Senta Berger's parents were not rich, but tried everything to meet the desires of their daughter. Her father, from whom she probably inherited talent, was a musician. With him, Senta first appeared on stage at the age of four, where he accompanied his daughter's singing on the piano. At the age of five she started ballet lessons. But her dream of a career as a dancer was destroyed by her last teacher, who did not like the physical changes in Senta during puberty.
Berger then took private acting lessons. In 1957, she won her first small role in a film. She applied for the Max Reinhardt Seminar, a famous acting school in Vienna, and was accepted, shortly afterwards was forced to leave, because she had accepted a film role without permission. In 1958, she became the youngest member of the Josefstadt theatre in Vienna. Her ambition was still to be a film actress.
More and more directors and producers wanted to work with her, for example Bernhard Wicki and Arthur Brauner, who produced the film The Good Soldier Schweijk with Berger and Heinz Rühmann, a famous German actor. Brauner used Senta Berger in several films, but soon she tired of musicals. In 1962, she went to Hollywood and worked with stars such as Charlton Heston, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Yul Brynner. An offer for a series role, which would have brought an obligation of several years with itself, was the reason for their return to Germany.
In 1963, Berger met Michael Verhoeven, son of the German film director Paul Verhoeven (not the Dutch Paul Verhoeven). In 1966, they married, after starting up their own film production company the previous year. In 1970, she starred for the first time in a film produced by her own company and directed by her husband. Other internationally successful films made by the duo included, amongst others, Die weiße Rose, The terrible girl (Das schreckliche Mädchen) and Mutters Courage. Berger continued to develop her European career in France and Italy.
The birth of her two sons caused Senta to turn back to the theatre. She successfully played at the Burgtheater in Vienna, at the Thaliatheater in Hamburg and at the Schillertheater in Berlin. Between 1974 and 1982, she played the Buhlschaft in the play Jedermannn at the Salzburg Festival with Curd Jürgens and Maximilian Schell. In 1985/86, she started a comeback in front of German-speaking audiences in the very poular TV serial Kir Royal. Afterwards further serial hits follow, like The fast Gerti, where she plays a taxi driver. In the same year, she also started a career as a singer of Chansons.
Since February 2003, Senta Berger has been president of the German Film Academy, who want to advance the new generation of actors and actresses in Germany and Europe and who will decide the assignment of the German Film Awards in the future.