Torben Meyer

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Torben Meyer
Meyer5.jpg
in Casablanca (1942)
Born
Torben Emil Meyer

(1884-12-01)1 December 1884
Died22 May 1975(1975-05-22) (aged 90)
OccupationActor
Years active1912—1966

Torben Emil Meyer (1 December 1884 – 22 May 1975) was a Danish character actor who appeared in more than 190 films in a 55-year career.

Early career[edit]

Meyer was born in Aarhus, Denmark and began his career as a stage actor in Denmark. He appeared in his first silent movie, Vor tids dame in 1912 and made twenty more before making Don Quixote in 1926. This movie achieved considerable international stature, and Meyer followed the migration of leading European actors to Hollywood the following year. His first American role was as a spy in the silent movie The Man Who Laughs starring Conrad Veidt in 1928. Meyer arrived just when the transition to sound was in progress. In contrast to many other European-born actors, his thick accent became an asset for him. He appeared uncredited in numerous movies throughout the 1930s and 1940s, almost always cast as a German.

In 1930, Meyer received a small part in a Michael Curtiz film A Soldier's Plaything, and in 1932, Meyer appeared in two Swedish language American films, Trådlöst och kärleksfullt and Halvvägs till Himlen. Later that year, he had a small part in Murders in the Rue Morgue, based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story which starring Bela Lugosi.

Meyer had small parts as waiters in five different movies during 1932; in German émigré director Ernst Lubitsch's film Broken Lullaby starring Lionel Barrymore, in George Cukor's What Price Hollywood?, where he plays a waiter in the famous Hollywood restaurant 'The Brown Derby', in Downstairs starring Paul Lukas, in Mervyn LeRoy's Big City Blues starring Joan Blondell and in The Match King. Also that year, he had a small part in The Animal Kingdom starring Leslie Howard.

Next Meyer went from waiter to butler in a number of films in the 1930s; The Crime of the Century, John Ford's The World Moves On, Preview Murder Mystery starring Reginald Denny, Piccadilly Jim and The First Hundred Years both starring Robert Montgomery, and The King and the Chorus Girl starring Joan Blondell. However, he was again cast as a waiter in Reunion in Vienna starring Lionel Barrymore, in The Good Fairy starring Margaret Sullavan, in Break of Hearts starring Katharine Hepburn and Charles Boyer (in this one he was headwaiter at The Ritz), in Two for Tonight starring Bing Crosby, in The Gay Deception as a butler and in To Beat the Band.

In 1935, Meyer was strangled by Boris Karloff's Frankenstein in James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein. Two years later, in 1937, Meyer had a number of bit parts; as a servant in Tovarich starring Claudette Colbert, Charles Boyer and Basil Rathbone, as Raymond Massey's servant in The Prisoner of Zenda starring Ronald Colman in the title role and as Tyrone Power's chauffeur in Sonja Henie's Thin Ice. In 1938 Meyer played a German Police Prefect in a Simon Templar movie, The Saint in New York, and the following year, he played a doorman in Topper Takes a Trip starring Roland Young and Billie Burke. In 1939, Meyer had a bit part in Warner Bros. anti-Nazi movie Nurse Edith Cavell starring Anna Neagle.

Middle years[edit]

In 1940, Meyer had a small role in Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet starring Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Gordon and Otto Kruger, and later that year, featured in the Charlie Chaplin movie, The Great Dictator. He also appeared that year in Four Sons, starring Don Ameche. He is seen in the beginning of the movie as a farmer driving a hay wagon from Nazi Germany into Czechoslovakia and then gives Don Ameche's character a ride home. Later that year, he got to play 'Mr. Schmidt' in Preston Sturges' Christmas in July, his first film with the writer-director. Meyer become part of Sturges' unofficial "stock company" of character actors, appearing in every American film written and directed by Sturges with the exception of The Great McGinty.[1] Evidently as a private joke, Sturges nearly always cast Meyer as a character named "Schultz", with conspicuous exceptions as playing Dr. Kluck in The Palm Beach Story in 1942.

