Paul Hörbiger

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Paul Hörbiger
WP Paul Hörbiger.jpg
Publicity photo, 1939
Born (1894-04-29)29 April 1894
Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died 5 March 1981(1981-03-05) (aged 86)
Vienna, Austria
Occupation Actor
Years active 19281974
Spouse(s) Josefa Gettke (1921-1939) (divorced) 4 children

Paul Hörbiger (29 April 1894 – 5 March 1981) was an Austrian theatre and film actor.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Paul Hörbiger was born in the Hungarian capital Budapest, then part of Austria-Hungary, the son of engineer Hanns Hörbiger, founder of the Welteislehre cosmological concept, and elder brother of actor Attila Hörbiger. In 1902 the family returned to Vienna, while Paul attended the gymnasium (grammar or high school) at St. Paul's Abbey in Carinthia. Having obtained his Matura degree, he served in a mountain artillery regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I, discharged in 1918 with the rank of an Oberleutnant.

After the war, Paul Hörbiger took drama lessons and began his acting career in 1919 at the city theatre of Reichenberg (Liberec). From 1920 he performed at the New German Theatre in Prague. His fame grew when in 1926 he was employed by director Max Reinhardt at the ensemble of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, reaching a high point with his appointment at the Vienna Burgtheater in 1940. He also appeared at the 1943 Salzburg Festival, performing in the role as Papageno in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute.

Hörbiger performing at the Kabarett der Komiker in Berlin, 1938

From 1928 he appeared in more than 250 films, mostly lightweight comedies of the Wiener Film genre popular among German and Austrian audiences during the 1930s and 40s. In 1936 he established his own filming company Algefa jointly with director E. W. Emo. In 1938 he, like many other celebrities, openly acclaimed the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany and smoothly continued his career, also appearing in propaganda films like Wunschkonzert or Die grosse Liebe which earned him an entry on Goebbels' Gottbegnadeten list. On the other hand, Hörbiger inconspicuously met with opposition circles around Theo Lingen and Oskar Sima and in the late days of World War II he was even arrested for treason by the Nazi authorities.

After the war he quickly resumed his career, playing the murdered porter in Carol Reed's British film classic The Third Man (1949). From 1947–49 he was also chairman of the First Vienna FC football club.

Paul Hörbiger remained one of the most popular German-speaking film actors of the 1950s and 1960s, starring in numerous Heimatfilm and Wiener Film productions. He again performed as the warm-hearted Viennese type and Heurigen singer, often together with Hans Moser and director Franz Antel. In his later years he again concentrated on theatre acting at the Burgtheater, where he last premiered in 1979 with Elias Canetti's Komödie der Eitelkeit.

Personal life[edit]

In 1921 he married the actress Josepha Gettke with whom he had four children. Hörbiger died in Vienna aged 86 and is buried in an Ehrengrab at the Vienna Zentralfriedhof. The actress Christiane Hörbiger, daughter from his brother Attila's marriage with Paula Wessely, is his niece. The actors Christian Tramitz and Mavie Hörbiger are grandchildren of Paul Hörbiger.

Selected filmography[edit]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]