Barbro Kollberg was an actor, a theatre manager, and a drama instructor. She performed in stage plays, films, and TV-productions for much of the 1900s and into the early 2000s.
Barbro Kollberg was born in Eskilstuna in 1917. Her parents were Mauritz Villard Kollberg, a merchant, and his wife Anna Olivia. Barbro Kollberg’s little sister, Asta, was born three years after her. In 1924 the family moved to Södermalm, Stockholm. Barbro Kollberg’s interest in the theatre developed when she was young, following visits to the circus, listening to Radioteater productions, and seeing Anders de Wahl perform on stage. She also did poetry recitals and won first prize for her recitations at school. In 1937 she graduated from Kungsholmens högre allmänna läroverk (advanced general school). That same autumn she entered the Dramaten theatre school where she was a student until 1940 – including a turn as the star student in 1939.
Barbro Kollberg made her film debut in 1939, playing a major role as Nelly the ballet dancer in Schamyl Bauman’s I dag börjar livet. Barbro Kollberg’s major silver-screen breakthrough came in 1943 when she appeared in Gösta Cederlund’s film entitled Kungsgatan, which was based on Ivar Lo-Johansson’s novel. She played the lead role as Marta, an agricultural labourer who gets into trouble in Sweden’s capital city.
During the 1940s and 1950s Barbro Kollberg alternated between appearing on the silver screen and the stage. Some of the theatres she performed at include Blancheteatern, Vasateatern, Nya teatern, Riksteatern, and Malmö stadsteater (city theatre). In 1945 she was appointed theatre manager of Skansenteatern, initially running it along with Lorens Malmstedt until 1954, and then with her husband Guido Valentin until his death. In addition to being theatre manager she also performed on stage. From 1948–149 she and the same team also ran Stockholmsteatern, housed at Cirkus on Djurgården. Later on she also worked for Stadsteatern Norrköping-Linköping (now known as Östgötateatern).
Barbro Kollberg’s various theatre roles include playing Laurel Randolph in the 1939 production of Guldbröllop at Dramaten; Rosette in Lek ej med kärleken, performed at Nya teatern in 1941; Astrid in the Dramatikstudion production of Sagan, Natsja in the staging of På livets botten at Blancheteatern, and Josephine in Vasateatern’s Lille Napoleon, all three of these in 1942; Mrs de Winter in Rebecca at Vasateatern in 1944; Ofelia to Stig Järrel’s Hamlet in the eponymous play and Katarina in The Taming of the Shrew opposite Åke Ohberg as Petruchio, both in 1948 and at Stockholmsteatern; Rosalind at the Skansenteatern production of As You Like It in 1949 and at the same theatre in 1952 as Viola in Twelfth Night; Varja in The Cherry Orchard in the 1955 staging at the Norrköping-Linköping stadsteater as well as Elmire in Tartuffe at the same theatre in 1956. She also appeared in one of the Kar de Mumma revue shows at Blancheteatern in 1947.
After her second marriage – to Åke Hildestrand – Barbro Kollberg withdrew almost entirely from acting for the ensuing 20 years. All her time was taken up with family life and running the Motala city hotel along with her husband. However, she missed working with her real passion, namely the theatre. She trained as a drama instructor and from 1976 until 1982 she worked as both an elocution- and drama-instructor at the Gothenburg drama school. However, as time went on she gradually returned to acting and then continued acting until late on in her life.
Barbro Kollberg appeared in approximately 30 films during a career which spanned over 65 years. These include: Hans Nåds testamente from 1940, Hem från Babylon from 1941, Gula kliniken from 1942, Som folk är mest and En dotter född both from 1944, Det regnar på vår kärlek from 1946, En söndag i September from 1963, Tic Tac and Ogifta par – En film som skiljer sig both from 1997, and Kattbreven from 2001. Her last film was Kay Pollack’s 2004 Så som i himmelen.
Barbro Kollberg also appeared in TV-series such as Engeln in 1976, Mor gifter sig in 1979, Den goda viljan in 1991, Chefen fru Ingeborg in 1993, Persons parfymeri and Snoken both in 1997 and Cleo in 2003.
Barbro Kollberg’s silver-screen appearances tended to portray modern and everyday women. She sometimes played the role of the ingénue but she also played young women whose lives had taken a bad turn, leaving them fighting for survival in a rather unforgiving society. The films Barbro Kollberg appeared in often touched on sensitive issues such as prostitution and abortion. She was often described as natural, energetic, warm, and charming with a soft exterior. At the peak of her career she was sometimes referred to as the Swedish Claudette Colbert and as simultaneously exhibiting both mischievous and mysterious qualities.
In 1945 she was awarded the Teaterförbundet De Wahl stipend.
Barbro Kollberg died in Stockholm in 2014. She is buried at the Lidingö cemetery.