Eleonora von Mendelssohn was born December 1, 1900 in Berlin, Germany. Her father Robert von Mendelssohn was a decedent of Moses Mendelssohn, who was related to the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn. Taking after her godmother for whom she was named, Mendelssohn became an actress, first appearing on stage in 1921. When Hitler came to power in Germany, she first moved to Austria, and then immigrated to the United States in 1938 with her brother Francesco von Mendelssohn. Often unhappy in love, she married four times and conducted affairs with Max Reinhardt and Arturo Toscanini. She continued acting in New York right up until her death in 1951. Her death was ruled a suicide, however her close friend Leo Lerman believed it was murder and it is discussed in his journals.