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Overview (3)

Born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]
Died in Munich, Bavaria, West Germany  (leukemia)
Birth NameFritz Nathan Kohn

Mini Bio (1)

Fritz Kortner was born on May 12, 1892 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary as Fritz Nathan Kohn. He was an actor and director, known for Pandora's Box (1929), The Hands of Orlac (1924) and Somewhere in the Night (1946). He was married to Johanna Hofer. He died on July 22, 1970 in Munich, Bavaria, West Germany.

Spouse (1)

Johanna Hofer (1924 - 22 July 1970) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (12)

Versatile star character actor, noted for his portrayal of Danton on stage and screen. Son of a jeweller. Studied acting at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna, making his theatrical debut in 1910. Came to fame after 1919 with Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater in Berlin, appearing in classical parts such as Shylock and Othello. In film from 1915. After a falling out with Reinhardt, joined Leopold Jessner's Berliner Staatstheater. Forced to leave Germany in 1933 to escape Nazi persecution of Jews. Acted in several films in England, then active in Hollywood from 1938 to 1947 in character roles. Subsequently returned to Germany, primarily acting and directing for the stage.
During the years he lived in Hollywood Kortner didn't direct for movies. He was assigned as an actor, frequently in anti nazi films like "Der seltsame Tod des Adolf Hitler" (1943), for which Kortner also wrote the screenplay, and "The Hitler Gang" (1944).
He returned to Germany in 1947, where he became noted for his innovative staging and direction of classics by William Shakespeare and Molière, such as a Richard III (1964) in which the king crawls over piles of corpses at the finale.[.
In only five months he played in 17 further roles before he canceled his contract on the Nationaltheater Mannheim and went to Max Reinhardt in Berlin.
In the 30s he was confronted with attacks by the National Socialists. There was written in Goebbels propaganda paper "Der Angriff": "For the role in "Gott, Kaiser und Bauer" (1932) they have engaged the Jew Kortner-Kohn who should have finished in the Berliner theater life long ago. He is practically the greasiest and worst type who ever stood on a German stage". (29.12.1932). Kortner had to draw the conclusion and went to exile, first to Vienna (1933), then to London (1934) and finally to New York (1937) and four years later to Hollywood.
After his breakthrough performance in Ernst Toller's Transfiguration in 1919, he became one of Germany's best-known character actors and the nation's foremost performer of Expressionist works.
In 1915 he made his debut in the film business. He was spot by Harry Piel like many others before him and acted in leading roles for several of his films.
In 1947 he came back to Germany. He could gain again a foothold at the theater. And for the film too he could work again and take on direction work once more from 1954. A great success was the film "Die Sendung der Lysistrata" (1961).
The actor and director Fritz Kortner attended the study of music and performing arts at the K.K. Academy from 1908 to 1910. When his professor Ferdinand Gregori was appointed as director for the Nationaltheater of Mannheim he obligated Kortner also to this theater. There he made his debut as Maximilian in Kleist's "Das Kätchen von Heilbronn" in the late 10s.
Since 1924 Kortner was married with actress Johanna Hofer (1896-1988).
His specialty was in playing sinister and threatening roles, although he also appeared in the title role of Dreyfus (1930). He originally gained attention for his explosive energy on stage and his powerful voice, but as the 1920s progressed his work began to incorporate greater realism as he opted for a more controlled delivery and greater use of gestures.
Together with the sound film his possibilities of expressiveness widened. He wrote the screenplay for "Der brave Sünder" (1931) together with Alfred Polgar and directed his first sound movie at the same time.

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