Born into a theatrical family in Vienna on May 4, 1944, the dark, strong-featured Monica Bleibtreu had been working steadily on German-language television since the late 1960s. Among her TV credits are a presentation of Bertold Brecht's play Mother (1971), the series Doctors in the mid-1990s, and the made-for-television movie Happy Hour oder Glück und Glas (2000), starring The Lives of Others' Martina Gedeck.
In 1975, she won a German Television Award for best actress for her performance in the made-for-TV movie Marias letzte Reise / Maria's Last Trip.
Although Bleibtreu had been playing supporting roles in films since the early 1970s (including a brief appearance as a blind woman in her son's international hit Run, Lola, Run), she made her mark only in the last few years, following her star turn as a demanding piano teacher in Chris Kraus' multiple award-winning Four Minutes (above, with Hannah Herzsprung), a role that earned her the German Film Academy's best actress Lola Award in 2007.
Among Bleibtreu's other film appearances are those in Joseph Vilsmaier's Marlene Dietrich biopic Marlene (2000), starring Katja Flint; Mirjam Kubescha's drama Germania (2002); and Ulrike Grote's Oscar-nominated short The Runaway (2005).
Also, Nicolette Krebitz's The Heart Is a Dark Forest (2007), starring Nina Hoss; the Lola-nominated children's film Max Minsky and Me; and Kai Wessel's Hildegard Knef biopic Hilde, starring Heike Makatsch, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last February.
Bleibtreu's last film was Bettina Oberli's upcoming crime drama The Murder Farm, in which she co-stars with Julia Jentsch. She was also to star in Hans Steinbichler's Das Blaue vom Himmel (The Blue of the Sky).
In the 1970s, she lived with actor Hanns Brenner, Moritz Bleibtreu's father. Brenner died in 1998.