PARIS -- Fania Fenelon, a singer and pianist whose book 'Playing for Time' about her forced performances with a Nazi death camp orchestra became a controversial U.S. television film, has died, her family said Thursday. She was 75.
Miss Fenelon campaigned against the film and complained to CBS because she was portrayed by British actress Vanessa Redgrave, a strong supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Her sister-in-law, Madeleine Goldstein, said no funeral service was held following Miss Fenelon's death from cancer Monday in suburban Kremlin Bicetre Hospital because the body was given to medical research under her will.
Miss Fenelon, a French Jewish musician, wrote 'Souci Pour Un Orchestre', translated into English as 'Playing For Time,' about her World War II deportation from Paris to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.
She sang and played piano with the prison orchestra for 11 months in 1944 under orders from the Nazi SS police.
The orchestra was conducted by Alma Rose, a neice of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. Among the Nazis who heard it play was SS and Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler.
Miss Fenelon's book sold across the world. When it was made into a film in the United States in 1980, Fenelon spoke out vigorously against the production, saying 'Vanessa Redgrave has no right to be playing me.
'I am not against her pro-PLO opinions, I have nothing against the PLO. But she wants to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. That I cannot accept.'
When demonstrators burned an effigy of Miss Redgrave outside the New York studios of CBS, Miss Fenelon commented that 'these kind of fanatics frighten me, they are almost as bad as she (Redgrave) is.'
The musician-writer traveled to the United States to complain personally to CBS. Nonetheless, the popular film was shown on television not only in the United States but in France, Britain, Canada and West Germany.
Miss Fenelon was born in Paris on Sept. 2, 1908, as Fanny Goldstein. She took up a career as a pianist and assumed her professional name Fania Fenelon. After the war she performed in France and West Germany and later gave piano lessons.
Following the death of her husband Sylvaneo Perla, she lived alone in suburban Arceuil on a pension provided death camp survivors by the West German government.
She is survived by two brothers, Michel Goldstein, a French citizen who lives in Paris and Leonide Goldstein, of Belle Mead, N.J.