In 1942, at age 57, Meyer acted in one scene in the anti-Nazi movie Berlin Correspondent with Dana Andrews, playing a restaurant manager who is harassing Virginia Gilmore for her ration card. Next he had a small part as a Dutch banker in Casablanca who is seated at a baccarat table. His female friend (played by Trude Berliner) wants to have a drink with Rick but is told no by Carl, the headwaiter (S.Z. Sakall). Meyer is annoyed by this rebuff telling Carl, "Perhaps if you told him I ran the second largest banking house in Amsterdam." He is informed that it wouldn't impress Rick, "the leading banker in Amsterdam is now the pastry chef in our kitchen" and "his father is the bellboy!"

In 1943, Meyer played a waiter again in RKO's spy thriller Journey into Fear starring Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Río and Orson Welles. Next, he portrayed a gypsy in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man starring Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. in the title roles. This was followed with a bit role in Warner Bros.'s war drama Edge of Darkness, starring Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan, where he plays a clerk for Kaspar Torgerson (Charles Dingle) in a Norwegian cannery. Next he played Gottwald in the spy drama They Came to Blow Up America starring George Sanders and Ward Bond.

The following year, Meyer, wearing a beard and mustache, played a sympathetic Swiss Red Cross representative named Karl Kappel in the 20th Century Fox, The Purple Heart, a war drama of captured US army air force pilots from the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo put on trial in Japan, starring Dana Andrews and Richard Conte. After this, he played Dr. Dahlmeyer in The Great Moment starring Joel McCrea. Next he played Emil Rameau's butler in the musical Greenwich Village starring Carmen Miranda and Don Ameche. Meyer received a bit part as a hotel manager in Once Upon a Time starring Cary Grant. In Hotel Berlin in 1945, which starred Helmut Dantine and Peter Lorre, Meyer plays a barber named Franz. Later that year he was a town official in the Fred Astaire musical Yolanda and the Thief.

After World War II, Meyer continued to receive roles. In 1946, he played a Count in the Bob Hope comedy Monsieur Beaucaire. The following year, he received a small part in Millie's Daughter. Later that year, Meyer who once played a lowly waiter in the famed Los Angeles restaurant 'The Brown Derby' back in 1932, now gets to play the head waiter there in Variety Girl which had cameos from literally dozens of Hollywood stars. In 1949, he portrayed doctors in two movies; he had a small part as Doctor Shultz in the comedy The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend starring Betty Grable and a larger one as Doctor Hans Heinrich in the Bowery Boys film Hold That Baby! Later that year, Meyer played a captain of an ocean liner in the Bob Hope comedy The Great Lover.

In 1951, Meyer played Donovan in Grounds for Marriage starring Van Johnson. Later that year, he got a part as an auto mechanic in Come Fill the Cup starring James Cagney. The next year, Meyer played the mayor of a small French town during World War I in the John Ford drama What Price Glory?. Later in 1952, Meyer was a station master in The Merry Widow starring Lana Turner. The next year, Meyer appeared in the musical Call Me Madam starring Ethel Merman and Donald O'Connor. Next he portrayed another waiter in the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy The Caddy, and appeared as a chef in another Martin and Lewis comedy the following year, Living It Up.

Meyer appeared in the Bob Hope comedy Casanova's Big Night which also starred Joan Fontaine and John Carradine in 1954, his fourth Bob Hope movie. Next, he got to play cards again, as he did in Casablanca, in Deep in My Heart starring José Ferrer and Merle Oberon. Meyer was out catching butterflies in the Michael Curtiz comedy We're No Angels starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov. He played a scribe in the John Wayne film The Conqueror in 1956, and later he played a French waiter in the musical Anything Goes starring Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor.

Meyer portrayed Gaston, the night watchman who discovers a murder at the beginning of the sci-fi classic The Fly starring Vincent Price in 1958. Next he played Alex, the headwaiter at the Harmonica Club in The Matchmaker starring Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins and Shirley MacLaine. The following year, he had the role of Hugo in This Earth Is Mine starring Rock Hudson and Claude Rains, and in 1960 he appeared in the Elvis Presley movie G.I. Blues.

