Classic Movie Hub (CMH)

Paul Muni

Paul Muni

A medium-sized man, he wore small lifts (adding three or four inches) and padding to appear more hulking and ape-like as Tony in Scarface (1932).

At the time he left Warner Brothers, he was trying to convince the studio to let him star in a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven. Warners wasn't interested, and Muni never did portray the composer. If the film had been made, it would have been the first screen biography of Beethoven in English. Jack L. Warner, who was president of Warner Brothers, said to the actor, "Nobody wants to see a movie about a blind composer".

During his live TV appearance in the "Playhouse 90" (1956) episode "The Last Chance", he appeared to be wearing a hearing aid. He wasn't. At his advanced age, and given the state of his health, it was no longer possible for him to memorize long stretches of dialogue on short notice. What he was wearing was a small radio transmitter, through which he was fed his lines just prior to speaking them.

He and James Dean are the only actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for both their first and last screen appearance.

Interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever), Hollywood, California, USA.

Of the six actors to receive Best Actor Academy Award nominations for their first screen appearance, he's the only one to eventually win a Best Actor Oscar during his career. Of the other five, Orson Welles won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, Alan Arkin eventually won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Montgomery Clift, Lawrence Tibbett and James Dean never won.

One of only six actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance. The other five actors are: Orson Welles, Lawrence Tibbett, Alan Arkin, James Dean and Montgomery Clift.

Perhaps the most famous portrayer of Louis Pasteur, Muni was born only six days before Pasteur's death.

Received Oscar nominations for both his first and last screen performances (The Valiant (1929) and The Last Angry Man (1959)).

Suffered all his life from a rheumatic heart.

Turned down the role of Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941), which was eventually given to Humphrey Bogart.

Was given the nickname "The New Lon Chaney" at the start of his film career.

Wife Bella was niece of actor Boris Thomashefsky and cousin of classical conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

Won Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "Inherit the Wind."