Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Conrad Veidt

Conrad Veidt (22 January 1893 – 3 April 1943) was a German actor best remembered for his roles in films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), The Man Who Laughs (1928), The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and Casablanca (1942). After a successful career in German silent film, where he was one of the best paid stars of Ufa, he left Germany in 1933 with his new Jewish wife and settled in the United Kingdom, where he participated in a number of films before continuing to the United States around 1941.
He was born Hans Walter Conrad Weidt in a working-class district of Berlin, Germany, the son of Amalie Marie (Gohtz) and Phillip Heinrich Veidt. (Some biographies wrongly state that he was born in Potsdam, probably on the basis of an early claim on his part.) His family was Protestant

Veidt fervently opposed the Nazi regime, motivating him to emigrate from Germany in 1933 a week after marrying Illona Prager, a Jewish woman. He settled in the United Kingdom, perfected his English and became a British citizen in 1938.
He continued making films in Britain, notably three with director Michael Powell: The Spy in Black (1939), Contraband (1940) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

In the 1940s he moved back to Hollywood, California, and starred in a few films, such as Nazi Agent (1942), in which he had a dual role as a Nazi and as the Nazi's twin brother, but his best remembered role was as Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca (1942). He found himself invariably playing the very characters he detested.
He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1943 while playing golf in Los Angeles. In 1998, his ashes were interred at the Golders Green Crematorium in London.

It has been reported, though not verified, that Veidt identified himself as Jewish on Nazi questionnaires as an act of protest. This may be the source of inaccurate claims that he either converted to Judaism or was Jewish by birth. Conrad Veidt married three times, his first marriage to Augusta Holl, a famous cabaret entertainer known as "Gussy", took place on June 18, 1918 and ended in divorce the following autumn. Gussy later married German actor Emil Jannings. Veidt married a woman from an aristocratic German family, Felicitas Radke, in 1923. Their daughter, Vera Viola Maria, called Viola, was born August 10, 1925. His last marriage came in 1933, to Ilona Prager, called Lily, and lasted until his death.
He loaned his considerable fortune to the British Government and donated large amounts of his film salaries to help with the British war effort.

Selected filmography

Around the World in Eighty Days (1919)
Uncanny Stories (Unheimliche Geschichten) (1919)
Different from the Others (Anders als die Andern) (1919)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) (1920)
The Head of Janus (Der Januskopf) (1920)
Longing (Sehnsucht) (1920)
Evening – Night – Morning (Abend - Nacht - Morgen) (1920)
Lady Hamilton (1921)
The Indian Tomb (Das indische Grabmal) (1921–22)
The Hands of Orlac (Orlacs Hände) (1924)
Carlos and Elisabeth (1924)
Waxworks (Das Wachsfigurenkabinett) (1924)
The Student of Prague (Der Student von Prag) (1926)
The Beloved Rogue (1927)
A Man's Past (1927)
Gesetze der Liebe (1927)
The Last Performance (1927)
The Man Who Laughs (1928)
Das Land ohne Frauen (1929)
Die letzte Kompanie (1930)
Menschen im Käfig (1930)
Der Mann, der den Mord beging (1931)
Die Nacht der Entscheidung (1931)
The Congress Dances (Der Kongreß tanzt) (1931)
Die andere Seite (1931)
Rasputin, Dämon der Frauen (1932)
The Black Hussar (1932)
Rome Express (1932)
The Wandering Jew (1933)
Ich und die Kaiserin (1933)
F.P.1 (1933)
I Was a Spy (1933)
Guillaume Tell (1934)
William Tell (1934)
Bella Donna (1934)
Jew Suss (1934) - not to be confused with the 1940 German anti-semitic Jud Süß
King of the Damned (1935)
The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935)
Dark Journey (1937)
Under the Red Robe (1937)
Le joueur d'échecs (1938)
Tempête sur l'Asie (1938)
A People Eternal (1939)
The Spy in Black (1939)
Contraband (1940)
Escape (1940)
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
A Woman's Face (1941)
Whistling in the Dark (1941)
The Men in Her Life (1941)
All Through the Night (1941)
Nazi Agent (1942)
Casablanca (1942)
Above Suspicion (1943)

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