Albert Bassermann

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Albert Bassermann
Foreign Correspondent trailer 20 Basserman.jpg
Albert Bassermann as "Van Meer" in Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent.
Born (1867-09-07)7 September 1867
Mannheim, Germany
Died 15 March 1952(1952-03-15) (aged 84)
en route to Zurich, Switzerland
Occupation Screen, Stage Actor
Years active 1887-1948
Spouse(s) Elsa Basserman
(1908–1952; his death)

Albert Bassermann (7 September 1867 - 15 May 1952) was a German stage and screen actor. He was married to Elsa Bassermann whom he frequently performed alongside.

Life and career[edit]

His grave in Mannheim

Bassermann began his acting career in 1887 in his birthplace, Mannheim. He then spent four years at the Hoftheater in Meiningen. He then moved to Berlin. From 1899, he worked for Otto Brahm. He began work at the Deutsches Theater from 1904, and in 1909 worked at the Lessing Theatre. From 1909 to 1915, Bassermann worked with Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater Berlin.

Bassermann was among the first German theatre actors who worked in film. In 1913, he played the main role of the lawyer in Max Mack's Der Andere (The Other), after the play by Paul Lindau. He also worked with German silent film directors Richard Oswald, Ernst Lubitsch, Leopold Jessner and Lupu Pick. In 1928 he appeared in the first staging of Carl Zuckmayer's Katharina Knie.

In 1933, Bassermann left Germany and lived in the United States from 1938.

Annija Simsone who played opposite Bassermann in the Neue Wiener Beuhne Theater in the 1920s wrote the following in her autobiography:"During the Hitler era, Bassermann did not perform in Germany, though Adolf Hitler personally held him in high regard; Elsa was Jewish. Bassermann was told that if he wanted to continue to perform in Germany, he would have to get divorced. He did not get divorced, but Elsa and he went to Switzerland instead."[1]

Although his ability to speak English was very limited, he learned lines phonetically with assistance from his wife and found work as a character actor. For his performance as the Dutch statesman Van Meer in Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, Bassermann was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in 1940. He returned to Europe in 1946. His final film appearance was in The Red Shoes.

Of him, the revered American actress Uta Hagen had this to say in her acting textbook Respect for Acting.: "One of the finest lessons I ever learned was from the great German actor Albert Basserman. I worked with him as Hilde in The Master Builder by Ibsen. He was already past eighty but was as 'modern' in his conception of the role of Solness and in his techniques as anyone I've ever seen or played with. In rehearsals he felt his way with the new cast. (The role had been in his repertoire for almost forty years.) He watched us, listened to us, adjusted to us, meanwhile executing his actions with only a small part of his playing energy. At the first dress rehearsal, he started to play fully. There was such a vibrant reality to the rhythm of his speech and behavior that I was swept away by it. I kept waiting for him to come to an end with his intentions so that I could take my 'turn.' As a result, I either made a big hole in the dialogue or desperately cut in on him in order to avoid another hole. I was expecting the usual 'It's your turn; then it's my turn.' At the end of the first act I went to his dressing room and said, 'Mr. Basserman, I can't apologize enough, but I never know when you're through!' He looked at me in amazement and said, 'I'm never through! And neither should you be.'"

His illustrious career was acknowledged when he received the Iffland-Ring from the prominent actor Friedrich Haase. While Bassermann himself attempted to bestow the Iffland-Ring, he outlived each of the three grantees he chose. Not wanting to be mistaken a fourth time, Bassermann deferred making a choice; instead, a group of German actors made the decision.

Death[edit]

Bassermann died from a heart attack while on a flight from New York to Zurich. He is buried in Mannheim.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1913 Der König Provinzschauspieler
Der Andere Dr. Hallers The Other
Der Letzte Tag Professor Osterode
1914 Urteil des Arztes Dr. Erwin Hofmüller
1917 Du sollst keine anderen Götter haben
Der Eiserne Wille
Herr und Diener
1918 Dr. Schotte
Die Brüder von Zaarden
Vater und Sohn
Lorenzo Burghardt
1919 Eine Schwache Stunde
Der Letzte Zeuge The Last Witness
Das Werk seines Lebens
1920 Puppen des Todes
Masken
Die Söhne des Grafen Dossy
Die Stimme
Die Duplizität der Ereignisse
1921 Die Kleine Dagmar
Frauenarzt, Der Dr. Wolfgang Holländer
Burning Country
Die Nächte des Cornelis Brouwer Cornelis Brouwer
1922 Lucrezia Borgia Papst Alexander VI
Frauenopfer Graf Women's Sacrifice
Das Weib des Pharao Sothis Pharaoh's Wife
1923 Old Heidelberg The Student Prince
Christopher Columbus Columbus
Earth Spirit Dr. Schoen
Der Mann mit der eisernen Maske The Man with the Iron Mask
1924 Helena Aisakos Helen of Troy
1925 Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten
Der Herr Generaldirektor
1926 Wenn das Herz der Jugend spricht
Die Mühle von Sanssouci Adjudant Buddenbrock The Mill of Sanssouci
1929 Napoleon at Saint Helena Gouverneur Hudson Lowe
Fräulein Else Dr. Alfred Thalhof
1930 Dreyfus Col. Picquart The Dreyfus Case
Alraune Privy Councillor ten Brinken Daughter of Evil
1931 Voruntersuchung Dr. Konrad Bienert
1914 Count Hollweg
Gefahren der Liebe Dr.Ringius
Kadetten Cadets
Zum goldenen Anker Piquoiseau The Golden Anchor
1933 Ein Gewisser Herr Gran Tschernikoff, Kunsthändler
1935 Letzte Liebe Last Love
1939 Le Héros de la Marne Col. von Gelow
1940 Moon Over Burma Basil Renner
Escape Dr. Arthur Henning
A Dispatch from Reuter's Franz Geller
Knute Rockne, All American Father Julius Nieuwland
Foreign Correspondent Van Meer nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet Dr. Robert Koch
1941 The Shanghai Gesture Van Elst
The Great Awakening Ludwig van Beethoven
A Woman's Face Consul Magnus Barring
The Captain from Köpenick shoemaker Wilhelm Voight
1942 Reunion in France General Hugo Schroeder
Once Upon a Honeymoon Gen. Borelski
The Moon and Sixpence Dr. Coutras
Desperate Journey Dr. Ludwig Mather
Invisible Agent Arnold Schmidt
Fly-by-Night Dr. Storm
1943 Madame Curie Prof. Jean Perot
Good Luck, Mr. Yates Dr. Carl Hesser
1944 Since You Went Away Dr. Sigmund Gottlieb Golden
1945 Strange Holiday The Day After Tomorrow
Rhapsody in Blue Prof. Franck
I Was a Criminal Wilhelm Voigt, a Shoemaker
1946 The Searching Wind Count von Stammer
1947 Escape Me Never Prof. Heinrich
The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Jacques Rival
1948 The Red Shoes Sergei Ratov

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Annija Simsone, Atminas, Atminas, Gramatu Draugs, copyright 1961, page 109. Note: The book is in Latvian; an English translation exists but has not been published.

External links[edit]