Vintage Photos of Danish Silent Era Movie Queen Asta Nielsen

Asta Nielsen (1881 – 1972), was a Danish silent film actress who was one of the most popular leading ladies of the 1910s and one of the first international movie stars. Seventy of Nielsen’s 74 films were made in Germany where she was known simply as Die Asta (The Asta).

In 1911 she was contracted to German producer Paul Davidson for $80,000 a year, then the highest salary for a film star. In 1924 she was famously co-starred with that other great Scandinavian diva, Greta Garbo, months before Garbo left for Hollywood and MGM.

Noted for her large dark eyes, mask-like face and boyish figure, Nielsen most often portrayed strong-willed passionate women trapped by tragic consequences. Due to the erotic nature of her performances, Nielsen’s films were heavily censored in the United States and her work remained relatively obscure to American audiences.

She is credited with transforming movie acting from overt theatricality to a more subtle naturalistic style. Nielsen founded her own film studio in Berlin during the 1920s, but returned to Denmark in 1937 after the rise of Nazism in Germany. A private figure in her later years, Nielsen became a collage artist and an author.


Asta Nielsen via


Asta Nielsen, 1920 via


Asta Nielsen while filming the freaudlose Gasse,1925 via


Asta Nielsen via

Asta Nielsen by Bain News Service, ca. 1914

Asta Nielsen, 1914 via


Asta Nielsen via

Asta Nielsen via