In the 1950s and 60s, Meyer made some guest appearances on TV shows such as I Dream of Jeannie, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and I Love Lucy.

Later career and death[edit]

In 1961, at the age of 76, he got his best role in the classic Judgment at Nuremberg starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift, playing the guilt-ridden "Werner Lampe", one of the ex-Nazi judges on trial whose inability to explain his actions is one of the most powerful moments.[2] Two years later, in 1963, he had a small uncredited role in what would be the last movie of his career, A New Kind of Love.

Meyer died on 22 May 1975 of bronchial pneumonia in Hollywood, California at the age of 90. He was cremated and his ashes are in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.[3][unreliable source?]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1912 Manegens stjerne Dumme Peter
1913 Staalkongens Villie
1913 Kæmpedamens bortførelse
1913 Ballettens Datter Delange - Theatre Manager
1913 Atlantis Willy Snyders - artist
1913 Kärleken rår Kuno
1913 Fra fyrste til knejpevært
1914 Under Skæbnens Hjul
1914 Af elskovs naade Laege
1914 Helvedesmaskinen Lerche
1914 Den kulørte slavehandler
1915 Appetit og kærlighed Jens
1915 Held i Uheld Fritz Tummel
1915 Et huskors Lensgreve Rosenørn
1915 Revolutionsbryllup
1915 Cigaretpigen Pedro Delmart - Painter
1915 Cowboymillionæren
1915 Penge
1916 En uheldig skygge
1916 Voksdamen
1916 En nydelig onkel
1916 Lotteriseddel No. 22162 Charles - Apache
1916 Manden uden fremtid Tobby Spratt
1916 Filmens Datter
1916 Sønnen Mr. Grøn
1916 Truet lykke Simoni
1917 Manden uden Smil Pianist
1918 Hævneren Niels
1918 Prøvens Dag Mr. von Scholten
1919 Hans store Chance Arthur
1919 Bajadser Rodolfo
1919 Hvorledes jeg kom til Filmen Gordon Sidney
1919 Dømmer ikke Philip Saphir
1919 Prinsens Kærlighed
1919 En ung mans väg Agapetus von Dufva
1920 Lykkeper Walter Crone
1921 Hendes fortid Moses Volkenthal
1921 Film, flirt og forlovelse The Baron
1922 Der var engang Ceremonimesteren
1923 Madsalune
1923 Republikaneren Editor
1923 Den sidste dans Herr von Schneppen
1924 Min ven privatdetektiven
1924 Little Dorrit Hauptschließer Chivery
1925 Fra Piazza del Popolo Benedetto - Servant
1926 Maharadjahens yndlingshustru III Mohun Singh
1926 Klovnen Butler
1926 Don Quixote Sancho Carrasco
1928 The Man Who Laughs The Spy Uncredited
1928 Jazz Mad Kline
1928 Noah's Ark Man on Train Uncredited
1928 The Viking Odd
1928 The Last Warning Gene
1929 Behind Closed Doors Captain von Gilden
1930 Behind the Make-Up Waiter
1930 Lummox Silly Willie
1930 Mamba German Soldier Uncredited
1930 The Bad One Uncredited
1930 Just Like Heaven Pierre
1930 The Lottery Bride Miner Uncredited
1930 A Soldier's Plaything German Actor in Horse Uncredited
1931 Trådlöst och kärleksfullt
1931 Just a Gigolo Waiter Uncredited
1931 Halvvägs till himlen Director
1932 Broken Lullaby Waiter at Inn Uncredited
1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue The Dane Uncredited
1932 What Price Hollywood? Nick - Brown Derby Headwaiter Uncredited
1932 Downstairs Cafe Waiter Uncredited
1932 Big City Blues Second Waiter Uncredited
1932 Six Hours to Live Sturges - Butler Uncredited
1932 Le bluffeur Col. Ginsberg
1932 The Animal Kingdom Meyer - Idealistic Printer Uncredited
1932 The Match King Hans, Headwaiter Uncredited
1933 The Crime of the Century Eric Ericson - Butler
