Curt Bois

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Curt Bois
Curt Bois im Schiller-Theater - cropped.jpg
Bois in Berlin Schillertheater (1959)
Kurt Boas

(1901-04-05)April 5, 1901
DiedDecember 25, 1991(1991-12-25) (aged 90)
Berlin, Germany
Years active1907–1989
Hedwig Ury
(m. 1931; died 1962)

Dagmar Bois
(m. 19??; his death 1991)

Curt Bois (born Kurt Boas; April 5, 1901 – December 25, 1991) was a German actor with a career spanning over 80 years. He is best remembered for his performances as the pickpocket in Casablanca (1942) and the poet Homer in Wings of Desire (1987).

Life and career[edit]

Curt Bois (left) & John Abbott in The Woman in White

Bois was born to a German Jewish family[1] in Berlin and began acting in 1907, becoming one of the film world's first child actors, with a role in the silent movie Bauernhaus und Grafenschloß. In 1909, he played the title role in Der Kleine Detektiv ('The Little Detective'). Bois performed in theatre, cabaret, musicals, silent films, and "talkies" over his long acting career. He performed under Max Reinhardt[2] and found success in 1928 in a Viennese stage production of "Charley's Aunt" at the Josefstadt Theater.[3] He was a successful character comic, and for a while film studios tried to make him into a "German Harold Lloyd".[4]

In 1934, institutionalized Anti-Semitism forced the Jewish Bois to leave his home in Nazi Germany for the United States. There he found work on stage on Broadway. By 1937, he had made his way to Hollywood and began acting in films, the best-known being Casablanca (1942), in which he warns a befuddled English gentleman to be on guard against pickpockets ("vultures everywhere") while stealing the man's wallet. He had a notable supporting role in Caught (1949), starring Robert Ryan, Barbara Bel Geddes, and James Mason; Ryan played a megalomaniacal industrialist openly based on Howard Hughes and Bois was Ryan's conflicted fixer, Franzi Kartos. Most of his Hollywood roles were small, but nevertheless Bois was in demand. After World War II, Bois decided it was safe to return to Germany, which he did in 1950.

Bois finished his life and career in Germany, first in the East, and then in the West. He appeared at the Schiller Theater and the Theater des Westens for many years. One of his final performances was in Wim Wenders' Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) in 1987, portraying the aged poet Homer "who endlessly wanders Berlin in the hope of properly capturing the city on paper".[5] He won the European Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. He played his last role in the 1989 short film Das letzte Band, ending a film career of 82 years. Bois died in Berlin, the city of his birth, at the age of 90.

Complete filmography[edit]



  • John Holmstrom, The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995, Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, pp. 18–19.

External links[edit]