The iconic Austrian actress, singer, dancer, and entertainer was born to Siegfried and Mariella Koller on August 26, 1939, in Klagenfurt, Austria.

A Blossoming Talent

In spite of the harsh realities of growing up in post-World War II-era Austria, Mariella Koller enrolled her six-year-old daughter in ballet classes under the advice of a local doctor to help Dagmar overcome a slight birth defect in her legs. When not in classes at school or ballet, Dagmar escaped to the cinema of 1950s Hollywood musicals, quickly becoming enthralled with the dancing talents of MGM star Cyd Charisse. Moving to Vienna to follow her own dreams of being a dancer, Dagmar enrolled at the Academy of Performing Arts, where she ultimately won the Austrian State prize in dance. Dagmar’s first paid performance as a dancer was in the chorus of the Vienna Volksoper. Continuing to study with some of the greatest dance instructors in the world, Dagmar traveled from Vienna to Paris where she befriended and studied movement with the legendary Marcel Marceau. Later she moved to London, where she enrolled in Sadler Wells Ballet Theatre.

Feeling she doesn’t possess the right physicality to become a prima ballerina, Dagmar enrolled in voice lessons with some of the best teachers in Vienna. After exploring her wonderful soprano voice, Dagmar began training in the world of operetta. Her years of hard work soon paid off with her breakout role of Princess Mi in Franz Lehar’s The Land of Smiles. Paired with famed Italian tenor Giuseppe di Stefano, they embarked on a tour of the show throughout Europe and North America. Later in New York, Dagmar made her Broadway debut in the revival of Wiener Blut at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. During the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 1966, Dagmar achieved a personal best when performing as the female soloist with the Johann Strauss Orchestra at the famed Carnegie Hall.

At this time in New York, Broadway experienced a renaissance with hit shows like Hello, Dolly!, Funny Girl, Sweet Charity, and Man of La Mancha. Dagmar soon returned to Europe armed with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the art of musical theater.

Musical Star #1

After returning to Vienna, Dagmar made a triumphant appearance during the premiere run of the German language production of Man of La Mancha with Josef Meinrad. She then lead the production in Hamburg and recorded the musical album for the show while in Germany. In Wiesbaden she quickly danced and sang her way into the hearts of the press and public alike, receiving top billing in Sweet Charity. Dagmar then recorded the show’s album, which allowed her to showcase her unmistakable style on the international hit song, “Big Spender”. Following her success in Wiesbaden, the production moved to Berlin and played at the renowned Theater des Westens. At that time, Bunte magazine placed Dagmar on its cover, declaring her Musical Star #1.

For the next 20 years, Dagmar starred in German-language productions of Carousel, Irma LaDouce, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me, Kate and Hello, Dolly! For My Fair Lady, she starred in the role of Eliza Doolittle in thousands of performances in Austria, Germany and Switzerland — learning different dialects for each production. It’s no wonder that Marcel Prawy, the highly regarded Viennese dramaturg and opera critic, called Dagmar “the one and only Austrian musical star.”

First Lady of Vienna

Dagmar Koller married the beloved Austrian educator and journalist, Dr. Helmut Zilk, on July 21, 1978. Dr. Zilk served his country as Minister of Culture and Education and, much to his delight, became, arguably, the City of Vienna’s most celebrated mayor and governor from 1984-1994. During these years, as First Lady of Vienna, Dagmar served her city proudly while hosting some of the greatest personalities in the world: The Prince and Princess of Wales; Czech playwright, dissident and president, Vaclav Havel; U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz; Teddy Kollek, Mayor of Jerusalem; Queen Noor of Jordan; First Lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan; Frank Sinatra; Liza Minnelli; and Placido Domingo, to name only a few.

The darkest days of their very public lives came in December 1993, when an assassin sent a letter bomb to their private residence in Vienna. The ensuing explosion nearly cost Dr. Zilk his life. The quick actions of his wife saved him and kept the physical damage isolated to his left hand. After several emergency operations and months of rehabilitation, Dr. Zilk finished out his final term of office in 1994. He continued to serve his country and his beloved Vienna until his death in 2008, receiving a televised state funeral usually reserved for Austrian presidents.

In Front of the Camera

In 1968, Dagmar filmed the first of several television operetta films. In Königin einer Nacht, she starred alongside Peter Minich and Peter Weck. In Csardasfürstin, she joined legendary opera stars Anna Moffo and Rene Kollo. Throughout the 1970s, she starred in a series of highly successful productions filmed for television. In 1977, Dagmar shared the screen with Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor in Hal Prince’s film of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway triumph, A Little Night Music.

