12 March 2014

Karl Beckersachs

German actor Karl Beckersachs (1886-1951) was the gallant lover in many of the early silent films of the Weimar cinema. His career fizzled out in the late 1920s and later this pioneer film actor got completely forgotten.

German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 207/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.

German postcard by Rotophot in the Film Sterne series, no. 207/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.

Wilhelminian Film Divas

Karl Beckersachs, also Carl Beckersachs was born as Karl Nikolaus Beckersachs in Neuenhain, Germany in 1881 (Wikipedia) or 1886 (IMDb and Cyranos). He spent his school years in Darmstadt and started as a volunteer at the local Hoftheater (court theatre).

In 1906 he received his first engagement in Aachen. Three years later, he arrived at the Schiller Theater in Berlin.

In 1912, he began his career as a silent film actor. That year he appeared in Europäisches Sklavenleben/European slave life (Emil Justitz, 1912) with Friedrich Zelnik, and Die Papierspur/The paper trail (Emil Albes, 1912).

Then he appeared in Komödianten/Behind Comedy's Mask (Urban Gad, 1913) opposite the Danish diva Asta Nielsen. They play a divorcing stage couple with a dying son.

He then worked with the other diva of the Wilhelminian cinema, Henny Porten in the melodrama Das Ende vom Liede/The end of the song (Rudolf Biebrach, 1915).

In Carl und Carla/Carl and Carla (Carl Wilhelm, 1915), his co-star was Lisa Weise, and in the following years they made several films together. These included Ein Zirkusmädel/A circus girl (Carl Wilhelm, 1917), Das große Los/The big prize (Friedrich Zelnik, 1917) and Klein Doortje/Little Dorrit (Friedrich Zelnik, 1917).

German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 5448. Photo: publicity still for Das grosse Los/The big prize (1917) with Lisa Weise.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 260/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 260/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass.


A Gallant Lover

Karl Beckersachs made his name as a gallant lover opposite the major female stars of the era. He starred with Erika Glässner in Das Wäschermädel Seiner Durchlaucht (Danny Kaden, 1917), with Lotte Neumann in Der Geigenspieler/The violin player (Paul von Woringen, 1917) and Wanda Treumann in Der Dieb/The thief (Franz Eckstein, Rosa Porten, 1918).

He played opposite Max Landa in the Krimi Mitternacht/Midnight (1918) in which he plays Lieutenant Commander Donald Gordon who is suspected to have murdered the stepmother of his fiancée.

After WWI, he continued to play in films like Heddas Rache/Hedda’s revenge (Jaap Speyer, 1919) with Mia Pankau.

He directed himself in Die gestohlene Seele/The stolen soul (Karl Beckersachs, Carl Boese, 1919) .

He regularly worked with director Friedrich Feher as for Carrière - Aus dem Leben einer Tänzerin/Career, from the life of a dancer (Friedrich Feher, Heinz Heil, 1922).

He was the co-star of Bartolomeo Pagano in Maciste und der Sträfling Nr. 51/ Maciste and the convict no. 51 (Luigi Romano Borgnetto, 1923).

His parts became smaller in the mid-1920s. His best known films of this period are the comedy Ein Walzertraum/A Waltz-Dream (Ludwig Berger, 1925) starring Willy Fritsch and Mady Christians, and Richard Oswald's drama Halbseide/Semi-silk (1925) with Bernd Aldor and Mary Parker.

In the sound film era, he only made two films. His last film was Der lachende Dritte/The Chuckling Third (Georg Zoch, 1936) with Lucie Englisch.

In 1938 he managed the Theater am Kottbusser Tor in Berlin, and his last sign of life is from the year 1944, when he ran his own little tour-theatre.

Karl Beckersachs died in 1951 in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. He was married to Maria Katharina Freiin von Schenk zu Schweinsberg (1908-1925).

German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 348/3, 1919-1924. Photo: Atelier Balász.

German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 179. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1293/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Alex Binder.

Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-line) (German), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.

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