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30 April 2015

Harry Liedtke

German actor Harry Liedtke (1882-1945) was the charming ladykiller of many early silent classics. Detective serials like Joe Deebs made him one of the first male stars of the German cinema.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 3002. Photo Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 3003. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 3055. Photo: Mac Walten, Berlin.

Erna Morena in Rafaela
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1984. Photo: Union-Film. Erna Morena, Harry Liedtke and Magnus Stifter in Rafaela/Wer weiss? (Arsen von Cserépy, 1917).

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 284/4, 1919-1924. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 463/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Riess.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 482/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin.

Elegant Gentleman


Harry Liedtke was born in Königsberg, East Prussia (today: Kaliningrad, Russia) in 1882. He was the seventh of eleven children of an import and export merchant who dealt with linseed and hemp. After the death of his father in 1896, he grew up in an orphanage and began a qualification in retail business.

During a visit to Berlin, Liedtke met Hans Oberländer, the artistic director of Königliches Schauspielhaus. After several acting lessons, he became a cast member at Stadttheater Freiberg, Saxony. He had some more theatre engagements, and in 1908 he went to New York for one year to play at the New German Theatre.

After his return in Germany his career finally got ahead with engagements at the Hof- und Nationaltheater in Mannheim and the Residenz-Theater and Deutschen Theater in Berlin.

Very early he came in contact with the medium film. In 1912 he made his film debut in Zu spät/Too Late (Carl Froelich, 1912), produced by film pioneer Oskar Messter. In the following years he personified the elegant gentleman and youthful charmer in many productions of the Messter studio, like Eva (Curt A. Stark, 1913) starring Henny Porten, and Schuldig/Guilty (Hans Oberländer, 1914) with Leopoldine Konstantin.

In 1916 he became a widely popular star as the detective Joe Deebs in short adventure films like Wie ich Detektiv wurde/How I Became Detective (Joe May, 1916), and Das Rätselhafte Inserat/The Mysterious Advertisement (Karl Gerhardt, Joe May, 1916).

Harry Liedtke in Eine Nacht in der Stahlkammer
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2023. Photo: Union-Film. Harry Liedtke in the film Eine Nacht in der Stahlkammer/A night in the vault (Felix Basch, 1917).

Pola Negri and Harry Liedtke in Madame DuBarry (1919)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 627/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Union. Publicity still for Madame DuBarry (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919) with Pola Negri.

Harry Liedtke in Struensee/ Die Liebe einer Köningin
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 657/2. Photo: Maxim Film. Harry Liedtke as Johan Friedrich Struensee, physician and lover of the Danish queen (Henny Porten) in Struensee/Der Liebe einer Königin (Ludwig Wolff, 1923).

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 659/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Rembrandt / Peter Paul Felner Film Co. Publicity still for Der Kaufmann von Venedig/The Merchant Of Venice (Peter Paul Felner, 1923).

Harry Liedtke and Lya Mara in An der schönen blauen Donau
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 56/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Zelnik Film. Publicity still for An der schönen blauen Donau/The Beautiful Blue Danube (Friedrich Zelnik, 1926) with Lya Mara. Collection: Egbert Barten.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 925/1, 1925-1926. Photo: Ufa.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 981/4, 1925-1926. Photo: Alex Binder.

Lilian Harvey and Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1394/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Hameister - Eichberg Film G.m.b.H. Publicity still for Liebe und Trompetenblasen (Richard Eichberg, 1925) with Lilian Harvey. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1622/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Zelnick-Film.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1622/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Zelnick Film.

Harry Liedtke in Madame wünscht keine Kinder
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1632/1. Photo: Fox. Harry Liedtke in Madame wünscht keine Kinder (Alexander Korda, 1926).

Conrad Veidt, Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1719/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Arthur Ziehm, Berlin. Publicity still for Kreuzzug des Weibes/The Wife's Crusade (Martin Berger, 1926) with Conrad Veidt.

Lubitsch


Now, famous directors wanted Harry Liedtke for their films, and he developed into one of the first male stars of the German cinema.

With director Paul Leni, he made Prima Vera/Camille (1917) opposite Erna Morena, Dornröschen/The Sleeping Beauty (1917) with his wife Käthe Dorsch, and Das Rätsel von Bangalor/The Mystery of Bangalore (Paul Leni, Alexander Antalffy, 1918) with Conrad Veidt.

