Mary Losseff
Mary Losseff; b. Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

, 13 March 1907; d. London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, 3 July 1972. Russian (later, British) singer and film actress.

Life and career

Losseff was the stage, screen and life partner of the Austrian tenor Richard Tauber
Richard Tauber
Richard Tauber was an Austrian tenor acclaimed as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. Some critics commented that "his heart felt every word he sang".-Early life:...

 from 1929 to the mid 1930s, and Tauber’s close friend until his death in 1948. She was the muse for his 1934 operetta Der singende Traum and his three songs titled An eine schöne Frau, and she also starred opposite him in numerous productions. She made commercial recordings of one solo (Peter, Peter) and several duets with Tauber. She co-starred in four films: Das Land des Lächelns
The Land of Smiles
The Land of Smiles is a romantic operetta in three acts by Franz Lehár. The German language libretto was by Ludwig Herzer and Fritz Löhner. The performance time is about 100 minutes....

(1930), Liebeskommando (1931), Bretter, die die Welt bedeuten (1935) and The Sky’s the Limit (1938). Her voice was a high, light and sweet soprano – not big or great, but charming, true and technically assured.

Losseff’s early life was comfortable. Her father owned a factory and the family were relatively well off. With the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, however, the family were forced to flee to Japan, where they remained for two years. They then moved on to Berlin in 1921. Little is known of this period except that Mary bore an illegitimate child, Dimitri, in 1927. This did not affect her plans to make a career on the stage. She took lessons from Bertha Niklas-Kempner and sent Dimitri to boarding school from the age of three for the whole of his childhood. She made her debut at Rudolf Nelson
Rudolf Nelson
Rudolf Nelson was a German composer of hit songs, film music, operetta and vaudeville, and the founder/director of the Nelson Revue, a significant cabaret troupe on the 1930s Berlin nightlife scene.-Biography:...

’s Review in 1929, singing ‘Peter, Peter’. This period is described by her then-lover, the pianist and composer Peter Kreuder, in his book Nur Puppen habe keine Tränen.

Tauber was in the audience at the Nelson Review and fell in love with Mary, and her voice, at first sight; he felt that she was the singer for whom he had long been searching to star in his planned operetta Der singende Traum. Initially through his influence, she secured major roles in several productions, including Paul Abraham's Viktoria und ihr Husar
Viktoria und ihr Husar
Viktoria und ihr Husar is an operetta in three acts and a prelude by Paul Abraham with a libretto by Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda, based on a work by the Hungarian Emmerich Földes ....

, Karl Millöcker
Karl Millöcker
Carl Joseph Millöcker , was an Austrian composer of operettas and a conductor.He was born in Vienna, where he studied the flute at the Vienna Conservatory. While holding various conducting posts in the city, he began to compose operettas...

's Die Dubarry, Jaromír Weinberger
Jaromír Weinberger
- Biography :Weinberger was born in Prague, from a family of Jewish origin. He heard Czech folksongs from time spent at his grandparents' farm as a youth. He started to play the piano at age 5, and was composing and conducting by age 10. He began musical studies with Jaroslav Křička. Later teachers...

's Frühlingsstürme, Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár
Franz Lehár was an Austrian-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow .-Biography:...

’s Paganini, Abraham’s Ball im Savoy
Ball im Savoy
Ball im Savoy is an operetta in three acts and a prelude by Paul Abraham to a libretto by Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda....

, Emmerich Kálmán
Emmerich Kalman
Emmerich Kálmán was a Hungarian-born composer of operettas.- Biography :Kálmán was born Imre Koppstein in Siófok, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, Hungary in a Jewish family.Kálmán initially intended to become a concert pianist, but because of early-onset arthritis, he focused on composition...

’s Gräfin Maritza
Countess Maritza
Gräfin Mariza is an operetta in three acts composed by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán, with a libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grünwald. It premiered in Vienna on 28 February 1924 at the Theater an der Wien....

and of course Der singende Traum. She received critical acclaim, indicating that Tauber’s faith was justified. At this time, Mary and Richard were considered a couple, and were expected to marry.

