine

During the 1920s, Coen Hissink continued to appear in such silent films as the British-Dutch silent crime film Bloedgeld/Blood Money (Fred Goodwins, 1921), with Adelqui Migliar, the adventure film De zwarte tulp/Black Tulip (Maurits Binger, Frank Richardson, 1921) based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas père, Menschenwee (Theo Frenkel, 1921) with Louis Davids, and De Bruut/The Brute (Theo Frenkel, 1922) with Willem van der Veer, Erna Morena and Bruno Decarli.

He also appeared in such international films as the German-Dutch co-productions Der Mann im Hintergrund/The Man in the Background (Ernst Winar, 1922) with Adolphe Engers, and Frauenmoral/Women's Morals (Theo Frenkel, 1923) with Olga Engl, Helena Makowska and Theo Mann-Bouwmeester.

His final silent film was De cabaret-prinses/The Cabaret Princess (Theo Frenkel, 1925) with Emmy Arbous.

In 1928, he wrote a volume of short stories about decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine. For inspiration, he visited a gay club in Berlin where he sniffed cocaine in a toilet. The book about his experiences was titled Cocaïne: Berlijnsch zedenbeeld (Cocaine: Berlin's pictorial image).

He returned to the screen in the sound film Op Hoop van Zegen/Hoping for the best (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934) starring Esther de Boer van Rijk and Frits van Dongen (Philip Dorn). The film was based on a 1900 play by Dutch socialist dramatist Herman Heijermans, situated in a fishing village, about the conflict between the fishermen and their employer.

It was the third filming of the play in less than twenty years. The film ends in tragedy with the unsound boat setting out to sea and sinking with all hands and the owner pocketing the insurance money. The film won an award at the Venice Film Festival in 1935 and is known as one of the most successful film productions of the Dutch pre-war cinema.

The success lead to more small roles for Hissink in the film dramas Merijntje Gijzens Jeugd/Merijntje Gijzen's Youth (Kurt Gerron, 1936) after the popular novel of the same title by A.M. de Jong, and the Dutch-French film De Man Zonder Hart/The Man Without Heart (Léo Joannon, Louis de Bree, 1937), starring Louis de Bree and Dolly Mollinger. During the 1930s he also often worked for radio plays.

Hissink’s final film role was in De Laatste Dagen van een Eiland/The Last Days of an Island (Ernst Winar, 1942) with Max Croiset. It was already shot in 1938, but premiered in 1942. The film mixes a documentary that tells about the last days of the island of Urk and its inhabitants, and a story of a young couple.

During the Second World War, Hissink refused to join the Kulturkammer (Culture Room) of the Nazi regime and he joined the Resistance. In 1941, he was caught by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp Neuengamme in Germany. There Coen Hissink was killed in 1942. He was 64.

Esther de Boer-van Rijk, Coen Hissink, Willem v.d. Veer, Op Hoop van Zegen
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag/M.H.D. Film. Publicity still for Op Hoop van Zegen (Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn, 1934) with Esther de Boer van Rijk and Willem van der Veer. Collection Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Sources: Piet Hein Honig (Acteurs – en Kleinkunstenaars-Lexicon – Dutch), Eye, Wikipedia (English and Dutch) and IMDb.

23 September 2017

Theo Mann-Bouwmeester

During the Netherlands Film Festival, EFSP presents the Unofficial Dutch Film Star Postcards Festival. Today's spotlight is on Dutch stage and film actress Theo Mann-Bouwmeester (1850-1939), born in a famous Dutch stage family and sister of Louis Bouwmeester. Inspired by Sarah Bernhardt, she had her breakthrough in 1880. From then on she was known for her wide repertoire, from classical tragedies to contemporary pieces. ’The Grand Dame of the Dutch stage’ also appeared in several Dutch silent films often directed by her son Theo Frenkel Sr. In 1926 she said farewell to the stage after playing her most famous role, Liane Orland in Henry Bataille's The Child of Love, in 67 cities.

Theo Mann Bouwmeester in Het kind van de liefde
Dutch postcard by Koninkl. Nederl. Boek- en Kunsthandel M.M. Couvée, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Het kind van de liefde (L'Enfant de l'amour/The Child of Love) by Henry Bataille.

Passionate, loving and suffering women

Theodora Antonia Louisa Cornelia Bouwmeester was born in Zutphen, The Netherlands, in 1850. She was the daughter of the actors Louis Frederik Johannes Rosenveldt and Louisa Francina Maria Bouwmeester, who happened to be on tour when their daughter was born. ‘Doortje’ was born into the most important Dutch actors family and the legendary Louis Bouwmeester was her elder brother.

