Bruno Kastner

Last updated
Bruno Kastner
Alexander Binder - Bruno Kastner Photochemie K 3133.jpg
Richard Otto Bruno Kastner

January 1890
Died30 June 1932(1932-06-30) (aged 42)
Years active1913–1930
Spouse(s) Ida Wüst (m.1918–div.1924)
Lisl Tirsch-Kastner (1925–1932)

Richard Otto Bruno Kastner (January 1890 [1] – 30 June 1932) was a German stage and film actor, screenwriter, and film producer whose career was most prominent in the 1910s and 1920s during the silent film era. Kastner was one of the most popular leading men in German films during his career's peak in the 1920s.


Early life

Richard Otto Bruno Kastner was born in Forst (Lausitz), Brandenburg, Germany in 1890 to Paul Ferdinand Richard Kastner, a forestry tax minister, and Ida Elisabeth Emma Kastner (née Voigt). Kastner attended schools in Fürstenwalde and afterward served a short, seventeen-day stint in the military before being relieved of his duties due to an injury. [2]

He subsequently travelled to Berlin and took acting lessons from stage actor Paul Biensfeldt and then relocated briefly to Hamburg where he performed at the Harburger Theater. After a brief period in touring companies he worked as a choral singer and actor at the Meinhard-Bernauer Bühnen in Berlin. [2]

Career rise

During World War I Kastner avoided military service, assessed as unfit for service due to his prior injury while serving before the war's outbreak. [3] Discovered by Danish film actress Asta Nielsen, he made his film debut opposite her in the 1914 Urban Gad-directed comedy short Engelein (Little Angel), with Fred Immler and Hanns Kräly. He followed the success of this film with the sequel Engeleins Hochzeit (Little Angel's Wedding) in 1916. In the interim, Kastner quickly became a matinee idol in Germany, especially popular with female fans. The German press commented on Kastner's rise to stardom and how vexed postmen were having to transport love letters from fans to Kastner in laundry baskets. [2] Kastner cemented his romantic image by appearing as the ardent suitor to popular actress Dorrit Weixler in a number of films of the era. Male filmgoers were less fond of Kastner's image of a handsome dandy and gave him the derisive nickname "Kleiderbügel" ("coat hanger") – a reference to his slim build and fashionable wardrobe. [3] [4]

Although he didn't carry much clout with many male filmgoers, his popularity with female fans grew momentum. In 1921, Kastner was voted "The Best German Actor" in a magazine poll [3] and he began appearing that year in a film serial called Der Silberkönig (The Silver King) opposite leading lady Ossi Oswalda. The following year, he founded his own film company. Other popular films of the era included roles in Fritz Lang's Hilde Warren und der Tod (1917), Erik Lund's Das Herz des Casanova (1919) and Georg Jacoby's Das Paradies im Schnee (1924). [3]

Kastner wrote the screenplays for four films that he would produce and star in: Nur ein Diener, Das Herz des Casanova, Der letzte Sonnensohn and Der Weltmeister, all directed by Erik Lund and released in 1919.

Kastner's career was almost cut short in 1924 when he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in Lugano, Switzerland, which left him with permanent pain. He never fully recovered, but after a year of rest and recuperation, he returned to the screen in 1925. [3]

Career decline and death

Bruno Kastner ca. 1920. Bruno Kastner by Becker & Maass, Berlin.jpg
Bruno Kastner ca. 1920.

By the late 1920s, Kastner's career began to falter. No longer able to play the young, seductive bon vivant type which had made him famous, his roles in films grew smaller, although he still had a measure of success in such films as Karl Grune's 1926 drama Die Brüder Schellenberg with Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover and Liane Haid and the Jacob Fleck and Luise Fleck-directed Der Orlow with Iván Petrovich and Hans Junkermann in 1927.

Bruno Kastner Bruno Kastner by Becker & Maass.jpg
Bruno Kastner

The onset of sound films proved disastrous to Kastner's career in 1930 upon the release of his first talkie titled Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles) when filmgoers discovered that he stammered. [3] He would only make one more film, 1930's unsuccessful Tingel-Tangel. After failing to garner any more film roles because of his speech impediment, he tried to revive his career by touring German theatres and permitting female members of the audience to get onstage and have their photograph taken with their past idol. [4]

Kastner had depression after his rapid career decline. After two years of struggling to regain his public popularity, he rented a hotel room in Bad Kreuznach and committed suicide by hanging himself in June 1932. He was 42. [3]

Personal life

Kastner was married to German actress Ida Wüst from 1918 to 1924. The union ended in divorce and produced no offspring. In 1925, he married actress Lisl Tirsch-Kastner. The couple were still married at the time of Kastner's death. [2]

Selected filmography

Related Research Articles

Liane Haid Austrian actress and singer

Juliane "Liane" Haid was an Austrian actress and singer. She has often been referred to as Austria's first movie star.

