Otto Waldis
Date of Birth
Jan 01, 1905
Birth Place:
Vienna, Austria


With his learned countenance and a correct Germanic manner that could be avuncular or threatening, Otto Waldis was one of the more familiar European character actors in Hollywood and on television in the years after World War II. Born Otto Brunn in Vienna, Austria, in 1901, he turned to acting in his twenties and made his screen debut in an uncredited role in Fritz Lang's M in 1931. He worked in one more movie that year -- Kinder Vor Gericht -- and then was unseen in films until after the war. Waldis' career resumed in 1947 in Hollywood under the aegis of his fellow European expatriate, director Max Ophüls, in the latter's The Exile. He was fully employed over the next decade, working constantly in television and movies, his performances covering a wide swath of entertainment. In 1948 alone, before he'd even made the jump to television, Waldis worked in popular, big studio productions like Henry Hathaway's Call Northside 777, Jacques Tourneur's Berlin Express, and independent films such as Ophüls' Letter From an Unknown Woman. He went on to play character roles in lighter fare, including the comedies I Was a Male War Bride and Love Happy (both 1949). With his wizened, bespectacled presence and correct Austrian bearing, Waldis was suited to roles ranging from valets to scientists; in The Whip Hand (1951), he played an unrepentant Nazi germ-warfare expert, while in Unknown World (1951) and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), he played more benign scientists. But in 5 Fingers (1952), he was a Pullman porter, and in the Adventures of Superman episode "The Whistling Bird," he was part of a criminal conspiracy. He would occasionally play much more offbeat parts, such as Patch-Eye in Prince Valiant (1954). He closed out the 1950s portraying a police officer in Edward Dmytryk's disastrous remake of The Blue Angel (1959). Waldis' activity slackened considerably in the '60s, a period in which he made his first appearances in German films since the '30s. He was back in Hollywood during the '70s and had just been signed to appear in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein at the time of his death from a heart attack in early 1974. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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