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Michael Bohnen

Picture Michael Bohnen
Foto: Alexander Binder (1888-1929)

1887 - 1965

The actor Michael Bohnen became famous as an opera singer above all, beside it he was endowed with a great acting talent.

After a five-year lasting singing education he made his debut as Kaspar in the play "Der Freischütz" in Düsseldorf in 1910. This was the prelude to a marvelous career which led him via Wiesbaden to Berlin. There he recorded his first disc in 1912.

He became a leading baritone and bass singer in the following years and shone especially as a singer of Wagner. When he appeared at the Metropolitan in New York in the 20's he was mentioned in one breath with Benjamino Gigli and Feodor Schaljapin. 
He was not only convincing on the opera stage as a colossal singer but also with his acting abilities which the film business soon made good use of.

He made his film debut in the great production "Die Herrin der Welt" in 1919 where he dominated the screen with his 280 pounds and a height of 1.90 meters.
Like music the film had a special fascination for Michael Bohnen and he founded the "Bohnen Film GmbH", which produced more than a dozen silent movies.
To Michael Bohnen's other silent movies as an actor belong "Tiefland" (22), "Kopf hoch, Charly!" (26) and "Casanova" (28).

In the 30's Michael Bohnen took part in the talkies "Zwei Krawatten" (30), "Gold" (34), "August der Starke" (36) and "Das unsterbliche Herz" (39).
To his last cinematical works belong "Achtung! Feind hört mit!" (40) and "Münchhausen" (42).
When he refused to play in propaganda movies he was confronted with a fateful consequence. His son Wolfgang, who was a priest, was called up as a front priest to put Michael Bohnen under pressure. Wolfgang Bohnen was killed in the Caucasus two years later; a bad blow for Michael Bohnen.

After the war they accused him for being a sympathizer of the former rulers and was imposed with a working prohibition for four years. Later he was rehabilitated slowly although there were inconsistent statements. 
They paid tribute to Michael Bohnen's activity with the Goethe award in 1952 and with the award of the "Grosses Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland" in 1957. But these appreciations deceive over the real situation of Michael Bohnen. Ignored by the official departments he spent the last years of his life in poverty. 

Other movies with Michael Bohnen:
Das Buch Esther (19) Präsident Barrada (20) Der Abenteurer (21) Das Geheimnis der Santa Maria (21) Deportiert (22) Der Rosenkavalier (26) Die geheime Macht (27) Der Zigeunerbaron (27) Sajenko the Soviet (29) Viktoria und ihr Husar (31) Johann Strauss, k.u.k. Hofkapellmeister (32) Liselotte von der Pfalz (35) Der Gefangene des Königs (35) Solo per te - Immer nur du (37) Mutterlied (37) Brand im Ozean (39) Die Rothschilds (40) Der liebe Augustin (40) Berliner Frühling (57)