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21 April 2015

Albrecht Schoenhals

German stage and film actor Albrecht Schoenhals (1888-1978) was predestined by his charming and elegant appearance for high society characters and urbane lovers. In 1942 he refused to play Jud Süss and during the rest of the war years he had to work under difficult circumstances.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3160/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tobis.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2501, 1935-1936. Photo: Ufa.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 1295/2, 1937-1938. Photo: Cine-Allianz.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag. Photo: Schorcht-Filmverleih.

Charming and Elegant


Albrecht Schoenhals was born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1888. He was the son of an English mother and a German father. He received a musical education and was also trained as a singer.

In 1914 he volunteered for the military and just before the end of the First World War he sustained a slight wound. After the war he took acting lessons from actor Eduard von Winterstein and in 1920 he made his debut at the Stadttheater Freiburg.

In 1934 he made his successful film debut with a double role in the romance Fürst Woronzeff/Prince Woronzeff (Arthur Robison, 1934) opposite Brigitte Helm. More roles for the charming and elegant actor soon followed.

Schoenhals played opposite the major divas of the German cinema in films like April, April (Detlef Sierck/Douglas Sirk, 1935) opposite Carola Höhn, Einer zuviel an Bord/One Too Many on Board (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1935) with Lída Baarová, Die Kreutzersonate/The Kreutzer Sonata (Veit Harlan, 1937) with Lil Dagover, Tango Notturno (Fritz Kirchhoff, 1937) opposite silent film legend Pola Negri, Die Frau ohne Vergangenheit/The woman without a past (Nunzio Malasomma, 1939) with Sybille Schmitz, and Angelika (Jürgen von Alten, 1940) with Olga Tschechowa.

His appearance predestined him for high society characters and urbane lovers, but in the crime film Mazurka (Willi Forst, 1935) he played a rapist who is finally shot by one of his victims, played by Pola Negri.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9353/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Ufa.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9868/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Walther Jaeger.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3206/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Tobis.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2116/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Lindner / FDF.

The Damned


In 1940 Albrecht Schoenhals refused to accept the title role in the hate film Jud Süss/Jew Süss (Veit Harlan, 1940). The role was finally interpreted by Ferdinand Marian.

Since then Schoenhals only got film offers under difficult circumstances. He was forced to appear in the propaganda film Kopf hoch, Johannes!/Chin up, John! (Viktor de Kowa, 1941) with Dorothea Wieck. He appeared on stage and went on tour with his wife, actress Anneliese Born.

After the war he could go on from his earlier success and appeared in films like Man spielt nicht mit der Liebe/Don't Play with Love (Hans Deppe, 1949) with Lil Dagover, Illusion in Moll/Illusion in a Minor Key (Rudolf Jugert, 1952) with Hildegard Knef, Bildnis einer Unbekannten/Portrait of an Unknown Woman (Helmut Käutner, 1954) with Ruth Leuwerik, and Scotland Yard jagt Dr. Mabuse/Scotland Yard Hunts Dr. Mabuse (Paul May, 1963).

In 1969, he made his last film appearance in Luchino Visconti's masterpiece Die Verdammten/La caduta degli dei/The Damned (Luchino Visconti, 1969). He played Joachim von Essenbeck, the pater familias of a powerful and wealthy family whose downfall both parallels the rise and foreshadows the fall of the Third Reich.

In 1978, Albrecht Schoenhals died at the age of 90. With Anneliese Born, he had a son, Kay (1933). In 1965 he was awarded the Filmband in Gold and in 1967 the Bundesverdienstkreuz for his work in the German cinema.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3584/1, 1941-1944. Photo: MPSS / FDF.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin. Photo: FDF / Lindner / Ross.

Albrecht Schoenhals
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Berlin. Photo: FDF / Lindner / Ross.


Trailer of The Damned (1969). Source: Troz2000 (YouTube).

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

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