Edit
Rudolf Klein-Rogge Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (22)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 24 November 1885Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Date of Death 30 April 1955Wetzelsdorf, Graz, Styria, Austria
Birth NameFriedrich Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

During the heyday of German silent cinema, Rudolf Klein-Rogge was the prototype for the master criminal, the irredeemable arch villain or mad scientist. Born in Cologne, he served as a cadet in a Prussian military academy before finishing his matriculation. He then began to attend acting classes and studying art history in Berlin and Bonn, making his debut on the stage in 1909. After playing in theatres in towns and cities along the Rhine and northern Germany for nearly ten years, he started making films in 1919.

His villainous roots first came to the fore in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), but he really established his reputation in a series of classic expressionist films written by his then-wife Thea von Harbou and directed by Fritz Lang. Of these, the most memorable were his forceful Moriarty-inspired portrayals of the titular character in Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922), and its later sequel, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933). The latter, which has an evil mastermind directing his empire from a madhouse, was so obviously aimed at the Hitler regime, that it was banned by Joseph Goebbels. Klein-Rogge's other noteworthy appearances include King Etzel in Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924) and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge (1924); and his insane scientist C.A. Rothwang, creator of the robot creature in Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis (1927). A powerful personality possessed of an almost hypnotic stare and a strong, resonant voice, Klein-Rogge continued on through the 1930's in supporting roles. However, the period of expressionist cinema in Germany had all but run its course and he died in relative obscurity in Graz, Austria, in April 1955.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (3)

Mary Johnson (1932 - 30 April 1955) (his death) (1 child)
Thea von Harbou (1914 - 1921)
Margarethe Neff (? - 1932) (annulled)

Trivia (22)

Frequently worked with director Fritz Lang, for whom he starred in ten films.
Was once married to Thea von Harbou, who was Fritz Lang's wife and collaborator until Lang fled Nazi Germany. (Harbou, a Nazi sympathizer, stayed behind.)
Since 1919 Klein-Rogge acted for the time being in smaller roles. Because of his stocky figure he soon was assigned for playing sinister figures in films as Dr. Mabuse, as Kin (König) Etzel or the archetypal mad scientist of C.A. Rotwang in Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
During the shooting for "Die Nibelungen" he wasn't too good for himself to take Paul Richter's place (he played Siegfried) as his double after Richter refused to play in that scene where "Siegfried" has a bath in the blood of the just killed dragon. Klein-Rogge wasn't embarrassed to show his uncovered back in front of the camera.
After the death of her son in 1943 his fourth wife Mary Johnson went slowly mad, and her situation changed for the worse. Rudolf Klein-Rogge's care was applied to her on the verge of his death. It seems that Mary Johnson - at this time she already lived again in Sweden for many years - appeared bewildered in her former domicile in Wetzelsdorf where she summoned for her husband and her son.
The sound movie continued to retain the role cliché for him, it happened rarely that Klein-Rogge was engaged for a comedian part.
Klein-Rogge and von Harbou were separated in 1920 and later divorced, while Fritz Lang's first wife committed suicide, freeing him and von Harbou to marry in 1922.
The actor Rudolf Klein-Rogge first attended a military academy on the request of his father who wanted that his son will make a military career. But this was not the right world for Rudolf Klein-Rogge and he left the institution and made his school leaving examination at the secondary school in Cologne. Finally he took acting lessons and at this time he called himself Rudolf Klein-Rogge in order to avoid a confusion with a colleague also called Rudolf Klein.
He made his stage debut in 1909 at the Stadttheater Halberstadt.
He made his professional acting debut at the age of 20, playing Cassius in Julius Caesar at the Stadttheaer Halberstadt.
He made one last, uncredited screen appearance in 1949's Hexen.
He was married with script writer and author Thea von Harbou (1914 - 1921). He earned around 12'000 Deutsch Mark a year as a star of the Nuremberg Stadttheater, his wife earned as many as 100'000 Deutsch Mark but it could had been still more if she would had lived in Berlin. Thus, the married couple went to Berlin. Klein-Rogge was employed by the Lessing-Theater and Thea von Harbou could press ahead with her successful career. Berlin turned out to be a harder place in comparison with Nuremberg and his career stagnated. Finally his marriage broke but they remained friends.
From 1928 Klein-Rogge was also engaged in France where he appeared in one of the first great French sound movies - "Le Requin" (1929),directed by Henri Chomette.
A renewal of his film career after the war failed and he worked as a director for a theater in Graz.
At the beginning of the 40s Rudolf Klein-Rogge retired completely from the film business.
The 20s offered him numerous interesting roles and he took part in many important productions of those years.
When Thea von Harbou created with Fritz Lang one of the most fruitful connections in the history of the German film, Rudolf Klein-Rogge appeared in most of Fritz Lang's future movies (till 1932), from which many went down into film history.
While working in Aachen, he met Thea von Harbou, a young actress and writer with ambition and beauty to whom he became a friend, mentor, and lover. The two married in 1914 and were one of the "power couples" of the era in the arts -- he a gifted and increasingly prominent stage actor in Nuremberg, equally skilled in lead or character roles and, with his thick blond hair, intense eyes, and severe features, appropriate to either, and she a best-selling author with a wide audience.
As the Nazi era progressed, Klein-Rogge fell out of favor with Josef Goebbels, the propaganda minister and culture czar for the government, and, after working in 80 movies, his career had come to a standstill by 1942.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge was married with the actress Gerda Melchior, then with Thea von Harbou, afterwards with the actresses Margarete Neff and Mary Johnson. When he died in 1955 in Graz he was nearly forgotten by the public.
In 1918 he went to Nuremberg where he soon became one of the most important stage actors.
Born in Cologne in 1888 (though some sources say 1885), he studied art history in Berlin and Bonn, but his real interest was in the theater.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page