LIFE was quite the fan of Austrian actress Senta Berger, at least judging by the coverage it offered when she began making movies in the United States. The magazine introduced her to the American public in a 1965 story headlined “She’s Paulette, Hedy and Ava, All in One.”

For those not on a first-name basis with those leading ladies of the early days of cinema, the article filled in the details:

“When people look at Senta Berger, they see more than just an astonishingly pretty young woman. They see images of other famous beauties—a hint of Paulette Godard, a flicker of Hedy Lamarr, quite a lot of Ava Gardner—or whomever they remember as being dark and altogether wonderful.”

LIFE magazine photographer Bill Ray caught up with Berger when she was down in Mexico filming Major Dundee, which was directed by the legendary Sam Peckinpah. The movie starred Charlton Heston as the title character, who leads a military expedition in Mexico during America’s Civil War. Berger played a Mexican woman who has a romance with the Heston character. Major Dundee flopped in its day but has gained respect over the years, thanks in part to the release of a restored version which was closer to Peckinpah’s vision. The film now has a 97 percent fresh score on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Ray captured Berger on the set of Major Dundee and also posing in a swimsuit and in the nude. It’s not difficult to see why the editors were gushing about Berger.

Even though Major Dundee wasn’t appreciated in its time, Berger’s career rolled on. In 1966 alone she appeared in six movies, and she would stayed busy for years, acting in film and television in productions on both sides of the Atlantic. The most recent of her 171 IMDB credits came in 2023, when she starred in the German romantic comedy Weisst du Nocht.

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the time she was shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee” in Mexico.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Senta Berger and Charlton Heston relax between scenes during the filming of ‘Major Dundee,’ directed by Sam Peckinpah, Mexico, April 1964.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the time she was shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee” in Mexico.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the time she was shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee” in Mexico.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the time she was shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee” in Mexico.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Director Sam Peckinpah the filming of “Major Dundee” in Mexico, 1964.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Senta Berger and Charlton Heston during the filming of ‘Major Dundee,’ directed by Sam Peckinpah, Mexico, April 1964.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Charlton Heston and Senta Berger kiss by the water’s edge in a scene from the film ‘Major Dundee,’ directed by Sam Peckinpah, Mexico, April 1964.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee” in Mexico.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the time she was shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee.”

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger during the time she was shooting the 1965 film “Major Dundee” in Mexico.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Austrian actress Senta Berger, 1965.

Bill Ray/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

More Like This

arts & entertainment

The Ageless Rolling Stones, Through the Ages

arts & entertainment

LIFE Said This Invention Would “Annihilate Time and Space”

arts & entertainment

Garfield: The Story Behind the Coolest of the Cats

arts & entertainment

“The Synanon Fix” in LIFE

arts & entertainment

LIFE’s Images of Classic Broadway

arts & entertainment

“Planet of the Apes” Goes to a ’70s Mall