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Katharina Schratt

Katharina Schratt, circa 1900
Born September 11, 1853(1853-09-11)
Baden bei Wien, Austria–Hungary
Died April 17, 1940 (aged 86)
Vienna, Austria
Occupation Actress
Years active 1871–1900
Spouse(s) Nikolaus Kiss de Ittebe
(1879–1909)

Katharina Schratt (September 11, 1853, Baden bei Wien, Austria – April 17, 1940, Vienna) was an Austrian actress who became "the uncrowned Empress of Austria" as the mistress and confidante of Emperor Franz Joseph.

Katharina Schratt was the only daughter of an office supplies dealer; she had two brothers. Even at the age of 6, she took an interest in the theatre. Her parents' efforts to discourage this only increased her ambition. At 18, she appeared with the Hoftheater in Berlin, achieving considerable success in a short time.

However, Schratt left Germany after only a few months, following the call of the Viennese to join their city's theater. Schratt married Hungarian aristocrat Nikolaus Kiss de Ittebe in 1879, and gave birth to a son, Anton, in 1880. She toured overseas, and appeared in New York after which she returned permanently to Vienna's Hofburgtheater, She was one of Austria's most popular actresses until she retired in 1900.

Schratt's performance at the 1885 Industrial Exhibition in Vienna attracted the attention of Franz Joseph, and she was invited to perform for visiting Czar Alexander III of Russia. She soon became Franz Joseph's intimate companion and mistress. It is said that Franz Joseph's wife Empress Elisabeth actually promoted the relationship between the actress and the Emperor. After Elisabeth's assassination, their relationship continued, with one interruption (1900/01, due to a difference in opinions), until his death in November 1916. Schratt was rewarded with a generous lifestyle including a mansion on Vienna's Gloriettegasse, near the Schönbrunn Palace, and a three-story palace on the Kärntner Ring, just across from the Vienna State Opera.

After the death of Franz Joseph, she lived completely withdrawn in her palace on the Kärntner Ring. She turned down large financial offers for her memoirs. In later years, Schratt became deeply religious. After her death in 1940 at the age of 86, she was buried in the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna.

References

  • Joan Haslip, The Emperor & the Actress: The Love Story of Emperor Franz Josef & Katharina Schratt (Dial Press, 1982)
  • Georg Markus, Katharina Schratt: Die zweite Frau des Kaisers (Amalthea, 2004)
  • B. Hamann, Meine liebe, gute Freundin! Die Briefe Kaiser Franz Josephs an K. Schratt (Amalthea 1992)
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