Christine Maria Kaufmann, actress and ex-wife of Tony Curtis, dies at 72


Christine Maria Kaufmann, the German-Austrian actress who won a Golden Globe at 17, married Tony Curtis at 18, and had a second career as beauty and cosmetics magnate, died Monday evening, aged 72, after a long battle with leukemia.

Kaufmann was born in Austria in 1945 to a French make-up artist and a German engineer and grew up in Munich. She entered show business early, performing in German musical The White Horse Inn at the tender age of 7. But it was Rose Girl, a 1954 drama, where she played the orphan girl of the title, that launched her career. A series of Bavarian melodramas followed before she got her international break, starring in The Last Days of Pompeii alongside Hercules actor Steve Reeves. Several Hollywood roles followed, including, in 1962, Town Without Pity with Kirk Douglas, and Taras Bulba, a Romeo and Juliet story set in 16th Century Ukraine, which co-starred Tony Curtis.

See photos of Christina Maria Kaufmann throughout her illustrious life:

35 PHOTOS
Christine Maria Kaufmann throughout her life
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Christine Maria Kaufmann throughout her life
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Schauspielerin, D- Portrait als Ballett-Taenzerin- 1954 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine - Actress, Germany - *11.01.1945- Scene from the movie 'Staatsanwaeltin Corda' Directed by: Karl Ritter West Germany 1953 Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Schauspielerin, D- Portrait- undatiert (Photo by Reinhard-Archiv/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Actress, Germany - from right: her brother Guenther, her mother and her father (?) - 1958 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Berlin filmfestival, Tony Curtis and Christine Kaufmann his future wife. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 2/8/1963-Las Vegas, NV: Actor Tony Curtis, 37, poses with his new bride, German actress Christine Kaufmann, 18, following their wedding at the Hotel Riviera in Las Vegas tonight (2/8). The couple met a year ago in Argentina while making the movie 'Taras Bulba.' It was the second marriage for Curtis and the first for the bride.
American actor Tony Curtis (1925 - 2010) with his wife Christine Kaufmann on the set of the film 'Wild and Wonderful', 1963. (Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images)
circa 1964: Left to right: Charles Kahn, Kirk Douglas, actress Christine Kaufmann with her husband Tony Curtis, Arthur Cohen and producer Sy Bartlett (1900 - 1978) dining out in Hollywood. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Schauspielerin, D- Portrait- undatiert (60er Jahre) (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) New York. Actor Tony Curtis, his actress wife Christine Kaufmann and their one year old girl Alexandra leave New York aboard the France August 5. The trio is Europe-Bound where Curtis will film his latest movie, , My last Duchess.
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Schauspielerin, D- balanciert auf einer Mauer- 1969 (Photo by Horst Prange/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Actress, Germanywith Tony Kendall during film shooting.- 1969 (Photo by Binder/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
'Christine Kaufmann, ca. 1975 in Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)'
'Christine Kaufmann, ca. 1984 in Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)'
'Christine Kaufmann, ARD-Fernsehfilm ''Der Graf von Monte Christo'' 1980 in den Bavaria Studios in M�nchen, Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)'
Portrait of actress Christine Kaufmann and music engineer Harald Thumann in a sound studio, Munich, May 1978. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
'Christine Kaufmann, Andreas ''Leo'' Lukoschik, ''Deutscher Filmball'' am 22.01.1990 in M�nchen, Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)'
Christine Kaufmann, Dreharbeiten zur Pro7-Serie: 'Gl�ckliche Reise', 10.8.1993, Schauspielerin, Jeep, Auto, Wagen, Schmuck, Perlen, Kette, Halskette, Promis, Prominente, Prominenter, (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
'Christine Kaufmann, Lebensgef�rte Walter Sch�nauer, ''Ball des Sports'' am 02.02.1990 in der Rheingoldhalle in Mainz, Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)'
Harald Juhnke, Christine Kaufmann, Lisa;Lengyel, 'Das Double' RTL-Special, (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
'Christine Kaufmann, Rita Lengyel, RTL-Special ''Das Double'' am 15.11.1993 in Hamburg, Deutschland. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)'
(GERMANY OUT) Kaufmann, Christine *11.01.1945-Schauspielerin, D- Portrait im roten Badeanzug- undatiert (Photo by Cover Press/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Christine Kaufmann, Wilfried Klaus,;ZDF-Krimi-Serie,'SOKO 5113', Folge: 'Das;Rendez-Vous', Klappe, (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
Vl Darstellerin Christine Kaufmann Und Geraldine Chaplin Bei Der Premiere Des Musicals 'Ludwig 2' Im Festspielhaus In Neuschwanstein Am 110305 (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)
Christine Kaufmann Bei Der Premiere Des Musicals 'Ludwig 2' Im Festspielhaus In Neuschwanstein Am 110305 (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)
Christine Kaufmann Beim Rosenball Zugusten Der Deutschen Schlaganfallhilfe Im Interconti In Berlin Am 270506 (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 30: Actress Christine Kaufmann attends Celebrities Read For UNICEF Charity Event at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten on November 30, 2011 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
HAMBURG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: Christine Kaufmann attends the Ladies Lunch in aid of the German Stroke Foundation at Hotel Louis C. Jacob on September 10, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Franziska Krug/ Getty Images)
Christine Kaufmann (mit Hund), Pr�entation Tier-Gnadenhof 'Gut Aiderbichl' zum Welttierschutztag, Kaufhaus 'Karstadt' am Bahnhofsplatz, Untergeschoss, M�nchen, Bayern, Deutschland, Europa, Tier, Tierschutz, Schauspielerin, Promi, 100193, NB, FTP; P.-Nr. 1300/2012, 04.10.2012; ; (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
WUERZBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 12: Christine Kaufmann poses during the Minx fashion night at Residenz on October 12, 2013 in Wuerzburg, Germany. The benefit of the charity gala is for the aid organisation 'Sauti Kuu' of Auma Obama. Behind the fashion label Minx stands Eva Lutz. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 08: Christine Kaufmann walks the runway at the Manou Lenz 'Love & Happiness' fashion show on July 8, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Anita Bugge/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - JUNE 28: German actress Christine Kaufmann attends the Shocking Shorts Award 2016 - Munich Film Festival on June 28, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images)
SOLTAU, GERMANY - AUGUST 05: Christine Kaufmann during the late night shopping at Designer Outlet Soltau on August 5, 2016 in Soltau, Germany. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images for Designer Outlet Soltau)
MUNICH, GERMANY - AUGUST 17: Christine Kaufmann during 'La Dolce Vita Grillfest' at Gruenwalder Einkehr on August 17, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
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Curtis and Kaufmann married a year later (after his first marriage to Janet Leigh ended in divorce). She was 18, he was 38. They had two daughters, Alexandra and Allegra, both professional actresses. The couple divorced in 1968. Years later, on a German TV show, she admitted to having had an affair with Warren Beatty.

Kaufmann returned to Germany, where she returned to acting, appearing in dozens of films and TV series, including in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lili Marleen and Lola, and in Percy Adlon's 1987 cult classic Baghdad Cafe.

She married three more times: to TV director Achim Lenz (1974-76), musician and actor Reno Eckstein (1979-1982) and illustrator Klaus Zey (1997-2011).

While Kaufmann continued to make television appearances do the occasional cameo —she played Aunt Polly in a German film version of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn in 2014—in later life she was best known in Germany for her business ventures, including her own line of cosmetics and numerous books on health and beauty.

A stunner well into her 60s, she was known as " the most beautiful grandmother in Germany."


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