This article needs additional citations for verification . (November 2007) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Portrait of Selwart by Carl Van Vechten, September 20, 1933
|Died||November 2, 2002 106) (aged|
(m. 1918; died 1935)
|Partner(s)||Ilse Jennings (19??–1967, died)|
Antonio Franz Theus "Tonio" Selmair-Selwart (June 9, 1896 – November 2, 2002) was a German actor and stage performer.
Selwart was born in Wartenberg, Bavaria, Germany, and raised in Munich. After studying medicine like his father (a well known surgeon),he decided instead to become an actor, following a lifelong interest in theater. Selwart thereafter studied acting and appeared in many plays throughout Europe. He appeared in a variety of stage productions, including classics such as Shakespeare and modern popular works like Heinrich von Kleist's romantic dream play, The Prince of Homburg , in which he played the title role.
After further honing his skills as a director, Selwart decided to try his luck in the United States of America. His luck panned out in New York City, where he landed the lead part in Lawrence Langner's and Armina Marshall's play The Pursuit of Happiness for the Theatre Guild in 1930. The comedy proved to be his first big success in America, running from 1933 to 1934, and made him, as he often put it, "a matinee idol for a whole year!" Riding high on this success, Selwart decided to emigrate permanently and became an American citizen. Selwart was himself an officer and fought in World War I on the Austro-Hungarian side, as a lieutenant in the cavalry.
He derived his nickname "Tonio" from his first name and from his family background – his parents were Austrian, and he had an Italian grandmother. He was familiar with the novella Tonio Kröger , which dealt with a half-German, half-Italian young artist in pre-World War I Germany and was written by Thomas Mann (a friend of his) and had a tape recording of the story being read by Mann himself. His wife, Claire Volkhart, a painter and sculptor, died in Germany in 1935 and his longtime companion, Ilse Jennings, a Paris-born Spanish artist, died in 1967. He died at the age of 106 in New York City.
Selwart made a total of 21 film appearances. His debut was in Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die! (1943), as a Nazi Gestapo chief. In The Barefoot Contessa (1954),he appeared as the Pretender King,with Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart. His last film appearance, The Other Side of the Wind for Orson Welles, was left unreleased for decades. According to Welles in a letter to Selwart, it contains an excellent performance by this actor as the Baron. Selwart was much concerned that this "swan song" of his had never been released and even in 1992, at the age of 95, regretted that he would probably never see it. This was not only because of his age but because of his gradual loss of sight. The film was released in 2018 after Selwart's death.
Other titles include: Anzio (1968) by Edward Dmytryk, his last Hollywood film appearance; The North Star (1943), directed by Lewis Milestone with a script by playwright Lillian Hellman, with Erich von Stroheim; Edge of Darkness (1943), also by Milestone, his first film role, where he played his first film German soldier role, opposite Judith Anderson; Wilson (1944), where he played the German ambassador to Washington, D.C. during World War I, Count von Bernstorff; The Cross of Lorraine (1943), with Gene Kelly; The Hitler Gang (1944), playing the Nazi official Alfred Rosenberg and Romanoff and Juliet (1961), written, directed and starring Peter Ustinov, and an Italian-American adaptation of Homer's Iliad, Helen of Troy (1956), directed by Robert Wise, with Rossanna Podesta, Jacques Sernas, and in two featured roles, Selwart played opposite a then almost unknown Brigitte Bardot, in 1956.
While he played only supporting roles in English-language cinema, Selwart starred in Italian and French films, including Lupo della Frontiere (Wolf of the Frontier, 1951), during the 1950s; he never appeared in a German film. He also made a brief speaking part appearance in Luchino Visconti's Italian film Senso (1954), at the beginning opera house scene, as an Austrian officer. He spoke fluent Italian, English and French, which helped him with roles in several countries. Starting from the late 1940s until the 1950s and 1960s, he also appeared on American television, making guest appearances in drama programs, including The Fifth Column for Buick-Electra Playhouse on CBS in 1960, playing an almost-deaf Nazi officer in a group of fifth columnists operating behind the lines in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s (the program was adapted from a story by Ernest Hemingway and directed by John Frankenheimer).