1933 Reunion in Vienna Headwaiter Strumpf Uncredited
1933 Ladies Must Love Beermaster Uncredited
1933 Cradle Song Papa Uncredited
1933 The Worst Woman in Paris? Taxi Driver Uncredited
1934 Mandalay Mr. Van Brinken Uncredited
1934 All Men Are Enemies Clerk Uncredited
1934 Little Man, What Now? Headwaiter Uncredited
1934 The World Moves On Head Butler Uncredited
1934 Pursued Hansen Uncredited
1934 By Your Leave Costume Company Fitter Uncredited
1934 Music in the Air Pharmacist Uncredited
1935 Enter Madame Carlson
1935 The Night Is Young Adjutant Uncredited
1935 The Good Fairy Head Waiter Uncredited
1935 Roberta Albert
1935 Bride of Frankenstein Victim in Flashback Uncredited
1935 Mark of the Vampire Card Player Uncredited
1935 Break of Hearts The Ritz Headwaiter Uncredited
1935 The Girl Who Came Back Zarabella
1935 Front Page Woman Janitor Uncredited
1935 The Black Room Peter
1935 Two for Tonight Waiter Uncredited
1935 The Gay Deception Waiter Uncredited
1935 Thunder in the Night Cafe Owner Uncredited
1935 Charlie Chan in Shanghai French Diplomat Uncredited
1935 The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo Minor Role Uncredited
1935 Splendor Baron Von Hoffstatter
1935 To Beat the Band Headwaiter Uncredited
1935 East of Java Derelict Uncredited
1935 A Tale of Two Cities Lackey #1 Uncredited
1935 If You Could Only Cook Swedish Servant Uncredited
1942 Casablanca Dutch Banker at Cafe Table Uncredited
1945 Hotel Berlin Franz, the Barber Uncredited
1945 A Royal Scandal Stooge Uncredited
1945 Yolanda and the Thief Town Official Uncredited
1946 The Kid from Brooklyn Garden Party Guest Uncredited
1946 Heartbeat Thief at Ball Uncredited
1946 Monsieur Beaucaire Count Uncredited
1946 Alias Mr. Twilight Starling
1950 The Great Rupert Mr. Petrushka - the Baker Uncredited
1952 What Price Glory Mayor Uncredited
1952 The Merry Widow Station Master Uncredited
1953 Call Me Madam Rudolph Uncredited
1953 The Story of Three Loves Man in Saloon (segment "Equilibrium"), Uncredited
1953 Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation Doorman at Hotel Louis Uncredited
1953 Houdini Headwaiter Uncredited
1954 Casanova's Big Night Attendant Uncredited
1954 About Mrs. Leslie Maitre D' Uncredited
1954 Living It Up Chef Uncredited
1954 Deep in My Heart Card Player Uncredited
1955 We're No Angels Butterfly Man Uncredited
1956 The Conqueror Scribe Uncredited
1956 Anything Goes French Waiter Uncredited
1956 Hollywood or Bust Waiter Last Martin & Lewis comedy; waiter, Uncredited
1957 Public Pigeon No. 1 Waiter Uncredited
1957 The Helen Morgan Story Manager Uncredited
1958 The Fly Gaston Uncredited
1958 The Matchmaker Alex, Headwaiter, Harmonica Club
1959 This Earth Is Mine Hugo Uncredited
1959 Li'l Abner Butler Uncredited
1960 G.I. Blues Headwaiter Uncredited
1961 Judgment at Nuremberg Werner Lampe
1963 A New Kind of Love Hotel Clerk Uncredited

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meyer appeared in Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero, The Great Moment, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, Unfaithfully Yours and The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, Sturges' last American film. Earlier, he had also appeared in The Good Fairy, which was written by Sturges.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal Biography (Allmovie)
  3. ^ "Torben Meyer". Find a Grave. Retrieved October 19, 2010.

External links[edit]