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Felix Bressart

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Occupation  Actor
Spouse  Frieda Lehner (m. ?–1949)
Role  Actor
Name  Felix Bressart
Years active  1928–1949

Felix Bressart Felix Bressart Rotten Tomatoes

Born  March 2, 1892 (1892-03-02) Eydtkuhnen, East Prussia, Germany
Died  March 17, 1949, Los Angeles, California, United States
Movies  To Be or Not to Be, The Shop Around the Corner, Ninotchka, Blossoms in the Dust, Comrade X
Similar People  Ernst Lubitsch, Werner R Heymann, Wilhelm Thiele, Karl Freund, Mervyn LeRoy

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Felix Bressart (March 2, 1892 – March 17, 1949) was a German-American actor of stage and screen.


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Life and career

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Felix Bressart (pronounced "BRESS-ert") was born in East Prussia, Germany (now part of Russia) and was an experienced stage actor when he had his film debut in 1928. He began as a supporting actor, for example as the Bailiff in the box-office hit Die Drei von der Tankstelle (1930), but soon established himself in leading roles of minor movies. After the Nazis seized power in 1933, the Jewish Bressart left Germany and continued his career in German-speaking movies in Austria, where Jewish artists were still relatively safe. After no fewer than 30 films in eight years, he immigrated to the United States.

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One of Bressart's former European colleagues was Joe Pasternak, who had become a Hollywood producer. Bressart's first American film was Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939), a vehicle for the Universal Pictures' star, Deanna Durbin. Pasternak chose Bressart to perform in a screen test opposite Pasternak's newest discovery, Gloria Jean. The German community in Hollywood helped to establish Bressart in America, as his earliest American movies were directed by Ernst Lubitsch, Henry Koster, and Wilhelm Thiele, director of The Three from the Filling Station (originally Die Drei von der Tankstelle, 1930), a film which features Bressart in a small role.

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Bressart scored a great success in Lubitsch's Ninotchka (1939), as one of the Russian emissaries following the lead character (played by Greta Garbo) to Paris. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, the studio signed Bressart to a studio contract. Most of his MGM work consisted of featured roles in major films like Edison, the Man (1940).

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He combined his mildly inflected East European accent with a soft-spoken delivery to create kindly, friendly characters, as in Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942), in which he sensitively recites Shylock's famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech from The Merchant of Venice. Lubitsch also directed Bressart to similar effect in The Shop Around the Corner (1940).

Felix Bressart Felix Bressart Biography and Filmography 1892

Bressart soon became a popular character actor in films like Blossoms in the Dust (1941), The Seventh Cross (1944), and Without Love (1945). Perhaps his largest role was in RKO' "B" musical comedy Ding Dong Williams, filmed in 1945. Bressart, billed third, played the bemused supervisor of a movie studio's music department, and appeared in formal wear to conduct Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu."

After almost 40 Hollywood pictures, Felix Bressart suddenly died of leukemia at the age of 57. His last film was My Friend Irma (1949), the movie version of a popular radio show. Bressart died during production, forcing the producers to finish the film with Hans Conried. In the final film, Conried speaks throughout, but Bressart is still seen in the long shots.


Felix Bressart Wikipedia