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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 2 March 1892Eydtkuhnen, East Prussia, Germany [now Chernyshevskoe, Russia]
Date of Death 17 March 1949Los Angeles, California, USA  (leukemia)

Mini Bio (2)

Bressart made his stage debut in 1914 and his film debut in 1928. Going to the U.S. after being forced out of Germany in 1936, Bressart starred in his first American film, "Swanee River," in 1939. He went on to a successful career in films and during the filming of "My Friend Irma," Bressart passed away.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: vicdru@hotmail.com

With his lanky frame, big nose, toothbrush moustache and horn-rimmed glasses, he looked like someone had decided to cross Groucho Marx with Albert Einstein. The perennial scene-stealer Felix Bressart had two distinct careers as a comic actor: an earlier one, on stage and screen in his native Germany; and a later, even more prosperous one in Hollywood. Trained under Maria Moissi in Berlin, Felix began acting professionally after World War I. He honed his skills in the genres of political parody, musical comedy and slapstick farce in the theatres of Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna (with Max Reinhardt). By 1933, he had established his film acting credentials in popular mainstream movies like Die Drei von der Tankstelle (1930) and Die Privatsekretärin (1931). Like so many other distinguished actors, he was forced to leave the German realm after the Nazis took power in 1933. Felix moved via Switzerland and France to a new domicile in the United States, where his connections to fellow émigrés like Joe Pasternak and Ernst Lubitsch guaranteed him rapid and steady employment.

In Hollywood, Felix joined the regular company of stock players at MGM. He was immediately typecast, his stock-in-trade being disheveled academics, wistful European philosophers, scientists and music professors of diverse ethnicity. His first major screen success was as one of the Russian commissars in Lubitsch's Ninotchka (1939), a delightful performance which spawned as similar part being created for him in Comrade X (1940). The role which ultimately defined his career, in equal parts comedy and pathos, was in the classic wartime satire To Be or Not to Be (1942), as Greenberg, a Jewish member of an acting troupe with Carole Lombard and Jack Benny. It seemed, that Felix was still underemployed in films, since he managed to practise as a doctor of medicine on the side. Sadly, he died of leukemia in 1949 at the age of 57.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Frieda Lehner (? - 17 March 1949) (his death)

Trivia (12)

As a Jew Felix Bressart had to emigrate from Germany in 1933. In 1938 he reached the USA where he soon became offered film roles. In contrast to other emigrated colleagues his roles contained artistic demanding.
The influential German community in Hollywood helped to establish Bressart in America, as his earliest American movies were directed by Ernst Lubitsch, Henry Koster, and Wilhelm Thiele.
MGM signed Bressart to a studio contract in 1939. Most of his MGM work consisted of featured roles in major films like Edison, the Man (1940).
His last film was My Friend Irma (1949), the movie version of a popular radio show. Bressart died during production, forcing the producers to finish the film with Hans Conried. In the final film, Conried speaks throughout, but Bressart is still seen in the long shots.
To bridge the lean time till he was able to gain a foothold in the US film industry he was busy as a non-medical practitioner with his own practice in Beverly Hills.
He combined his mildly inflected East European accent with a soft-spoken delivery to create kindly, friendly characters, as in Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942), in which he sensitively recites Shylock's famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech from The Merchant of Venice. Lubitsch also directed Bressart to similar effect in The Shop Around the Corner (1940).
In his life Bressart was exactly what he impersonated in film: a shy, reserved and something clumsy human being. His clumsiness in his life and perhaps in his films were surrounded of a special tragedy. But the public found him funny - it didn't laugh so much at what happened to Felix Bressart on the screen than that it laughed at him with the roughness of children who find it funny when human beings are stuttering.
After the Nazis seized power in 1933, Jewish-born Bressart had to leave Germany and continued his career in German-speaking movies in Austria, where Jewish artists were still relatively safe. After no fewer than 30 films in eight years, he immigrated to the United States.
Since 1928 he turned up regular in films especially in comedies and military oldies which had a boom at the beginning of the 30s and became very popular because of Bressart.
The first movie in which Felix Bressart acted as a clumsy soldier was "Drei Tage Mittelarrest" (1930). It was a funny but also a bad movie. Later the movie was imposed with a prohibition, not in Germany but in the USA.
The actor Felix Bressart was born as Sally Breslau. He had his first engagement at theater in 1915 and like all great actors in those days he finally went to Max Reinhardt. He became a popular and successful comedian very fast.
At the age of 57, five days after his birthday, Felix Bressart died of leukemia in Hollywood.

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