Anton Walbrook

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Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook.jpeg
Walbrook in 1945
Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück

(1896-11-19)19 November 1896
Died9 August 1967(1967-08-09) (aged 70)
Years active1915–1966
The grave of Anton Walbrook in the churchyard of St John-at-Hampstead parish church, London Walbrook grave.JPG
The grave of Anton Walbrook in the churchyard of St John-at-Hampstead parish church, London

Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück (19 November 1896 9 August 1967) was an Austrian actor who settled in the United Kingdom under the name Anton Walbrook. A popular performer in Austria and pre-war Germany, he left in 1936 out of concerns for his own safety and established a career in British cinema. Walbrook is perhaps best known for his roles in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and The Red Shoes .


Life and career

Walbrook was born in Vienna, Austria, as Adolf Wohlbrück. He was the son of Gisela Rosa (Cohn) and Adolf Ferdinand Bernhard Hermann Wohlbrück. [1] [2] He was descended from ten generations of actors, though his father broke with tradition and was a circus clown. Walbrook studied with the director Max Reinhardt and built up a career in Austrian theatre and cinema.

In 1936, he went to Hollywood to reshoot dialogue for the multinational The Soldier and the Lady (1937) and in the process changed his name from Adolf to Anton. Instead of returning to Austria, Walbrook, who was homosexual [3] and classified under the Nuremberg Laws as a so-called “Mischling ersten Grades” (mixed race in the first degree) because his mother was Jewish, [4] settled in England and continued working as a film actor, making a speciality of playing continental Europeans.

He played Otto in the first London production of Design for Living at the Haymarket Theatre in January 1939 (later transferring to the Savoy Theatre), and running for 233 performances, opposite Diana Wynyard as Gilda and Rex Harrison as Leo. [5] In 1952 he appeared at the Coliseum as Cosmo Constantine in Call Me Madam , also participating alongside Billie Worth, Jeff Warren and Shani Wallis on the EMI cast record. [6]

Producer-director Herbert Wilcox cast him as Prince Albert in Victoria the Great (1937) and Walbrook also appeared in the sequel, Sixty Glorious Years the following year. He was in director Thorold Dickinson's version of Gaslight (1940), in the role played by Charles Boyer in the later Hollywood remake. In Dangerous Moonlight (1941), a romantic melodrama, he was a Polish pianist torn over whether to return home. For the Powell and Pressburger team in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) he played the role of the dashing, intense "good German" officer Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, and the tyrannical impresario Lermontov in The Red Shoes (1948). One of his most unusual films, reuniting him with Dickinson, is The Queen of Spades (1949), a Gothic thriller based on the Alexander Pushkin short story, in which he co-starred with Edith Evans. For Max Ophüls he was the ringmaster in La Ronde (1950) and Ludwig I, King of Bavaria in Lola Montès .

His Red Shoes co-star Moira Shearer recalled Walbrook was a loner on set, often wearing dark glasses and eating alone. [7] He retired from films at the end of the 1950s and in later years appeared on the European stage and television.

Walbrook died of a heart attack in the Garatshausen section of Feldafing, Bavaria, Germany in 1967. His ashes were interred in the churchyard of St. John's Church, Hampstead, London, as he had wished in his testament.


