Happy Birthday to Classic Movie Legend, Paul Henreid, born January 10, 1908!
For me, one of the factors that creates the “Classic Hollywood Mythos” is its time period. With an evolution that ranges in time from the Roaring Twenties, to the Great Depression and World War II, ending in the last days of Pax Americana, old Hollywood had a roster of interesting stars including Birthday Boy Paul Henreid.
Paul Henreid was born in a well-to-do family in the now defunct Austria-Hungary. However, by the time he graduated from the Maria Theresa Academy in 1927, the money had dried up and he was forced to work as a book designer and put his dreams of being an actor on hold, opting to take acting class at night to keep his day job. After four years in the publishing business, he finally made his stage debut under the direction of Max Reinhardt. He would eventually flee Austria-Hungary due to the post-civil war government installation of Austrofascism as he was vehemently anti-fascist. Landing in Great Britain in 1935, he was able to start a film career, landing a prized role in the Sam Wood picture, Goodbye, Mr. Chips. From there, he would go on to be a major player in the Hollywood industry.
For me, knowing his background and his political leanings in fascist-torn Europe, it makes the characters he played a little more interesting with a bit more depth. I mean, think about — the man who played Victor Lazlo, a man so honorable that HE gets the girl instead of Humphrey Bogart, fled his motherland because of his disdain for fascism. It almost makes you think: what if Paul Henreid wanted to be a revolutionary instead of an actor? Too bad we’ll never know.
Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub