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Emil Jannings Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (41)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 23 July 1884Rorschach, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Date of Death 2 January 1950Strobl, Salzburg, Austria  (cancer)
Birth NameTheodor Friedrich Emil Janenz
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

His real name was Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz, and in the early 1900s, he was already working in the theater under Max Reinhardt's company. Important movies where he defined himself as a convincing actor were Madame DuBarry (1919) and Quo Vadis? (1924), followed by The Last Laugh (1924)(aka The Last Laugh) in 1924 and Variety (1925) (aka Variety) in 1925. In 1928, he became the first male leading actor to receive the academy award for The Last Command (1928) directed by Josef von Sternberg. In 1929, Stenberg directed him in his world famous movie The Blue Angel (1930) (aka The Blue Angel) co-starring the young Marlene Dietrich (her first role). Later on, he concentrated on theater and dedicated his acting skills to the Nazi regime and also took part in the realization of Ohm Krüger (1941) in 1941, an expensive anti-British film production. When the Second World War ended, the US government cleaned his image, and he converted to catholicism. He played in a few more German movies, but his career never recaptured its brilliance.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: P.J.

Spouse (4)

Hanna Ralph (23 July 1919 - 19 July 1921) (divorced) (1 child)
Lucie Höflich (? - ?) (divorced)
Gussy Holl (? - ?) (divorced)
? (? - ?) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (41)