Doortje made her debut as a six-year-old in the stage company of her father. She continued to play small stage parts and at 17 she married musician Maurice Frenkel, with whom she would have four sons.

At 23 however, she was a widow and she decided to continue earning the money for her family as an actress. Initially, her stage career was not remarkable while she performed in melodramas and farces. In 1880, she saw a stage performance by Sarah Bernhardt in Amsterdam and ‘la divine Sarah’ became her great source of inspiration.

That same year, Theo Bouwmeester experienced her breakthrough to the main public with the title role in the French comedy Froufrou by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy and in the following years she became the grand Dame of the Dutch theatre. She was the Dutch performer in excellence of passionate, loving and suffering women – especially in great roles as Marguerite Gauthier, Maria Stuart and La Tosca.

She had a wide repertoire, from classical tragedies to contemporary pieces. From 1885 on, she was connected to the prestigious Koninklijke Vereeniging Het Nederlandsch Toneel (The Royal Dutch Theatre). In 1920, she participated in an actors strike and this would trigger the end of her career. In 1926, she said farewell in one of her popular roles, Liane Orland in Henry Bataille's Het kind van de liefde (The Child of Love).

Theo Mann Bouwmeester in Het kind van de liefde
Dutch postcard by Koninkl. Nederl. Boek- en Kunsthandel M.M. Couvée, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Het kind van de liefde (The Child of Love). It was a scene from the third act.

Directed by her son

Theo Mann-Bouwmeester played in five silent films of which four were directed by her son, Theo Frenkel Sr. In her first film, Koning Oedipous/King Oedipus (1912), she played Queen Jocasta opposite her bother Louis Bouwmeester in the title role.

Six years later, her son directed her and her brother Louis Bouwmeester in Pro domo (Theo Frenkel, 1918) also with their niece Lily Bouwmeester. She had a supporting part in Helleveeg/The She-Devil (Theo Frenkel, 1920) featuring Mien Duymaer van Twist.

When her son started his own film company in Germany, she appeared in his Judith (Theo Frenkel, 1923) with Helena Makowkska. Her last film was Frauenmoral/Women's Morals (Theo Frenkel, 1923), again starring Helena Makowkska and Oscar Marion.

Theo Mann-Bouwmeester was married three times and thus performed under different names. Chronologically, she performed as Doortje Bouwmeester, Doortje Frenkel-Bouwmeester, Théo Brondgeest-Bouwmeester and Théo Bouwmeester) but she is best known under the name she used during her last marriage with the musician and composer Gottfried Mann.

Since 1950, the Theo d'Or prize has been awarded to the best female lead in the Dutch stage season every year. Another award named after her is the Theo Mann-Bouwmeester ring. This ring designed by Jan Eisenloeffe was donated to her by admirers in 1911. In 1934, Mann-Bouwmeester donated the ring to Else Mauhs, who was the most outstanding Dutch actress in her eyes. After that, the Theo Mann-Bouwmeesterring was worn by the Dutch actresses Caro van Eyck, Annet Nieuwenhuijzen, Anne Wil Blankers, Ariane Schluter and since 2017 by Halina Reijn.

Theo Mann Bouwmeester had four sons from her first marriage to Maurits Frenkel, including actor and film director Theo Frenkel sr. Actor Theo Frenkel Jr. was her grandson. There were many tragedies in her life, including the early deaths of her eldest and youngest sons. Her third son, Louis, died in 1900 at the age of 31.

Theo Mann Bouwmeester in Het kind van de liefde
Dutch postcard by Koninkl. Nederl. Boek- en Kunsthandel M.M. Couvée, Den Haag (The Hague). Photo: publicity still for the stage production of Het kind van de liefde (The Child of Love). It was a scene from the third act.

Sources: HHJ de Leeuwe ( – Dutch), Piet Hein Honig (Acteurs – en Kleinkunstenaars-Lexicon – Dutch), Een levenlang theater (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch) and IMDb.

22 September 2017

Henkie Klein

Every year in early autumn, the Dutch film industry and public gather at the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF). Also this year, EFSP presents its own Unofficial Netherlands Film Star Postcards Festival from 20 to 29 September. Today in the spotlight: little Henkie Klein (1921-ca. 1993), who was a child actor in German and Dutch films of the silent era. He was called the 'Dutch Jackie Coogan'.

