Anton Walbrook

Anton Walbrook

photographed by Genja Jonas in 1933.
Born Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück
(1896-11-19)19 November 1896
Vienna, Austria
Died 9 August 1967(1967-08-09) (aged 70)
Starnberger See, Bavaria, Germany
Cause of death heart attack
Occupation Actor
Years active 1915–1966

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.

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 gay[3] and classified under the Nuremberg Laws as "half-Jewish" (his mother was Jewish),[4] settled in England and continued working as a film actor, making a speciality of playing continental Europeans.

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.[5] 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 Garatshausen, 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.

Selected filmography

Walbrook in about 1945

In Austria and Germany

After Leaving Germany


The grave of Anton Walbrook in Hampstead Cemetery, London
  1. "Anton Walbrook - Tomb With a View".
  2. "Mann für Mann".
  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. Commentary track on Criterion DVD of The Red Shoes

External links

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