Willy Fritsch

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Willy Fritsch_table_infobox_0

Willy FritschWilly Fritsch_header_cell_0_0_0
BornWilly Fritsch_header_cell_0_1_0 Wilhelm Egon Fritz Fritsch

(1901-01-27)27 January 1901 Kattowitz, German EmpireWilly Fritsch_cell_0_1_1

DiedWilly Fritsch_header_cell_0_2_0 13 July 1973(1973-07-13) (aged 72)

Hamburg, West GermanyWilly Fritsch_cell_0_2_1

OccupationWilly Fritsch_header_cell_0_3_0 ActorWilly Fritsch_cell_0_3_1
Years activeWilly Fritsch_header_cell_0_4_0 19211964Willy Fritsch_cell_0_4_1
Spouse(s)Willy Fritsch_header_cell_0_5_0 Dinah Grace (d. 1963)Willy Fritsch_cell_0_5_1

Willy Fritsch (27 January 1901 – 13 July 1973) was a German theater and film actor, a popular leading man and character actor from the silent-film era to the early 1960s. Willy Fritsch_sentence_0

Biography Willy Fritsch_section_0

Early life Willy Fritsch_section_1

He was born Wilhelm Egon Fritz Fritsch, the only son of a factory owner in Kattowitz (present-day Katowice) in the Prussian province of Silesia. Willy Fritsch_sentence_1

After the bankruptcy of his father in 1912, the family moved to Berlin, where Fritsch sr. worked as an employee of the Siemens-Schuckert company. Willy Fritsch_sentence_2

Young Willy originally planned an apprenticeship as a mechanic, but soon resorted to the occupation as an extra at the Großes Schauspielhaus theatre. Willy Fritsch_sentence_3

1919–1932 Willy Fritsch_section_2

From 1919 he attended Max Reinhardt's drama school at the Deutsches Theater, where he debuted with small roles and played as understudy at times side by side with Marlene Dietrich (i.e. Spring Awakening). Willy Fritsch_sentence_4

He made his feature debut in films as a supporting player in 1920's Miss Venus and got his first important engagement in His Mysterious Adventure three years later. Willy Fritsch_sentence_5

In 1925, Fritsch gained international attention by playing the leading character in the silent film A Waltz Dream directed by Ludwig Berger. Willy Fritsch_sentence_6

Afterwards he was offered a United Artists contract but refused to move to the United States being concerned about his lack of English language knowledge. Willy Fritsch_sentence_7

His career was pushed now through the Ufa film company by being set as a juvenile lover in silent comedies like Chaste Susanne (1926), The Last Waltz (1927), Hungarian Rhapsody (1928) or Her Dark Secret (1929) but Fritsch was also starring in two silent films directed by Fritz Lang: the thriller Spies (1928) and the sci-fi film Woman in the Moon (1929) where he played serious characters. Willy Fritsch_sentence_8

Again, these films gained him international success. Willy Fritsch_sentence_9

In 1929, he spoke the first sentence in a German talkie: "I'm saving money to buy a horse!" Willy Fritsch_sentence_10

(Melodie des Herzens / Melody of the Heart, 1929)). Willy Fritsch_sentence_11

Shortly after that, he was paired again with Lilian Harvey whom he had already played together twice during the mid-1920s. Willy Fritsch_sentence_12

The joint musical love comedy Waltz of Love (1930) was such a huge success that its producer Erich Pommer decided to continue making films with the "perfect couple" Harvey/Fritsch. Willy Fritsch_sentence_13

Thereupon, they appeared regularly together in UFA movies like The Three from the Filling Station (1930), Congress Dances by Erik Charell (1931) or A Blonde Dream (1932) but Fritsch was also playing in several movies at the side of Käthe von Nagy (i.e. in Billy Wilder's script debut Her Grace Commands, 1931 or I by Day, You by Night, 1932). Willy Fritsch_sentence_14

He mainly starred in the German versions and was sometimes replaced by Henri Garat unless his movies were dubbed. Willy Fritsch_sentence_15

