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Paul Henreid

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Paul Henreid
Publicity photograph, 1940s
Paul Georg Julius Hernreid

(1908-01-10)January 10, 1908
DiedMarch 29, 1992(1992-03-29) (aged 84)
CitizenshipAmerica and Britain
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1933–1977
Elizabeth "Lisl" Camilla Julia Gluck Henreid
(m. 1936)

Paul Henreid (January 10, 1908 – March 29, 1992)[1] was an Austrian-American actor, director, producer, and writer. He is best remembered for two film roles: Victor Laszlo in Casablanca and Jerry Durrance in Now, Voyager, both released in 1942.

Early life[edit]

Paul Henreid was born on January 10, 1908, as Paul Georg Julius von Hernreid in Trieste, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the son of Maria-Luise (Lendecke) and Karl Alphons Hernreid, a financial adviser to Emperor Franz Joseph I. Born as Carl Hirsch, Karl von Hernreid converted from Judaism to Catholicism in 1904[citation needed] due to anti-semitism in Austria-Hungary.

Paul von Henreid trained for the theatre in Vienna, over his family's objections, attending the Theresianische Akademie. During this time, he worked at a publishing house while attending school. Karl died in 1916.[2] The family fortune had dwindled by the time his son graduated from the Akademie.[3][4]

Stage and film careers[edit]

Roles in Germany and Austria[edit]

While performing in a play at the Akademia, von Henreid was discovered by Otto Preminger, then working for the director Max Reinhardt. Von Henreid then joined Reinhardt's theater company.[3] In 1933, he played a minor role in a stage production of Faust.[1] He had starring roles in the Vienna staging of the 1934 play Men in White and the play Mizzi.[1]

With the onset of the National Socialist regime in Germany in 1933, the NS-Reichsfilmkammer (National Sozialistic Reich Film Chamber) controlled the making of German films. He applied for membership, but was rejected because his father had been born a Jew.[5] In 1935, von Henreid was cast in the Austrian film Jersey Lilly. Von Henreid went to London in 1937 to portray Prince Albert in the first British stage production of Victoria Regina.[3] That same year, he applied again for a membership by a special permit with the NS-Reichsfilmkammer. This request was personally rejected by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.[5]

By the time that Germany took over Austria in 1938, von Henreid had become fervently anti-Nazi. During this period, he helped a Jewish comedian flee Germany. As a result of this and other actions, the German Government designated him an "official enemy of the Third Reich" and confiscated all his assets in Germany[4] Von Henreid soon moved permanently to the United Kingdom.

Roles in the United Kingdom[edit]

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, von Henreid risked deportation from the United Kingdom or internment as an enemy alien. However, the German actor Conrad Veidt vouched for him, and the British Government allowed him to stay and work. Veidt later appeared alongside Henreid as Major Heinrich Strasser in the film Casablanca.[6]

In 1939, von Henreid has a major supporting role as Max Staefel, a German teacher, in the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips. The next year, he received third billing as a German Gestapo agent in the thriller Night Train to Munich. In 1940, Von Henreid also performed in a minor role in the British musical comedy Under Your Hat. That same year, he portrayed a German army officer in the film Madman of Europe.[3]

Roles for RKO, Warner Bros., and MGM[edit]

Paul Henreid and Bette Davis, Now, Voyager
Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid in Casablanca.

In 1940, von Henreid relocated to New York City. He played a doctor in the 1941 Broadway play, Flight to the West.[7] That same year, he signed a contract with the RKO Pictures in Hollywood.[8] RKO dropped the "von" from his name to make it sound less Germanic. He also became a citizen of the United States.[3] Henreid's first film for RKO was Joan of Paris, a 1942 war drama in which he played a Royal Air Force pilot trying to escaped Occupied France. The film was a big hit.[9]

Moving to Warner Brothers in 1942, the studio cast Henreid as Jeremiah Durrance in the romance Now, Voyager, playing opposite Bette Davis. His role was that of a married man who meets the "spinster" Davis on an ocean voyage. His next role was as Victor Laszlo, an anti-Nazi resistance leader in the 1942 romantic drama Casablanca. The cast included Claude Rains, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, who plays Laszlo's wife.[1][3] The film was a critical success that is considered today one of the best American films in history.

