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S.Z. Sakall Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (27)

Overview (4)

Born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameSándor Gärtner
Nickname Cuddles

Mini Bio (1)

Hungarian-born S.Z. Sakall was a veteran of German, Hungarian and British films when he left Europe because of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. In Hollywood from shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Sakall began appearing in comedies and musicals, often playing a lovable if somewhat excitable and/or befuddled uncle, businessman or neighborhood eccentric. Memorable as the waiter in Casablanca (1942) and as a somewhat lecherous Broadway producer in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). He retired from films in 1954 and died of a heart attack in Hollywood in 1955.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse (2)

Elisabeth Anna "Boszi" Kardos (1 August 1920 - 12 February 1955) ( his death)
Giza Grossner (1916 - 1918) ( her death)

Trade Mark (2)

Often plays men who are easily excited or befuddled but loveable nonetheless
Often cast as a sympathetic friend or employee of the main character.

Trivia (27)

Second wife was Ann Kardos, who was the sister of László Kardos. László's wife, Lenka, was the sister of director Joe Pasternak.
Because of his befuddled amiability on-screen, his trademark jowls and comical exasperation, he was nicknamed "Cuddles" and was often billed that way.
All three of his sisters perished in Nazi concentration camps.
He originally turned down his waiter's role in Casablanca (1942), the part that initially made him famous.
The initials preceding his name are from the Hungarian for Szoke Szakall, meaning 'blonde beard', so called because he wore one as a young actor to look older.
Started writing music hall sketches by the age of sixteen and later made up gags for a Budapest comic. After World War I, he went to Vienna to study acting under Max Reinhardt. He appeared on stage in both Germany and Austria and was featured in the first German sound film, "Zwei Herzen im Dreiviertel-Takt".
He did not like "American" food,so when he was working on a movie,he had his wife cook food from the old country and bring him lunch or dinner.
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Sakall was forced to return to Hungary. He was involved in over 40 movies in his native land.
He is buried in the Garden of Memory in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
When Joe Pasternak engaged Szöke Szakall to Hollywood for his movie "It's a Gift", he made use of the opportunity to leave the uncomfortable Europe. He soon gained a foothold in the USA and worked under the name S. Z. Sakall first for Universal, from 1941 for Warner Bros. which offered him appreciative supporting roles as a funny and good-natured fat person.
At the beginning of the 1920s, he moved to Vienna, where he appeared in Hermann Leopoldi's Kabarett Leopoldi-Wiesenthal.
The actor Szöke Szakall was born as Jenö Geré in Budapest.
He served on the East front line during World War I, after that he launched his career as an actor and comedian at different theaters. He became soon well-known abroad because of his successes and he first went to Vienna, afterwards to Berlin where he was equally successful as writer and comedian.
He came to the film through Paul Davidson. He was engaged as a writer for Reinhold Schünzel's movies, but he soon convinced as a comedian on the screen and began his impressive career.
With the transition to the sound film he was able to show his funny talent to advantage.
During his schooldays, he wrote sketches for Budapest vaudeville shows under the pen name Szoke Szakáll meaning "blond beard" in reference to his own beard, grown to make him look older, which he affected when, at the age of 18, he turned to acting.
At the age of 59, he portrayed his best remembered character, Carl the head waiter in Casablanca (1942). Producer Hal B. Wallis signed Sakall for the role three weeks after filming had begun. When he was first offered the part, Sakall hated it and turned it down. Sakall finally agreed to take the role provided they gave him four weeks of work. The two sides eventually agreed on three weeks. He received $1,750 per week for a total of $5,250. He actually had more screen time than either Peter Lorre or Sydney Greenstreet.
Many of Sakall's close relatives later died in Nazi concentration camps, including all three of his sisters and his niece, as well as his wife's brother and sister.
Szakall was married twice. His first wife Giza Grossner died in 1918, two years later he married Anne Kardos.
His first American film role was in the comedy It's a Date (1940) with Deanna Durbin.
In the 1930s, he was, next to Hans Moser, the most significant representative of the Wiener Film, the Viennese light romantic comedy genre.
Chubby-jowled Sakall played numerous supporting roles in Hollywood musicals and comedies in the 1940s and 1950s.
He was in four top movies in 1949. First Sakall played Felix Hofer in Doris Day's second film, My Dream Is Yours. Later that year, he supported June Haver and Ray Bolger in Look for the Silver Lining. Next, he played Otto Oberkugen in In the Good Old Summertime, with Judy Garland and Van Johnson. This was a remake of Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Finally, Sakall was given the principal role of songwriter Fred Fisher in Oh, You Beautiful Doll, though top billing went to June Haver.
His rotund cuteness caused studio head Jack Warner to bestow on Sakall the nickname "Cuddles". Warner asked that he be billed as S. Z. "Cuddles" Sakall in his later films, though he was never happy with the name.
The actor became a star of the Hungarian stage and screen in the 1910s and 1920s.
He became well known for using the phrase "everything is hunky dunky".
Already in his school time he wrote first Sketches and published it with the pseudonym Szöke Szakall (= blond beard).

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