Sometimes referred to as Hollywood’s “sauerkraut-Bardot,” German-born siren Elke Sommer cut a seductive swathe through showbiz almost from the moment she stepped on to the scene.
After she was discovered in the late 1950s, while on holiday in Italy, she moved to the United States where she quickly become a popular pin-up model who appeared in Playboy several times and won a 1964 Golden Globe in the Most Promising Newcomer Actress category for “The Prize,” in which she co-starred with Paul Newman.
The Teutonic blond bombshell went on appear in more than 100 films and television programs over the course of her 40-plus years in showbiz. She was a frequent and beloved guest on “The Dean Martin Show,” and in the 1970s, was a regular panelist on the “Hollywood Squares” game show. She was such a huge star in the ‘70s, in fact, that when German President Walter Scheel was wined and dined at the White house in 1975, Sommer was seated next to then-U.S.-President Gerald Ford.
In the ‘80s, Sommer appeared in numerous European productions, as well as several episodes of “The Love Boat,” and the television miniseries “Jenny’s War” and “Peter the Great.” In 1984 she and Zsa Zsa Gabor both appeared on “Circus of the Stars,” which resulted in a bitter feud that became a libel lawsuit; Sommer was awarded $3.3 million in damages from Gabor and her husband, the always eccentric Frederick von Anhalt, for defaming Sommer in a couple of German publications.
Around the time of the settlement, Sommer married for a second time, to 6’5” Wolf Walther, whom she met when he was managing director of the Essex Hotel in New York, and the much-in-love couple made their home an almost one-acre estate in L.A.’s Holmby Hills that has just come for sale with Larry Young of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at $10.75 million.