Pauline Brunius (SE)

Actress, director and theatrical director. Born 1881 in Stockholm. Dead 1954 in Stockholm.

1881 - 1954

During the first half of the 20th century Pauline Brunius was the grand old lady of Swedish stage acting who, for a period, also tried her hand at film directing. She began her career in 1891 as a ballet student at Stockholm’s Royal Opera House where she spent ten years prior to making her acting debut at the Olympia Theatre in 1902. In the years before the turn of the century, she also achieved notable success at the Östermalm Theatre, the Royal Dramatic Theatre and the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki. Between 1926 and 1932 she ran Stockholm’s Oscarsteatern together with her husband John W. Brunius and the celebrated actor Gösta Ekman.

Brunius was a classically trained actor with an imposing presence and a melodic voice that was well suited to playing regal roles. Edvin Adolphson, who appeared on stage with her many times at the Swedish Theatre, describes her in his memoirs as an esteemed colleague and a superb ensemble actor. Brunius made her screen acting debut in 1920 and acted in 13 films. Today she is probably best remembered for her final film role, as Mrs Lindberg, the Major’s wife in Karl Fredrik Reigns (Karl Fredrik regerar, Sigurd Wallén, 1934).

During the 1920s Brunius made a number of short films based on her own screenplays about the Vinners, a charming Stockholm family, in which the parents were played by the real-life couple Frida and Olof Winnerstrand. The Vinners’ son, Putte, was played by Brunius’ own son Palle. Reminiscent of the situation and action comedies of our own times, there were six films in all, which were screened in cinemas prior to the main feature. Fragments still remain from De läckra skaldjuren (‘The Delicious Shellfish,’ 1920) and Herr Vinners stenåldersdröm (‘Mr Vinner’s Stone Age Dream,’ 1924) plus a complete version of Lev livet leende (‘Live Your Life Smiling,’ 1921) – which incidentally was the Swedish title of Douglas Fairbanks’ autobiography Laugh and Live, when it had been published in Sweden two years earlier.

In 1934 Brunius directed her only feature film Falska Greta (‘False Greta,’ co-directed with her husband). Inspired by the hullabaloo that surrounded Greta Garbo’s visit to Sweden in 1928 and with a screenplay that has been preserved in the library of the Swedish Film Institute, the head of production at SF, Vilhelm Bryde, gave the go-ahead for the film on the proviso that it would be a suitable piece of summer entertainment. Filming, however, went ahead as a Swedish-Finnish co-production without any involvement from SF and with Karin Albihn in the title role. Unfortunately, all copies of the film have since been lost. Brunius subsequently devoted herself exclusively to her work in the theatre.

In 1938 Pauline Brunius became the first female CEO of  Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre. She took over from Olof Molander, who had run the company with a rod of iron and managed to fall out with virtually every member of the ensemble. Brunius spent ten stormy years at the post prior to stepping down in 1948. Running Sweden’s principal theatre through the war years cannot have been easy. One of the works staged during her time in charge was Marika Stiernstedt’s anti-Nazi play “Attentat i Paris” (‘Attack in Paris’).

After the appointment was announced revue writer, actor and theatre director Karl Gerhard wrote his “Song About Pauline Brunius” which he performed himself, dressed as Brunius, in a revue the same year. Sung to the melody of “The Lambeth Walk”, the song featured a number of inventive rhymes on the name Pauline, such as routine, discipline and queen.

Mikaela Kindblom (2012)

(translated by Derek Jones)

Basic info

Main profession: Director
Born: 1881
Died: 1954
Active: 1920-1943


De läckra skaldjuren (1920)
Ombytta roller (1920)
Trollsländan (1920)
Lev livet leende (1921)
Ryggskott (1921)
Herr Vinners stenåldersdröm (1924)
Falska Greta (1934)

De läckra skaldjuren (1920)
Gyurkovicsarna (1920)
Ombytta roller (1920)
Trollsländan (1920)
Lev livet leende (1921)
Herr Vinners stenåldersdröm (1924)

Gyurkovicsarna (1920)
Thora van Deken (1920)
En vildfågel (1921)
Kärlekens ögon (1922)
Gunnar Hedes saga (1923)
Karl XII (1925)
Gustaf Wasa/del I (1928)
Charlotte Löwensköld (1930)
Doktorns hemlighet (1930)
Markurells i Wadköping (1931)
Karl Fredrik regerar (1934)
Halvsekel – en bilderbok om 50 år av rastlös utveckling (1939)
Vi mötte stormen (1943)

Read more about the films at Svensk Filmdatabas (SE)

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