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Valdemar Psilander

Valdemar Psilander
Born Valdemar Einar Psilander
9 May 1884(1884-05-09)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died 6 March 1917 (aged 32)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Occupation Actor
Years active 1910–1917
Spouse(s) Edith Buemann

Valdemar Psilander (1884-1917) was a Danish silent film actor, who was the highest paid performer of his period and received critical acclaim as the greatest male lead during the golden era of Danish cinema.




Early life

Valdemar Einar Psilander was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on 9 May 1884. At the age of 15, he was employed as an apprentice actor at the Casino theater in Copenhagen and performed at both the Frederiksberg and Dagmar Theaters through 1909. His stage performances were not particularly notable.[1]

Film career

Psilander debuted on screen in the fall of 1910 in The Portrait of Dorian Gray for a small film company, Regia Kunst Film. He was immediately hired away by Nordisk Film to perform in August Blom's Ved Fængslets Port (At the Prison Gates).[2] Psilander's charismatic performance earned him great praise and he quickly became Nordisk's highest paid actor.[2] Within two years, he was named the most popular male actor in film magazine readership polls around the world.[3] During the course of the next 6 years, Psilander made 83 films.[2]

In 1911, Nordisk Film had a fine international reputation and a wide distribution network, but it was Psilander's films which spearheaded the company's sales. He was especially popular among German, Russian and Hungarian audiences.[1] Psilander acted in dozens of run-of-the-mill melodramas, but also showed his talent in films which are considered distinctive works from that period. These include 1914's Evangeliemandens Liv (The Candle and the Moth) directed by Holger-Madsen and Klovnen directed by A.W. Sandberg, which was released after his death and is considered his greatest role.[3] Psilander's fees peaked in 1915, when he earned an annual salary of 100,000 DKK.[2] (By comparison, the next highest paid star of the era, Olaf Fønss, received 14,000 DKK).[2]

Psilander was as silent in real life as he was on stage and seldom granted interviews.[3] In one rare newspaper interview from 1913, Psilander spoke about his acting method. "We so often see fine stage actors become nothing on film because they don't understand that it depends upon concentration. The interesting thing about film is that we play to all social classes and in all parts of the world. We must in our means of expression appear nearly primitively genuine, truly original. One can perhaps learn to become an actor but you can never learn to be filmed. Studied emotions on film become artificial and false. Film relentlessly demands truthfulness and sincerity."[3] [4]

Marriage and death

Psilander married the actress Edith Buemann.[1] He committed suicide on 6 March 1917—32-years-old and at the top of his career.[2]

Selected Filmography

  • The Portrait of Dorian Gray (Axel Strøm, 1910)
  • The Black Dream (Urban Gad, 1911) as Count Johan Waldberg
  • At the Prison Gates (August Blom, 1911) as Aage Hellertz
  • A Victim of the Mormons (August Blom, 1911) as Andrew Larson, Mormon Priest
  • The Great Circus Catastrophe (Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen, 1912) as Count Willy von Rosenörn
  • Livets Baal (Eduard Schnedler-Sørensen, 1912) as Herbert Jyrtel Professor of Chemistry
  • The Strike at the Old Factory(Robert Dinesen, 1913) as Hans
  • The Evangelist's Life (Holger-Madsen, 1915) as John Redmond, Evangelist
  • Poison Arrow (August Blom, 1916) as Edmond Vernon, Detective
  • The Clown (A.W. Sandberg, 1917)as The Clown Joe Higgins)


  1. ^ a b c Valdemar Psilander, Det Danske Filmistitut, retrieved [2008-05-27]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Valdemar Psilander -- a global star from Nordisk Film Nordisk Film Press, April 10, 2006, retrieved 2008-05-27
  3. ^ a b c d Larsen, Lisbeth Richter, Valdemar Psilander -- A world Star in Danish Film, CINEGRAFIE #17, 2004, retrieved 2008-05-27]
  4. ^ Valdemar Psilander, Interview, København Avis, March 4, 1913, retrieved [2008-05-27]

Further reading


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