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Paul Lukas

from the trailer for
The Casino Murder Case (1935).
Born Pál Lukács
May 26, 1895(1895-05-26)
Budapest, Hungary
Died August 15, 1971 (aged 76)
Tangier, Morocco
Occupation Actor
Years active 1916 – 1970
Spouse(s) ? (1916–1917) (divorced)
Daisy Benes (1927–1962) (her death)
Annette M. Driesens (1963–1971) (his death)
The native form of this personal name is Lukács Pál. This article uses the Western name order.

Paul Lukas (May 26, 1895 – August 15, 1971) was a Hungarian-born actor.

Born Pál Lukács in Budapest, he arrived in Hollywood in 1927 after a successful stage and film career in Hungary, Germany and Austria where he worked with Max Reinhardt. He made his stage debut in Budapest in 1916 and his film debut in 1917. At first, he played elegant, smooth womanizers, but increasingly he became typecast as a villain. In 1933, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

He was busy in the 1930s, appearing in such films as the melodrama Rockabye, the crime caper Grumpy, Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, the comedy Ladies in Love, and the drama Dodsworth. He followed William Powell and Basil Rathbone portraying the series detective Philo Vance, a cosmopolitan New Yorker, once in 1935 in The Casino Murder Case, but his major role came in 1943's Watch on the Rhine, when he played a man working against the Nazis (he had played the same role on Broadway in 1941). He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role, winning out over luminary efforts as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Walter Pidgeon in Madame Curie, and Mickey Rooney in The Human Comedy.

To modern viewers, Paul Lukas is best known for his role as Professor Aronnax in Walt Disney's classic 1954 film version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. By that time, however (according to the featurette "The Making of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" on Disc 2 of the Special Edition DVD release), he was, at age 60, suffering from memory problems during the production, apparently leading him to lash out at cast and crew alike. Even fellow Hungarian and friend Peter Lorre was not immune to the abuse.

In the 1940s, Lukas was a charter member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a conservative lobbying group opposed to possible Communist influence in Hollywood.

The remainder of his career moved from Hollywood to the stage to television. His only singing role was as Cosmo Constantine in the original 1950 Broadway stage version of Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam, opposite Ethel Merman (although he is heard singing a song in the 1933 film Little Women, displaying a pleasant voice).

He died August 16, 1971, in Tangier, Morocco, reportedly while searching for a place to spend his retirement years.

Lukas has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6841 Hollywood Blvd.

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