Oskar Homolka

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Oskar Homolka
Oscar Homolka.jpg
BornOskar Homolka
(1898-08-12)12 August 1898
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died27 January 1978(1978-01-27) (aged 79)
Sussex, England, Great Britain
Years active1926–1976
ChildrenVincent and Laurence (Meyer)
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Oskar Homolka
Oscar Homolka.jpg
BornOskar Homolka
(1898-08-12)12 August 1898
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died27 January 1978(1978-01-27) (aged 79)
Sussex, England, Great Britain
Years active1926–1976
ChildrenVincent and Laurence (Meyer)

Oskar Homolka (August 12, 1898 – January 27, 1978) was an Austrian film and theatre actor.[1] Homolka's strong accent when speaking English, his stocky appearance, bushy eyebrows and Slavic (Czech) name led many to believe he was Eastern European or Russian, but he was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary.


After serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I, Homolka attended the Imperial Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna and began his career on the Austrian stage. Success there led to work in the much more prestigious[according to whom?] German theatrical community in Munich where in 1924 he played Mortimer in the premiere of Brecht's play The Life of Edward II of England at the Munich Kammerspiele, and since 1925 in Berlin where he worked under Max Reinhardt.

Other stage plays in which Homolka performed during this period include: The first German performance of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones, 1924, Anna Christie, 1924, Boubouroche, 1925, Juarez and Maximilian, 1925–26, Her Young Boyfriend, 1925, The Jewish Widow, 1925, Stir, 1925, Mérimée and Courteline, 1926, Periphery, 1926, Neidhardt von Gneisenau, 1926, Dorothea Angermann, 1926–27, Der Revisor, 1926, Androcles and the Lion, 1926, Bonaparte, 1927, The Ringer and The Squeaker by Edgar Wallace, both 1927, Underworld, 1930, Today's Sensation, 1931, The Last Equipage, 1931, The Waterloo Bridge, 1931, Faust, 1932, Karl and Anna, Doctor's Dilemma, Pygmalion, Juno and the Paycock, and many Shakespearean plays including: A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1925, Troilus and Cressida, 1927, Richard III, King Lear, and Macbeth.[2] After his arrival in London, he continued to star on stage, including with Flora Robson in the play Close Quarters.[2]

Homolka, 1932

His first films were Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheines (The Adventures of a Ten Mark Note, 1926), Hokuspokus (Hocuspocus, 1930), and Dreyfus (The Dreyfus Case, 1930), Zwischen Nacht und Morgen (Between Night and Morning, 1930), Geheimdienst (Intelligence, 1931), Junge Liebe (Young Love, 1931), and Nachtkolonne (Night Column, 1932). According to Homolka's own account, he made at least thirty silent films in Germany and starred in the first talking picture ever made there.[2]

After the Nazi rise to power, Homolka moved to Britain, where he starred in the films Rhodes, Empire Builder, with Walter Huston, 1936; and Everything Is Thunder, with Constance Bennett, 1936.[2] Later, he was one of the many Austrian and specifically Viennese actors and theatrical people (many of them Jews) who fled Europe for the U.S.

In 1936, he appeared opposite Sylvia Sidney in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Sabotage. Although he often played villains such as Communist spies and Soviet-bloc military officers or scientists, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the crusty, beloved uncle in I Remember Mama (1948).

He also acted with Ingrid Bergman in Rage in Heaven, with Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, with Ronald Reagan in Prisoner of War, and with Katharine Hepburn in The Madwoman of Chaillot. He returned to England in the mid-1960s, to play the Soviet KGB Colonel Stok in Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967), opposite Michael Caine. His last film was the Blake Edwards romantic drama The Tamarind Seed in 1974.

In 1967 Homolka was awarded the Filmband in Gold of the Deutscher Filmpreis for outstanding contributions to German cinema.

His career in television included appearances in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1957 and 1960.

Personal life[edit]

Homolka married four times:


Oskar Homolka made his home in England after 1966. He died of pneumonia in Sussex, England, on January 27, 1978, just three months after the death of his fourth wife, actress Joan Tetzel. He was 79 years old. Both he and Joan Tetzel are buried in Christ Church Churchyard, Fairwarp, East Sussex, England. Their monument there is notable in having a pair of theatrical masks carved into the surface.[3]

Selected filmography[edit]

1927The Trial of Donald Westhof
1928The SerfsGouverneur Fürst Kurganow
The Prince of RoguesAntmann
The Green AlleyDoctor Horner
Revolt in the ReformatoryErzieher
1930DreyfusMajor Walsin-Esterhazy
1931Road to RioRicardo
1932Night ConvoyAndré Carno
1936SabotageMr. Verloc
Rhodes of AfricaPaul Kruger
Everything Is ThunderDetective Gretz
1937Ebb TideCaptain Jakob Therbecke
1940Seven SinnersAntro
Comrade XCommissar Vasiliev
1941The Invisible WomanBlackie Cole
Rage in HeavenDr. Rameau
Ball of FireProfessor Gurkakoff
1943Mission to MoscowMaxim Litvinov
1947Code of Scotland YardDesius Heiss
1948I Remember MamaUncle Chris
1949Anna LucastaJoe Lucasta
1950The White TowerAndreas
1953The House of the ArrowInspector Hanaud
1954Prisoner of WarColonel Biroshilov
1955The Seven Year ItchDr. Brubaker
1956War and PeaceMarshal Mikhail Kutuzov
1957A Farewell to ArmsDr. Emerich
1958The KeyCaptain Van Dam
1961Mr. SardonicusKrull
1962Boys' Night OutDoctor Prokosch
The Wonderful World of the Brothers GrimmThe Duke
1964The Long ShipsKrok
1965Joy in the MorningStan Pulaski
1966Funeral in BerlinColonel Stok
1967Billion Dollar BrainColonel Stok
The HappeningSam
1968Assignment to KillInspector Ruff
1969The Madwoman of ChaillotThe Commissar
1970The ExecutionerRacovsky
Song of NorwayEngstrand
1974The Tamarind SeedGeneral Golitsyn

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, February 1, 1978, page 110.
  2. ^ a b c d Oskar Homolka Scrapbook 1924–1932, Original held in a private collection, Long Island, New York.
  3. ^ Iain MacFarlaine. "Joan Margaret Tetzel". Find a Grave. 

External links[edit]