CONRAD VEIDT


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Conrad Veidt was born Hans Walter Conrad Weidt in Potsdam, Germany in 1893. In 1916, when he was 23 and movies were in their infancy, he appeared in his first movie, and within a dozen movies he had worked his way up to leading parts. In 1919 Veidt starred in Anders als die Andern (Different From The Others), as a gay violin teacher who falls in love with one of his students. It is believed to be the very first movie with a sympathetic view of homosexuality. The following year Veidt starred in director Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, as Cesare, the somnabulist, and it made him a major international star. The movie is quite powerful, and Veidt is excellent, and I recommend it to everyone. In all he made over 100 movies, the majority of which were made in Germany, and other notable roles he played were in the German Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks) in 1924, and in the U.S. The Man Who Laughs in 1928, both for master director Paul Leni (who had moved to the U.S. in 1927). It is said that Veidt and Leni were set to star in Universal's next big budget horror film, Dracula, in 1929, but Leni died that year, and two years later the movie was made with Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi, and one can't help but wonder what that Leni/Veidt version might have been like! In 1933, Veidt, who had been strongly against Hitler and Nazism, married a Jewish lady (his third marriage) and left Germany for England, where he starred in Jew Suss, a biography of a famous German Jewish financier (in 1940 Hitler would have a violently anti-Semitic version of this movie made). He also contributed heavily to the British war effort. Veidt stayed in England and among others, made three movies with director Michael Powell, most notably as Jaffar in The Thief of Bagdad, surely among the handful of greatest movie villains ever! Soon after Veidt moved to the U.S. and he made a handful of movies there, but one of them was as Major Strasser in Casablanca, and although he had a secondary role, he was not under contract to Warner Bros, and he was paid more than anyone else, twice as much as Bogart was paid! Sadly, the following year, in 1943, he died while playing golf in Los Angeles. He was just 50 years old, and he surely would have played several more very memorable roles.
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