|Born||Oskar Josef Bschließmayer
13 November 1922
|Died||23 October 1984
Marburg, Hesse, West Germany
|Cause of death||heart attack|
|Resting place||Triesen, Liechtenstein|
|Spouse(s)||Elisabeth Kallina (1944–52)
Anne Power (1954–68)
Oskar Werner (13 November 1922 – 23 October 1984) was an Austrian stage and cinema actor whose prominent roles include two 1965 films, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Ship of Fools. Other notable films include Decision Before Dawn (1951), Jules and Jim (1962), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968) and Voyage of the Damned (1976). Werner accepted both stage and film roles throughout his career. He won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, and had been nominated several times for the Golden Globe, the Academy Award, and the BAFTA Award as well.
Born Oskar Josef Bschließmayer in Vienna, Werner spent much of his childhood in the care of his grandmother, who entertained him with stories about the Burgtheater, the Austrian state theatre, where he was accepted at the age of eighteen by Lothar Müthel. He was the youngest person ever to receive this recognition. He made his theatre debut using the stage name Oskar Werner in October 1941.
So many officers had been killed on the Russian front that they needed replacements desperately. And, I was for them the embodiment of the Aryan type. But I am a pacifist. I didn't want any responsibility, so I behaved stupidly. I fell from my horse and made mistakes reading the range finders on the cannon, and finally they kicked me out of training school.
He was assigned to peeling potatoes and cleaning latrines instead of being sent to the Eastern Front. In 1944, he secretly married actress Elisabeth Kallina, who was of half Jewish descent. They immediately had a daughter, Eleanore. That December, he deserted the Wehrmacht and fled with his wife and daughter to the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods), where they remained in hiding until the end of the war. He would later remember, "The artillery fire was constant for two and a half days. The shells hit all around our little hut and it was shaking like a leaf ... We knew that to go out there would be suicide, but it was better than to have to wait for execution."
Werner returned to the Burgtheater, and also acted in productions at the Raimund Theater and the Theater in der Josefstadt, frequently playing character roles. He made his film debut in Der Engel mit der Posaune, directed by Karl Hartl, in 1948. The following year he portrayed Ludwig van Beethoven's nephew Karl in Eroica.
In 1950, Werner journeyed to the United Kingdom to reprise the role he had played in Der Engel mit der Posaune in its English-language version, The Angel with the Trumpet, under the direction of Anthony Bushell. He and his wife divorced at about this time but remained friends. He appeared in a few more German–Austrian films before going to Hollywood for a lead role in the 20th Century Fox war film Decision Before Dawn. When the subsequent roles promised by the studio failed to materialize, he returned to Europe and settled in Triesen, Liechtenstein, in a home he designed and built with a friend. He returned to the stage and performed in Hamlet, Danton's Death, Henry IV, Henry V, Torquato Tasso, and Becket, among others. In 1954 he married Anne Power, the daughter of French actress Annabella and adopted daughter of Tyrone Power.
After a period of inactivity in films, Werner appeared in five in 1955, among them Mozart, in which he played the title role, and Lola Montès, directed by Max Ophüls. It was not until 1962, when he appeared in Jules and Jim, that he began to draw critical acclaim and international recognition.
Werner's portrayal of the philosophical Dr. Schumann in the 1965 film Ship of Fools won him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor. His portrayal of Jewish East German spy Fiedler in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) won him the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture and his second BAFTA nomination. In 1966, he played book-burning fireman Guy Montag in François Truffaut's film adaptation of the cult-classic Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. He played an orchestra conductor in Interlude and a Vatican priest loosely based on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Shoes of the Fisherman in 1968, the same year he divorced Power.
In the early 1970s, Werner returned to the stage and spent time traveling in Israel, Italy, Malta, France, and the United States. He appeared in the episode of Columbo titled "Playback" in 1975, and the following year made his final screen appearance in Voyage of the Damned, for which he received another Golden Globe nomination.
Werner was an alcoholic, which was a deciding factor in the decline of his health and career. His last stage appearance was in a 1983 production of The Prince of Homburg, and he made his last public appearance at the Mozart Hall in Salzburg ten days prior to his death.
Death and burial
On 22 October 1984, Werner cancelled a reading at the Hotel Europäischer Hof in Marburg, Germany because he was feeling ill. He was found dead of a heart attack the following morning. He is buried in his adopted country of Liechtenstein.
Filmography and television work
|1938||Geld fällt vom Himmel|
|Linen for Ireland||Hotelpage||Uncredited|
|1948||Der Engel mit der Posaune||Hermann Alt|
|1949||Eroica||Karl van Beethoven|
|1950||The Angel with the Trumpet||Herman Alt|
|1951||Das gestohlene Jahr||Peter Brück|
|Ruf aus dem Äther||Der Student|
|Ein Lächeln im Sturm||Francois Mercier|
|Decision Before Dawn||Cpl. Karl "Happy" Maurer|
|1955||The Last Ten Days||Hauptmann Wüst|
|Spionage||Lt. Zeno von Baumgarten|
|Mozart||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|1958||Ein gewisser Judas||Judas||TV movie|
|1962||Jules and Jim||Jules|
|1964||Torquato Tasso||Torquato Tasso||TV movie|
|1965||The Spy Who Came in from the Cold||Fiedler||Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated–BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
|Ship of Fools||Dr. Schumann||New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated–Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated–BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated–Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
|1966||Fahrenheit 451||Guy Montag|
|The Shoes of the Fisherman||Fr. David Telemond|
|1975||Columbo||Harold Van Wick||Episode: "Playback"|
|1976||Voyage of the Damned||Professor Egon Kreisler||Nominated–Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, (final film role)|
- List of Austrian film actors
- List of German-speaking Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of Liechtensteiners
- List of people from Vienna
- Biography at www.oskarwerner.de.vu[dead link]
- Armbrister, Trevor (8 October 1966). "A Very Phony Profession". The Saturday Evening Post (21): 100.
- Staff (6 September 2004). "Elisabeth Kallina" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. (in German). Der Spiegel. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Krebs, Albin (October 24, 1984). "Oskar Werner, Actor, Dies; Acclaimed for 'Ship of Fools'". The New York Times.. Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
- Torquato Tasso on Internet Movie Database
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Oskar Werner.|