Carl Henry Vogt (February 19, 1895 – May 12, 1956), known professionally as Louis Calhern, was an American stage and screen actor. For portraying Oliver Wendell Holmes in The Magnificent Yankee (1950), he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
from the trailer for Woman Wanted (1935)
|Born||Carl Henry Vogt
February 19, 1895
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 12, 1956
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
(m. 1926; div. 1927)
(m. 1927; div. 1932)
(m. 1933; div. 1942)
(m. 1946; div. 1955)
Calhern was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Eugene Adolf Vogt and Hubertina Friese Vogt, both of whom were natives of Germany. He had one sibling, a sister. His father was a tobacco dealer. His family left New York while he was still a child and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he grew up. While Calhern was playing high school football, a stage manager from a touring theatrical stock company spotted him, and hired him as a bit player. (Another source says, "Grace George hired his St. Louis high school football team as supers for a Shakespearean play.")
Just prior to World War I, Calhern decided to move back to New York to pursue an acting career. He began as a prop boy and bit player with touring companies and burlesque companies. He became a matinee idol by virtue of a play titled Cobra.
Calhern's Broadway credits include Roger Bloomer (1923), The Song and Dance Man (1923–1924), Cobra (1924), In a Garden (1925–1926), Hedda Gabler (1926), The Woman Disputed (1926–1927), Up the Line (1926), The Dark (1927), Savages Under the Skin (1927), A Distant Drum (1928), Gypsy (1929), The Love Duel (1929), The Rhapsody (1930), The Tyrant (1930), Give Me Yesterday (1931), Brief Moment (1931–1932), The Inside Story (1932), Birthday (1934–1935), Hell Freezes Over (1935–1936), Robin Landing (1937), Summer Night (1939), The Great Big Doorstep (1942), Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944–1945), The Magnificent Yankee (1946), The Survivors (1948), The Play's the Thing (1948), King Lear (1950–1951), and The Wooden Dish (1955).
Calhern began working in silent films for director Lois Weber in the early 1920s; the most notable being The Blot in 1921. A 1921 newspaper article commented, "The new arrival in stardom is Louis Calhern, who, until Miss Weber engaged him to enact the leading male role in What's Worth While?, had been playing leads in the Morosco Stock company of Los Angeles."
In 1923 Calhern left the movies, but would return to the screen eight years later after the advent of sound pictures. He was primarily cast as a character actor in films while he continued to play leading roles on the stage. He reached his peak in the 1950s as a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player. Among his most memorable screen roles were Ambassador Trentino in the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup (1933) and three that he appeared in at MGM in 1950: a singing role as Buffalo Bill in the film version of the musical Annie Get Your Gun, the double-crossing lawyer and sugar-daddy to Marilyn Monroe in John Huston's film noir The Asphalt Jungle, and his Oscar-nominated performance as Oliver Wendell Holmes in The Magnificent Yankee (re-creating his role from the Broadway stage). He was also praised for his portrayal of the title role in the John Houseman production of Julius Caesar (adapted from the Shakespeare play) in 1953, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Calhern also played the role of the devious George Caswell, the manipulative board member of Tredway Corporation in the 1954 production of Executive Suite.
Calhern's other film roles included the grandfather in The Red Pony (1949), adapted from the novel by John Steinbeck and starring Robert Mitchum, and the spy boss of Cary Grant in the Alfred Hitchcock suspense classic Notorious (1946). A performance as Uncle Willie in High Society (1956), a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, turned out to be his final film.
Calhern was married four times. First, to Ilka Chase (1900–1978) from 1926 to 1927, then to Julia Hoyt (1897–1955) from 1927 to 1932, and then to Natalie Schafer (1900–1991) from 1933 to 1942, and Marianne Stewart (1922–1992) from 1946 to 1955. All four marriages ended in divorce. He suffered from alcoholism. According to Natalie Schafer, Calhern's inability to overcome this undermined their relationship. While he would consult doctors, she said Calhern refused to go to Alcoholics Anonymous because he was an atheist.
