CCH Pounder and Eleonore Adlon in
San Francisco before the Premiere of BAGDAD CAFE, 1988
Felix, Percy, and Eleonore Adlon on set.
Percy Adlon and Donald Sutherland on a shooting break of YOUNGER&YOUNGER.
Percy Adlon was born in Munich in 1935, and grew up amongst the cattle farms of the Bavarian countryside with his mother, whose family owned the famed eponymous hotel in Berlin. Adlon credits his mother with inspiring the sympathetic and nuanced portraits of strong, unconventional women in many of his films. She also instilled in her son a deep love of the arts, and Percy went on to study music, literature, and theatre at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.
Eleonore Adlon (née Haus) was born into a large family in the Lower Rhine region of Germany. As a child she studied music, and was an avid swimmer and gymnast, but her real passion was dance. Despite having no formal ballet training, she applied to and was accepted by the ballet school of her hometown theatre, the Stadttheater Rheydt, at the age of 15.
Percy and Eleonore met while rehearsing a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Stadttheater Rheydt, where Percy had recently begun his first role as a professional actor. He was 23. Eleonore was 16. By the time Eleonore graduated with degrees in dance and music history two years later, they were engaged.
After their marriage, the couple moved to Percy's hometown of Munich, where he worked as an editor and narrator of literature programs at the local public radio station. The couple's daughter, Saskia, was born in 1961, and their son Felix in 1967.
Percy's radio work led to doing television voiceovers as well, and in 1970 he seized an opportunity to make his first short film for Bavarian TV. Many more such projects would follow, with Eleonore becoming increasingly involved in the complex production process as their children grew. In 1978, she became Percy's official producer on his first docu-drama, The Guardian and His Poet, which won the prestigious Grimme-Preis in Gold, for best television film. This spurred the Adlons to form their own production company. Their children's childhood nicknames for their parents, "Pele" and "Mele," lent themselves to the company, which they called pelemele Film GmbH.
In 1986, the Adlons returned to Bavaria, Germany after a six-month sojourn in Hollywood, CA with the seed of an idea for their first English-language film. Inspired by the bleak beauty of the southwestern American desert, they together wrote a story about a rotund Bavarian tourist stranded at a motel along Route 66, where she ultimately finds true friendship and joyful purpose. The script became the cult hit film Bagdad Café (Out of Rosenheim), still their best-known and most beloved work.
Since 1990, the couple splits their time between their home in Pacific Palisades, CA and their native Bavaria. Over the years, they have worked with their son Felix – a writer, director, and actor in his own right – on several projects, and welcomed seven grandchildren. Percy and Eleonore remain a dynamic team. A recent retrospective and archiving project in partnership with the Filmmuseum Munich ensured that future cinephiles will have the opportunity to fall in love with Percy's playful use of color and endearingly quirky characters. He credits the majority of his success to his wife, without whose talent, hard work, and shrewd management these films could not have been made.
The Adlons are currently leaders in the effort to convert the Lower-Bavarian estate of their late friend, the artist Fritz Konig – whose monumental sculpture The Sphere was damaged but not destroyed in the 9/11 attack – into an audio-visual experience and adventure.