Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück (19 November 1896 – 9 August 1967) was an Austrian actor who settled in the United Kingdom under the name Anton Walbrook. A popular performer in Austria and pre-war Germany, he left in 1936 out of concerns for his own safety and established a career in British cinema. Walbrook is perhaps best known for his roles in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and The Red Shoes.
Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück
19 November 1896
|Died||9 August 1967 (aged 70)|
Life and careerEdit
Walbrook was born in Vienna, Austria, as Adolf Wohlbrück. He was the son of Gisela Rosa (Cohn) and Adolf Ferdinand Bernhard Hermann Wohlbrück. He was descended from ten generations of actors, though his father broke with tradition and was a circus clown. Walbrook studied with the director Max Reinhardt and built up a career in Austrian theatre and cinema.
In 1936, he went to Hollywood to reshoot dialogue for the multinational The Soldier and the Lady (1937) and in the process changed his name from Adolf to Anton. Instead of returning to Austria, Walbrook, who was homosexual and classified under the Nuremberg Laws as a so-called "Mischling ersten Grades" (mixed race in the first degree) because his mother was Jewish, settled in England and continued working as a film actor, making a speciality of playing continental Europeans.
He played Otto in the first London production of Design for Living at the Haymarket Theatre in January 1939 (later transferring to the Savoy Theatre), and running for 233 performances, opposite Diana Wynyard as Gilda and Rex Harrison as Leo. In 1952 he appeared at the Coliseum as Cosmo Constantine in Call Me Madam, also participating alongside Billie Worth, Jeff Warren and Shani Wallis on the EMI cast record.
Producer-director Herbert Wilcox cast him as Prince Albert in Victoria the Great (1937) and Walbrook also appeared in the sequel, Sixty Glorious Years the following year. He was in director Thorold Dickinson's version of Gaslight (1940), in the role played by Charles Boyer in the later Hollywood remake. In Dangerous Moonlight (1941), a romantic melodrama, he was a Polish pianist torn over whether to return home. For the Powell and Pressburger team in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) he played the role of the dashing, intense "good German" officer Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, and the tyrannical impresario Lermontov in The Red Shoes (1948). One of his most unusual films, reuniting him with Dickinson, is The Queen of Spades (1949), a Gothic thriller based on the Alexander Pushkin short story, in which he co-starred with Edith Evans. For Max Ophüls he was the ringmaster in La Ronde (1950) and Ludwig I, King of Bavaria in Lola Montès.
His Red Shoes co-star Moira Shearer recalled Walbrook was a loner on set, often wearing dark glasses and eating alone. He retired from films at the end of the 1950s and in later years appeared on the European stage and television.
Walbrook died of a heart attack in the Garatshausen section of Feldafing, Bavaria, Germany in 1967. His ashes were interred in the churchyard of St. John's Church, Hampstead, London, as he had wished in his testament.
