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Sing, shine, laugh: Cornelia Froboess celebrates her 80th birthday.

Sing, shine, laugh: Cornelia Froboess celebrates her 80th birthday.

October 28th, 2023

From her beginnings as a child star to hits that moved generations, to her award-winning theater and TV career: Cornelia Froboess celebrates her 80th birthday on October 28. She looks back on a unique career.

In 1943, while Germany was still at war, Cornelia Froboess was born in Wriezen, Brandenburg. Far away from the dangerous events in Berlin, where her father lived. The musician and sound engineer Gerhard Froboess would later write music for his own daughter. The girl, who already called herself Conny, represented like no other the emerging self-confidence, hope, and growing optimism of youth in the post-war years. Conny sang, shone, laughed - a charming and carefree Berlin girl who made music and film history. On October 28, Cornelia Froboess turns 80 years old.

Adored, admired, and honored multiple times - but "Conny" never became a diva. On the contrary, her honesty and down-to-earth nature defined Cornelia Froboess from the beginning. In 1951, at the age of just seven, she stepped into the spotlight for the first time to perform the hit "Pack' die Badehose ein," composed by her father Gerhard. Thanks to its light-heartedness, the song became a hit, and the little Conny became an overnight child star. Not only all of Germany was captivated by the "Berlin brat." She recorded other titles like "Zwei kleine Italiener," with which Cornelia Froboess participated in the Grand Prix in 1962, singing it in several languages.

As the adored child star became a celebrated teen idol in the 1950s, Conny Froboess, with her fresh and natural presence, influenced entire generations of girls who dreamed of being like her. Catchy duets with stars like Rex Gildo, Peter Weck, and Peter Alexander, with whom the singer also appeared in various comedies, solidified her position in the German entertainment industry.

However, her greatest successes in those years were alongside Peter Kraus. Marketing them as the perfect teen couple paid off: their joint film "Conny und Peter machen Musik" in 1960 was not only a box office hit but also the most successful German production of the year. Kraus and Cornelia Froboess remain friends to this day, but they were never a couple - even though, 60 years later, fans still speculate about a romance between them on the internet.

Two years ago, Cornelia Froboess was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the German Acting Awards. She mischievously commented on the award, saying, "That makes me realize how old I am. After that, there's nothing left. What else is there to come?"

Successfully forging her own path: From Schlager sweetheart to celebrated stage star. By the mid-1960s, Cornelia Froboess knew that she wanted more than just filming one pleasant Schlager comedy after another and occasionally recording a new record. She withdrew from the music industry, and her last solo LP was released in 1967. Instead, she devoted herself to her acting career. It went in a different direction than many had expected because the former Schlager star was drawn not to the big screen but to the theater. There, Cornelia Froboess found her great love: in 1967, she married the twelve years older theater director and artistic director Hellmuth Matiasek. The couple had two children. Unexpectedly for many critics, the once beloved Schlager sweetheart became an impressive theater star. Cornelia Froboess was a permanent ensemble member at the Munich Kammerspiele for 22 years. She spent ten years at the Residenztheater.

In the following decades, the actress appeared only sporadically in cinema and TV. She made exceptions for special films like "Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss" (1982) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder or the occasional strong guest role in TV productions like "Derrick" or "Der Alte." Most of the time, the versatile actress stayed away from the stage. She explained in 2012 during the presentation of the ZDF love drama "Eine halbe Ewigkeit," "I rarely act for television. In the past, it was because I was always tied to the theater and had trouble getting time off. Besides, I always told myself: If the roles aren't great, I don't have to do them." Her guest appearance as Dr. Pia Michaelis in the third and fourth season of the popular TV series "Praxis Bülowbogen" alongside Günter Pfitzmann is still remembered to this day.

In 2012, Cornelia Froboess sent a shock through the audience at the premiere of the play "Die Anarchistin" at the Residenztheater when she had to interrupt the performance due to a fainting spell. The "tz" newspaper's headline the next morning read, "Collapse on Stage: Concern for the Great Froboess." Wild internet speculations about the beloved actress's health condition quickly followed. While Cornelia Froboess did take a short break from her work, she was soon back on her feet. She now takes the liberty to choose roles that appeal to her: "Just because the script says 'grandmother,' it doesn't mean I'll do it. The character has to have something to say!"

Even in her advanced age, she made an impact with memorable roles, whether as the determined part of an remarkable senior duo in "Almuth und Rita" (2016) alongside Senta Berger, as a gambling senior in the comedy "Pokerface" (2016), or as the rather unconventional Frau Holle in a "Herzkino-Märchen" (2019). Certainly, Froboess has played the role of a grandmother in recent years, but, like the resolute stud farm owner Maria Kaltenbach in the popular film series "Ostwind," these roles are far from the usual stereotypes.

In April 2022, Hellmuth Matiasek passed away at the age of 90. Since then, things have been quieter for the actress, who lives in the Inntal near the Wendelstein. What is certain is that in the documentary "Kann denn Liebe Sünde sein?" about the life and work of lyricist Bruno Balz and composer Michael Jary, in addition to Götz Alsmann, Cornelia Froboess also shares her thoughts. The exact release date is unfortunately still not known.

There aren't many films that television has included in its programming for the actress's special day. On Saturday, October 28, the BR channel will air the TV drama "Eine halbe Ewigkeit" from 2011 in her honor at 11:40 PM, which revolves around the late fulfillment of a youthful love. The film will also be shown earlier in the morning at 9:00 AM on the rbb channel.


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