Ruman as Herman Gottlieb in A Night at the Opera.
|Born||Siegfried Albon Rumann
October 11, 1884
|Died||February 14, 1967
Julian, California, U.S.
Life and career
Born as Siegfried Albon Rumann in Hamburg, he studied electrical engineering before serving with the Imperial German army during the First World War. After his migration to the United States in 1924, his acting career blossomed. Befriending playwright George S. Kaufman and theater critic Alexander Woollcott, he enjoyed success in many Broadway productions.
Ruman became a favorite of the Marx Brothers, appearing in A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, and A Night in Casablanca. His German accent and large stature kept him busy during World War II, playing sinister Nazi characters in a series of wartime thrillers. During this period, he also appeared in several films by Ernst Lubitsch, a fellow German émigré. In 1941, he played the role of Professor Herman Von Reiter in Shining Victory, an adaptation of an A. J. Cronin play. Ruman continued his trend of playing over-the-top German characters later in his career for Lubitsch's protege Billy Wilder, appearing in Wilder's films The Emperor Waltz, Stalag 17 and The Fortune Cookie.
According to Leonard Maltin in the DVD commentary for A Night at the Opera, Ruman had modified his screen name to make it a little less German-sounding, to lessen potential anti-German prejudice against him.
Despite declining health during the 1950s and 1960s, Ruman continued to find work, making many guest appearances on television, including an appearance on The Addams Family. He died of a heart attack on February 14, 1967 in Julian, California.
During the final moments of the film 36 Hours, Ruman, who played Sgt. Johann Sebastian Schulz in Billy Wilder's 1953 film STALAG 17, played opposite actor John Banner who would play Sgt. Hans Schultz in the 1960s TV series Hogan's Hero's.
- Sig Ruman at Find a Grave
- Sig Ruman at the Internet Movie Database
- Sig Ruman at the Internet Broadway Database