Today is the birthday of that great star of German Expressionist cinema Conrad Veidt (1893-1943). Veidt was sort of the German equivalent of Lon Chaney, and is most highly regarded today as a pioneer of the horror genre, having starred in such pictures as Fear (1917), Madness (1919), Uncanny Stories (1920), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Count of Cagliostro (1920), The Hands of Orlac (1924), Waxworks (1924), The Student of Prague (1926), and The Man Who Laughs (1928).
While these are the types of films he is best known for today, he also made scores of other films in different genres.
Veidt fled Germany in 1933 with his Jewish wife and moved to London and then Hollywood where, ironically, he specialized in playing Nazis in films. The most famous of these roles was Major Strasser in Casablanca (1942). This promising second career was cut short in 1943 when he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 50.
For more on early film history don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To find out more about the history of show business, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold