Zarah Leander

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Zarah Leander (15 March 1907 – 23 June 1981) was a Swedish singer and actress whose greatest success was in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. Leander began her career in the late 1920s, and by the mid-1930s her success in Europe, particularly in Germany and the Scandinavian countries, led to invitations to work in the United States. She was reluctant to relocate her children, and opted to remain in Europe. From 1936, she was contracted to work for the German Universum Film AG (UFA) while continuing to record songs. Leander later noted that while her films were successful, her work as a recording artist was more profitable. As a result of her controversial choice to work for the state-owned UFA when it necessarily was subordinate to the Third Reich, her films and lyrics were viewed by some as propaganda for the Nazi cause, although she took no public political position. She was strongly criticised, particularly in Sweden where she returned after her Berlin home was bombed during an air raid. Initially shunned by much of the artistic community and public, she found herself unable to resume her career after the Second World War. It was several years before she could make a comeback in Sweden, and she would remain a figure of public controversy for the rest of her life. Eventually she returned to performing throughout Europe, but was unable to equal the level of success she had previously achieved. She spent her later years in retirement in Stockholm, and died there at the age of 74.