However, by 1933, Richard had been hounded from Germany, because his father was Jewish. Mary stayed by his side; they went first to Vienna and then to London. Mary took part in some London productions, but never quite hit it off with British audiences. She had also started drinking heavily, which affected her ability to perform. Domestically and professionally, Mary declined rapidly. Richard detested alcohol, and the nature of the relationship changed. When he married the non-singing British actress Diana Napier
Diana Napier
-Selected filmography:* Her First Affaire * The Private Life of Don Juan * The Rise of Catherine the Great * Royal Cavalcade * Heart's Desire * Pagliacci * Land Without Music...

 in 1936, Mary was devastated and began drinking even more heavily. Mary’s last major role was in the South African production of Tauber’s Land of Smiles in 1939, but during this tour she was replaced by her understudy Jose Malone. Richard was astonishingly loyal to her until his death. Many of his 60-odd letters repeat the same refrain: 'I wish that everything could have been different'. He also carried on giving Mary a weekly allowance and sending her additional money through the post whenever he could. Despite Richard's never-wavering constancy and repeated attempts to persuade her to stop drinking, Mary virtually disappeared from public performance, barring the occasional concert fixed up by friends. The last documented appearances by her were at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens
Bournemouth Winter Gardens
Bournemouth Winter Gardens was a theatre in Bournemouth, England. Many artists have performed at this venue. It closed in 2002 and the building was demolished in 2006.- External links :*...

in 1950.

Mary married the actor Brian Buchel in 1938 but the marriage did not succeed, and they separated long before divorce was granted in 1947. She moved to Exmouth in 1943, without Brian, then back to London to a flat in Queensway, Bayswater, in 1944 and remained there on and off until 1948, the year of Richard’s death. She also bought a farm in Ireland, which was run by her son Dimitri and which she occasionally visited. She tried to bring her mother, brother and sister to Ireland and to England, but failed; she never saw her family again. After Richard died, her financial circumstances became desperate for a while, but she found a new partner by the name of Charles Holt, and when that relationship ended, lived with a Willy Bolt in Exmouth. By 1955, she was back in London, living in Acton and then Ealing. (There is no evidence that she lived at any time in Soho, sharing a room with a labourer who used the room by day which she used by night, as Diana Napier Tauber claimed.) In 1959 she met Vassia Myronovsky and moved into his house in the Hammersmith district of London, where she stayed until her death of cancer of the lung in July 1972.

Mary possessed a loving, homely quality until her old age, although her alcoholism gave rise to a gross instability of character. She remained in touch with her son, although he never forgave her for withholding information about his father. She was extremely moved when her grandchildren were born. Her constant drinking and difficult behaviour became too much for Vassia in the end and their relationship deteriorated; during her terminal illness, she was tended by her daughter-in-law. She was cremated in Sutton, Surrey, where her ashes are interred.


  • ‘Peter, Peter’ (part of ‘Das spricht Bände’). Recorded 1929. Available on Bei uns um die Gedächtniskirche rum… Berlin Cabaret (Edel 0014532TLR, 1996). CD 2, track 6.
  • ‘Frühling in der Manschurei’ and ‘Traum versunken’, from Frühlingsstürme. With Richard Tauber. German Odeon recording 0-4521, 28 January 1933.
  • ‘Sagen dir nicht meine Augen’ and ‘Sing mir ein Liebeslied’, from ’’Der singende Traum’’. With Richard Tauber. Austrian Odeon recording 0-4541, 4 September 1934.

She also recorded on 4.9.34 two solos from 'Der singende Traum', issued on Odeon 0-25208.
  • Unpublished 1936 master discs of ’’Der singende Traum’’, complete (now available from Danny Sharples, 20 Virginia Close, Baguley, Manchester M23 9NG, UK).


  • Das Land des Lächelns (dir. Max Reichmann; Richard Tauber Tonfilm-Production. Germany, 1930).
  • Liebeskommando (dir. Géza von Bolváry; Super-Film. Germany, 1931).
  • Bretter, die die Welt bedeuten (dir. Kurt Gerron; Panta-Film. Austria, 1935).
  • The Sky’s the Limit (dir. Lee Garmes and Jack Buchanan; General Film Distributors. UK, 1938).

Primary sources

  • Mary Losseff's private papers including 60 letters from Richard Tauber (contact

Secondary sources

  • Charles, Castle and Tauber, Diana Napier; This was Richard Tauber. London and New York: W.H. Allen, 1971.
  • Jürgs, Michel; Gern hab’ ich die Frau’n geküßt: Die Richard-Tauber Biographie. München: List-Verlag, 2000.
  • Kreuder, Peter; Nur Puppen habe keine Tränen. Munich: Percha, 1971; reissued Munich: Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag, 2003.
  • Tauber, Diana Napier; My Heart and I. London: Evans Brothers, 1959
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