Natasha Lytess Bio

Actress, playwright, and drama instructor Natasha Lytess was born in Berlin, Germany on May 16, 1911, and passed away in Zurich, Switzerland, on May 12, 1963. There were rumors that Marilyn Monroe had relationships with Russian drama coach Natasha Lytess and Barbara Stanwyck.

Her name was Tala Forman, but her real name was Natalia Postmann. She had studied under director Max Reinhardt and performed in repertory theater. It is reported that she was romantically involved with writer Bruno Frank, who is also claimed to be the father of her 1943-born daughter Barbara.She moved to the United States and resided in Los Angeles after the Nazis came to power, taking into account her Jewish background. Her unfeminine features and accent prevented her from playing the kinds of roles she would have liked to play throughout her tremendous theatrical career.[3] She starred in films such as Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), Comrade X (1940), and The House on Telegraph Hill (1951). New York Times critic Bosley Crowther praised her Once Upon a Honeymoon performance, stating that she “shines with clear and poignant brilliance in a brief part as a Jewish chambermaid.”[4] Mamie Van Doren, Virginia Leith,[6], and Ann Savage, who allegedly acquired her stage name following a particularly “savage” quarrel with Lytess, were among the other Lytess trainees.[7]

The most well-known relationship Lytess has is that she had from 1948 to 1956 with actress Marilyn Monroe.  After Lytess saw Monroe’s screen test while working as a drama coach for Columbia Pictures, she persuaded the studio’s head to give Monroe a six-month contract. Before things started to go wrong between them, Lytess mentored Marilyn through more than 20 motion pictures. According to Monroe and other actresses who studied under Lytess, Lytess harbored feelings for her that went beyond a professional relationship and turned into an oppressive obsession. The partnership lasted seven years, until 1956, when Monroe sent Lytess a telegram stating that she no longer needed Natasha’s services.(8)

In Zurich, Switzerland, Lytess passed away from cancer four days before her fiftieth birthday. She was portrayed by Embeth Davidtz in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe and by Lindsay Crouse in Norma Jean & Marilyn [9].