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German blonde bombshell Elke Sommer starred opposite film legends Peter Sellers, Paul Newman and Bob Hope.
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1966). She also became a familiar face on the 1970s talk show circuit and presented her own painting instruction show on PBS.
While at the University of Erlangen, Sommer abandoned her studies to pursue a modeling career and then moved into acting. She made her film debut in the German film, Das Totenschiff (1959). In the early 1960s, she won over American audiences with her roles in the drama The Prize (1963) with Paul Newman and the comedy A Shot in the Dark (1964) with Peter Sellars. Sommer won a Golden Globe for her work on The Prize. In addition to being an actress, she was a popular sex symbol of the era. Sommer was compared to such other screen sirens as Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot.
The Art of Love (1965) with James Garner, The Oscar (1966) with Milton Berle, and Boy, Did I Get the Wrong Number (1966) with Bob Hope. This last film was the start of a long working relationship with Hope. She went on to appear on many of his television specials over the next decade.
In the 1970s, Sommer was a popular talk show guest, appearing on The Mike Douglas Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Dinah!, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She had roles in a number of feature films, including Zeppelin (1971), The Swiss Conspiracy (1979), and The Prisoner of Zelda (1979), which reunited her with Sellars. The next decade brought more work, largely in television. She made guest appearances on such shows as The Love Boat and St. Elsewhere and had roles in several miniseries, including Inside the Third Reich (1982), Peter the Great (1985), and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986). Also around this time, she served as host of the syndicated show, Elke Sommer’s World of Speed and Beauty, which covered motor sports. She later hosted Painting with Elke Sommer, a 13-part instructional series, which was broadcast on public television.
Creating art had long been a passion for Sommer. She once said, "I'd rather be known as a painter who acts than as an actress who paints." Over the years, her work has appeared in numerous shows at galleries and museums around the world and carries on aspects of traditional German folk art.
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