After Casablanca, Henreid turned down the male lead alongside Davis in the 1943 dramatic film, Watch on the Rhine.[10] Warner Brothers then paired Henreid with Ida Lupino in the 1944 romantic drama, In Our Time. That same year, the studio cast him as a romantic lead with Eleanor Parker in Between Two Worlds. Also in 1944, Henreid played a lead role in The Conspirators, about a Dutch resistance leader trying to escape Nazi agents in Lisbon. The film had a supporting cast that included Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Henreid rejected another romantic lead with Davis in the 1944 film Mr Skeffington.[10]

Henreid briefly rejoined RKO to play a pirate with Maureen O'Hara in the studio's 1945 release, The Spanish Main. Returning to Warner Bros., he was cast in 1946 in Devotion, a biopic of the Brontë family in which Henreid portrays Charlotte Bronte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls. He was cast again with Parker in the 1946 adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel, Of Human Bondage. He played Philip Carey, the medical student with the clubfoot.[11]

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) then borrowed Henreid from Warners to play the composer Robert Schumann in the 1957 film Song of Love, opposite Katharine Hepburn. In his 1984 autobiography Ladies Man, Henreid states that he then bought out his Warner Brothers contract for $75,000. MGM offered him a long term contract for $150,000 a year, but he turned it down.[11]

Blacklisting and independent films[edit]

Henreid recounts that in the late 1940s he participated in a protest by some Hollywood actors Washington D.C. against the anti-Communist excesses of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.[3] As a result, he says that the major studios in Hollywood blacklisted him from any roles. He produced the film noir Hollow Triumph in 1948.[12]

For the next several years, Henreid was only able to gain roles in independent films with lower budgets. He appeared in the 1949 adventure film Rope of Sand, playing a villain opposite Burt Lancaster. In 1950, Henreid made a low-budget film for Edward and Harry Danziger, So Young, So Bad, as a school psychiatrist. This film was followed by an offer from producer Sam Katzman to play the pirate Jean Lafitte in Last of the Buccaneers (1950).[13] Henreid then went to France for the 1951 romanced film Pardon My French. He then returned to Katzman for the 1952 film Thief of Damascus. He directed and played the lead role in For Men Only (1952), a college drama about hazing. Later, in the United Kingdom, he made the films Stolen Face (1952) and Mantrap (1953) He then went back to Katzman for the 1953 fantasy adventure Siren of Bagdad, playing a magician.[14]

Return to Hollywood[edit]

In 1954, Henreid returned to MGM, his first film for a major studio since the blacklisting. He played a minor role in Deep in My Heart, a biopic about the composer Sigmund Romberg. He moved next to Columbia Pictures, where he appeared as a pirate captain in the 1955 film Pirates of Tripoli . He made a cameo appearance in the 1956 comedy Meet Me in Las Vegas. He also appeared at this time on Broadway in the play Festival.[14]

Paul Henreid, 1947

In the early 1950s, Henreid began directing both films and television shows. His directorial credits include American television episodes of:

Henreid also directed the 1956 film A Woman's Devotion, in which he played a supporting role, Girls on the Loose (1958), and Live Fast, Die Young (1958). In 1964, he directed Dead Ringer, which stars Bette Davis and features his daughter Monika Henreid in a minor role. While working as a director, Henreid continued to accept some small acting parts:

In 1973, Henreid returned to Broadway to perform in a revival of the George Bernard Shaw drama, Don Juan in Hell. Henreid's final film role was in the 1977 horror film Exorcist II: The Heretic, where he played a cardinal.

