Körtner, Fritz

Körtner, Fritz
born Nathan Kohn (1892-1970)
   actor, director, and writer; helped design Berlin's* Tribune Theater in 1919. Born in Vienna, he attended that city's acting conservatory to study with Ferdinand Gregori. He was appointed stage manager at Mannheim's Stadttheater in 1910 and went to Berlin in 1911 to study under Max Reinhardt.* After he obtained contracts with several stages, Erich Zeigel engaged him in 1917 with the Hamburg Chamber Players; while in Hamburg he formed a lifelong friendship with director Erich Engel.* He returned to Berlin, where his breakthrough came in 1919 as the soldier in Ernst Toller's* Expressionist play Die Wandlung (The transformation). Opening at the Tribune Theater in September, it ran for 115 performances and established Kortner's career. He thereafter acted under Leopold Jessner* at the Staatstheater and then joined Berthold Viertel's Truppe in 1923. Among his memorable early performances was a portrayal of the malicious Gessler in Jessner's 1919 pro-duction of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell.
   Ranked with Werner Krauss* as Germany's preeminent Expressionist actor, Kortner broke with the movement around 1922 and gained a solid reputation for performances spanning a repertoire from Shakespeare to Bertolt Brecht.* Already appearing in Brecht's plays by 1923, he made up for a braying voice and unattractive face with intelligence, an ability with dialects, and exceptional empathy for his characters. Engel cast him in title roles in his 1924 production of Danton's Death and his 1925 Coriolanus. He was a sympathetic Shylock in Jürgen Fehling's* Kaufmann von Venedia (Merchant of Venice, 1927); back at the Staatstheater, he appeared in Jessner's 1928 production of Don Carlos. Brecht counted him among his best actors. Having starred in Jessner's 1926 stage play Lulu, he had the same role in G. W. Pabst's* 1929 film* Buchse der Pandora (Pandora's box). His other films included Bruder Karamosoff (Brothers Karamazov, 1920), Katherina die Grosse (Catharine the Great, 1920), Maria Stuart (Mary Stuart, 1927), Dreyfus (1930), and Danton (1931).
   Kortner emigrated in 1933, going first to England and then to the United States. Hollywood cast him in Abdul the Damned (1935), The Hitler Gang (1944), and The Razor's Edge (1946). When he returned to Munich after World War II, he acted and directed both on stage and for film and television.
   REFERENCES:Kortner, Aller Tage Abend; NDB, vol. 12; Willett, Theatre of the Weimar Republic.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • KORTNER, FRITZ — (1892–1970), Austrian actor. Born in Vienna, he made his debut in 1910 in Mannheim and performed in Vienna, Dresden, and Hamburg before working with leopold jessner at the Staatstheater Berlin (in 1919–23 and 1926–30) as the leading actor of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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  • Kortner — Fritz Kortner (1959) Fritz Kortner (* 12. Mai 1892 in Wien; † 22. Juli 1970 in München; eigentlich Fritz Nathan Kohn) war ein österreichischer Schauspieler, Film und Theaterregisseur. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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