Selwart appeared on stage around the country (including Broadway) and in Canada. His performances included: The Pursuit of Happiness (touring with it across the U.S. and England), Candle in the Wind by Maxwell Anderson with Helen Hayes (where he played his first German Nazi officer role, a type of character he came to specialize in), The Laughing Woman with Helen Menken, Autumn Crocus, Seeds in the Wind, Liliom by Ferenc Molnár (in which Selwart played the title role), and The Hidden River in 1957, among many others.
Selwart's last American stage appearances were with the Lotte Lenya in the 1964 tour of Brecht on Brecht and in the 1965 Carnegie Hall performance of Die Dreigroschenoper ( The Threepenny Opera ). He studied at the Actors Studio in New York and with Michael Chekhov in California. Selwart had referred to Chekov as "My best teacher in America." As a member of Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory he appeared in Peter Pan , Alice in Wonderland , and Frank Wedekind's Spring's Awakening—a tragedy about adolescence which he also directed. Writer and poet May Sarton appeared in this production—one of her earliest stage roles.
In 1995, now legally blind, Selwart was interviewed by William F. Powers for his book, Alive and Well: The Emergence of the Active Nonagenarian (Rutledge Books, 1996). In the interview, Selwart reflected: "If I died today, I could say only that I had lived a very beautiful and charmed life. Even when it looked at times like something bad had happened, it soon turned back again to something positive. The loss of my eyesight, although difficult, did not make me bitter. I figured that at my age I have to expect something and remembered all those poor people who suffer from cancer and are in terrible pain. I say to myself that I may have trouble seeing, but I don't suffer any physical, mental, or emotional pain."
|1943||Hangmen Also Die!||Chief of Gestapo Kurt Haas|
|1943||Edge of Darkness||Paul||Uncredited|
|1943||The North Star||German Captain|
|1943||The Cross of Lorraine||Major Bruhl|
|1944||The Hitler Gang||Alfred Rosenberg|
|1944||Wilson||Count Von Bernstorff|
|1944||Strange Affair||Leslie Carlson|
|1947||Unconquered||Slave Buyer at Fair||Uncredited|
|1951||My Favorite Spy||Harry Crock|
|1954||Senso||Il colonello Kleist|
|1954||Concert of Intrigue||General Renner|
|1954||The Barefoot Contessa||The Pretender|
|1956||Helen of Troy||Alpheus|
|1956||Congo Crossing||Carl Rittner|
|1958||The Naked Maja||Aranda|
|1960||Five Branded Women|
|1961||Romanoff and Juliet||U.N. President|
|1962||The Reluctant Saint||Examining Prelate|
|1963||Duel at the Rio Grande|
|1968||Anzio||Gen. Van MacKensen|
|2018||The Other Side of the Wind||The Baron||(final film role)|
Eli Herschel Wallach was an American film, television and stage actor whose career spanned more than seven decades, beginning in the late 1940s. Trained in stage acting, which he enjoyed doing most, he became "one of the greatest 'character actors' ever to appear on stage and screen", with over 90 film credits. He and his wife Anne Jackson often appeared together on stage, and were one of the best-known acting couples in American theater. As a stage and screen character actor, Wallach had one of the longest-ever careers in show business, spanning 62 years from his Broadway debut to his last two major Hollywood studio movies.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, subtitled "A parable play", is a 1941 play by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht. It chronicles the rise of Arturo Ui, a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster, and his attempts to control the cauliflower racket by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition. The play is a satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany prior to World War II.
Charles Laughton was an English stage and film actor. Laughton was trained in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and first appeared professionally on the stage in 1926. In 1927, he was cast in a play with his future wife Elsa Lanchester, with whom he lived and worked until his death.
José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón, known as José Ferrer, was a Puerto Rican actor and theatre and film director. He was the first Puerto Rican-born actor and the first Hispanic actor to win an Academy Award. He is well known today for his performance as the defense attorney in The Caine Mutiny.
Maximilian Schell was an Austrian-born Swiss film and stage actor, who also wrote, directed and produced some of his own films. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1961 American film Judgment at Nuremberg, his second acting role in Hollywood. Born in Austria, his parents were involved in the arts and he grew up surrounded by acting and literature. While he was a child, his family fled to Switzerland in 1938 when Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, and they settled in Zurich. After World War II ended, Schell took up acting or directing full-time. He appeared in numerous German films, often anti-war, before moving on to Hollywood.
