German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K.1475.
Lilly Jacobsson (1893 – 1979) aka Lilly Jacobson, was a Swedish actress who starred in Swedish and Danish silent films by a.o. Eric Malmberg, Mauritz Stiller and Holger-Madsen. She was the star of the popular Danish film The Maharaja’s Favourite Wife (1917).
Born 8 June 1893 in Göteborg Sweden, Lilly Jacobsson debuted in film at AB Svenska Biografteatern in 1911, collaborating at various Swedish films until 1914. First she played in films by Eric Malmberg, with himself often in the male lead. Her first film was Opiumhålan/The Opium Den (Malmberg 1911), shot in various Swedish cities such as her native own, but also in Paris, Monte Carlo and aboard the SS Lusitania, going to New York. The next film Bränningar eller Stulen lycka/Burnings or Stolen Luck (Malmberg 1912) repeated the pick of locations, again including a transatlantic trip with the Lusitania. The third film of Jacobsson and Malberg, Det gröna halsbandet/The Green Necklace (1912) all evolved in Jacobsson native town Göteborg. Jacobsson then played the female lead in a film by Georg af Klercker: Musikens magt/The Power of Music (1912), again partly shot in Göteborg. Next came Kolingens galoscher/Kolingen’s Boots (Malmberg 1912), a farce in which Jacobsson played a millionair’s daughter. It was then time for another transatlantic trip, resulting in Samhällets dom/The Judgment of Society (1912), aboard the Lusitania to New York. The trip also resulted in a short documentary Med Lusitania till Amerika/Med 2.300 Passagerare ofver Atlanten. Samhällets dom was released in February 1912, two months before the sinking of the SS Titanic, sistership of the Lusitania. The documentary was released one week after the naval disaster. Malmberg and Jacobsson then exploited their ocean trip for Tva svenska emigranters äfventyr i Amerika/The Adventures of Two Swedish Emigrants in America (1912), which also included shots in New York and at Niagara Falls.
Returned to Sweden Lilly played the female lead, together with Anna Norrie, in Mauritz Stiller’s debut as film director: Mor och dotter/ Mother and Daughter (1912). Next came Stiller’s När larmklockan ljuder/When the Alarm Bell Rings (1913). The film was partly shot in and around the Swedish town Solleftea. Officers and soldiers of the local regiment Kungl Västernorrlands collaborated as extras, while the Airdale terreir Tell from the war dogs school had a part in the film. A third collaboration between Stiller and Jacobsson occurred in Gränsfolken/ Brother Against Brother (1913), based on Zola’s Le débacle and partly shot at Visby. The film had a huge international release. Still for a long time it was considered lost, until a print was found in Poland in 2009. Stiller and Jacobsson then did När svärmor regerar/When the Mother-in-Law Reigns (1914). It was based on a Finnnish play Stiller had performed on stage before. In the next film of Stiller and Jacobsson, För sin kärleks skull/Because of her love (1914), Jacobsson had a secondary role – the female lead was for Lilly Bech – while the male lead was for Victor Sjöström. Jacobsson then acted in another af Klercker film: För fäderneslandet/For the Fatherland (1914), shot in Svensa Bio’s film studio in Stockholm, but also in a studio in Kopenhagen, while exteriors were shot in Solleftea. Jacobsson returned to Stiller for Stormfågeln/Stormy Petrel (1914), with again Bech in the female lead. It was shot both in Stocholm and in and around the train station of Åre. Lilly Jacobsson’s penultimate Swedish film was Strejken/Strike (1915), again directed by Stiller and with Sjöström in the lead, while the last one was directed by Sjöström himself: En av de många/One of the Many (1915), which starred Gunnar Tolnaes and Lili Bech.
In 1916 the Danish company Nordisk was looking for a new star. Lilly Jacobsson was chosen from hundres of competitors and became the leading actress in Maharadjahens Yndlingshustru/The Maharaja’s Favourite Wife (Robert Dinesen/ Svend Gade 1917), in which she performed as Elly who enters the harem of an Indian maharaja, played by Gunnar Tolnaes. The film was such a success that Nordisk made a sequel : Maharadjahens Yndlingshustru II (1919). In between Jacobsson played in various Danish films, mostly directed by Holger-Madsen. These included the science fiction-film Himmelskibet/400 Million Miles From Earth (Holger-Madsen 1918) starring Nils Asther and Gunnar Tolnaes, Folkets ven/Friend of the People (Holger-Madsen 1918) again with Tolnaes, and Mod Lyset/Towards the Light (Holger-Madsen 1918) starring Asta Nielsen as a cold, partying woman who neglects religion, but later on repents and becomes the wife of preacher man (Alf Blütecher) who takes care of the poor. The film eventually resulted in Jacobsson playing Ophelia in Asta’s own – German – production of Hamlet (Svend Gade/Heinz Schall 1921), in which Nielsen played the title role herself. In 1919 Lilly Jacobsson married director Corbett Edwards in Odense (Denmark), which ended her film career. She died on 11 November 1979 at the age of 86 and lies buried in Assistenskirkegården in Odense.
Sources: Danish and Swedish Wikipedia, IMDB
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