Because of his thick German accent, the advent of sound ended his American career. Returning to his native Germany, he became an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis; thus, he spent the next decade-plus making films that supported Nazi ideology.
He was the very first actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. Back then, actors received one Oscar for multiple films and Jannings won for The Way of All Flesh (1927) and The Last Command (1928). The Award is exhibited in the Berlin Film Museum.
Was born in Rorschach, Switzerland, at the Lake of Constance. This is just a few minutes away from Au, where Academy Award-winning actress Renée Zellweger's family comes from.
His home town of Rorschach, Switzerland, honored him with a special star (similar to the ones on the Walk of Fame in L.A.), which was revealed on November 12, 2004. Only hours prior to the ceremony, the town's council learned of Jannings' efforts on behalf of the Nazis during World War II. A few days later, the star was removed.
He is the first winner of an Academy Award, as after being announced as a winner, he was presented his Academy statuette a month before the actual ceremony. This also makes him the first no-show winner at an Academy Award presentation.
The first non-American actor to win an Oscar (he is from Switzerland).
Is portrayed by Armin Rohde in Marlene (2000)
Of the five U.S. films Jannings made (all silent, all for Paramount), only the Oscar-winning The Last Command (1928) has survived intact. Of two films [The Way of All Flesh (1927) and The Patriot (1928)], only brief clips remain. The other two; Street of Sin (1928) and Betrayal (1929) [the latter also starring a young Gary Cooper] are thought to be completely lost.
Although it is inaccurate to say he is actually a character in Peter Handke's "anti-play," "The Ride Across Lake Constance," his name is used as a designation of a character, as are the names of other celebrated actors of the German cinema, Elisabeth Bergner, Heinrich George, Erich von Stroheim, Henny Porten and the twins Alice Kessler and Ellen Kessler.
Because of his huge successes of his movies as "Varieté" (1925) and "Faust" (1926) he got a three-year contract with Paramount.
Jannings reportedly carried his Oscar statuette with him as proof of his former association with Hollywood. However, his active role in Nazi propaganda meant that he was subject to denazification, and a comeback attempt would not be legal.
In the middle of the 20s nearly all ways led to Emil Jannings.
After 1930 he wasn't able to go on from his earlier successes, only in the National Socialist Germany he became again a great star. In these years he played often historical personalities and was participated in some of important movies, which worked for the National Socialism.
After the war he was denazified in 1946 and got the Austrian nationality one year later.
The shooting of his last film Wo ist Herr Belling? was aborted, when troops of the Allied Powers entered Germany in Spring 1945.
From 1900 he came in touch with the theater for the first time, where he worked as a unpaid trainee for the time being. Later he acted for touring companies. In the following years he worked his way constantly up und played in Nuremberg, Darmstadt, Bremen and finally for Max Reinhardt in Berlin.
He died in 1950, aged 65, from liver cancer.[.
When played the role of Ludwig IV in the movie "Madame Dubarry" (1919), directed by Ernst Lubitsch, it stand for his great breakthrough in his film career.
The actor Emil Jannings is the German actor as such. You can say without arrogance that he even was the greatest European actor in his time, who had under no circumstances to fear the comparison with his American colleagues.
His first film in Germany also caused a sensation and counts to the best movies of the 30's. The leading actress Marlene Dietrich launched her Hollywood career with this film. We are talking about ""Der blaue Engel" (1930), where Emil Jannings played professor Unrat.
During the Third Reich, he starred in several films which were intended to promote Nazism, particularly the Führerprinzip by presenting unyielding historical characters, such as Der alte und der junge König (1934), Der Herrscher (The Ruler 1937) directed by Veit Harlan, Robert Koch (1939), Ohm Krüger (Uncle Kruger, 1941) and Die Entlassung (Bismarck's Dismissal, 1942).
Emil Jannings was married in second marriage with actress Hanna Ralph (1885-1978), in third marriage with actress Lucie Höflich and in fourth marriage with actress Gussy Holl.
For his performance in "The Way of All Fleshs" and "The Last Command" he achieved the first oscar in film history at all.
Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels named Jannings an "Artist of the State" (Staatsschauspieler) in 1936.
In the USA he shot among others the movies "The Way of All Flesh - Der Weg allen Fleisches" (1927), "The Last Command - Sein letzter Befehl" (1927), "The Patriot - Der Patriot" (1928) and "Betrayal - Verrat" (29).
First bigger roles at the theater followed in 1917.
His Best Actor Oscar is now on display at the Berlin Filmmuseum.
According to Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend (Simon and Schuster, 2011), Jannings was not actually the winner of the first best actor vote, but the runner-up. While researching her book, Orlean discovered that it was in fact Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd dog, one of the biggest movie stars of his time, who won the vote. The Academy, however, worried about not being taken seriously if they gave the first Oscar to a dog, chose to award the Oscar to the human runner-up.
When the sound film rang in a new era, Emil Jannings feared because of his knowledge of English, that he doesn't justice to the artistic aspect of the English sound film and went back to Germany.
Jannings was a theater actor who went into films, though he remained dissatisfied with the limited expressive possibilities in the silent era.
Emil Jannings ran away from home at age 16 to become a sailor, and ended up working as an assistant cook on a ocean liner. He returned home disillusioned, but soon took up the theater; at 18 he made his professional stage debut, going on to tour with several companies in numerous provincial towns.
Jannings was a versatile actor whose enormous emotional range was well-suited to an array of character roles. Although he occasionally lapsed into the unbridled hamminess that was characteristic of acting styles of the era, he was also capable of great subtlety and nuance, even in such grandiose roles as Mephistopheles in Faust (1926), wherein he projected inner rage and turmoil beneath a cool, cynical exterior.
From 1901 onwards he worked with several theatre companies in Bremen, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Königsberg, and Glogau before joining the Deutsches Theater ensemble under director Max Reinhardt in Berlin.
He continued to work in German films, but his support of the Nazi regime made him a pariah elsewhere in the world. He continues to be a subject of great controversy, though many of his detractors begrudgingly admit that he was one of the finest actors of his generation.
Jannings made his breakthrough in 1918 with his role as Judge Adam in Kleist's Broken Jug at the Schauspielhaus.
Jannings ran away from school and went to sea. When he returned to Görlitz, his mother finally allowed him to begin a trainee ship at the town state theatre, where Jannings started his stage career.
He was the son of Emil Janenz, an American businessman from St. Louis, and his wife Margarethe née Schwabe, a German migrant.
Permanently employed since 1915, Jannings met with playwright Karl Vollmöller, fellow actor Ernst Lubitsch, and photographer Frieda Riess, who after World War I all were at the heart of the Weimar Culture in 1920s Berlin.
Jannings held German citizenship; while he was still young the family moved to Leipzig in the German Empire and further to Görlitz after the early death of his father.
At war's end Jannings was blacklisted by the Allied authorities, and he never made another film. He died five years later, lonely and bitter.
It is said in the book Hollywood Babylon that Emil Jannings, during his short Hollywood career, kept all his money hidden in his pillow.

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