Max Schreck
Friedrich Gustav Max Schreck (6 September 1879 – 20 February 1936) was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

. He is most often remembered today for his lead role in the film Nosferatu (1922).

Early life

Max Schreck was born in Berlin-Friedenau
Friedenau is a locality within the borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg in Berlin, Germany. Per population density it is the highest one into the city.- Etymology :...

, on 6 September 1879.
Schreck received his training at the (the State Theatre of Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

) which he completed in 1902. He made his stage debut in Meseritz
Meseritz may refer to:* Kreis Meseritz, a historical administrative subdivision of Posen District* German name for Międzyrzec Podlaski, a city in Lublin Voivodeship, Poland* German name for Międzyrzecz, a town in Lubusz Voivodeship, Poland...

 and Speyer
Speyer is a city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities...

, and then toured Germany for two years appearing at theatres in Zittau
Zittau is a city in the south east of the Free State of Saxony, Germany, close to the border tripoint of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. , there are 28,638 people in the city. It is part of the Görlitz district....

, Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

, Bremen, Lucerne
Lucerne is a city in north-central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of that country. Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne and the capital of the district of the same name. With a population of about 76,200 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and...

, Gera
Gera, the third-largest city in the German state of Thuringia , lies in east Thuringia on the river Weiße Elster, approximately 60 kilometres to the south of the city of Leipzig and 80 kilometres to the east of Erfurt...

, and Frankfurt am Main. Schreck then joined Max Reinhardt
Max Reinhardt (theatre director)
----Max Reinhardt was an Austrian theater and film director and actor.-Biography:...

's company of performers in Berlin. Many of Reinhardt's troupe made a significant contribution to the cinema.


For three years between 1919 and 1922, Schreck appeared at the Munich Kammerspiele
Munich Kammerspiele
The Munich Kammerspiele is a successful German language theatre in Munich. The Schauspielhaus in the Maximilianstrasse is the major stage.-History:...

, including a role in the expressionist
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 production of Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

's debut, (Drums in the Night
Drums in the Night
Drums in the Night is a play by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht. Brecht wrote it between 1918 and 1920, and it received its first theatrical production in 1922. It is in the expressionist style of Ernst Toller and Georg Kaiser...

) (in which he played the "freakshow landlord" Glubb). During this time he also worked on his first film Der Richter von Zalamea
Der Richter von Zalamea
Der Richter von Zalamea is an East German film. It was released in 1956....

, adapted from a six act play, for Decla Bioscop.
In 1921, he was hired by Prana Film
Prana Film
Prana Film was a short-lived silent-era German film studio. Its intent was to produce occult and supernatural themed films. Its only film, 1922's Nosferatu, was its end: it declared bankruptcy in order to dodge copyright infringement suits from Bram Stoker's widow. The company is named for the...

 for their first and only production, Nosferatu. The company declared itself bankrupt after the film was released to avoid paying copyright infringement
Copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...

 costs to Florence Stoker
Florence Balcombe
Florence Balcombe was the wife of Bram Stoker, whom she married in Dublin in 1878. She was the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, and wife Phillippa Anne Marshall, and was a celebrated beauty whose former suitor was Oscar Wilde...

, Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

author Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker
Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

's widow. Schreck portrayed Count Orlok
Count Orlok
Count Orlok is a fictional character portrayed by Max Schreck in the silent movie Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens...

, a character analogous to Count Dracula
Count Dracula
Count Dracula is a fictional character, the titular antagonist of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula and archetypal vampire. Some aspects of his character have been inspired by the 15th century Romanian general and Wallachian Prince Vlad III the Impaler...


In 1923, while still in Munich, Schreck appeared in a 16-minute (one-reeler) slapstick
Slapstick is a type of comedy involving exaggerated violence and activities which may exceed the boundaries of common sense.- Origins :The phrase comes from the batacchio or bataccio — called the 'slap stick' in English — a club-like object composed of two wooden slats used in Commedia dell'arte...

, "surreal comedy" written by Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

 with cabaret and stage actors Karl Valentin
Karl Valentin
Karl Valentin was a Bavarian comedian, cabaret performer, clown, author and film producer. He had significant influence on German Weimar culture...

, Liesl Karlstadt, Erwin Faber
Erwin Faber
Erwin Faber was a leading actor in Munich and later throughout Germany, beginning after World War I, and through the late-1970's, when he was still performing at the Residenz Theatre...