In his musical comedies, Fritsch also turned out to be a good singer performing popular German film songs written by Werner Richard Heymann or Friedrich Holländer. Willy Fritsch_sentence_16

At the end of the Weimar era, he was one of the best paid actors in Germany causing large crowds of fans wherever he appeared. Willy Fritsch_sentence_17

Even palm court music was composed for him: Ich bin in Willy Fritsch verliebt (I'm In Love With Willy Fritsch) Willy Fritsch_sentence_18

1933–1945 Willy Fritsch_section_3

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Fritsch was able to continue his career in Germany. Willy Fritsch_sentence_19

In the mid-1930s, he was the leading actor in highly successful comedies like Amphitryon (1935) directed by Reinhold Schünzel or Lucky Kids (1936, director Paul Martin), the latter a German adaption of Frank Capra's film It Happened One Night. Willy Fritsch_sentence_20

By the end of the decade, he starred in two more comedies together with Lilian Harvey (Seven Slaps, 1937 and Woman At The Wheel, 1939) before Harvey emigrated to France. Willy Fritsch_sentence_21

In 1940, Fritsch also played the leading role in the first German coloured motion picture Women Are Better Diplomats. Willy Fritsch_sentence_22

Though he had joined the NSDAP due to the pressure being put on him, Fritsch tried to avoid getting involved in Nazi propaganda (except for his appearance in the 1944 aviator movie Junge Adler [] which earned him an entry on Goebbels' Gottbegnadeten list). Willy Fritsch_sentence_23

Starring in Austrian originated comedies like Vienna Blood (1942) directed by Willi Forst or A Salzburg Comedy (1943) scripted by Erich Kästner and partly even watched by the secret police (Gestapo) for his "lack of political reliability" despite of the party membership, he managed to survive the Hitler era without any loss of prestige. Willy Fritsch_sentence_24

1945–1964 Willy Fritsch_section_4

After the war, he moved to Hamburg and continued to appear in movies like Film Without A Title (1948) together with Hildegard Knef as well as in several German blockbusters like The Heath Is Green (1951) or When the White Lilacs Bloom Again (1953) side by side with young Romy Schneider. Willy Fritsch_sentence_25

In 1958, Fritsch starred in the German version of Mit Eva fing die Sünde an [], which was later adapted and filled with additional scenes by Francis Ford Coppola for his debut release of The Bellboy And The Playgirls (1962). Willy Fritsch_sentence_26

Fritsch's final film was 1964's I Learned It from Father (Das hab' ich von Papa gelernt) directed by Axel von Ambesser, in which he performed together with his son Thomas. Willy Fritsch_sentence_27

Personal life Willy Fritsch_section_5

Fritsch was married to artistic dancer Dinah Grace in 1937 and became a father of two sons. Willy Fritsch_sentence_28

The younger one, Thomas Fritsch, is a successful actor as well. Willy Fritsch_sentence_29

Fritsch died of a heart attack aged 72 and was buried at Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg. Willy Fritsch_sentence_30

Filmography Willy Fritsch_section_6

Silent films Willy Fritsch_section_7

Sound films Willy Fritsch_section_8

In popular media Willy Fritsch_section_9

In Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, Lilian Harvey's duet with Willy Fritsch from the 1936 film Lucky Kids, "Ich wollt' ich wär ein Huhn" ("I wish I was a chicken") can be heard playing on a phonograph in the basement scene "La Louisiane" as well as in the extended scene "Lunch With Goebbels", as Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) happily sings a portion of the song after deciding to hold a private screening of the film. Willy Fritsch_sentence_31

After the screening, cinema owner, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), under the alias "Emmanuelle Mimieux", comments on liking Lilian Harvey in the film—to which an irritated Goebbels angrily insists her name never be mentioned again in his presence. Willy Fritsch_sentence_32

The song as performed by the Comedian Harmonists remains popular in Germany to date. Willy Fritsch_sentence_33

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willy Fritsch.