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 Maximilian Schell

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Maximilian Schell

  • Birth 8 Dec 1930 Vienna, Wien Stadt, Vienna (Wien), Austria
  • Death 1 Feb 2014 Innsbruck, Innsbruck Stadt, Tyrol (Tirol), Austria
  • Burial Preitenegg, Wolfsberg Bezirk, Carinthia (Kärnten), Austria
  • Plot Buried near his sister Maria Schell.
  • Memorial ID 124443228

Actor, Screenwriter, Film Producer and Director. He is best remembered for his role as 'Hans Rolfe' in the 1961 film "Judgment at Nuremburg," for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. His father was a Swiss poet, novelist, playwright and pharmacy owner and his mother was an actress who ran an acting school. In 1938 when he was 7 years old, his family fled Vienna, Austria after the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, and they resettled in Zurich, Switzerland. He grew up reading the classics and when he was ten, he wrote his first play. He attended the University of Zurich for a year, where he played soccer and was on the rowing team, along with writing for newspapers as a part-time journalist for income. After the end of World War II, he moved to Germany where he enrolled in the University of Munich at Munich, Germany, studying philosophy and art history. He then returned to Zurich, where he served in the Swiss Army for a year, after which he re-entered the University of Zurich for another year, and later, the University of Basel at Basel, Switzerland for six months. During that period, he acted professionally in small parts, in both classical and modern plays, and decided that he would devote his life to acting rather than pursue academic studies. In 1955 he made his film debut in the German anti-war movie "Children, Mothers, and a General," and subsequently acted in 7 more films including "The Plot to Assassinate Hitler" and "Jackboot Mutiny" (both 1955), before going to the US to further his career. In 1958 he appeared in the Broadway play, "Interlock" in which he played the role of an aspiring concert pianist. The same year, he made his Hollywood debut in the World War II film, "The Young Lions," as the commanding German officer in another anti-war story, with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. In 1959 he acted in the role of a defense attorney in an edition of "Playhouse 90," a live television production of "Judgment at Nuremberg," a fictionalized re-creation of the Nuremberg War Trials. His performance in the television drama was considered so good that he and German actor Werner Klemperer were the only members of the original cast selected to play the same parts in the 1961 film version, with Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, a first win for a German-speaking actor since World War II. In 1960 he returned to Germany and played the title role in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" for German television, a role that he would play on two more occasions in live theatre productions during his career. In 1968 he began writing, producing, directing and acting in a number of his own films, including "The Castle" (1968), "First Love" (1970), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Pedestrian" (1974), which received an Academy Award nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film, and "End of the Game" (1975), with Jon Voight and Jacqueline Bisset. A few years later he co-wrote and directed the Austrian film, "Tales from the Vienna Woods" (1979). During the late 1960s and through the 1970s, he was top billed as one of the few German-speaking actors working in English language films, in a number of Nazi-era themed films, including "Counterpoint" (1968), "The Odessa File" (1974), "The Man in the Glass Booth" (1975), "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), "Cross of Iron" (1977) and "Julia" (1977, for which he received an Academy Award nomination in a Supporting Role). In the 1980s and 1990s, he played the role of a Jewish character, as 'Otto Frank', Anne Frank's father, in "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1980), as the modern Zionist father in "The Chosen" (1981), an Auschwitz survivor in "Through Roses" (1996), and as the father of a Jewish family in "Left Luggage" (1998). His other notable film roles include a museum treasure thief in "Topkapi" (1964); a Venezuelan leader in "Simon Bolivar" (1969), a 19th-century ship captain in "Krakatoa, East of Java" (1969), as 'Dr. Constable' in "St. Ives" (1976), a mad scientist in the science fiction film, "The Black Hole" (1979), a Russian spy-catcher in "Avalanche Express" (1979), the Russian emperor in the television miniseries, "Peter the Great" (1986), which won an Emmy Award; a comedy role with Marlon Brando in "The Freshman" (1990), a Cardinal in John Carpenter's "Vampires" (1998), as Frederick the Great in the television film, "Young Catherine" (1991), as 'Vladimir Lenin' in the television series "Stalin" (1992), for which he won the Golden Globe Award; a Russian KGB colonel in "Candles in the Dark" (1993), the 'Pharaoh' in the television movie "Abraham" (1994); a father in the science fiction thriller, "Deep Impact" (1998), and 'Brother Jean le Maistre' in the CBS television two-part miniseries "Joan of Arc." In 1984 he wrote, produced and directed the documentary film "Marlene" (1984), with the unwilling participation of Marlene Dietrich. It received an Academy Award nomination, and the New York Film Critics Award and the German Film Award. In 2002 he produced his most intimate film, "My Sister Maria," a documentary about his sister, noted actress Maria Schell. In the film, he chronicles her life, career and eventual diminished capacity due to illness. The film, made three years before her death, shows her mental and physical frailty, leading to her withdrawing from the world. Upon the completion of the film, they both received Bambi Awards, and were honored for their lifetime achievements and in recognition of the film. In 2006 he appeared in the stage play of Arthur Miller's "Resurrection Blues" which played in London, England at the Old Vic Theatre. A semi-professional pianist for much of his life, conductor Leonard Bernstein claimed that he played remarkably well. In 1982, on a program filmed for the US television network PBS, before Bernstein conducted the Vienna Philharmonic playing Beethoven symphonies, he read from Beethoven's letters to the audience. In 1983, he and Bernstein co-hosted an 11-part television series "Bernstein/Beethoven," featuring nine live symphonies, along with discussions between him and Bernstein about Beethoven's works. He was a guest professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, Illinois. His last film appearance was in "The Brothers Bloom (2008). He died at the age of 83 after receiving treatment for pneumonia.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: David Peltier
  • Added: 1 Feb 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 124443228
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Maximilian Schell (8 Dec 1930–1 Feb 2014), Find A Grave Memorial no. 124443228, citing Preitenegg Cemetery, Preitenegg, Wolfsberg Bezirk, Carinthia (Kärnten), Austria ; Maintained by Find A Grave .