• 19 November 1896
  •  Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]

Anton Walbrook


This dark, debonair, dashing and extremely distinguished Austrian actor was christened Adolf Wohlbrück in Vienna, the scion of a family of circus clowns. He broke away easily from generations of tradition as the circus life had no appeal whatsoever to Walbrook. Trained by the legendary director Max Reinhardt, Walbrook's reputation grew on both the Austrian and German stages. In between he managed a couple of undistinguished roles in silent films. Billed as Adolf Wohlbrück, the youthfully handsome actor graced a number of romantic films come the advent of sound beginning in 1931. Among them Waltz War (1933) and the gender-bending comedy Victor and Victoria (1933), which later served as the inspiration and basis for Blake Edwards' own Victor Victoria (1982) starring wife Julie Andrews. Hollywood beckoned in the late 30s for Walbrook to re-shoot dialog for an upcoming international picture The Soldier and the Lady (1937) again playing Michael Strogoff, a role he had played impeccably in both previous French and German adaptations. With the rise of oppression in Nazi Germany he moved to Great Britain and took his trademark mustache and dark, handsome features to English language films where he went on to appear to great effect. Portraying a host of imperious kings, bon vivants and and foreign dignitaries over the course of his career, he played everything from composer Johann Strauss to the Bavarian King Ludwig I. With a tendency for grand, intense, over-the-top acting, he was nevertheless quite impressive in a number of portrayals. Such included the sympathetic German officer in the landmark Powell and Pressburger satire The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) and gentle pacifist in another of their collaborations 49th Parallel (1941); as Prince Albert in the black-and-white glossy costumer Victoria the Great (1937) immediately followed by its color remake Queen of Destiny (1938) both opposite Anna Neagle's Queen Victoria; and, most notably, as the obsessively demanding impresario opposite ballerina Moira Shearer in the romantic melodrama The Red Shoes (1948). His stiff and stern military officers were just as notable which included sterling work in The Queen of Spades (1949) and last-speaking English film I Accuse! (1958). He retired from films at the end of the 1950s, and in later years returned to the European stage and included television roles to his resume. He died in Germany in 1967 of a heart attack.