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The Swiss actress Marthe Keller seemed ready to make the cross-over to American films in the mid-1970s and become a big star. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Actress for her role in the blockbuster Marathon Man (1976), following it up with roles in the Al Pacino vehicle Bobby Deerfield (1977) and the terrorist potboiler Black Sunday (1977). She garnered a great deal of publicity from these movies and from her love affair with the notoriously private Pacino. The title role in Hollywood legend Billy Wilder`s Fedora (1978) seemingly would cement her claim to star status. Alas, it was not to be.
Wilder had wanted to cast Faye Dunaway as "Fedora", a pastiche of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich that actor-turned-novelist Tom Tryon had created in his best seller "Crowned Heads". He expected the actress to play the fictional movie queen both in her youthful incarnation and as an older woman (now known as "Countess Sobryanski"). When Dunaway passed on the part, the red-hot Keller was cast in the movie. However, Wilder was dismayed when the makeup prepared to transform Keller into the older Fedora (as Countess Sobryanski) aggravated a large scar on her forehead and caused so much pain that she couldn`t act under those conditions. Wilder was forced to cast an older actress (Hildegard Knef) as the Countess. Wilder and Keller never established a good working relationship, with the result that her poor performance essentially was blamed for the failure of the film both artistically and at the box office. Though she has continued to act in scores of productions, mostly European, since Fedora (1978) was released, the failure of the film and rumors of her antagonistic relationship with one of Hollywood`s most revered figures essentially ended her chance to be a major Hollywood and international star.
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Marthe Keller (born 28 January 1945) is a Swiss actress and opera director.
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