BORN 31 Jul 1865, Dresden - DIED 9 Feb 1939, Baden (near Wien)|
REAL NAME Petermann, Helene
GRAVE LOCATION Wien: Zentralfriedhof, Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, Simmering (Gruppe 12 D, Reihe 1, Nummer 23)
Helene Odilon started as an actress in Chemnitz, but she was
contracted by the Court Theatre in Berlin according to the wishes
of emperor Wilhelm I. In 1891 she left for Vienna, where she
was soon famous for her wild private life and her erotic radiation.
She seemd to have bewitched the town, at least the male part
of it. Odilon worked for the Deutsches Volkstheater where she
starred as Madame Dubarry and Madame Sans-Gêne. In 1898 Hermann
Bahr wrote the part of Lona Ladinser for her in "Der Star".
She also performed succesfully in London and in the United States
In 1893 she married the popular actor Girardi but the marriage was a complete disaster. Odilon continued her numerous love affairs and Girardi became extremely jealous. At home Girardi made her listen for hours to parts of his operetta's and then refused to listen to her when she was learning a new part. At one time Odilon moved over to the Sacher hotel and tried to get rid of Girardi by getting him committed to a clinic. The famous psychiatrist Dr. Julius Wagner-Jauregg stated without seeing Girardi in person that he was dangerous because of his use of cocain and should be committed to the mental home Svetlin. But Girardi managed to get away just in time. In 1896 the marriage was formally over. Her second husband was Ferencz von Rakovsky, a Hungarian who soon bored her. She twice went to the USA where she acted at Irving Place, the second time together with the actor Sonnenthal, with whom she subsequently toured the country. She observed that Chicago smelled of pigs.
In 1903 she suffered a stroke when she was in Tyrol. It ended her career abrubtly. The right side of her body was lame now and she was even put under supervision. As a proof that she hadn't lost her mind she named her memoirs "Das Buch einer Schwachsinnigen" ("The Book of a feeble-minded", 1909). In this book she recalls how she and Girardi went to Scheveningen. Girardi was in a bad mood and did nothing but complain. At a certain point she could stand it no more and sent a telegram to a casual acquaintance that she didn't particularly like: "Come here at once and elope with me!". She and Girardi soon became friends again and she was lucky that the acquaintance never showed up.
In 1926 the press wrote that she was blinded and impoverished and that she was forced to beg. She died in 1939 in Baden near Vienna.
Husband: Girardi, Alexander
Budig, Robert S. et al, Ehrengräber am Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Compress Verlag Wien, Wien
Odilon, Helene eigentlich H. Petermann
Katharina Schratt, Die Heimliche Frau des Kaisers, Ullstein, Berlin, 1988