January 2, 2017


Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) b. Potsdam, Germany.

Conrad Veidt

German actor Conrad Veidt began his career at the age of 20 under the guidance of Max Reinhardt at Berlin’s Deutsches Theater. He rose to worldwide prominence by way of his portrayal of the sleepwalker in silent masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919). His performance in The Student of Prague (1926) led to a brief spell in Hollywood during the mid-1920s, where he launched his American film career as the doddering King Louis XI in The Beloved Rogue (1927) and featured as a hapless young nobleman in the superbly grotesque The Man Who Laughs (1928). Veidt returned to Germany in 1929 with the advent of sound films in his native language, but fled for England in 1933 with his Jewish wife when Hitler came to power.

In England, Veidt embarked on a productive period for Gaumont-British Studios including Rome Express (1932), I was a Spy (1933) and The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935), a moral fantasy about the arrival of a saintly figure at a London boarding house. He later starred in a pair of Powell-Pressburger thrillers; The Spy in Black (1939) and Contraband (1940), and played the evil Jaffar in the fantasy classic The Thief of Bagdad (1940). As the possibility of German invasion rose, Veidt was persuaded to move to Hollywood where he could aid the war effort in safety. Of the films Veidt made in Hollywood before his death, that of Nazi Major Strasser in Casablanca (1942) is by far his most well known. Veidt died suddenly of a heart attack on a Los Angeles golf course at the age of 50.

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