Foreign Stars in the Netherlands in the 1930s

In the 1930s, many foreign stars regularly came to the Netherlands as part of publicity campaigns for themselves or their films. 

Already in the 1920s, the Americans Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, married at the time, came to the Netherlands during their trip as ‘goodwill ambassadors’ who were paid by the US State Department. Their visit was filmed by the Dutch film company Haghe Film and was subsequently shown in cinemas.  

The Western star Tom Mix also visited the Netherlands around that time, and that was also filmed and screened. 

Galas galore

In the 1930s, one kind publicity event regularly attended by stars was gala premieres. The American star Robert Taylor came to Amsterdam to attend the premiere of his last film in the Alhambra-Theater. From there he began a European tour in a special plane chartered from KLM. 

The Marx Brothers were invited to another gala premiere in the Alhambra, and German stars frequently came to the Netherlands for these events. Lilian Harvey, for example, was invited to the special premiere of her film Fanny Elssler (Germany, 1937) that was shown on the occasion of the Rembrandt-Theater in Amsterdam opening on 27 November 1937.  

The privileged ones

These gala premieres became such a phenomenon that the established film magazines started to voice criticism. ‘Filmfront’ reviewer Leo Hanekrot wrote in 1937 that there had recently been talk of an ‘unhealthy cheerfulness’ that had shown itself particularly in the comings and goings of film stars. He went on to say that there’d been a continuous increase of all sorts of premieres and special screenings while film itself seemed to have dozed off into a deep slumber from which it couldn’t waken. 

Hanekrot hoped that the ‘privileged ones’ who attended all those special screenings, gala premieres, festive premieres, official premieres, jubilee premieres and special premieres would also go to a normal cinema screening occasionally.


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