Wanda Rothgardt was a popular actress in film and theatre during the first half of the 1900s.
Wanda Rothgardt was the daughter of the actor Bror Gustaf Rothgardt, known as Pietro, and the singer Edla Rothgardt, née Hamberg. She was born in Klara parish in Stockholm in 1905. When she was five years old, her brother Pietro was born. Five years later, their father died at the age of 39. Their mother had to support and raise the two children on her own after that.
Wanda Rothgardt made her film debut as a ten-year-old in Mauritz Stiller’s comedy Hans hustrus förflutna, that was closely followed by his drama Mästertjuven, both from 1915. She was noticed in reviews and received a great deal of praise even then. The following year, Wanda Rothgardt had a role in Victor Sjöström’s criminal drama Kiss of Death. She made her stage debut as a twelve-year-old in 1917 in the criminal drama På de anklagades bänk at Svenska Teatern in Stockholm, with Tore Svennberg and Pauline Brunius as co-actors. At the same time, she attended Sofi Almquist’s coeducational school and also performed there in school productions.
When Wanda Rothgardt had left school, she applied to Dramaten’s stage school, but was not accepted. Instead she tried other paths and was immediately offered an engagement by the management at the Helsingborg City Theatre, Gerda Lundequist and Torsten Hammarén. There, as an 18-year-old, she performed the role of Julie in Komedien. Wanda Rothgardt was engaged at the theatre in 1923–1926 and was given important roles, for example as Anna in Fredrik August Dahlgren’s popular comedy Värmlänningarna from 1845. She was later engaged at the Lorensberg Theatre in Gothenburg in 1926–1929, and at the Folk Theatre in the same city in 1929–1930. She participated in the Dramaten and National Theatre (Riksteatern) tours in 1931–1935. From 1936 until her death, she was engaged at the Gothenburg City Theatre. During these years, Wanda Rothgardt came to play a number of major roles. Among them may be named roles as Anne-Marie in Selma Lagerlöf’s Dunungen, as Bianca in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and as Agda in Tor Hedberg’s Johan Ulfstjerna in 1932; as Elisabeth Dohna in Selma Lagerlöf’s The Story of Gösta Berling in 1937; as Viola and Rosalinda in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and As you like it respectively, in 1939 and 1942, and as Solveig in Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt in 1943. Wanda Rothgardt’s last role was in a production of Kao-Tse-Tcheng’s Song of the Lute in 1947, before ill health compelled her to leave the stage. At that time, Wanda Rothgardt was regarded as one of the foremost treasures of the Gothenburg stage and a favourite with audiences.
Wanda Rothgardt played in 19 films altogether during her 30-year-long career, of which half were silent films. Among the titles can be named Sir Arne's Treasure in 1919, Unga hjärtan in 1934, The Word in 1943, Galgmannen in 1945, Två människor in 1945, Kristin kommenderar in 1946, Konsten att älska in 1947, and Eva in 1948, which turned out to be her last film role.
Wanda Rothgardt was one of the most talented actresses in Sweden with a broad register, outstanding diction and a unique capacity for giving her roles a poetic lustre. She was married to the actor Semmy Friedmann from 1930 until her death. Their daughter Jane Friedmann Eriksson, was also an actress.
Wanda Rothgardt often played faithful, warm, dutiful wives and mothers in films – ordinary, genuine women. She also added an inspired vital energy and courage that shone through on the screen. This is an aspect that seems to have touched her audience right from the start and certainly contributed to her remaining such a beloved Swedish film and theatre actress.
Wanda Rothgardt died in Gothenburg in 1950. She lies buried at the Northern Cemetery in Solna. After Wanda Rothgardt’s death, a bust of her by the sculptor Nanna Ullman was placed in the foyer of the cinema Röda Kvarn in Stockholm, and a fund was started in memory of her.