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15 May 2016

Carlos Thompson

Handsome Carlos Thompson (1923-1990) was an Argentinian heartthrob of German-Swiss parentage. He started his career in Argentina playing leading roles on stage and in films. In the 1950s, he went to Hollywood and was typically cast as a European womaniser opposite such stars as Lana Turner and Yvonne De Carlo. He moved to Europe and appeared in a large number of German films. In the late 1960s, Thompson left acting to become a writer and TV producer.

Carlos Thompson
British postcard in the Picturegoer series, no. D 511. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Carlos Thompson
Austrian/German postcard by Verlag Hubmann (HDH), Wien / Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin, no. 7205 2. Photo: Joachim J. Jung / Ufa.

Carlos Thompson
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 4298. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Ufa.

Carlos Thompson
Austrian postcard by Kellner, no. 958. Photo: Neue Terra. Publicity still for Zwischen Zeit und Ewigkeit/Between Time and Eternity (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1956).

Carlos Thompson
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmverlag, Berlin, no. 1107, 1961. Photo: publicity still for Das Wirthaus im Spessart/The Spessart Inn (Kurt Hoffmann, 1958).

The Most Popular Matinee Idol of Argentina


Carlos Thompson was born as Juan Carlos Mundin-Schaffter in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1923. He was the son of German/Swiss immigrants.

As a 16-year old, he started his film career with a small part in the Argentine production Y mañana serán hombres/Men of Tomorrow (Carlos F. Borcosque, 1939) a drama about teenage delinquents. The following year he played a handsome soldier in the film Fragata Sarmiento (Carlos F. Borcosque, 1940). Four years later he appeared in Viaje sin regreso/Journey of No Return (Pierre Chenal, 1944). On stage in Argentina he played leading roles in plays by Jean Giraudoux, Lope de Vega and Jean Anouilh.

In 1950 he played the title figure in El crimen de Oribe/The Crime of Oribe (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, Leopoldo Torres Ríos, 1950). At IMDb, Eddie Lawrence writes that it is “one of the best movies of the so-called Golden Era (the 40s) of the Argentine cinema. It was very well directed by one of the best Argentine directors ever, Leopoldo Torres Rios who allowed his son, Leopoldo Torre Nilsson to co-direct the film along him. Based on a short story (not a novel) by Adolfo Bioy Casares, El perjurio de la nieve (The perjury of the snow), the film is a wonderful- and very dramatic and romantic - predecessor of the literary current later known as Magic Realism. Very well photographed in black and white, it had very good actors like Roberto Escalada and Carlos Thompson”.

In 1951 Thompson played a demented murderer in El túnel/The tunnel (León Klimovsky, 1951), based on a controversial novel by Ernesto Sabato. By now Carlos was the most popular matinee idol of Argentina and he starred in several box office hits such as the drama La Pasion Desnuda/Naked Passion (Luis Cesar Amadori, 1952) opposite Mexican star Maria Felix.

He went to Hollywood where he was typically cast as a European womaniser. His Hollywood films include the adventure film Fort Algiers (Lesley Selander, 1953) with Yvonne De Carlo, The Flame and the Flesh (Richard Brooks, 1954) with Lana Turner and Pier Angeli, Valley of the Kings (Robert Pirosh, 1954) with Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker, and Magic Fire (William Dieterle, 1955) in which he played Franz Liszt, opposite Valentina Cortese.

Carlos Thompson
Austrian postcard by Bild und Ton, Postkartenverlag P. Welzmann, Wien, no. 252.

Carlos Thompson
German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen no. 264. Retail price: 10 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC-Film.

Carlos Thompson
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 135.

Carlos Thompson
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. A 1822. Photo: J. Clauss / Story-Press.

Carlos Thompson and Lilli Palmer
With Lilli Palmer. Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 4061. Photo: Joachim C. Jung / Ufa.

References to Bisexuality


Carlos Thompson moved to Europe and appeared in the Spanish-British production Tormenta/Thunderstorm (Alfonso Acebal, John Guillermin, 1955-1956) as a fisherman who catches Linda Christian in his nets.

On the set of the German drama Zwischen Zeit und Ewigkeit/Between Time and Eternity (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1956), Thompson met actress Lilli Palmer. Following her divorce from Rex Harrison in 1957, Thompson and Palmer married. The couple starred in two other international productions in the early 1960s, but Thompson also appeared in several German productions.

Very successful was the romantic comedy Das Wirtshaus im Spessart/The Spessart Inn (Kurt Hoffmann, 1958) in which he played a highway bandit who kidnaps Liselotte Pulver. Opposite Romy Schneider, he starred in the satire Die Halbzarte/Eva (Rolf Thiele, 1959).

In Mexico, he starred in El último rebelled/The Last Rebel (Miguel Contreras Torres, 1958) opposite Ariadna Welter, the sister of Linda Christian. To English speakers he was chiefly known for his appearance as Carlos Varela in the British TV series The Sentimental Agent (1963). The series told the adventures of an Argentine businessman, owner of an import-export company seated in London. The character was first introduced in an episode of Man of the World, a 1961-62 series starring Craig Stevens as world-rambling photographer Michael Strait.

Thompson’s forty-second and final film was the wartime comedy La vie de château/Chateau Life (Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 1965) with Catherine Deneuve. In the late 1960s, Thompson left acting to become a writer and TV producer. His first success on the European book market was The assassination of Winston Churchill (1969), a refutation of allegations by David Irving (Accident. The Death of General Sikorski, 1967) and the German playwright Rolf Hochhuth (Soldiers, premiered in the UK in 1968, London) that war time premier Winston Churchill had a part in the death of Polish General Władysław Sikorski, who perished in an air plane crash at Gibraltar on July 4, 1943, allegedly due to sabotage.

Although references to him recorded in the diaries of Noel Coward suggest that he was bisexual, Carlos Thompson remained married to Lilli Palmer until her death in 1986. After her death, he returned to Buenos Aires. Four years later, Carlos Thompson committed suicide by a gunshot to his head. He was 67.

Carlos Thompson in Franziska (1957)
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. FT 20. Photo: CCC / Gloria-Film / Grimm. Publicity still for Franziska (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1957).

Carlos Thompson
Belgian postcard by Cox, no. 18. Publicity still for Das Wirtshaus im Spessart/The Spessart Inn (Kurt Hoffmann, 1958).

Liselotte Pulver, Carlos Thompson
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel, Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2374. Photo: Witt / Constantin / Ringpress / Vogelmann.Publicity card for Das Wirtshaus im Spessart/The Spessart Inn (1958) with Liselotte Pulver.

Carlos Thompson, Sabine Sinjen
German postcard by Ufa. Photo: Publicity still for Stefanie (Josef von Báky, 1958) with Sabine Sinjen.

Carlos Thompson, Romy Schneider
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (Dutch licency holder for Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof), no. 1180. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Die Halbzarte/Eva (Rolf Thiele, 1959).

Carlos Thompson
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne Eickel, no. 268. Photo: Neue Terra / Europa / Meroth.

Sources: Caroline Hanotte (CineArtistes) (French), Eddie Lawrence (IMDb), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

2 comments:

Bunched Undies said...

I'd never heard of this gentleman before, but what an amazing life. I don't know how you find all these great stories Bob. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I remember Carlos very well from just the one or two movies I saw him in. A very handsome man and this is the reason I was looking him up and was so sad to see he committed suicide. I wonder if he was ill or if he missed his wife Lillie Palmer ?