|1923||Martin Luther||Silent||Karl Wüstenhagen|
|1924||Mater dolorosa||Silent||Joseph Delmont|
|1925||The Secret of Castle Elmshoh||Axel||Silent||Max Obal|
|1931||Salto Mortale||Robby||German||E. A. Dupont|
|1932||The Pride of Company Three||Prinz Willibald||German||Fred Sauer|
|Three from the Unemployment Office||Max Binder||German||Eugen Thiele|
|The Five Accursed Gentlemen||Petersen||German||Julien Duvivier||German-language version of a French film|
|Melody of Love||Kapellmeister||German||Georg Jacoby|
|Baby||Lord Cecil||German||Karel Lamač|
|1933||Waltz War||Johann Strauss||German||Ludwig Berger|
|Keine Angst vor Liebe||Helmut Höfert||German||Hans Steinhoff|
|Victor and Victoria||Robert||German||Reinhold Schünzel|
|1934||George and Georgette||French||Reinhold Schünzel,
Roger Le Bon
|French-language version of Victor and Victoria|
|Die vertauschte Braut||Charles||German||Karel Lamač|
|Maskerade||Ferdinand von Heideneck||German||Willi Forst|
|A Woman Who Knows What She Wants||Axel Basse||German||Victor Janson|
|The English Marriage||Warwick Brent||German||Reinhold Schünzel|
|1935||Regine||Frank Reynold||German||Erich Waschneck|
|The Gypsy Baron||Sandor Barinkay||German||Karl Hartl|
|Le Baron tzigane||Sandor Barinkay||French||Karl Hartl,
|French-language version of The Gypsy Baron|
|I Was Jack Mortimer||Fred Sponer||German||Carl Froelich|
|The Student of Prague||Balduin||German||Arthur Robison|
|1936||The Czar's Courier||Michael Strogoff||German||Richard Eichberg|
|Michel Strogoff||French||Richard Eichberg,
Jacques de Baroncelli
|French-language version of The Czar's Courier|
|Port Arthur||Boris Ranewsky||French||Nicolas Farkas|
|Port Arthur||German||Nicolas Farkas||German-language version of Port Arthur|
|1937||The Soldier and the Lady||Michael Strogoff||English||George Nicholls Jr.||Remake of The Czar's Courier|
|Victoria the Great||Prince Albert||English||Herbert Wilcox|
|The Rat||Jean Boucheron||English||Jack Raymond|
|1938||Sixty Glorious Years||Prince Albert||English||Herbert Wilcox|
|1940||Gaslight||Paul Mallen/Louis Bauer||English||Thorold Dickinson|
|1941||Dangerous Moonlight||Stefan Radetzky||English||Brian Desmond Hurst|
|49th Parallel||Peter||English||Powell and Pressburger|
|1943||The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp||Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff||English||Powell and Pressburger|
|1945||The Man from Morocco||Karel Langer||English||Mutz Greenbaum|
|1948||The Red Shoes||Boris Lermontov||English||Powell and Pressburger|
|1949||The Queen of Spades||Capt. Herman Suvorin||English||Thorold Dickinson|
|1950||La Ronde||Master of Ceremonies||French||Max Ophüls|
|King for One Night||Graf von Lerchenbach||German||Paul May|
|1951||Vienna Waltzes||Johann Strauss||German||Emil-Edwin Reinert|
|1952||Le Plaisir||Narrator, German version||Max Ophüls||Uncredited|
|1954||On Trial (L'affaire Maurizius)||Grégoire Waremme||French||Julien Duvivier|
|1955||Oh... Rosalinda!!||Dr. Falke||English||Powell and Pressburger|
|Lola Montès||King Ludwig I of Bavaria||French||Max Ophüls|
|1957||Saint Joan||Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais||English||Otto Preminger|
|1958||I Accuse!||Major Esterhazy||English||José Ferrer|
Television (West Germany)Edit
|1960||Venus im Licht||The Duke of Altair||based on Venus Observed|
|1962||Laura||Waldo Lydecker||based on Laura|
|1964||Der Arzt am Scheideweg||Sir Colenso Ridgeon||based on The Doctor's Dilemma|
|1966||Robert und Elisabeth||(final film role)|
- "Walbrook [formerly Wohlbrück], (Adolf Wilhelm) Anton (1896–1967)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/60815. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Anton Walbrook - Tomb With a View".
- Hergemöller, Bernd-Ulrich (2001). Mann für Mann. ISBN 9783518397664.
- David Ehrenstein (20 July 2010). "The Red Shoes: Dancing for Your Life". Current. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- Offermanns, Ernst (2005) (in German). Die deutschen Juden und der Spielfilm der NS-Zeit. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. p. 69.
- The Observer, 29 January 1939, p. 11
- WorldCat entry for Call Me Madam, with details of cast accessed 7 August 2018.
- Commentary track on Criterion DVD of The Red Shoes