, and Blandine Ebinger, entitled (Mysteries of a Barbershop
Mysteries of a Barbershop
Mysteries of a Barbershop is a comic, slapstick German film of 33 minutes, created by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Erich Engel, and starring the Munich cabaret clown Karl Valentin and leading stage actor Erwin Faber...

), directed by Erich Engel. Also in 1923, Schreck appeared as a blind man in the film (The Street).

Schreck's second collaboration with Nosferatu director F. W. Murnau was the 1924 comedy (The Grand Duke's Finances
The Grand Duke's Finances
Grand Duke's Finances is a 1924 silent German comedy film directed by F. W. Murnau.-Cast:* Alfred Abel - Philipp Collins* Mady Christians - Großfürstin Olga von Rußland* Adolphe Engers - Don Esteban Paqueno* Julius Falkenstein - Ernst Isaacs...

). Even Murnau did not hesitate to declare his contempt for the picture.

In 1926, Schreck returned to the Kammerspiele in Munich and continued to act in films surviving the advent of sound until his death in 1936 of heart failure. On 19 February 1936, Schreck had just played The Grand Inquisitor in the play , standing in for Will Dohm
Will Dohm
Will Dohm was a German film actor. He is the father of the actress Gaby Dohm.-Selected filmography:* Fridericus * So You Don't Know Korff Yet? * Opernball * Kora Terry...

. That evening he felt unwell and the doctor sent him to the hospital where he died early the next morning of a heart attack. His obituary
An obituary is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant...

 especially praised his role as The Miser
The Miser
L'Avare is a 1668 five-act satirical comedy by French playwright Molière. Its title is usually translated as The Miser when the play is performed in English....

 in Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

's comedy play. He was buried on 14 March 1936 at Wilmersdorfer Waldfriedhof in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...


Personal life

He was married to actress Fanny Normann
Fanny Normann
Fanny Schreck , also known as Fanny Schreck-Normann, was a German actress. She was married to actor Max Schreck. Both husband and wife acted in their most well-known film, Nosferatu, with Fanny Schreck uncredited as the nurse and Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok.-References:*Walk, Ines. ....

, who appeared in a few films, often credited as Fanny Schreck.

Curiously, the word schreck is also the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 word for fright, or terror. It comes from the Middle High German
Middle High German
Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

 word schrecken: "to frighten, or terrify". Because of this, many authors who were unaware of Schreck's on-stage credits (and ignorant of the rather sparse details of his personal life) speculated that there was really no such person, and that Schreck was, in fact, some well-known actor who had chosen to adopt a pseudonym for his role in Nosferatu. One of the prime "suspects" was Alfred Abel
Alfred Abel
Alfred Abel was a German film actor, director, and producer. He appeared in over 140 silent and sound films between 1913 and 1938...

; however, a careful examination of the photographs of these two actors is sufficient to dispel such notions.

Schreck's contemporaries recalled he was a loner with an unusual sense of humor and skill in playing grotesque characters. One reported he lived in "a remote and strange world" and that he spent time walking through dark forests.

Cultural references

The person and performance of Max Schreck in Nosferatu has been fictionalized by actor Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

 in E. Elias Merhige
E. Elias Merhige
Edmund Elias Merhige, known as E. Elias Merhige, is an American film director born in Brooklyn.Merhige is best known to mainstream audiences for the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire, and to underground audiences for the cult-classic 1991 film Begotten.As he says in his audio commentary to the...

's Shadow of the Vampire
Shadow of the Vampire
Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 horror film directed by E. Elias Merhige and written by Steven Katz, and starring John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, and Udo Kier. The film is a fictionalized account of the making of the classic vampire film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F. W....

. In a sort of secret history
Secret history
A secret history is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars.-Secret histories of the real world:...

, Shadow posits that Schreck actually was a vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...


Scriptwriter Daniel Waters
Daniel Waters (writer)
Daniel "Dan" Waters is an American screenwriter and film director. He is the older brother of director Mark Waters.-Screenwriting credits:...

 created the character Max Shreck for the film Batman Returns
Batman Returns
Batman Returns is a 1992 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, it is the sequel to Burton's Batman , and features Michael Keaton reprising the title role, with Danny DeVito as the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.Burton originally did not...

and compared him to the character Max Schreck played in Nosferatu. Variety claimed the name was an in-joke. Shreck was a character created exclusively for the movie, absent from the comics, and serves as one of the main antagonists.

See also

  • :Category:Nosferatu for images related to the film
  • :Category:Images of Max Schreck for articles and wikipedia-hosted media related to Max Schreck

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.