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Reinhold Schünzel

Reinhold Schünzel (7 November 1888 – 11 November 1954) was a German actor and director, active in both Germany and the United States. The son of a German father and a Jewish mother, he was born in St. Pauli, the poorest part of Hamburg. Despite being Jewish, Schünzel was allowed by the Nazis to continue making films for several years until he eventually left to live abroad.

Reinhold Schünzel
Reinhold Schünzel um 1921 by Alexander Binder.jpg
Reinhold Schünzel in 1921
Born7 November 1888
Died11 November 1954 (1954-11-12) (aged 68)
OccupationActor, Director, Writer, Producer
Years active1916-1954 (film)

Life in GermanyEdit

Reinhold Schünzel or Schuenzel started his career as an actor in 1915 with a role in the film Werner Krafft. He directed his first film in 1918 Mary Magdalene and in 1920 directed The Girl from Acker Street and Catherine the Great. He was one of Germany's best-known silent film stars after World War I, a period in which films were very influenced by the consequences of the war. Schünzel performed roles in both comedies and dramas, often appearing as a villain or a powerful and corrupt man.

He was influenced by filmmakers such as his mentor Richard Oswald and Ernst Lubitsch, for whom he worked as an actor in the film Madame Du Barry in 1919.

Schünzel's work was very popular in Germany and the Nazi regime gave him the title of Ehrenarier or Honorary Aryan, allowing him to continue to direct and act despite his Jewish heritage (his mother was Jewish). He found that the government, first under Kaiser Wilhelm II and later under Adolf Hitler, interfered with his film projects, impelling him to leave 1937. Schuenzel described both the Kaiser and Hitler "persons of recognized authority and the worst possible dramatic taste."

Moving to the United States, he worked in Hollywood, playing Nazis and scientists. One of many examples was the film The Hitler Gang (1944), directed by John Farrow. This film and was about the rise of Hitler from a small political adventurer to the dictator of Germany showed in the way of a gangster film and here Reinhold Schünzel played the role of General Erich Ludendorff.


Schünzel had a daughter Marianne Stewart, who was born in Berlin, Germany and followed her father by becoming an actress. She appeared in Broadway plays and she was known for The Facts of Life (1960), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Time Table (1956).

Schuenzel in the United StatesEdit

Schünzel went to the United States in the thirties. He began his American career in Hollywood in 1937 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Among the films he directed were Rich Man, Poor Girl (1938), Ice Follies (1939), Balalaika (1939), and New Wine (1941). He also acted in films like The vicious cycle, Hitler's Gang and Dragonwyck among others. Schünzel went to New York in 1945 to make a debut on Broadway, although he was familiar to New Yorker audiences after he directed and appeared with the Swiss-born German/Austrian actor Emil Jannings in a film called Fortune's Fool, which was released in New York in 1928. Also on Broadway he acted in Temper the Wind in 1946 and Montserrat in 1949. His most memorable performance was as Dr. Anderson, a Nazi conspirator, in the film Notorious in 1946.

Among the prizes he received was the Federal West German Film prize for the best supporting role in the movie My Father's Horses. He became a U.S citizen in 1943 and he returned to Germany in 1949.[1] Schünzel died of a heart attack in Munich, Germany.[2][3][4][5][6][7]


German filmsEdit

American filmsEdit

West German filmsEdit

  • The Dubarry (1951, director)
  • Meines Vaters Pferde I. Teil Lena und Nicoline (1954) as Konsul Rittinghaus
  • Meines Vaters Pferde, 2. Teil: Seine dritte Frau (1954) as Konsul Rittinghaus
  • Eine Liebesgeschichte (1954) as Schlumberger, Schauspieldirektor (final film role)


  1. ^ ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) Pg. 27
  2. ^ "German Films: Home".
  3. ^ "German Films: Personal Info: Reinhold Schuenzel".
  4. ^ "Reinhold Schünzel". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Definition of aryan -".
  6. ^ "Judaism 101: Who Is a Jew?".
  7. ^ "The Hitler Gang (1944) - IMDb" – via

External linksEdit