Elsie Albiin was a popular actress and film star in the mid-1900s.
Elsie Albiin was the daughter of Karl Albin, a military musician, and his wife Ellen. She was born in Helsingborg in 1921 and had one sister, Inga, four years older. After having passed her School Certificate at the girls’ grammar school in Helsingborg, Elsie Albiin worked for a year as a reporter at Öresunds-Posten, writing film reviews among other things. She had been interested early on in film, theatre and music theatre, as well as music itself, no doubt influenced by her father who was the music director at the Helsingborg city theatre. Elsie Albiin participated in school plays, took dancing lessons, and worked as an extra at the theatre where she saw among others Signe Hasso in guest performances. This inspired her to follow her inclination. Her parents were not overjoyed by the thought since they knew the drawbacks, but their daughter’s will won.
Elsie Albiin had Sif Ruud as her teacher in voice technique for a short time and she organised things so that Elsie Albiin was able to travel to Stockholm in 1940 to continue her theatre studies. She applied to Dramaten’s drama school but was not accepted so she studied instead at Willy Koblanck’s drama school for two years. In 1942, she was given a small film role in which she was discovered by the film producer Lorens Marmstedt, who offered her an apprentice contract with Terra-film. Elsie Albiin continued her drama studies, partly with Anna Lindahl, and partly with Mimi Pollak, when she had a break in her film work. Her only real screen role was in the spring of 1944 in William Saroyan’s play Livet är ju härligt at Oscarsteatern, as the nurse Elsie, who was courted by Bengt Ekerot in the play.
Elsie Albiin actually made her film debut in 1940 in a very small role in Hasse Ekman’s romantic comedy Med dej i mina armar. It would not be very long either before she was given main roles – she had something of a comet career in films. Elsie Albiin made her real debut in a main role in Kvinnor i fångenskap from 1943, directed by Olof Molander – and she made her breakthrough immediately. Completely untried, right at the beginning of her career as an actress, she received brilliant reviews and was much sought after for main roles after only having had parts as an extra previously.
Elsie Albiin also had a main role in the first Swedish full-length film in colour, Klockorna i Gamla Sta'n that had its premiere at Christmas 1946. The film was produced by the film company Europafilm and directed by Ragnar Hyltén-Cavallius. In the centre was the really great star of the film company and that day, Edvard Persson. Georg Fant, Gunnel Broström and Elsie Albiin had other main roles. During the filming, the American dual-colour system Cinecolor was used, and even though the quality of the colour varied throughout the film, it was nonetheless the colour that received most praise at the premiere. Just a sentimental though sometimes beautifully coloured postcard with many different views of Stockholm, thought a number of reviewers. The film was nevertheless a success with the filmgoers.
Elsie Albiin participated in almost 20 Swedish films between 1940 and 1952. Among these may be mentioned Sonja in 1943, Excellensen in 1944, En dag skall gry in 1944, Fram för lilla Märta in 1945, Rötägg in 1946, Harald Handfaste in 1946, and Det kom en gäst in 1947. She played mostly main roles or bigger roles. Elsie Albiin also test-filmed for Paramount in Hollywood and played in the Italian-American film about artists entitled Rapture (Sangue sul sagrato) in 1950. Her last film role in Sweden was in the Swedish-American co-production Han glömde henne aldrig in 1952. After that followed an American criminal drama Hidden Fear in 1957, filmed in Copenhagen. In it, Elsie Albiin was cast together with John Payne and Conrad Nagel among others.
Elsie Albiin also participated in the British drama film Intimate Relations in 1953, that was shown at the Cannes festival. She was acclaimed for this by Jean Cocteau, the chairman of the jury that year. He had also written the play upon which the film was based, and in his opinion, she had succeeded in creating the role best of all those who had performed it, on stage and screen. Moreover, he found her ravishing. Elsie Albiin performed in five international films in 1950–1957 as well as an American TV film with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1954.
Elsie Albiin retired from her film career in 1957 and lived on and off in Australia, England, Lebanon and the USA. From the mid-1950s, Denmark was however her home base, and she settled just outside Copenhagen. Her husband’s new flight route departed from there. She never learned to master Danish, however, and it was therefore difficult to continue her career in her new home country. Instead, she started an English-speaking theatre group, Det engelske Teater, in Copenhagen around the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s.
Elsie Albiin was simple and natural while at the same time being glamorous and ambitious and looking like a Hollywood film star. She was one of the great hopes of Swedish film around the end of the 1940s, and furthermore well on her way to starting a career in Hollywood. Instead, her career came to an abrupt halt and she disappeared from Swedish view. Even though her excursion into the international film arena was brief, she was much acclaimed there as a skilful character actress who also possessed star quality and charm. “Bergman’s winning personality combined with Garbo’s exquisite, classically beautiful facial features” was one way of expressing it. However, sometimes life has other plans. Elsie Albiin has despite everything left behind her several fine dramatic performances in a number of high-quality films.
Elsie Albiin was married to British Tony Ford from 1949 until his death in 1998. They had two children. Their son Michael Ford is an author now living in Denmark.
Elsie Albiin died in Virum near Copenhagen in 2009. She is buried in Ordrup Cemetery.