Life and career
Schildkraut was born in Constantinople, in the Ottoman Empire, to a Jewish family. His parents ran a hotel. He grew up in Brăila, Romania. In Vienna, he received acting lessons from Friedrich Mitterwurzer. He debuted in the early 1880s in Sopro, his first solid role came in 1885 in Krems.
In 1893 he moved to Vienna to an engagement at the newly opened Raimund Theater. In 1898 he moved to the Carl Theatre. Among other things, he played the character Wurm in Love and Intrigue. In 1900 he came to the German Theatre in Hamburg, 1905 to the German Theatre in Berlin. There he became one of the most important actor in the theatre company players of Max Reinhardt. His Shylock, which he played in 1905 and 1913 in Reinhardt's productions of The Merchant of Venice was praised by Fritz Kortner as a "monument to the art of acting." Other major roles were the title role in King Lear (1908), Mephisto in Faust I (1909), Muley Hassan in Friedrich Schiller's Fiesco (1909), the grave-digger in Hamlet (1909) and Peter Bast in Knut Hamsun's From the Devil Fetched (1914). Schildkraut performed for the first time in the United States in 1910-11.
Schildkraut was known as a film actor in the German Empire in the early silent era. He starred in several film dramas. His last European-made film was a biography of the German Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, in which he played Herb Schildt "The Struggling Israel." In 1920 he moved permanently to America and made his debut the same year in New York in the play Silent Forces. From 1922 he also played in the English language. In 1925 he founded his own Jewish theatre in the Bronx.
In his last five years he appeared in several Hollywood productions. His most notable film, which raised his profile in America, was The King of Kings by Cecil B. DeMille in 1927 in which he played the High Priest Caiaphas.
Schildkraut died at the age of 67 years of a heart attack, in Los Angeles. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA. His son also died at the same age, also of a heart attack.
- 1913: Der Shylock von Krakau
- 1914: Ivan Koschula
- 1915: The Fool of Fate
- 1915: Demon and Human
- 1915: The Eighth Commandment
- 1915: Pool Pagliacci
- 1915: Schlemihl
- 1916: The Fortune Tailors
- 1916: The Dancing Heart
- 1916: The Lullaby
- 1919: The Court Musician
- 1919: Free Fighting
- 1919: The Pasha
- 1920: Justice
- 1921: Theodor Herzl (1921)
- 1925: His Sons ( His People )
- 1926: Young April
- 1926: Pals in Paradise
- 1927: The King of Kings
- 1927: The Country Doctor
- 1927: His Own Boy ( A Harp in Hock )
- 1927: Turkish Delight
- 1927 : The Main Event
- 1928: A Ship Comes In also known as 'My Country'
- 1929: Christina
- Edmonds, Richard (September 22, 2000). "Performance to Touch the Heart". Birmingham Post. p. 16.
Shylock was played by Rudolph Schildkraut, and his portrait in the famous Max Reinhardt production hung in the Deutsches Theater in Berlin until Goebbels personally had it burned.'
- Edelman, Rob (January 10, 2003). "Joseph Green: 'I Knew Exactly What I Wanted'". The Jewish Daily Forward. p. 11.
First, I became an actor with Rudolph Schildkraut's acting company in the Bronx. He and his son Joseph were soon engaged in Hollywood to play in [Cecil B.] DeMille's "King of Kings."
- Joseph Schildkraut, My Father and I, as told to Leo Lania, New York 1959.