Pola Negri (1897 – 1987) was a Polish stage and film actress who achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles.
Raised in the Congress Kingdom of Poland, Negri’s childhood was marked by several personal hardships: After her father was sent to Siberia, she was raised by her single mother in poverty, and suffered tuberculosis as a teenager. Negri recovered, and went on to study ballet and acting in Warsaw, becoming a well-known stage actress there. In 1917 she relocated to Germany, where she began appearing in silent films for the Berlin-based UFA studio. Her film performances for UFA came to the attention of Hollywood executives at Paramount Pictures, who offered her a film contract.
Negri signed with Paramount in 1922, making her the first European actor in history to be contracted in Hollywood. She spent much of the 1920s working in the United States appearing in numerous films for Paramount, establishing herself as one of the most popular actresses in American silent film. In the 1930s during the emergence of the sound film, Negri returned to Europe where she appeared in multiple films for Pathé Films and UFA, and also began a career as a recording artist. She would make only two films after 1940, with her last screen credit in Walt Disney’s The Moon-Spinners (1964).