With Ernst Lubitsch he celebrated great successes in the Fledermaus-adaptation Das fidele Gefängnis/The Merry Jail (1917) with Ossi Oswalda, Der Rodelkavalier (1918), Die Augen der Mumie Ma/The Eyes of the Mummy Ma (1918) with Emil Jannings, Das Mädel vom Ballet/The Ballet Girl (1918), Carmen (1918) with Pola Negri, Die Austernprinzessin/The Oyster Princess (1919), Madame Dubarry (1919), Sumurun/One Arabian Night (1920), and Das Weib des Pharao/The Wife of the Pharaoh (1922) with Dagny Servaes.

Other popular films were the Frank Wedekind adaptation Lulu (Alexander Antalffy, 1917) with Erna Morena, the Detective series Der Mann ohne Namen/The Man Without a Name (Georg Jacoby, 1921), the comedy Die Finanzen des Grossherzogs/The Grand Duke's Finances (F.W. Murnau, 1924) starring Alfred Abel, Nanon (Hanns Schwarz, 1924) starring countess Agnes Esterhazy, and Der Feldherrnhügel (1926) with Olga Tschechova.

Agnes Esterhazy and Harry Liedtke in Der Bettelstudent (1927)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 91/1. Photo: Aafa. Publicity still for Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Jacob Fleck, Luise Fleck, 1927) with Agnes Estherhazy.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3000/1, 1928. Photo: Hegewald-Film. Harry Liedtke starred in the Hegewald-Film production Das Fürstenkind (Jakob and Luise Fleck, 1927).

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3000/2, 1928. Photo: Hegewald-Film.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 3033/1, 1928-1929. Photo: R. Grunemann, Frankfurt/Oder.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3125/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Aafa Film.

Christa Tordy and Harry Liedtke in Amor auf Ski (1928)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 3417/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Phoebus-Film AG. Publicity still for Amor auf Ski/Cupid on skis (Rolf Randolf, 1928) with Christa Tordy.

Harry Liedtke and Christa Tordy
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3417/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Phoebus-Film. Publicity still with Harry Liedtke and Christa Tordy in Amor auf Ski/Cupid on skis (Rolf Randolf, 1928).

Harry Liedtke and Hilda Rosch
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3642/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Aafa Film. Publicity still for Das Spiel mit der Liebe/The Game of Love (Victor Janson, 1928) with Hilda Rosch.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3957/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Aafa Film. Publicity still for Der Faschingsprinz/The carnival prince (Rudolf Walther-Fein, 1928).

Marianne Winkelstern, Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4361/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin. Publicity still for Die Zirkusprinzessin/The Circus Princess (Victor Janson, 1929) with Marianne Winkelstern.

Silent Operettas


In the second half of the 1920s, Harry Liedtke appeared in many silent operettas such as Liebe und Trompetenblasen/Love and Trumpet Playing (Richard Eichberg, 1925) with Lilian Harvey, Die Försterchristel/The Bohemian Dancer (Friedrich Zelnik, 1926) with Lya Mara, and Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madame/I Kiss Your Hand Madame (Robert Land, 1929) with Marlene Dietrich.

When the sound film arrived Liedtke’s career slackened off. His voice turned out to be unsuitable. He got supporting roles in such films as Preußische Liebesgeschichte/A Prussian Love Story (Paul Martin, 1938) with Willy Fritsch, and Quax, der Bruchpilot/Quax, the Crashing Pilot (Kurt Hoffmann, 1941), but leading roles were left over more rarely.

He changed inevitably from a ladykiller to a graying gentleman. With his leading role in the comedy Sophienlund (Heinz Rühmann, 1942) he could prove his acting skills. His final role was the lead in Das Konzert/The Concert (Paul Verhoeven, 1944).

During the invasion of the Red Army in April 1945 Harry Liedtke and his third wife, actress Christa Tordy were murdered by Soviet soldiers in their own house in Bad Saarow-Pieskow. One of the Russians smashed a bottle over Liedtke's head when he tried to save his wife from being raped.

Harry Liedtke first had been married to Hanne Schutt. From 1920 till 1928, Liedtke was married to the actress Käthe Dorsch.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 981/2, 1925-1926. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 981/3, 1925-1926. Photo: Alex Binder.

Harry Liedtke>
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1280/3, 1927-1928. Photo: Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1812/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3181/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Alex Binder, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3592/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Hanni Schwarz, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4189/3, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Binder, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5273/2, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Guldenberg, Berlin.

Harry Liedtke
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, Berlin, no. A 3775/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

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

1 comment:

Debs said...

there's a fascinating progression in the postcards here - the expression stays virtually the same as the face ages...i've not noticed this being quite so apparent in previous posts! happy PFF!