Elisabeth Bergner as born Elisabeth Ettel on August 22, 1897, in Drohobycz, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Drogobych, Ukraine).
She began acting in Innsbruck at the age of 15. In Vienna, she worked as an artist's model, posing for sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, who fell in love with her. She eventually moved to Munich and then Berlin.
In 1923 she made her film debut in Der Evangelimann. With the rise of Naziism, Bergner and her husband, Paul Czinner, both Jews, moved to London. Her Catherine the Great was banned in Germany because of her Jewishness. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Escape Me Never in 1935.
She went to Germany in 1954, where she acted in movies and on the stage; the Berlin district of Steglitz named a city park after her.
She died in London, England on May 12, 1986, at the age of 88.