Hangmen Also Die! is a 1943 noir war film directed by the Austrian director Fritz Lang and written by John Wexley from a story by Bertolt Brecht and Lang. The film stars Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Alexander Granach and Anna Lee, and features Gene Lockhart and Dennis O'Keefe. Hanns Eisler composed the score, being nominated for an Academy Award, and the cinematographer was James Wong Howe.
Oscar Homolka was an Austrian film and theatre actor, who went on to work in Germany, Britain and America. Both his voice and his appearance fitted him for roles as communist spies or Soviet officials, for which he was in regular demand. By the age of 30, he had appeared in more than 400 plays; his film career covered at least 100 films and TV shows.
Anton Diffring was a German character actor, who had an extensive acting career in the United Kingdom from the 1940s to the 1980s in cinema films and television.
Helmut Dantine was an Austrian-American actor who often played Nazis in thriller films of the 1940s. His best-known performances are perhaps the German pilot in Mrs. Miniver and the desperate refugee in Casablanca, who tries gambling to obtain travel visa money for himself and his wife. As his acting career waned, he turned to producing.
Ferdinand Heinrich Johann Haschkowetz, better known as Ferdinand Marian was an Austrian theatre and film actor, best known for playing the leading character of Joseph Süß Oppenheimer in the German film Jud Süß.
Eric Pohlmann was an Austrian theatre, film and television character actor who worked mostly in the United Kingdom. He is known for voicing Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the primary antagonist of the James Bond series, in the films From Russia with Love and Thunderball.
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski was a German film actor.
Louis V. Arco was an Austrian-born actor who was born Lutz Altschul in Baden, Austria-Hungary, about 5 miles south of Vienna.
Harald Paulsen was a German stage and film actor and director. He appeared in 125 films between 1920 and 1954.
Theo Lingen, born Franz Theodor Schmitz, was a German actor, film director and screenwriter. He appeared in more than 230 films between 1929 and 1978, and directed 21 films between 1936 and 1960.
Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, known professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet. Coming of age during the Weimar Republic, he had his first successes as a playwright in Munich and moved to Berlin in 1924, where he wrote The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill and began a lifelong collaboration with the composer Hanns Eisler. Immersed in Marxist thought during this period, he wrote didactic Lehrstücke and became a leading theoretician of epic theatre and the so-called V-effect.
The Hitler Gang is a 1944 American pseudo-documentary film directed by John Farrow, which traces the political rise of Adolf Hitler. Described as a "documentary-propaganda" film by its studio, Paramount Pictures, the historical drama is based on documented fact and marks the first serious effort to portray Hitler in film. The filmmakers chose to avoid casting stars in the lead roles, assembling instead a remarkable company of lookalikes to play Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Göring, and other leading Nazis.
Gypsy Wildcat is a 1944 Technicolor adventure film directed by Roy William Neil starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Peter Coe. It was co-written by James M. Cain.
Candle in the Wind was a 1941 Broadway three-act drama written by Maxwell Anderson, produced by the Theatre Guild and the Playwrights' Company and directed by Alfred Lunt. Jo Mielziner created the scenic and lighting design. It ran for 95 performances from October 22, 1941 to January 10, 1942 at the Shubert Theatre as a part of the 1941-1942 play season. It was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1941-1942.
Lionel Royce was an Austrian-American actor of stage and screen, also known during his European career as Leo Reuss. He began his career in theater in Vienna, Austria, in 1919, before moving to Berlin in 1925. Being Jewish, his work began to be restricted in the 1930s in Nazi Germany. Fleeing the Nazis he returned to Austria in 1936, where to hide his heritage, he created the persona of Kaspar Brandhofer, a Tyrolian peasant, and became a sensation as a natural actor on the stage in Vienna. When he admitted his ruse, he became blacklisted in Austria, after which he emigrated to the United States in 1937. He had an active film career in the United States, appearing in almost 40 films between 1938 and 1946. While on tour with the USO, he died in Manila in 1946.