Erich Ponto

Erich Ponto

Ponto in July 1945
Born Erich Johannes Bruno Ponto
(1884-12-14)14 December 1884
Free City of Lübeck, German Empire
Died 14 February 1957(1957-02-14) (aged 72)
Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Resting place Tolkewitz cemetery, Dresden
Occupation Actor
Years active 1908–1957
Spouse(s) Tony Kresse
Children Eva Doering (born 1918), Klaus Ponto (born 1927), Manoel Ponto (born 1950)
Awards Baden-Württemberg State actor (1952)
Federal Cross of Merit (1954)
Deutscher Filmpreis (1956)

Erich Johannes Bruno Ponto (14 December 1884 – 14 February 1957) was a German film and stage actor.


Erich Ponto was born in Lübeck as the son of a merchant. After his family had moved to Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, he attended the gymnasium secondary school in Altona and upon his Abitur exam began a study of pharmacy at the University of Munich, where he went to lectures delivered by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. Passionate about acting already during his studying, he took drama lessons from 1906.

Ponto gave his debut on stage at the Stadttheater Passau in 1908, followed by engagements in Nordhausen, Reichenberg (Liberec), and Düsseldorf. From 1914 to 1947 he was a member of the Hoftheater Dresden ensemble (Staatstheater Dresden from 1918), in the season 1946/47 also as intendant. On stage his best known role was that of J.J. Peachum in the original production of Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera in 1928. During the Third Reich he won the title of a Staatsschauspieler in 1938, the highest title that could be awarded to a stage actor in Nazi-Germany.

Ponto's film career only took off when he was already over 50 years old, but he became a well-known character actor in German cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, often in eccentric or villanous roles. Among his roles were Mayer Amschel Rothschild in the anti-semitic Nazi film The Rothschilds (1940) and a curious school teacher in Die Feuerzangenbowle (1944) with Heinz Rühmann, widely regarded as a film classic in Germany. After World War II he appeared in Carol Reed's British thriller The Third Man (1949), he played the sinister doctor of Orson Welles in a supporting role. In 1955 Ponto won a "Film Award in Silver" as the best male actor in a supporting role for Himmel ohne Sterne (1955). He worked until his death.

In 1916 he married Tony Kresse, they had two children. Ponto was the acting coach of Gert Fröbe of Goldfinger fame. His final film was Der Stern von Afrika, released in the year of his death. He died at the age of 72 after a long cancer illness. Erich Ponto was the uncle of Dresdner Bank general director Jürgen Ponto, who was murdered by members of the RAF in 1977.

Selected filmography

Erich Ponto in the Web

Erich Ponto at the Internet Movie Database

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