Anton Walbrook

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Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook.jpeg
Anton Walbrook in 1945
Born Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück
(1896-11-19)19 November 1896
Vienna, Austria
Died 9 August 1967(1967-08-09) (aged 70)
Starnberger See, Bavaria, Germany
Cause of death heart attack
Occupation Actor
Years active 1915–1966

Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück (19 November 1896 – 9 August 1967) was an Austrian actor who settled in the United Kingdom under the name Anton Walbrook.

Life and career[edit]

Walbrook was born in Vienna, Austria, as Adolf Wohlbrück. He was the son of Gisela Rosa (Cohn) and Adolf Ferdinand Bernhard Hermann Wohlbrück.[1][2] He was descended from ten generations of actors, though his father broke with tradition and was a circus clown. Walbrook studied with the director Max Reinhardt and built up a career in Austrian theatre and cinema.

In 1936, he went to Hollywood to reshoot dialogue for the multinational The Soldier and the Lady (1937) and in the process changed his name from Adolf to Anton. Instead of returning to Austria, Walbrook, who was gay[3] and classified under the Nuremberg Laws as "half-Jewish" (his mother was Jewish),[4] settled in England and continued working as a film actor, making a speciality of playing continental Europeans.

He played Otto in the first London production of Design for Living at the Haymarket Theatre in January 1939 (later transferring to the Savoy Theatre), and running for 233 performances, opposite Diana Wynyard as Gilda and Rex Harrison as Leo.[5] In 1952 he appeared at the Coliseum as Cosmo Constantine in Call Me Madam, also participating alongside Billie Worth, Jeff Warren and Shani Wallis on the EMI cast record.[6]

Producer-director Herbert Wilcox cast him as Prince Albert in Victoria the Great (1937) and Walbrook also appeared in the sequel, Sixty Glorious Years the following year. He was in director Thorold Dickinson's version of Gaslight (1940), in the role played by Charles Boyer in the later Hollywood remake. In Dangerous Moonlight (1941), a romantic melodrama, he was a Polish pianist torn over whether to return home. For the Powell and Pressburger team in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) he played the role of the dashing, intense "good German" officer Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, and the tyrannical impresario Lermontov in The Red Shoes (1948). One of his most unusual films, reuniting him with Dickinson, is The Queen of Spades (1949), a Gothic thriller based on the Alexander Pushkin short story, in which he co-starred with Edith Evans. For Max Ophüls he was the ringmaster in La Ronde (1950) and Ludwig I, King of Bavaria in Lola Montès.

His Red Shoes co-star Moira Shearer recalled Walbrook was a loner on set, often wearing dark glasses and eating alone.[7] He retired from films at the end of the 1950s and in later years appeared on the European stage and television.

Walbrook died of a heart attack in Garatshausen, Bavaria, Germany in 1967. His ashes were interred in the churchyard of St. John's Church, Hampstead, London, as he had wished in his testament.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Language Director Notes
1923 Martin Luther Silent Karl Wüstenhagen
1924 Mater dolorosa Silent Joseph Delmont
1925 The Secret of Castle Elmshoh Axel Silent Max Obal
1931 Salto Mortale Robby German E. A. Dupont
1932 The Pride of Company Three Prinz Willibald German Fred Sauer
Three from the Unemployment Office Max Binder German Eugen Thiele
The Five Accursed Gentlemen Petersen German Julien Duvivier German-language version of a French film
Melody of Love Kapellmeister German Georg Jacoby
Baby Lord Cecil German Karel Lamač
1933 Waltz War Johann Strauss German Ludwig Berger
Keine Angst vor Liebe Helmut Höfert German Hans Steinhoff
Victor and Victoria Robert German Reinhold Schünzel
1934 George and Georgette Robert French Reinhold Schünzel,
Roger Le Bon
French-language version of Victor and Victoria
Die vertauschte Braut Charles German Karel Lamač
Maskerade Ferdinand von Heideneck German Willi Forst
A Woman Who Knows What She Wants Axel Basse German Victor Janson
The English Marriage Warwick Brent German Reinhold Schünzel
1935 Regine Frank Reynold German Erich Waschneck
The Gypsy Baron Sandor Barinkay German Karl Hartl
Le Baron tzigane Sandor Barinkay French Karl Hartl,
Henri Chomette
French-language version of The Gypsy Baron
I Was Jack Mortimer Fred Sponer German Carl Froelich
The Student of Prague Balduin German Arthur Robison
1936 Der Kurier des Zaren Michael Strogoff German Richard Eichberg
Michel Strogoff Michael Strogoff French Richard Eichberg,
Jacques de Baroncelli
French-language version of Der Kurier des Zaren
Tomfoolery Philip German Willi Forst
Port Arthur Boris Ranewsky French Nicolas Farkas
Port Arthur Boris Ranewsky German Nicolas Farkas German-language version of Port Arthur
1937 The Soldier and the Lady Michael Strogoff English George Nicholls Jr. Remake of Der Kurier des Zaren
Victoria the Great Prince Albert English Herbert Wilcox
The Rat Jean Boucheron English Jack Raymond
1938 Sixty Glorious Years Prince Albert English Herbert Wilcox
1940 Gaslight Paul Mallen English Thorold Dickinson
1941 Dangerous Moonlight Stefan Radetzky English Brian Desmond Hurst
49th Parallel Peter English Powell and Pressburger
1943 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff English Powell and Pressburger
1945 The Man from Morocco Karel Langer English Mutz Greenbaum
1948 The Red Shoes Boris Lermontov English Powell and Pressburger
1949 The Queen of Spades Capt. Herman Suvorin English Thorold Dickinson
1950 La Ronde Master of Ceremonies French Max Ophüls
King for One Night Graf von Lerchenbach German Paul May
1951 Vienna Waltzes Johann Strauss German Emil-Edwin Reinert
1954 L'affaire Maurizius Grégoire Waremme French Julien Duvivier
1955 Oh... Rosalinda!! Dr. Falke English Powell and Pressburger
Lola Montès King Ludwig I of Bavaria French Max Ophüls
1957 Saint Joan Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais English Otto Preminger
1958 I Accuse! Major Esterhazy English José Ferrer

Television (West Germany)[edit]

Year TV Show Role Notes
1960 Venus im Licht The Duke of Altair based on Venus Observed
1962 Laura Waldo Lydecker based on Laura
1964 Der Arzt am Scheideweg Sir Colenso Ridgeon based on The Doctor's Dilemma
1966 Robert und Elisabeth

References[edit]

The grave of Anton Walbrook in Hampstead Cemetery, London
Notes
  1. ^ "Anton Walbrook - Tomb With a View". 
  2. ^ Mann für Mann. 
  3. ^ David Ehrenstein (20 July 2010). "The Red Shoes: Dancing for Your Life". Current. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Offermanns, Ernst (2005) (in German). Die deutschen Juden und der Spielfilm der NS-Zeit. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. p. 69.
  5. ^ The Observer, 29 January 1939, p. 11
  6. ^ WorldCat entry for Call Me Madam, with details of cast accessed 7 August 2018.
  7. ^ Commentary track on Criterion DVD of The Red Shoes
Bibliography
  • Moor, Andrew, Dangerous Limelight: Anton Walbrook and the Seduction of the English (2001)

External links[edit]