In the Austrian version of the 2004 movie Shrek 2, Dagmar provided the voice for the Fairy Godmother. Dagmar has been a constant presence on television with her own show, “Hallo, Wie Geht’s?”, which was broadcast from 1989-2014. During the 25-year run of the show, she talked, visited and sang with international stars such as Jack Lemmon, Nina Hagen, Larry Hagman, Paul Anka, Charles Aznavour and Hildegard Knef. To this day, Dagmar is a frequent and highly sought after guest on television shows across the European continent.

From the Stage to the Page

During the past several years, Dagmar has lent her name and talents to the writings of four books. Anekdoten nach Noten (Melodic Anecdotes) puts her personal touch on a tour through the world of operetta and musicals. Her first biography, Jetzt fängt's erst richtig an (Now Life Really Begins!) is a celebration of her struggles and joys from Carinthian girl in a torn leotard to Grande Dame of Vienna. After her successful run on the television hit show, “Dancing Stars”, and in honor of her first artistic love, Dagmar wrote Tanz mit mir (Dance with Me). Most recently she co-authored Die Kunst eine Frau zu sein (The Art of Being a Woman). Die Kunst eine Frau zu sein is a book of advice on living well — and art form Dagmar certainly has perfected!

Her Solo Retrospective

In 2012 Dagmar premiered her intimate one-woman show Leben Für Die Bühne (Living for the Stage). Her one-woman retrospective of her life in the spotlight was filled with her favorite songs including My Way, Don't Cry for Me, Argentina, The Way We Were and many more. She also shared stories about her life — both on and off the stage — giving her fans a rare glimpse behind the curtain. Filled with laughter and tears, and supported by a four-piece band, the show was specifically created for smaller venues, ensuring audiences enjoyed an up close and personal encounter with Dagmar. Set to images from all phases of her life, the triumphant concerts gave fans an insider's view of the joys and hardships of a life in the spotlight.

A Celebrated Woman

Whether on or off the stage, Dagmar is constantly in demand; from high society events like the Opera Ball to charity events like the Life Ball, her presence ensures everyone present has a good time. As Dagmar continues her life in the spotlight, she gives as much time as she can to aid the less fortunate, often performing to aid charitable causes that are important to her and her many wonderful, loyal fans around the world. She lends her name to such worthy causes like Lichts in Dunkel (A Light in the Dark) and Power4Me, the children’s support organization she sponsors. Although she has no children of her own, she is the living version of “Auntie Mame” to Michelle, Steven, Jeanne, James, Katarina, Alexander, Oliver, Isabelle, Dylan and Jackson.

It would be impossible to list all of Dagmar’s performances and accomplishments, but you can find a comprehensive listing of many of her works at the German National Library and the Internet Movie Database.


From celebrated performances to special friendships to quiet times far away from the noise and applause. Here are just a few of the innumerable moments from Dagmar Koller’s life — a life well-lived.

In the Spotlight
Dagmar shines during performances from the stage to the screen.
Celebrity Friendships
Dagmar has enjoyed friendships with many international luminaries.
Politics & Events
Dagmar brings dignity and a spirit of fun to gatherings of all kinds.
Private Life
Personal photos from Dagmar’s life away from the stage.


So many recordings, such diverse musical styles. From the sweet strains of operetta to house music’s booming beat, you always know you’re listening to the voice of Dagmar Koller.

The Land of Smiles
Das Land des Lächelns
Das Land des Lächelns
Weiner Blüt
Weiner Blüt
Der Zarewitsch
Der Zarewitsch
Gräfin Mariza
Wenn es Nact wird
Kommin den Park von Sanssouci
Mit Robert Stolz in Wien beim Wein
Big Spender
Meine Liebe kann nicht lügen
Schwartzwald Mädel
Why Not?
Eine Nacht in Wien
Die Csardasfürstin
Dagmar Koller
Der Mann von La Mancha
Dagmar Koller on Broadway
Dagmar Koller & Helmut Zilk: Wien
Lieder meines Lebens
Been There. Done That. (Music & Wine)


Dagmar tells the story of her life in her books. Here’s what she’s written so far.

Anekdoten nach Noten

Jetzt fängt's erst richtig an

Tanz mit mir

Die Kunst eine Frau zu sein


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