Torben Meyer

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Torben Meyer
in Casablanca (1942)
Torben Emil Meyer

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

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


Early career

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's monster 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

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 second 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

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, earlier, he had played the same role in the original television production. 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? ]


1912Manegens stjerneDumme Peter
1913Staalkongens Villie
1913Kæmpedamens bortførelse
1913Ballettens DatterDelange - Theatre Manager
1913 Atlantis Willy Snyders - artist
1913Kärleken rårKuno
1913Fra fyrste til knejpevært
1914Under Skæbnens Hjul
1914Af elskovs naadeLaege
1914Den kulørte slavehandler
1915Appetit og kærlighedJens
1915Held i UheldFritz Tummel
1915Et huskorsLensgreve Rosenørn
1915CigaretpigenPedro Delmart - Painter
1916En uheldig skygge
1916En nydelig onkel
1916Lotteriseddel No. 22162Charles - Apache
1916Manden uden fremtidTobby Spratt
1916Filmens Datter
1916SønnenMr. Grøn
1916Truet lykkeSimoni
1917Manden uden SmilPianist
1918Prøvens DagMr. von Scholten
1919Hans store ChanceArthur
1919Hvorledes jeg kom til FilmenGordon Sidney
1919Dømmer ikkePhilip Saphir
1919Prinsens Kærlighed
1919En ung mans vägAgapetus von Dufva
1920LykkeperWalter Crone
1921Hendes fortidMoses Volkenthal
1921Film, flirt og forlovelseThe Baron
1922Der var engangCeremonimesteren
1923Den sidste dansHerr von Schneppen
1924Min ven privatdetektiven
1924 Little Dorrit Hauptschließer Chivery
1925Fra Piazza del PopoloBenedetto - Servant
1926Maharadjahens yndlingshustru IIIMohun Singh
1926Don QuixoteSancho Carrasco
1928 The Man Who Laughs The SpyUncredited
1928 Jazz Mad Kline
1928 Noah's Ark Man on TrainUncredited
1928 The Viking Odd
1928 The Last Warning Gene
1929Behind Closed DoorsCaptain von Gilden
1930 Behind the Make-Up Waiter
1930 Lummox Silly Willie
1930 Mamba German SoldierUncredited
1930 The Bad One Uncredited
1930Just Like HeavenPierre
1930 The Lottery Bride MinerUncredited
1930 A Soldier's Plaything German Actor in HorseUncredited
1931Trådlöst och kärleksfullt
1931 Just a Gigolo WaiterUncredited
1931Halvvägs till himlenDirector
1932 Broken Lullaby Waiter at InnUncredited
1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue The DaneUncredited
1932 What Price Hollywood? Nick - Brown Derby HeadwaiterUncredited
1932 Downstairs Cafe WaiterUncredited
1932 Big City Blues Second WaiterUncredited
1932 Six Hours to Live Sturges - ButlerUncredited
1932Le bluffeurCol. Ginsberg
1932 The Animal Kingdom Meyer - Idealistic PrinterUncredited
1932 The Match King Hans, HeadwaiterUncredited
1933 The Crime of the Century Eric Ericson - Butler
1933 Reunion in Vienna Headwaiter StrumpfUncredited
1933 Ladies Must Love BeermasterUncredited
1933 Cradle Song PapaUncredited
1933 The Worst Woman in Paris? Taxi DriverUncredited
1934 Mandalay Mr. Van BrinkenUncredited
1934 All Men Are Enemies ClerkUncredited
1934 Little Man, What Now? HeadwaiterUncredited
1934 The World Moves On Head ButlerUncredited
1934 Pursued HansenUncredited
1934 By Your Leave Costume Company FitterUncredited
1934 Music in the Air PharmacistUncredited
1935 Enter Madame Carlson
1935 The Night Is Young AdjutantUncredited
1935 The Good Fairy Head WaiterUncredited
1935 Roberta Albert
1935 Bride of Frankenstein Victim in FlashbackUncredited
1935 Mark of the Vampire Card PlayerUncredited
1935 Break of Hearts The Ritz HeadwaiterUncredited
1935 The Girl Who Came Back Zarabella
1935 Front Page Woman JanitorUncredited
1935 The Black Room Peter
1935 Two for Tonight WaiterUncredited
1935 The Gay Deception WaiterUncredited
1935 Thunder in the Night Cafe OwnerUncredited
1935 Charlie Chan in Shanghai French DiplomatUncredited
1935 The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo Minor RoleUncredited
1935 Splendor Baron Von Hoffstatter
1935 To Beat the Band HeadwaiterUncredited
1935 East of Java DerelictUncredited
1935 A Tale of Two Cities Lackey #1Uncredited
1935 If You Could Only Cook Swedish ServantUncredited
1936 King of Burlesque Leopold the ValetUncredited
1936 It Had to Happen Sign PainterUncredited
1936 The Preview Murder Mystery Smith's ButlerUncredited
1936 The Farmer in the Dell Party GuestUncredited
1936 Till We Meet Again Kraus
1936 Champagne Charlie Minor RoleUncredited
1936 Piccadilly Jim Pett's ButlerUncredited
1936 Star for a Night Saddle MakerUncredited
1936In His StepsUncredited
1936 Wedding Present WinternitzUncredited
1936 The Accusing Finger ProprietorUncredited
1936 Espionage Police InspectorUncredited
