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Max Reinhardt

Theatre director and actor
Born Maximilian Goldmann
September 9, 1873(1873-09-09)
Baden bei Wien,
Died October 30, 1943 (aged 70)
New York City, NewYork, United States
Resting place Westchester Hills Cemetery
Occupation Theatre director, Actor
Spouse(s) Helene Thimig
Children Gottfried Reinhardt

Max Reinhardt (September 9, 1873 – October 30, 1943) was an Austrian (later naturalised American) theatre and film director and actor.


He was born as Maximilian Goldmann, of Jewish ancestry, in Baden bei Wien, Austria-Hungary. From 1902 until the beginning of Nazi rule in 1933, he worked as a director at various theaters in Berlin. From 1905 to 1930 he managed the Deutsches Theater ("German Theatre") in Berlin and, in addition, the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna from 1924 to 1933. By employing powerful staging techniques, and harmonising stage design, language, music and choreography, Reinhardt introduced new dimensions into German theatre.

The Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, which is arguably the most important German-language acting school, was installed implementing his ideas. Siegfried Jacobsen wrote Max Reinhardt in 1910.

In 1920, Reinhardt established the Salzburg Festival with Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, notably directing an annual production of the morality play Everyman about God sending Death to summon a representative of mankind for judgement.

After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-governed Germany in 1938, he emigrated first to England, then to the United States, where he had already successfully directed his own play The Miracle in 1924, and a popular stage version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1927.

Reinhardt followed that success by directing a film version in 1935 using a mostly different cast, that included James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Joe E. Brown and Olivia de Havilland, amongst others. Mickey Rooney and Ms. de Havilland had also appeared in Reinhardt's 1934 stage production, which was staged at the Hollywood Bowl. The Nazis banned the film because of the Jewish ancestry of both Reinhardt and Felix Mendelssohn, whose music (arranged by Erich Korngold) was used throughout the film.

Reinhardt also opened the Reinhardt School of the Theatre in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard. Several notable stars of the day received classical theater training, among them actress Nanette Fabray.

In 1940 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. At that time, he was married to his second wife, the actress Helene Thimig.

Max Reinhardt and the film

Max Reinhardt is filmed in his garden, 1930
Max Reinhardt signing a film treaty with the US film producer Curtis Melnitz in Berlin, 1930

Reinhardt was interested in the film much stronger than most who had to do with theater in his time. He has made films as a director and from time to time also as a producer. His first staging for the film was Sumurûn (1910). After that, Reinhardt founded an own film company. He was chosen to direct the film adaptation Das Mirakel (1912). Controversies around the staging of Mirakel, which was shown in the Vienna Rotunde in 1912, led to Reinhardt`s retreat from the project. The author of the play, Reinhardt`s friend and confident Karl Vollmoeller, won the French director Michel-Antoine Carré to finish the shooting.

Reinhardt made the films Die Insel der Seligen and Eine venezianische Nacht for the German film producer Paul Davidson, in 1913 and 1914. Both films meant a lot of work for Reinhardt`s cameraman Karl Freund, as Reinhardt also demanded special shootings like that of a lagoon in the moonlight.

Die Insel der Seligen was praised by the critics above all for Reinhardts work on the clearness of expression and a vivid play of the features. The film attracted attention through the erotical way of the acting. It partially played in the antiquity so that there occurred sea gods, nymphs, and fauns and the actors appeared naked. The part playing in the presence was adopted to the strict customs of the time of the late German resp. Austrian monarchy. The actors had to live up to the demands of double roles. Wilhelm Diegelmann and Willy Prager played as well the bourgeois fathers as the sea gods, Ernst Matray a bachelor and a faun, Leopoldine Konstantin the Circe.

The censorship demanded the according scenes to be removed, but its demands weren`t fulfilled.

The shooting for Eine venezianische Nacht by Karl Gustav Vollmoeller took place in Venice. Maria Carmi played the bride, Alfred Abel the young stranger, and Ernst Matray Anselmus and Pipistrello. The shooting was disturbed by a fanatic who incited the attendant Venetians against the German speaking staff.

In 1935, Reinhardt directed his first film in the US, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Reinhardt`s theater work was strongly inspired by the film. He transferred the stilistic principles of his theater work all too strongly to the film and didn`t know to exploit the own means of the film creatively, and therefore his films weren`t great successes.

Reinhardt, different than many other stage directors, encouraged his actors to work for the film.

He founded the drama schools Hochschule für Schauspielkunst „Ernst Busch“ in Berlin and the Max Reinhardt Seminar. Many alumni of these schools made their career with the film.


He died in New York City in 1943. Reinhardt is interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York.

His son, Gottfried Reinhardt, was a well-regarded film producer. His grandson, Stephen Reinhardt, is a labor lawyer who has served notably on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit since his appointment by Jimmy Carter in 1980.

The mausoleum of Max Reinhardt in Westchester Hills Cemetery

Work on Broadway


External links



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