Paul Wegener

Paul Wegener

Infobox actor
name = Paul Wegener

caption = Paul Wegener in "Unheimliche Geschichten" (1932)
birthdate = 13 December 1874
birthplace = Arnoldsdorf, West Prussia, Imperial Germany
deathdate = 13 September 1948
deathplace = Berlin, Germany

Paul Wegener (11 December 1874 – 13 September 1948) was a German actor, writer and film director known for his pioneering role in German expressionist cinema.

tage and Early Film Career

At the age of twenty Wegener decided to end his law studies and concentrate on acting, touring the provinces before joining Max Reinhardt's acting troupe in 1906. In 1912, he turned to the new medium of motion pictures and appeared in the 1913 version of "The Student of Prague". It was while making this film that he first heard the old Jewish legend of The Golem and proceeded to adapt the story to film, co-directing and co-writing the script with Henrik Galeen. The film met with success and firmly established Wegener's reputation. In 1917 he made a parody of the story called "Der Golem und die Tänzerin", but it was his reworking of the tale, "" (1920) which stands as one of the classics of German cinema and helped to cement Wegener's place in cinematic history.

Wegener did more for the development of the film industry in Germany than any other, and was possibly one of the first to recognise the medium's potential. Another of his early films was "Der Yoghi" (1916), in which he played the role of the yogi and young inventor, and which provided him with the opportunity to accommodate three of his interests, trick photography (it was one of the first films to feature invisibility), the supernatural and Eastern mysticism.

Later Film Career

In 1926 he appeared in his only Hollywood film, Rex Ingram's "The Magician", in which he played the Aleister Crowley-esque Oliver Haddo in an adaptation of Somerset Maugham's story. 1928 saw another of Wegener's key roles, when he starred alongside Brigitte Helm in his old collaborator Galeen's adaptation of Hanns Heinz Ewers' "Alraune", playing the Frankenstein-like Professor ten Brinken.

In 1932 Wegener made his sound debut in Richard Oswald's black comedy/horror film "Unheimliche Geschichten", in which he took great delight in sending himself up as well as the whole expressionist movie genre.

Life Under Nazi Regime

When in 1933 The National Socialists came to political prominence and theatre companies were disbanded and many of the actors and directors were arrested, persecuted or exiled, Wegener, a pacifist and unwanted by the new political power,remained in Germany and continued his work on stage and screen despite the limitation under the Nazi regime. As the war closed Wegener was one of the first to rebuild cultural life in Berlin. Despite ill-health he became president of an organisation to improve standards for it's inhabitants.


Wegener last film was "Der Grosse Mandarin" (1948). In July 1948 he reprised his old role of "Nathan the Wise" at the Deutschen Theatre, but in the very first scene he collapsed and the curtain was brought down. Two months later, on 13 September 1948, he died in his sleep.

He was married six times, twice to the actress Lyda Salmonova (his co-star on several occasions), who became his widow.

External links

* [ Image of Paul Wegener]
* [ Excellent biography with pictures]
* [ Photographs and literature]

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