Henkie Klein
Dutch postcard by B. Brouwer, Amsterdam. Photo: Bernard Eilers, Amsterdam. Collection: Geoffrey Donaldson Institute.

Dream World

Henkie Klein (sometimes written as Klyn or Kleinman) was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1921. He was the son of film director Henk Kleinman(n). Some sources say Kleinman senior was Dutch, other sources say he was German born.

Kleinman sr. was the producer and co-director of the German-Dutch film Die Fahrt ins Verderben/Op hoop van zegen (Henk Kleinman, James Bauer, 1924). This was the second film version of Op hoop van zegen/On hope of blessing, a classic Dutch fisher drama written by Herman Heijermans in 1900.

The success of the production lead to another film based on a play by Heijermans, Die vom Schicksal Verfolgten/Droomkoninkje/Little Dream King (Henk Kleinman, 1926) with Wilhelm Dieterle (aka William Dieterle) and Aud Egede Nissen. Little Henkie played the lead of a boy born with a clubfoot who creates his own dream world.

A year earlier Henkie had made his film debut as the Berlin street boy Bolleken in Goldjunge/Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht/Golden Boy (Henk Kleinman, 1925) with Grete Reinwald and Carl Auen. Both films are now presumed missing.

Henkie Klein
Dutch postcard printed by B. Brouwer, Amsterdam. Photo: Bernard F. Eilers.


At the age of 9, Henkie Klein played in the melodrama Zeemansvrouwen/Seamen's Wives (Henk Kleinman, 1930), based on a play by Herman Bouber, author of popular plays like De Jantjes/The Tars and Bleeke Bet/Pale BethZeemansvrouwen should have been the first Dutch sound film with some songs. Possibly because of a lack of money, it became the last Dutch silent feature film.

The prints have been restored by the former Dutch Filmmuseum (now Eye Institute) and reviewer rohitnnn writes at IMDb: "Some of the shots in the film are truly exquisite, and though the story is almost entirely predictable, the film is eminently watchable as it shows us a glimpse of the society in a country that otherwise remains at the periphery of European cinema."

Zeemansvrouwen/Seamen's Wives was one of the most popular films of that year in the Amsterdam cinemas, but Henkie would only act in one more film by his father, Hollands jeugd/Dutch Youth (Henk Kleinman, 1934). There is little know about this production. Kleinman senior also directed two other films, Zelfkant/Fag-end (Henk Kleinman, 1931), a short promotion film for the association for Help for Uninhabited, and the short Oudjes/Oldies (Henk Kleinman, 1936) with Louis van Dommelen, Riek Kloppenburg and August Kiehl.

In 1934, Dutch film weekly Het Weekblad Cinema en Theater published a small article about Henkie: "In the last few years, we did not hear much of the young Dutch film star Henkie Klein. After his outstanding role in the Dutch film Droomkoninkje, he completely disappeared. This is probably because his father, director Henk Kleinman, does not get any more films to direct. Henkie visits the primary school in Amsterdam. He has almost become a Henk now."

In Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Henk van Gelder wrote in 2003 about what happened to Henk Kleinman senior. Documents from film historian Egbert Barten show that Kleinman joined the NSB in 1934 and the Reichsfilmkammer in 1937 to be able to work in Germany. During the war he worked - again as Henk Kleinmann - in Germany for a small bureau that selected suitable German films for The Netherlands. He died in 1944 (other sources say 1945) without making another film in Germany. His train was bombed by allied forces and he died in a hospital in Berlin.

An what happened to his son Henkie? Van Gelder cites theatre historian Piet Hein Honig who said that Henk Klein passed away circa 1993. Van Gelder contacted Henkie's daughter, but she just gave him information about her grandfather.

In 2003, Zeemansvrouwen/Seamen's Wives was studied by lip readers and new film texts by Lodewijk de Boer were dubbed by actors like Huib Broos, Jeroen Krabbé, Nelly Frijda en Bram van der Vlugt. Henny Vrienten composed a new musical score for this film experiment. That same year, this final sound version was screened during the Biënnale in the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.

Henkie Klein
Dutch postcard printed by B. Brouwer, Amsterdam. Photo: Bernard F. Eilers.

Sources: Henk van Gelder (NRC Handelsblad - Dutch), Peter Bosma (Dutch), Mariska Graveland (De Filmkrant - Dutch), Rohitnnn (IMDb), Dutch Film Angle, Wikipedia and IMDb.