Oscar-winning actor Maximilian Schell dies at 83
The multitalented Maximilian Schell pursued many careers successfully, including acting, directing, producing and as a concert pianist and conductor.
The Associated Press
VIENNA — Austrian-born actor, director, writer and musician Maximilian Schell, a fugitive from Adolf Hitler who became a Hollywood favorite and won an Oscar for his role as a defense attorney in “Judgment at Nuremberg,” has died. He was 83.
Mr. Schell’s agent, Patricia Baumbauer, said Saturday that he died overnight at a hospital in Innsbruck.
The multitalented actor pursued many careers successfully, yet always felt he was undervalued. He had just finished work on a television production at the time of his death. He had been working in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel and contracted pneumonia. He spent 10 days in a hospital and had been released Tuesday.
Born in Vienna on Dec. 8, 1930, and raised in Switzerland, the prolific actor and suave ladies’ man rose to fame playing alongside Hollywood greats.
It was his second Hollywood role, as defense attorney Hans Rolfe in Stanley Kramer’s classic “Judgment at Nuremberg,” that earned him international acclaim. His impassioned but unsuccessful defense of four Nazi judges on trial for sentencing innocent victims to death won him the 1961 Academy Award for best actor. Mr. Schell had first played Rolfe in a 1959 episode of the television program “Playhouse 90.”
Success with “Tokapi” (1964), “The Deadly Affair” (1967) and “Counterpoint” (1967) followed.
Despite being in numerous Nazi-era films, he resisted being typecast. Mr. Schell’s acting performances in the mid-1970s also won him renewed acclaim, earning him a best-actor Oscar nomination for “The Man in the Glass Booth” and a supporting-actor nomination for his performance alongside Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards in “Julia.”
He also had a role in the Richard Attenborough-directed military drama “A Bridge Too Far” (1977), which featured other acclaimed actors, including Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, Laurence Olivier and Liv Ullmann.
Austrian Cabinet minister Josef Ostermayer described Mr. Schell as one of “the greatest actors in the German-speaking world,” the Austria Press Agency reported.
The son of Swiss playwright Hermann Ferdinand Schell and Austrian stage actress Noe von Nordberg, Mr. Schell grew up in Zurich, Switzerland, after his family fled Germany’s annexation of Austria, where he was born.
Mr. Schell followed in the footsteps of his older sister Maria and brother Carl, making his stage debut in 1952. He then appeared in a number of German films before moving to Hollywood in 1958.
By then, Maria Schell was already an international film star, winning the best-actress award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in “The Last Bridge.”
Mr. Schell made his Hollywood debut in Edward Dmytryk’s “The Young Lions,” a World War II drama starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin.
Mr. Schell later worked as a producer, starting with an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s “The Castle,” and as a director.
An adaptation of the Ivan Turgenev novella “First Love” that Mr. Schell wrote, produced, directed and starred in was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign-film category in 1970. “The Pedestrian,” another movie under his direction and production, received the same nomination three years later.
Perhaps Mr. Schell’s most significant film as a director was his 1984 documentary on Marlene Dietrich, “Marlene,” which was nominated for a best-documentary Oscar. Dietrich allowed herself to be recorded but refused to be filmed, bringing out the most in Mr. Schell’s talent to penetrate images and uncover reality.
Mr. Schell was also a successful concert pianist and conductor, performing with such luminaries as Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein, and with orchestras in Berlin and Vienna.
In the 1990s, Mr. Schell made appearances in films including “The Freshman,” “Telling Lies in America” and “Deep Impact.” In 1992, he received a Golden Globe for his supporting role as Vladimir Lenin alongside Robert Duvall in the 1992 HBO miniseries “Stalin.”
In a documentary titled “My Sister Maria,” Mr. Schell portrayed his loving relationship with his sister, who died in 2005.
Mr. Schell is survived by his wife, opera singer Iva Mihanovic, 35. He has a daughter, Anastasia, from a previous marriage to Russian actress Natalia Andreichenko. Mr. Schell was also godfather of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.
Material from Deutsche Presse-Agentur is included in this report.