Walter Slezak Overview:

Character actor, Walter Slezak, was born on May 3, 1902 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]. Slezak died at the age of 81 on Apr 21, 1983 in Flower Hill, NY .


Tubby, mustachioed Walter Slezak was an Austrian actor just as likely to play affable or menacing characters. A welcome part of any film, he was probably most memorable as the German on Hitchcock's Lifeboat. He had two bursts of intense film activity, in Germany from 1924 to 1928 and in Hollywood from 1942 to 1954, having been in America since the early 1930s. Otherwise he appeared mostly on stage. He was also a writer and humorist. He retired in 1972, but in 1983 committed suicide by shooting himself.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).



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Walter Slezak Quotes:

Mike Clark: I want to marry your daughter.
Papa Vittorio Martelli: Sorry I haven't any left.

Don Juan Alvarado: I promised you 10,000 pieces of eight.
Mario Du Billar: 50,000 was the sum you mentioned, your excellency.
Don Juan Alvarado: 50 was the sum I mentioned, but 10,000 was what I had in mind.

Robert L. Talbot: Mr Clavell!
Maurice Clavell: Sir?
Robert L. Talbot: You are to go with them and you are not to let those girls out of your sight.
Maurice Clavell: Sir, I can't ride a motor scooter.
Robert L. Talbot: Then learn.
Maurice Clavell: I have no sense of balance. I was the only child that ever had to be strapped to his tricycle.

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Walter Slezak Facts
Although thin and healthy when he began his film career in the 1920s, by the 1930s, he had gained much weight. He committed suicide by shooting himself in the backyard of his home in Flower Hill, New York, apparently in despair over several illnesses he was dealing with by then.

He was married to Johanna Van Ryn, with whom he had three children, including daughter Erika Slezak, actress, born August 5, 1946. Daughter Ingrid was the first, followed by Erika and then son Leo, named after his father.

He was the son of Leo Slezak, operatic tenor (Aug. 18, 1873 - June 1, 1946), later a comedian in Austrian films. Leo Slezak was a famous Lohengrin, and is credited with this story: during one production of the opera "Lohengrin," when the mechanical swan that was to carry the hero across the lake malfunctioned and "floated" off too soon, he was heard to say, "What time is the next swan?". This quote became the title of Walter Slezak's autobiography.

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