Werner Krauss German actor

Werner Johannes Krauss was a German stage and film actor. Krauss dominated the German stage of the early 20th century. However, his participation in the antisemitic propaganda film Jud Süß and his collaboration with the Nazis made him a controversial figure.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge German actor

Friedrich Rudolf Klein, better known as Rudolf Klein-Rogge, was a German film actor, best known for playing sinister figures in films in the 1920s and 1930s as well as being a mainstay in director Fritz Lang's Weimar-era films. He is probably best known in popular culture, particularly to English-speaking audiences, for playing the archetypal mad scientist role of C. A. Rotwang in Lang's Metropolis and as the criminal genius Doctor Mabuse. Klein-Rogge also appeared in several important French films in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Harry Piel German actor, filmmaker

Heinrich Piel, known professionally as Harry Piel, was a prolific German actor, film director, screenwriter, and film producer who was involved in over 150 films.

Rosa Valetti German actress

Rosa Valetti, born Rosa Alice Vallentin, was a German actress, cabaret performer, and singer.

Giuseppe Becce was an Italian-born film score composer who enriched the German cinema.

Ossi Oswalda German actress (1898–1947)

Ossi Oswalda was a German actress, who mostly appeared in silent films. She was given the nickname 'The German Mary Pickford' due to her popularity at the time.

Lil Dagover German actress

Lil Dagover was a German actress whose film career spanned between 1913 and 1979. She was one of the most popular and recognized film actresses in the Weimar Republic.

Marcella Albani Italian actress

Marcella Albani, was an Italian actress and writer. Although largely forgotten today, Albani was an idol of European cinema in the 1920s, and appeared in 50 films between 1919 and 1936 in 5 different countries.

Harry Liedtke German actor

Harry Liedtke was a German film actor.

Georg John German actor (1879–1941)

Georg John was a German stage and film actor.

Julius Falkenstein German actor

Julius Falkenstein was a German stage and film actor of the silent era. He appeared in more than 180 films between 1914 and 1933. Falkenstein was Jewish, but secured a special permit to continue making films following the Nazi rise to power in 1933. He died of natural causes the same year, having made only one further film.

Karl Grune was an Austrian film director and writer who made many silent films in the 1920s.

Georg Alexander German actor

Georg Alexander was a German film actor who was a prolific presence in German cinema. He also directed a number of films during the silent era.

Eduard von Winterstein Austrian actor

Eduard Clemens Franz Anna Freiherr von Wangenheim, known as Eduard von Winterstein, was an Austrian-German film actor who appeared in over one hundred fifty German films during the silent and sound eras. He was also a noted theater actor.

Rudolf Lettinger German actor

Rudolf Lettinger was a German stage and film actor. He made his stage debut in 1883 when he played the role of Kosinsky in Friedrich Schiller's drama The Robbers. Some of his more prominent roles in his prestigious stage career were Cyrano de Bergerac and Gessler in William Tell. He also worked with acclaimed stage director Max Reinhardt. In 1912, Lettinger played his first film role in Das Geheimnis von Monte Carlo. Lettinger appeared in over 90 films until 1931, mostly as a supporting actor. His best-known film is perhaps The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), where Lettinger portrayed Dr. Olsen.

Manfred Noa was a German film director. Noa was described by Vilma Bánky, who he directed twice, as her "favourite director". Noa's 1924 film Helena has been called his "masterpiece" although it was so expensive that it seriously damaged the finances of Bavaria Film.

Hans Adalbert Schlettow German actor

Hans Adalbert Schlettow was a German film actor. Schlettow appeared in around a hundred and sixty films during his career, the majority during the silent era. Among his best-known film roles was Hagen von Tronje in Fritz Lang's film classic Die Nibelungen (1924). In 1929 he starred in the British director Anthony Asquith's film A Cottage on Dartmoor.

Jaro Fürth Austrian actor

Jaro Fürth was an Austrian stage and film actor.

Hermann Picha was a German stage and film actor. Picha was extremely prolific, appearing in over 300 short and feature films during the silent and early sound eras. Picha played a mixture of lead and supporting roles during his career. He played the title role in the 1920 film Wibbel the Tailor, directed by Manfred Noa. He appeared in Fritz Lang's Destiny.


  1. Different sources cite 1 January, 3 January, 20 January, and 30 January as Kastner's date of birth.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Bruno Kastner profile Archived 2011-07-31 at the Wayback Machine ,; retrieved 15 August 2011. (in German)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Staedeli, Thomas. "Bruno Kastner". Cyranos. Archived from the original on 18 April 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  4. 1 2 Waldemar Kamer, A Family Chronicle Retrieved 15 August 2011.