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 Bassermann
(1908–1952; his death)

Albert Bassermann (7 September 1867 – 15 May 1952) was a German stage and screen actor. He was considered to be one of the greatest German-speaking actors of his generation and received the famous Iffland-Ring. He was married to Elsa Bassermann with whom he frequently performed.

Life and career[edit]

His grave in Mannheim

Bassermann began his acting career in 1887 in Mannheim, his birthplace, after he began to study chemistry at the Technical University of Karlsruhe in 1884/85. 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. Roles included Othello in 1910,[1] Faust Part II with Friedrich Kayssler in 1911,[2] Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and August Strindberg's The Storm with de:Gertrud Eysoldt in 1913.[3]

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. In 1915, he appeared in Egmont (play) with de:Victor Barnowsky at the de:Deutsches Künstlertheater. 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, and in November that year in Herr Lambertier by Verneuil[4] In 1933, Bassermann left Germany and lived in the United States from 1938.

Annija Simsone who played opposite Bassermann in the Neue Wiener Buehne 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."[5]

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.

In her acting textbook Respect for Acting, actress Uta Hagen said: "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.'"

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 Andere Dr. Hallers The Other
Der König Provinzschauspieler
Der letzte Tag Professor Osterode
1914 Urteil des Arztes Dr. Erwin Hofmüller
1917 Du sollst keine anderen Götter haben
Der eiserne Wille Hausierer David
Herr und Diener
1918 Vater und Sohn
Die Brüder von Zaarden
Dr. Schotte
Lorenzo Burghardt
1919 Eine schwache Stunde
Das Werk seines Lebens Peter
1920 Die Duplizität der Ereignisse
Die Stimme
Die Söhne des Grafen Dossy
Masken
Puppen des Todes
1921 Der Frauenarzt Dr. Wolfgang Holländer
Die Nächte des Cornelis Brouwer Cornelis Brouwer
Burning Country
Der letzte Zeuge Olaf Baggerson The Last Witness
Die kleine Dagmar
1922 Frauenopfer Graf Women's Sacrifice
The Loves of Pharaoh Sothis
Lucrezia Borgia Pope Alexander VI
1923 The Man in the Iron Mask Cardinal Mazarin The Man with the Iron Mask
Earth Spirit Dr. Schoen
Christopher Columbus Columbus
Old Heidelberg The Student Prince
Abenteuer einer Nacht
1924 Helena Aisakos Helen of Troy
1925 Letters Which Never Reached Him Konsul Werner Gerling
Der Herr Generaldirektor Generaldirektor Herbert Heidenberg
1926 Professor Imhof
1929 Fräulein Else Dr. Alfred Thalhof
Napoleon at Saint Helena Governor Hudson Lowe
1930 Alraune Privy Councillor ten Brinken Daughter of Evil
Dreyfus Col. Picquart The Dreyfus Case
1931 1914 Count Bethmann-Hollweg
A Woman Branded Dr. Ringius
Inquest Dr. Konrad Bienert
Kadetten General von Seddin Cadets
1932 The Golden Anchor Piquoiseau
1933 Ein gewisser Herr Gran Tschernikoff, Kunsthändler
1935 Last Love Thomas Bruck
1939 Le Héros de la Marne (fr) Col. von Gelow
1940 Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet Dr. Robert Koch
Foreign Correspondent Van Meer Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Knute Rockne, All American Father Julius Nieuwland
A Dispatch from Reuter's Franz Geller
Escape Dr. Arthur Henning
Moon Over Burma Basil Renner
1941 A Woman's Face Consul Magnus Barring
The Great Awakening Ludwig van Beethoven
The Shanghai Gesture Van Elst, The Commissioner
1942 Fly-by-Night Dr. Storm
Invisible Agent Arnold Schmidt
Desperate Journey Dr. Ludwig Mather
The Moon and Sixpence Dr. Coutras
Once Upon a Honeymoon Gen. Borelski
Reunion in France General Hugo Schroeder
1943 Good Luck, Mr. Yates Dr. Carl Hesser
Madame Curie Prof. Jean Perot
1944 Since You Went Away Dr. Sigmund Gottlieb Golden
1945 The Captain from Köpenick Wilhelm Voigt, a shoemaker I Was a Criminal
Strange Holiday School Principal The Day After Tomorrow; uncredited
Rhapsody in Blue Prof. Franck
1946 The Searching Wind Count von Stammer
1947 The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Jacques Rival
Escape Me Never Prof. Heinrich
1948 The Red Shoes Sergei Ratov Final film role

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Styan 1982, p. 54.
  2. ^ "Faust". Global Performing Arts Database. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Styan 1982, pp. 38,61.
  4. ^ 'Dilettante' (1929). "Letters from Abroad - Berlin" (PDF). The Bermondsey Book, Dec. Jan. Feb. 1928-9. VI (I): 109. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  5. ^ 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.

Sources[edit]

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