Exiles in Southern California
Gina Kaus (1894-1984)
Gina Kaus was married briefly to the musican Josef Zirner, who died
in WWI in 1915. Her literary career began during WWI and her first
success was the comedy Diebe im Haus, performed at
the Burgtheater in Vienna. Her second marriage to fellow writer
Otto Kaus lasted from 1920 until 1926 and resulted in the births
of their two sons, Otto and Peter. By the end of the 1920s, Gina
Kaus had achieved both literary and financial success; in the 1930s
her novels were translated into English. In 1936 she completed an
author tour of the United States. She and her family fled Austria
immediately in March 1938 on the day of Austria's annexation, going
first to Switzerland then to France.
While in France Kaus began writing for the movies and wrote her
last novel Der Teufel nebenan (1940). Kaus, her two
sons, and Eduard Frischauer (who became Kaus' third husband in California),
escaped France on the ocean liner Ile de France in
September 1940. Also on board was screenwriter Salka
Viertel. Kaus spent her first two months in the United States
in New York's Hotel Bedford. She wrote serialized articles for the
magazine True Story to finance her trip to Hollywood.
arrived in November 1939 and rented two small bungelows on the corner
of Sunset Blvd. and Laurel Canyon. Kaus acclimated herself quickly
to Southern California and with help from her agent, George Marton,
she collaborated with Ladislaus Fodor (both of whom she had worked
with in France) on a play that was sold to MGM. With these earnings,
Kaus could afford to rent a house on Doheny Drive. Later she moved
to 262 S. Carmelina in Brentwood. She became the close friend
of best-selling novelist Vicki Baum.
She had a successful career in Hollywood. Several of her plays and
stories formed the basis of films and she also collaborated on screen
plays. The following are a few of the films she contributed to:
The Wife Takes a Flyer (1942); They all Kissed
the Bride (1942); Isle of Missing Men (1942);
The Night before the Divorce (1942); The Red
Danube (1949); and The Robe (1953).
in Southern California: 1939-1984.
Exilliteratur seit 1933: Kalifornien. Edited by John M. Spalek
und Joseph Strelka. Bern: Francke, 1976.
Kaus, Gina. Und was für ein Leben ... mit Liebe und Literatur,
Theater und Film. Hamburg: Albrecht Knaus, 1979.