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Conrad Veidt Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (9) | Personal Quotes (6) | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 22 January 1893Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Date of Death 3 April 1943Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameHans Walter Conrad Weidt
Nicknames Connie
Conny
King of the Gooseflesh
Height 6' 2½" (1.89 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Conrad Veidt attended the Sophiengymnasium (secondary school) in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin, and graduated without a diploma in 1912, last in his class of 13. Conrad liked animals, theater, cinema, fast cars, pastries, thunderstorms, gardening, swimming and golfing. He disliked heights, flying, the number 17, wearing ties, pudding and interviews. A star of early German cinema, he became a sensation in 1920 with his role as the murderous somnambulist Cesare in Robert Wiene's masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Other prominent roles in German silent films included Different from the Others (1919) and Waxworks (1924). His third wife, Ilona (nicknamed Lily), was Jewish, although he himself wasn't. However, whenever he had to state his ethnic background on forms to get a job, he wrote: "Jude" (Jew). He and Lily fled Germany in 1933 after the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, and he became a British citizen in 1939. Universal Pictures head Carl Laemmle personally chose Veidt to play Dracula in a film to be directed by Paul Leni based on a successful New York stage play: "Dracula". Ultimately, Bela Lugosi got the role, and Tod Browning directed the film, Dracula (1931). In his last German film, F.P.1 Doesn't Answer (1932), Veidt sang a song called "Where the Lighthouse Shines Across the Bay." Although the record was considered a flop in 1933, the song became a hit almost 50 years later, when, in 1980, DJ Terry Wogan played it as a request on the Radio 2 breakfast show. That single playing generated numerous phone calls, and shortly thereafter the song appeared on a British compilation album called "Movie Star Memories" - a collection of songs from 1930s-era films compiled from EMI archives. The album was released by World Records Ltd., and is now out of print but can still be ordered online ("Where the Lighthouse Shines Across the Bay" is track 4 on side 2). Veidt appeared in Germany's first talking picture, Bride 68 (1929), and made only one color picture, The Thief of Bagdad (1940), filmed in England and Hollywood. His most famous role was as Gestapo Maj. Strasser in the classic Casablanca (1942); although he was not the star of the picture, he was the highest paid actor. He died while playing golf, and on the death certificate his name is misspelled as "Hanz Walter Conrad Veidt". Because he had been blacklisted in Nazi Germany, there was no official announcement there of his death. His ex-wife, Felicitas, and daughter Viola, in Switzerland, heard about it on the radio.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Spouse (3)

Ilona (Lily) Prager (30 March 1933 - 3 April 1943) (his death)
Felicitas Radke (18 April 1923 - 1932) (divorced) (1 child)
Gussy Holl (18 June 1918 - 1922) (divorced)

Trivia (9)

Daughter, with Radke, Viola Vera Veidt (b. 8/10/1925).
Bob Kane, creator of Batman, used Veidt's appearance in The Man Who Laughs (1928) as an early model on which to base the appearance of "The Joker".
He died of a heart attack while playing golf (8th hole) at the Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles, California. He was playing with Arthur Field of MGM and his personal physician, Dr. Bergman, who pronounced him dead at the scene.
He had long been known in German theatrical circles as a staunch anti-Nazi. His activities came under the scrutiny of the Gestapo, and a decision was made to assassinate him. Veidt found out about the plot, and managed to escape Germany before the Nazi death squad found him.
[February 4 2004] His daughter Vera Viola passed away from a heart attack in her sleep at her New Orleans apartment.
When Britain went to war, Veidt (an anti-Nazi and British citizen) gave most of his estate to the war effort. He also donated a large portion of the salary from each of his movies to the British war relief, as well.
While in school Veidt was an indifferent student, showing little interest even in theater or literature. One of his teachers recommended to Veidt's parents that he become an actor.
Among the real people portrayed by Veidt during his German silent and early sound period are Horatio Nelson, Cesare Borgia, Cagliostro, Paginini, Rasputin, and as Gessler in "Wilhelm Tell.".
He enlisted in the Army Service Corps on December 28, 1914 and served on the Eastern Front during WWI near Warsaw. After five months and ill with jaundice, he was sent back to a military hospital in East Prussia.

Personal Quotes (6)

[1920s, to biographer Paul Ickes] What do you want? They'll just say, "He's only a movie actor!"
[about his role in A Woman's Face (1941)] I'm Lucifer in a tuxedo!
It is precisely as if I am possessed by some other spirit when I enter on a new task of acting, as though something within me presses a switch and my own consciousness merges into some other, greater, more vital being.
[on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)] No matter what roles I play, I can't get Caligari out of my system.
[on his decision to enter films] One of the producers asked me how much I made a month on the stage. In dollars it would have been about fifty. He offered to pay me that much a day to act on the screen. That's how the movies got me. After I signed the contract, I wondered if I was selling my soul, like Faust. I didn't even know that I would find movies fascinating. Even if they did make a villain out of me.
[on "Caligari"] It was undoubtedly an outstanding milestone in my career. Before this film I had been known only in Germany. "Caligari" introduced me to audiences throughout the Continent. That meant a lot to me.

Salary (3)

Der Weg des Todes (1916) $50 per day
Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari. (1920) $30 per day
Casablanca (1942) $5,000 /week

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