The Talent That Fled From Hitler and Ended Up In Hollywood

by dgranger | created - 3 months ago | updated - 3 months ago | Public

Some of these are German, Austrian and Hungarian. Some left for political reasons and some left to avoid religious persecution (AKA Jewish). Some returned to Germany and Europe after the war, others didn’t. But each of them has left their mark on Hollywood.

1. Peter Lorre

Actor | Casablanca

Peter Lorre was born László Lowenstein on Rózsahegy, Hungary. He was educated in elementary and secondary schools in Vienna, Austria. As a youth, he ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for ...

2. Marlene Dietrich

Soundtrack | Witness for the Prosecution

Her father was a police lieutenant and imbued in her a military attitude to life. Marlene was known in school for her "bedroom eyes" and her first affairs were at this stage in her life - a professor at the school was terminated. She entered the cabaret scene in 1920s Germany, first as a spectator ...

3. Billy Wilder

Writer | The Apartment

Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote scripts for many ...

4. William Wyler

Director | Ben-Hur

William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the...

Emigrated to America with his mother in 1920 well before the rise of Hitler.

5. Otto Preminger

Director | Anatomy of a Murder

Otto Ludwig Preminger was born in Wiznitz, Bukovina, Austria-Hungary. His father was a prosecutor, and Otto originally intended to follow his father into a law career; however, he fell in love with the theater in his 20's and became one of the most imaginative stage producers and directors. He was ...

6. Fred Zinnemann

Director | A Man for All Seasons

Initially grew up wanting to be a violinist, but while at the University of Vienna decided to study law. While doing so, he became increasingly interested in American film and decided that was what he wanted to do. He became involved in European filmaking for a short time before going to America to...

7. Fritz Lang

Actor | Le mépris

Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. ...

8. Robert Siodmak

Director | Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam

The director Robert Siodmak (which he insisted, be pronounced 'See-odd-mack') was a masterful film maker who successfully blended the techniques of German Expressionism with contemporary styles of American film, particularly film noir, in the process creating a handful of moody, sometimes chilling,...

9. Ernst Lubitsch

Director | To Be or Not to Be

From Ernst Lubitsch's experiences in Sophien Gymnasium (high school) theater, he decided to leave school at the age of 16 and pursue a career on the stage. He had to compromise with his father and keep the account books for the family tailor business while he acted in cabarets and music halls at ...

While he made films in the USA well before the rise of Hitler, when Hitler rose, Lubitsch stayed in America and made the film To Be or Not to Be (1942) that directly attacks Hitler’s Nazis. Both Wilder and Wyler both gave praise to Lubitsch at his death.

10. Curt Siodmak

Writer | The Invisible Man Returns

Born in Dresden, Germany, in 1902, Curt Siodmak worked as an engineer and a newspaper reporter before entering the literary and movie fields. It was as a reporter that he got his first break (of sorts) in films: in 1926 he and his reporter-wife hired on as extras on Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) ...

11. Edgar G. Ulmer

Director | The Naked Dawn

Edgar G. Ulmer was born on September 17, 1904 in Olmütz, Moravia, Austria-Hungary as Edgar George Ulmer. He was a director and writer, known for The Naked Dawn (1955), The Black Cat (1934) and Isle of Forgotten Sins (1943). He was married to Shirley Ulmer and Joan Warner. He died on September 30, ...

12. William Dieterle

Actor | Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage

Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Wilhelm Dieterle was the youngest of nine children of parents Jacob and Berthe Dieterle. They lived in poverty, and when he was old enough to work, young Wilhelm earned money as a carpenter and a scrap dealer. He dreamed of better things, though, and theater caught ...

13. Conrad Veidt

Actor | Casablanca

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, ...

He became a British citizen in 1933.

14. Michael Curtiz

Director | Casablanca

Curtiz began acting in and then directing films in his native Hungary in 1912. After WWI, he continued his filmmaking career in Austria and Germany and into the early 1920s when he directed films in other countries in Europe. Moving to the US in 1926, he started making films in Hollywood for Warner...

Not exactly fleeing, but he was a talented Hungarian born director who moved to Vienna Austria, before coming to the USA in 1926.

15. David Curtiz

Special_effects | Romance on the High Seas

Younger brother of director Michael Curtiz.

Second unit director and editor and brother to Micheal Curtiz

16. Erich von Stroheim

Actor | Sunset Blvd.

Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatter from Gleiwitz, Germany (now Gliwice, Poland). His family was Jewish.

After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America ...

This German was in America way before Hitler rose to power. As a director, he had a very definite style through he often went way over budget and super high in authentic detail and very long films. As an actor, he was very good. His role as the butler former director, Max Von Mayerling, in Sunset Blvd. (1950) was brilliant.

17. Max Reinhardt

Director | A Midsummer Night's Dream

Max Reinhardt was from an Austrian merchant family (surname officially changed from the family name Goldmann to Reinhardt in 1904), and even as a boy, after his family moved to Vienna, he haunted the "Hofburg Theater" and tried to see every play. In 1890 he studied at the Sulkowsky Theater in ...

This Austrian was known as a legendary stage and theater director and actor mainly but he did direct a few notable movies and one American made film.



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