Greta Keller-Bacon (February 8, 1903 - November 11, 1977) was a cabaret singer and Hollywood actress.
Born Margaretha Keller in Vienna, Austria, she studied dance from the age of eight, followed by acting. Her début was in Pavillon, in Vienna. She also appeared on stage with Marlene Dietrich in Broadway, in which she sang and danced. A recording contract with Ultraphon in 1929 took her from Vienna to Prague and Berlin, where she enjoyed great success with Peter Igelhoff and Peter Kreuder. For over 45 years her voice was familiar worldwide, in radio shows, films, revues, concerts and musicals, but above all in recordings. First called The Great Lady Of Chanson in her native Vienna, the nickname followed her to London and America.
In Hollywood she met and married Gaspar Griswold Bacon, Jr. son of Gaspar G. Bacon from a prominent "Boston Brahmin" family. The elder Bacon was a member of the board of Harvard University, and had been a close associate of J.P. Morgan, and later served as Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt and ambassador to France under William Howard Taft.
Her husband, known in film and theater as David Bacon, was murdered in 1943, two weeks after finishing a major role in the Republic serial The Masked Marvel. Speculation involved affairs with Howard Hughes and another actor, but the murder was never solved. Not long after that, their child was stillborn.
It took some time for her to recover from these events, but she restarted her career in Switzerland, then on to Vienna, Berlin and back to New York City.
Her lieder voice carried the charm of the Parisian women but never lost the heart of the girl from Vienna. Greta's singing in what some call "a style reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich" comes from the fact she was the model for how Marlene Dietrich developed her own voice. Greta Keller made recordings throughout the world and from the earliest days of "schellack" to the dawn of CDs. She spent many years in the United States, notably in hotel club rooms at the Waldorf and (later) the Stanhope in New York, where her show always included "My Way", with lyrics composed by Paul Anka, and a number of Noël Coward numbers. A "singer's singer," Keller often drew other performers to the room, including the Nordstrom Sisters, Beverly Sills and Hildegarde. Other regulars would book the same tables most nights that she was performing, including photographer Edgar de Evia. Favorites of the Stanhope crowd were the songs of Cole Porter and Noël Coward, for their sexual innuendo and double entendres. These included "Miss Otis Regrets" and "I'm the Other Woman in His Life" by her close friend Elisse Boyd. She regularly returned to Vienna. The poet and singer Rod McKuen was introduced by her to an audience in Vienna. McKuen, in turn, hosted a concert presenting her at Lincoln Center in the 1970s, and wrote the English lyric "If You Go Away" to Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas," which she always sang.
Greta's greatest strength was in her adaptability. She sang each song in a unique way. Her repertoire included songs from the 1930s through the war years as well as popular songs of the day. A few years before her death, her voice was heard in the Academy Award-winning movie, Cabaret (1972), for which she sang the song, "Heirat" (Married). The last years of her life, from 1973 until her death in November 1977 Greta lived, worked, and traveled with her last partner, Wolfgang Nebmaier, who now lives in Southern Oregon.
The Man in Search of His Murderer (1931),
Lied vom Leben, Das (1931) .... Singer... aka Song of Life (USA: informal literal English title),
Melody of Love (1932) .... Singer... aka Right to Happiness (USA),
Abenteurer von Paris, Der (1936) .... Cabaret Singer... aka The Paris Adventure (USA),
Reunion in France (1942) (uncredited) .... Baroness von Steinkamp... aka Mademoiselle France (UK)... aka Reunion,
Herz spielt falsch, Ein (1953) .... Chansonniere/Cabaret Singer ... aka A Heart's Foul Play (International: English title),
Blaue Stunde (1967) .... Singer,
Cabaret (1972) her voice was heard on a record as the singer of: "Heirat",
Filmography as: Actor, Herself, Notable TV Guest Appearances:
Herself - filmography:
Underground and Emigrants (1976),
Notable TV Guest Appearances:
"Five Fingers" playing "Micheline" in episode: "Station Break" (episode # 1.1) 3 October 1959,
"'Drehscheibe, Die'" playing "Singer" 6 November 1968,
"V.I.P.-Schaukel" playing "Herself" (episode # 4.3) 15 December 1974