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Henreid's grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica

Henreid married Elizabeth Camilla Julia "Lisl" Glück (1908–1993) in 1936; the couple adopted two daughters. In 1992, at age 84, Henreid died of pneumonia in Santa Monica, California after suffering a stroke.[3] He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1960 honored Henreid with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. One star, recognizing his film career, is located at 6366 Hollywood Boulevard. The second star, for his work in television, is located at 1720 Vine Street.[1][6]

Complete filmography[edit]

As actor[edit]

As himself or narrator[edit]

  • Hollywood Canteen (1944) – himself
  • Peking Remembered (1967 documentary) – narrator

As producer[edit]

As director[edit]



  • Maverick "Passage to Fort Doom" (1959)
  • The Californians (1957–1959), various episodes
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series episode "The Landlady," "Cell 227," and 26 others (1957–1962)
  • The June Allyson Show (1960) episode 'The Lie'
  • The Virginian "Long Ride to Wind River" (1966)
  • The Big Valley (9 episodes)

(TV Series 1965–1968)

  • Johnny Staccato TV series episode 'The Mask of Jason', “A Nice Little Town’ (1960)

As writer[edit]


Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source Notes
5/10/43 Lux Radio Theatre "Now, Voyager" w/ Ida Lupino
9/10/45 Lux Radio Theatre "Experiment Perilous" w/ Virginia Bruce
10/1/45 Lux Radio Theatre "Mr. Skeffington" w/ Bette Davis
1/3/46 Suspense "Angel of Death"[15]
3/14/46 Suspense "No More Alice"[16]


  1. ^ Also the French version Dans la vie tout s'arrange (1952).


  1. ^ a b c d e "Paul Henreid". Los Angeles Times. April 3, 1992.
  2. ^ "Am 21 April um 2/3 5 Uhr nachmittags verschied Herr Karl Henreid leitender Direktor der Deutschen Agrarbank fur Osterreich in Prag nach karzern schweren im 42 Jahre selnes arbeitsreichen sur dem Wohle meiner Famille und den Intercessen seines institutes gewidmsten Lebens" [On April 21 around 20 of 5 a.m., Mr. Karl Henreid, the chief director of the German Agricultural Bank for Austria in Prague, died after 42 years of difficult work for the well-being of his family and the interests of his employer.]. New Free Press (in German). April 25, 1916. p. 13. Retrieved April 12, 2020 – via Austrian National Library. Marie Henreid born Lendecke as wife, Paul Henreid, Robert Henreid as children...
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Collins, Glenn (April 3, 1992). "Paul Henreid, Actor, Dies at 84; Resistance Hero in 'Casablanca'". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Folkart, Burt A. (April 3, 1992). "Paul Henreid, Who Gained Fame in 'Casablanca,' Dies". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ a b Weniger, Kay: 'Es wird im Leben dir mehr genommen als gegeben …': Lexikon der aus Deutschland und Österreich emigrierten Filmschaffenden 1933 bis 1945. 1. Auflage. Acabus Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8, S. 237–239.
  6. ^ a b "Paul Henreid". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  7. ^ "Flight to the West – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  8. ^ "Flight to the West". Internet Broadway Database. as "Paul Hernried" (cast not verified)
  9. ^ "Paul Henreid: Biography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Henreid, Paul; Fast, Julius (1984). Ladies man : an autobiography. St. Martin's Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780312463847.
  11. ^ a b Henreid p 184-185
  12. ^ Henreid p 193
  13. ^ Schallert, Edwin (February 23, 1950). "Drama: Paul Henreid to Star as Pirate; Bel Geddes, Ball Both Stagebound". Los Angeles Times. p. A11.
  14. ^ a b "Festival – Broadway Play – Original". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  15. ^ "Suspense – The Angel of Death". Escape and Suspense!. January 20, 2014.
  16. ^ Goldin, J. David (March 15, 2020). "Suspense!". Radio GOLDINdex. Archived from the original on July 20, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2017.

External links[edit]