1915MarionettenZirkusdirektorRichard Löwenbein
1923 Martin Luther SilentKarl Wüstenhagen
1924Mater dolorosaSilent Joseph Delmont
1925 The Secret of Castle Elmshoh AxelSilent Max Obal
1931 Salto Mortale RobbyGerman E. A. Dupont
1932 The Pride of Company Three Prinz WillibaldGerman Fred Sauer
Three from the Unemployment Office Max BinderGerman Eugen Thiele
The Five Accursed Gentlemen PetersenGerman Julien Duvivier German-language version of a French film
Melody of Love KapellmeisterGerman Georg Jacoby
BabyLord CecilGerman Karel Lamač
1933 Waltz War Johann Strauss German Ludwig Berger
Keine Angst vor Liebe  [ de ]Helmut HöfertGerman Hans Steinhoff
Victor and Victoria RobertGerman Reinhold Schünzel
1934 George and Georgette French Reinhold Schünzel,
Roger Le Bon
French-language version of Victor and Victoria
Die vertauschte BrautCharlesGerman Karel Lamač
Maskerade Ferdinand von HeideneckGerman Willi Forst
A Woman Who Knows What She Wants Axel BasseGerman Victor Janson
The English Marriage Warwick BrentGerman Reinhold Schünzel
1935 Regine Frank ReynoldGerman Erich Waschneck
The Gypsy Baron Sandor BarinkayGerman Karl Hartl
Le Baron tziganeSandor BarinkayFrench Karl Hartl,
Henri Chomette
French-language version of The Gypsy Baron
I Was Jack Mortimer Fred SponerGerman Carl Froelich
The Student of Prague BalduinGerman Arthur Robison
1936 The Czar's Courier Michael Strogoff German Richard Eichberg
Michel Strogoff French Richard Eichberg,
Jacques de Baroncelli
French-language version of The Czar's Courier
Tomfoolery PhilipGerman Willi Forst
Port ArthurBoris RanewskyFrench Nicolas Farkas
Port ArthurGerman Nicolas Farkas German-language version of Port Arthur
1937 The Soldier and the Lady Michael Strogoff English George Nicholls Jr. Remake of The Czar's Courier
Victoria the Great Prince Albert English Herbert Wilcox
The Rat Jean BoucheronEnglish Jack Raymond
1938 Sixty Glorious Years Prince Albert English Herbert Wilcox
1940 Gaslight Paul MallenEnglish Thorold Dickinson
1941 Dangerous Moonlight Stefan RadetzkyEnglish Brian Desmond Hurst
49th Parallel PeterEnglish Powell and Pressburger
1943 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Theo Kretschmar-SchuldorffEnglish Powell and Pressburger
1945 The Man from Morocco Karel LangerEnglish Mutz Greenbaum
1948 The Red Shoes Boris LermontovEnglish Powell and Pressburger
1949 The Queen of Spades Capt. Herman SuvorinEnglish Thorold Dickinson
1950 La Ronde Master of CeremoniesFrench Max Ophüls
King for One Night Graf von LerchenbachGerman Paul May
1951 Vienna Waltzes Johann Strauss German Emil-Edwin Reinert
1952 Le Plaisir Narrator, German versionMax OphülsUncredited
1954 L'affaire Maurizius Grégoire WaremmeFrench Julien Duvivier
1955 Oh... Rosalinda!! Dr. FalkeEnglish Powell and Pressburger
Lola Montès King Ludwig I of Bavaria French Max Ophüls
1957 Saint Joan Cauchon, Bishop of BeauvaisEnglish Otto Preminger
1958 I Accuse! Major Esterhazy English José Ferrer

Television (West Germany)

YearTV ShowRoleNotes
1960Venus im LichtThe Duke of Altairbased on Venus Observed
1962LauraWaldo Lydeckerbased on Laura
1964Der Arzt am ScheidewegSir Colenso Ridgeonbased on The Doctor's Dilemma
1966Robert und Elisabeth(final film role)

See also

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  1. "Anton Walbrook - Tomb With a View".
  2. Hergemöller, Bernd-Ulrich (2001). Mann für Mann. ISBN   9783518397664.
  3. David Ehrenstein (20 July 2010). "The Red Shoes: Dancing for Your Life". Current. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  4. Offermanns, Ernst (2005) (in German). Die deutschen Juden und der Spielfilm der NS-Zeit. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. p. 69.
  5. The Observer , 29 January 1939, p. 11
  6. WorldCat entry for Call Me Madam, with details of cast accessed 7 August 2018.
  7. Commentary track on Criterion DVD of The Red Shoes

General sources