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Gustaf Gründgens

Foto: Praesens Film AG (P. Gassmann)

1899 - 1963

The actor Gustaf Gründgens is one of the most controversial but also undisputed one of the most important German actors. His part as a hanger-on of the Nazis was overrated and one-sided viewed, although he took upon huge risks for others in this difficult time.

The young Gustaf Gründgens volunteered for the military in 1916, immediately after the secondary school and was sent to the Westfront. In 1917 he became a member of the fronttheater company Saarlouis, one year later he managed this company.
The fronttheater was renamed to Bergtheater Thale after the war and constituted the begin of a great career for Gustaf Gründgens.

He intensified hes intention to become an actor from 1919 and took acting lessons at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus. In the following years followed many engagements at different theaters. The engagement to he Kammerspiele in Hamburg meant the first height where he impersonated more than 70 roles within five years and directed more than 30 productions. He became a very successful actor of classic roles and was also convincing in contemporary dramas.
He got maried with Erika Mann in 1926, the daughter of the famous writer Thomas Mann. The marriage was divorced in 1929.

From 1930 Gustaf Gründgens began a second successful career in the film business. Especially when he played dubious types he was convincing in a almost worrying way. He fascinated the audience with movies like "Brand in der Oper" (30), "Danton" (31), "M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder" (31) and "Die Gräfin von Monte Christo" (32).
Other well-known movies of the 30's are "Yorck" (31), "Teilnehmer antwortet nicht" (32), "Der Tunnel" (33), "Die Finanzen des Grossherzogs" (33), "Das Mädchen Johanna" (35), "Pygmalion" (35), "Capriolen" (37) and "Tanz auf dem Vulkan" (38)

In these time fell the seizure of power of the National Socialism and Gustaf Gründgens made career under this new rule. He became director of the Staatliches Schauspielhaus and a Staatsschauspieler. He was general director of the Prussian Staatstheater from 1937 to 1945. He preferred the German classic and found his parade role with "Faust I" (41) with the figure of Mephisto.
Gustaf Gründgens made use of his power position at the theater in order to occupy numerous actors for his productions and gave them the status of "indispensable" as long as possible to protect them from the entry into the war machinery and saved the life of several persons directly and indirectly. 
He got married with the actress Marianne Hoppe in 1936.

Till the end of war he took part in the movies "Zwei Welten" (39), "Ohm Krüger" (41) and "Friedemann Bach (41), but his main activity was still dedicated to the theater.

After the war he had to endure a nine-month lasting Sovjet internment. Only after countless statements of other actor he was released ain April 1946.
Only one month later he impersonated his first post-war role at the Deutsches Theater Berlin and returned successfully to the scene of his former successes. His marriage with Marianne Hoppe was divorced in the same year.
He became a general director of the Städtische Bühnen Düsseldorf (from 1947 to 1951) and general director of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg (from 1955 to 1963) in the following years.

He only appeared in two more feature movies - "Das Glas Wasser" (60) and "Faust" (60). 

Gustaf Gründgens died on October 7, 1963 in Manila during a world trip.

Other movies with Gustaf Gründgens (Actor, Director):
Ich glaub' nie mehr an eine Frau (30) Hokuspokus (30) Va Banque (30) Der Raub der Mona Lisa (31) Luise, Königin von Preussen (31) Eine Stadt steht Kopf (32) Liebelei (33) Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez (33) Schwarzer Jäger Johanna (34) Das Erbe in Pretoria (34) So endete eine Liebe (34) Hundert Tage (35) Eine Frau ohne Bedeutung (36) Der Schritt vom Wege (39)