Pola Negri, a sultry and seductive movie queen of the silent film era, whose offscreen life often seemed as flamboyantly passionate and alluringly exotic as the roles she played in American and foreign movies, died Saturday in San Antonio.
The Polish-born actress was particularly known for portraying the vamp, the hot-eyed temptress whose long, infinitely suggestive stares enslaved her leading men and created a sensation among breathless audiences.
She died in her sleep at Northeast Baptist Hospital, in the city where she had lived quietly for three decades, with few trappings of the luxury and glamor that had helped add the aura of legend to her life. Death was attributed to a brain tumor complicated by pneumonia.
Lured to this country in 1922 on the strength of her performances in German films, she was said to be the first of the continental actresses to become a full-fledged Hollywood star. Flowers, bands and banners accompanied her arrival in New York and her cross-country trip to California.
In such films as "Gypsy Blood," "The Spanish Dancer," "The Charmer," "East of Suez" and "Forbidden Paradise," the dark-haired actress known for posing on a tiger skin rug seemed to embody a special and dangerous allure that was both feline and exotic.
In the 1920s, years of excitement and excess, Miss Negri was an international star and she lived like one. Although it might have been concocted for publicity, her feud with Gloria Swanson, another of the great stars of the time, assumed a life of its own. She was credited with introducing the practice of painting toenails red.
Rudolph Valentino was one of the great male romantic stars of the time, and after his death, Miss Negri revealed what she said was her great love for him. At his funeral, she fainted across his bier.
In 1927, the year after Valentino died, she married a prince of the old Russian nobility. It was her third marriage and it ended in divorce four years later. Her first husband, a Polish baron, died, and she was divorced from her second husband, a Polish count. In between, she was romantically linked with Charlie Chaplin, among others.
The year of her birth is not clear. Many accounts list the date as New Year's Eve 1899. Others, however, suggest she may have been born as early as 1894 or 1897.
Her name was Apollonia Chalupiec; by one account, Pola came from the first four letters of her native land. Negri was the last name of an Italian poet whom she admired as a girl.
After attending finishing school in Warsaw, she took dance and dramatic training in Russia, and began appearing on stage until World War I shut down the theaters. Meanwhile, she wrote and directed an amateur film called "Love and Passion," which was shot in her Warsaw apartment.
It helped win her roles in the films of the famed German director Ernst Lubitsch. In one, she played Madame duBarry, a famous figure of the French court of Louis XV. Brought to this country after World War I under the title of "Passion," it aroused great enthusiasm for her work.
Although she was a great star here in the 1920s, by the end of the decade the public appeared surfeited with the superheated romance that she symbolized. Her accent and throaty voice were said to have placed her at a disadvantage when the silent era ended. She returned to Europe, where she continued making movies.
Remaining a subject of much publicity, she was said at one point to have become a favorite of Adolf Hitler. She sued a French magazine for describing her as one of the Fuhrer's intimates, and a Paris court delivered a libel judgment in her favor.
When World War II broke out, she returned to this country, and in 1943, 11 years after "A Woman Commands," her most recent Hollywood film, she made "Hi Diddle Diddle," a successful comedy in which she played a Wagnerian diva.
In 1964, she appeared in a cameo role in "The Moon-Spinners," a Walt Disney comedy.
Living in retirement in San Antonio on a monthly stipend bequeathed to her by a friend, she continued to go to the movies, but indicated that she was not always pleased by what she saw.
"They leave nothing to the imagination," she said. "I was the star who introduced sex to the screen, but it was sex in good taste."
One of the last survivors of a golden era, Miss Negri remained proud of her career. A few months ago, while she was in the hospital, her personal physician was unavailable and she was seen by a younger man who appeared unaware of her background.
According to a friend, Miss Negri "raised up in her bed and cried out, 'I was the greatest film actress in the world.' "
DANIEL GUY PFOUTZ,
67, who was an import program specialist for the Agency for International Development for 24 years before retiring in 1980, died of cardiac arrest Aug. 1 at Fairfax Hospital. He lived in Falls Church.
Mr. Pfoutz joined AID in 1956. He held posts in this country and in New Delhi, and had been acting mission director in Cairo, before retiring from AID's commodity management office.
After retiring from the government, he had been a consultant to the Asian Development Bank in Manila.
Mr. Pfoutz, who moved here in 1950, was a native of Chambersburg, Pa., and a graduate of Pennsylvania State University. He served with the Navy in the Pacific during World War II and in this country during the Korean War. He was a civilian Navy Department employe before joining AID.
His marriage to the former Shirley Eclov ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Mary, of Falls Church; four children by his first marriage, Daniel, Mark and Jeffrey Pfoutz, and Kristin Lindstrom, all of Arlington; two stepsons, Malcolm Sharp of Homestead, Fla., and Lee Sharp of Arlington; his mother, Ruth Pfoutz of Chambersburg; a sister, Emily Pfoutz of Westminster, Md., and three grandchildren.
CHRISTINE RICHARDSON MEYER,
86, an area resident since 1954 who was a member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Arlington, died Aug. 1 at the Woodbine nursing home in Alexandria. She had a heart ailment.
Mrs. Meyer, an Arlington resident, was a native of Arkansas. She received a bachelor's and a master's degree in business administration from Baylor University in Texas, where she also taught business courses in the mid-1920s. During this time, she contributed articles to Texas newspapers and Baptist publications.
In 1927, she married Ben F. Meyer, a journalist, and accompanied him to posts in Atlanta, Cuba, Chile, Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago. They moved here from Cuba.
In addition to her husband, of Arlington, Mrs. Meyer's survivors include two sisters, Vivian Ford of Ozark, Ark., and Frances Ferguson of Marshall, Ark.