Calhern died of a sudden heart attack in Nara, Japan, while there to film The Teahouse of the August Moon. He was replaced in the film by Paul Ford, who had played Calhern's role in the original stage version. By an odd coincidence, when playing Buffalo Bill in Annie Get Your Gun, Calhern had replaced Frank Morgan, who had died of a sudden heart attack during the making of that film. Calhern was cremated and is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
- What's Worth While? (1921) - 'Squire' Elton
- Too Wise Wives (1921) - Mr. David Graham
- The Blot (1921) - The Professor's Pupil as Phil West
- Woman, Wake Up (1922) - Monte Collins
- The Last Moment (1923) - Harry Gaines
- Stolen Heaven (1931) - Steve Perry
- The Road to Singapore (1931) - Dr. George March
- Blonde Crazy (1931) - Dapper Dan Barker
- Okay, America! (1932) - Mileaway Russell
- Night After Night (1932) - Dick Bolton
- They Call It Sin (1932) - Ford Humphries
- Afraid to Talk (1932) - Asst. District Attorney John Wade
- 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932) - Joe Finn
- Frisco Jenny (1932) - Steve Dutton
- The Woman Accused (1933) - Leo Young
- Strictly Personal (1933) - Magruder
- The World Gone Mad (1933) - Christopher Bruno
- Diplomaniacs (1933) - Winkelreid
- Duck Soup (1933) - Ambassador Trentino of Sylvania
- The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) - De Villefort Jr.
- The Man with Two Faces (1934) - Stanley Vance
- The Affairs of Cellini (1934) - Ottaviano
- Sweet Adeline (1934) - Major Day
- The Arizonian (1935) - Sheriff Jake Mannen
- Woman Wanted (1935) - Smiley
- The Last Days of Pompei (1935) - Prefect
- The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) - Sunderland
- Her Husband Lies (1937) - Joe Sorrell
- The Life of Emile Zola (1937) - Major Dort
- Fast Company (1938) - Elias Z. 'Eli' Bannerman
- Juarez (1939) - Le Marc
- 5th Ave Girl (1939) - Dr. Kessler
- Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939) - Arthur Aldrich
- I Take This Woman (1940) - Dr. Duveen
- Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) - Dr. Brockdorf
- Heaven Can Wait (1943) - Randolph Van Cleve
- Nobody's Darling (1943) - Curtis Farnsworth
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944) - Don Andre - The Viceroy
- Up in Arms (1944) - Colonel Ashley
- Notorious (1946) - Captain Paul Prescott
- Arch of Triumph (1948) - 'Col.' Boris Morosov
- The Red Pony (1949) - Grandfather
- The Red Danube (1949) - Colonel Piniev
- Nancy Goes to Rio (1950) - Gregory Elliott
- Annie Get Your Gun (1950) - Colonel William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody
- The Asphalt Jungle (1950) - Alonzo D. Emmerich
- A Life of Her Own (1950) - Jim Leversoe
- Devil's Doorway (1950) - Verne Coolan
- Two Weeks with Love (1950) - Horatio Robinson
- The Magnificent Yankee (1950) - Oliver Wendell Holmes
- It's a Big Country (1951) - Narrator (voice, uncredited)
- The Man with a Cloak (1951) - Charles Francois Thevenet
- Invitation (1952) - Simon Bowker
- Washington Story (1952) - Charles W. Birch
- We're Not Married! (1952) - Frederick C. 'Freddie' Melrose
- The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) - Col. Zapt
- The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) - Georgia Lorrison's Father (voice, uncredited)
- Confidentially Connie (1953) - Opie Bedloe
- Julius Caesar (1953) - Julius Caesar
- Remains to Be Seen (1953) - Benjamin Goodman
- Latin Lovers (1953) - Grandfather Eduardo Santos
- Main Street to Broadway (1953) - Himself
- Executive Suite (1954) - George Nyle Caswell
- Rhapsody (1954) - Nicholas Durant
- Men of the Fighting Lady (1954) - James A. Michener
- The Student Prince (1954) - King Ferdinand of Karlsberg
- Betrayed (1954) - Gen. Ten Eyck
- Athena (1954) - Grandpa Ulysses Mulvain
- The Prodigal (1955) - Nahreeb
- Blackboard Jungle (1955) - Jim Murdock
- Forever, Darling (1956) - Charles Y. Bewell
- High Society (1956) - Uncle Willie (final film role)
- Obituary Variety, May 16, 1956.
- Dennis, Ken (Summer 2011). "Louis Clhern: Distinguished Gentleman". Films of the Golden Age (65): 58–68.
- "Greetings". Mexico Evening Ledger. Mexico, Missouri. February 18, 1952. p. 6. Retrieved February 13, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Louis Calhern". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
- "Actor Favors Showing German War Pictures". The Gazette Times. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. June 12, 1921. p. 44. Retrieved February 13, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Star Studies". Oregon, Portland. The Oregon Daily Journal. January 16, 1921. p. 44. Retrieved February 13, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. P. 195