Erich von Stroheim

Erich von Stroheim bigraphy, stories - Actor, film director

Erich von Stroheim : biography

22 September 1885 – 12 May 1957

Erich von Stroheim (September 22, 1885 – May 12, 1957) was an Austrian director, actor and producer, most notable as being a film star of the silent era, subsequently noted as an auteur for his directorial work.Obituary Variety, May 15, 1957, page 75.



"Lubitsch shows you first the king on the throne, then as he is in the bedroom. I show you the king in the bedroom so you’ll know just what he is when you see him on his throne."Stroheim quoted in Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films, ed. and trans. Peter Morris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972) 217.

"If you live in France, for instance, and you have written one good book, or painted one good picture, or directed one outstanding film fifty years ago and nothing else since, you are still recognized and honored accordingly. People take their hats off to you and call you "maître". They do not forget. In Hollywood—in Hollywood, you’re as good as your last picture. If you didn’t have one in production within the last three months, you’re forgotten, no matter what you have achieved ere this."Eulogy for D.W. Griffith, reprinted in The Man You Loved To Hate, by Richard Koszarski, page 282.


Stroheim was born in Vienna, Austria in 1885 as Erich Oswald Stroheim, the son of Benno Stroheim, a middle-class hat-maker, and Johanna Bondy, both of whom were practicing Jews.Koszarski, Richard. Von: The Life and Films of Erich von Stroheim. New York: Limelight Editions, 2001. p. 4.

Stroheim emigrated to America at the end of 1909.Koszarski, op. cit. p. 3. On arrival at Ellis Island he claimed to be Count Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim und Nordenwall, the son of Austrian nobility like the characters he played in his films, but both Billy Wilder and Stroheim’s agent Paul Kohner claimed that he spoke with a decidedly lower-class Austrian accent. However Jean Renoir writes in his memoirs: “Stroheim spoke hardly any German. He had to study his lines like a schoolboy learning a foreign language.”Renoir, Jean. Ma Vie et mes films (Flammarion, 1974) p.150. Renoir writes of the filming of La Grande Illusion : "An amusing detail was that Stroheim barely spoke German. He had to study his lines like a schoolboy learns a text in a foreign language. In the eyes of the whole world, he remains nevertheless the perfect example of the German soldier. His genius triumphs over the literal copy of reality." Later, while living in Europe, Stroheim claimed in published remarks to have "forgotten" his native tongue.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1912 An Unseen Enemy Man in straw hat dancing by desk in lobby
1915 Old Heidelberg Lutz
1916 The Flying Torpedo Accomplice
1916 His Picture in the Papers ‘Eye patch’ thug
1918 The Heart of Humanity Eric von Eberhard
1919 Blind Husbands Lieutenant Eric Von Steuben Director and screenwriter and producer
1920 The Devil’s Pass Key Director and screenwriter
1922 Foolish Wives Their cousin, Count Wladislaw Sergius Karamzin (Russian Captain of Hussars) Director and screenwriter
1923 Merry-Go-Round Director and screenwriter
1924 Greed Balloon vendor – uncredited Director and screenwriter
1925 The Merry Widow Director and screenwriter and producer
1928 The Wedding March Nicki / Prince Nickolas von Wildeliebe-Rauffenburg Director
1928 Tempest Screenwriter
1929 Queen Kelly Director and screenwriter and producer
1932 The Lost Squadron Arthur von Furst
1933 Hello, Sister! Director and screenwriter
1936 The Crime of Dr. Crespi Dr. Andre Crespi
1936 The Devil-Doll Screenwriter
1936 Mademoiselle Docteur
1937 La Grande Illusion Captain von Rauffenstein, a German officer
1938 Gibraltar Marson
1938 Ultimatum General Simovic
1943 Five Graves to Cairo Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
1943 The North Star Dr. von Harden
1944 The Lady and the Monster Prof. Franz Mueller
1944 Storm Over Lisbon Deresco
1945 The Great Flamarion The Great Flamarion
1945 Scotland Yard Investigator Carl Hoffmeyer
1946 The Mask of Diijon Diijon
1950 Sunset Boulevard Maximillian "Max" von Mayerling Nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1955 Napoléon Ludwig van Beethoven