Actor. He became a professional actor while still in his teens, making a name for himself as a member of the distinguished Max Reinhardt company in Berlin in the years before World War 1. Although he made his film debut in 1914's "Arme", he got mostly unrewarding parts until the end of the decade, when he began playing prominent historical figures in elaborate German and Italian films, including Madame DuBarry (1919, as Louis XV), Anne Boleyn (1920, as Henry VIII), Peter the Great (1921, in the title role), and Quo Vadis? (1924, as Nero). During this period Jannings also essayed many great characters from legend and literature, including Dimitri Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov (1920), Othello (1922), and Faust (1926, as Mephistopheles). These roles, along with his star turns in two classics-Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924, as the proud doorman at a posh hotel who is suddenly demoted and subsequently humiliated) and Dupont's Variety (1925)-eventually brought Jannings to the attention of American filmmakers. He came to Hollywood in 1927, signing a Paramount contract and winning the first Best Actor Oscar ever awarded for his work in The Way of All Flesh (1927) and The Last Command (1928, as a refugee Russian general working as an extra in Hollywood costume dramas), his first two American films.
Bio by: Rudi Polt
Auguste Marie Holl Jannings