1936 The King and the Chorus Girl Eric - the ButlerUncredited
1937 Thin Ice Chauffeur
1937 The Good Old Soak HeadwaiterUncredited
1937 Shall We Dance Show ProducerUncredited
1937 The Emperor's Candlesticks Train AnnouncerUncredited
1937 She's No Lady Swedish WaiterUncredited
1937 The Prisoner of Zenda Max - Butler
1937 Wife, Doctor and Nurse Second TailorUncredited
1937 Madame X PeridcordUncredited
1937 Fight for Your Lady Hungarian Police OfficerUncredited
1937 Prescription for Romance Hotel Desk ClerkUncredited
1937 Tovarich ServantUncredited
1938 The First Hundred Years Karl
1938 Bulldog Drummond's Peril HoffmanUncredited
1938 Romance in the Dark Prof. Jacobsen
1938 Romance in the Dark Art CriticUncredited
1938 The Saint in New York German Police PrefectUncredited
1938 I'll Give a Million DoormanUncredited
1938 The Great Waltz Ticket Taker at Dommayer'sUncredited
1938 Topper Takes a Trip Hotel DoormanUncredited
1939 Island of Lost Men Cafe ManagerUncredited
1939 Nurse Edith Cavell German OfficerUncredited
1939 Everything Happens at Night Station MasterUncredited
1940 Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet KadereitUncredited
1940 The Way of All Flesh Sandor Nemzeti
1940 Four Sons Gustav
1940 The Great Dictator Bald Barbershop CustomerUncredited
1940 Christmas in July Mr. Schmidt
1940 No, No, Nanette FurtlemertleUncredited
1941 The Lady Eve Mr. Clink - PurserUncredited
1941 Sunny Jean (head waiter)
1941 Sullivan's Travels The Doctor
1941 Bedtime Story DinglehoffUncredited
1942The Adventures of Martin EdenJacobUncredited
1942 Crossroads Old ManUncredited
1942 Berlin Correspondent Manager
1942 The Palm Beach Story Dr. Kluck
1942 Casablanca Dutch Banker at Cafe TableUncredited
1943 Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man GypsyUncredited
1943 Edge of Darkness Cannery ClerkUncredited
1943 They Came to Blow Up America Graumark Hotel Desk ClerkUncredited
1943 Jack London Literary GuestUncredited
1943 The Miracle of Morgan's Creek Dr. MeyerUncredited
1944 The Purple Heart Karl KappelUncredited
1944 Once Upon a Time Hotel ManagerUncredited
1944 The Great Moment Dr. Dahlmeyer
1944 Hail the Conquering Hero Mr. SchultzUncredited
1944 Greenwich Village Kavosky's ButlerUncredited
1945 Hotel Berlin Franz, the BarberUncredited
1945 A Royal Scandal StoogeUncredited
1945 Yolanda and the Thief Town OfficialUncredited
1946 The Kid from Brooklyn Garden Party GuestUncredited
1946 Heartbeat Thief at BallUncredited
1946 Monsieur Beaucaire CountUncredited
1946 Alias Mr. Twilight Starling
1947 The Mighty McGurk Second Brewer
1947 The Sin of Harold Diddlebock Barber with Mustache
1947 The Beginning or the End MilkmanUncredited
1947 Millie's Daughter Mr. JohnsonUncredited
1947 Variety Girl Andre - Brown Derby Headwaiter
1947 Song of Love Stage ManagerUncredited
1947 The Exile Sea Captain
1948 To the Victor Elderly FrenchmanUncredited
1948 Letter from an Unknown Woman Carriage DriverUncredited
1948 Julia Misbehaves CommissarUncredited
1948 Sealed Verdict Courtroom interpreter
1948 Unfaithfully Yours Dr. Schultz
1949 The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend Dr. Shultz
1949 Hold That Baby! Dr. Hans Heinrich
1949 The Great Lover Ship's CaptainUncredited
1949 And Baby Makes Three WaiterUncredited
1950 The Great Rupert Mr. Petrushka - the BakerUncredited
1951 Grounds for Marriage Donovan
1951 The Company She Keeps Maitre'd in French RestaurantUncredited
1951 That's My Boy PhotographerUncredited
1951 Night into Morning ButcherUncredited
1951 Come Fill the Cup Delmar - Ives' Auto MechanicUncredited
1951 The Blue Veil PhotographerUncredited
1951 My Favorite Spy HeadwaiterUncredited
1952 What Price Glory MayorUncredited
1952 The Merry Widow Station MasterUncredited
1953 Call Me Madam RudolphUncredited
1953 The Story of Three Loves Man in Saloon(segment "Equilibrium"), Uncredited
1953 Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation Doorman at Hotel LouisUncredited
1953 Houdini HeadwaiterUncredited
1954 Casanova's Big Night AttendantUncredited
1954 About Mrs. Leslie Maitre D'Uncredited
1954 Living It Up ChefUncredited
1954 Deep in My Heart Card PlayerUncredited
1955 We're No Angels Butterfly ManUncredited
1956 The Conqueror ScribeUncredited
1956 Anything Goes French WaiterUncredited
1956 Hollywood or Bust WaiterLast Martin & Lewis comedy; waiter, Uncredited
1957 Public Pigeon No. 1 WaiterUncredited
1957 The Helen Morgan Story ManagerUncredited
1958 The Fly GastonUncredited
1958 The Matchmaker Alex, Headwaiter, Harmonica Club
1959 This Earth Is Mine HugoUncredited
1959 Li'l Abner ButlerUncredited
1960 G.I. Blues HeadwaiterUncredited
1961 Judgment at Nuremberg Werner Lampe
1963 A New Kind of Love Hotel ClerkUncredited

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  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.