Gustaf Gründgens Poster

Trivia (32)

He later found himself and his life portrayed in a book called "Mephisto" which was written by Klaus Mann (brother of Erika Mann). Gruendgens stopped further publications of this book.

Was married to Erika Mann, the daughter of famous german writer Thomas Mann.

Klaus Mann's book "Mephisto" was banned in Germany in 1966 (after Gründgens' death). However, despite the ban, it was republished in 1981 by Rowohlt Verlag.

Changed his first name from Gustav to Gustaf with "f" because Gustav was the more common version.

His connection to the Nazi regime is considered controversial because he starred in some propaganda movies and was the favorite actor of Hermann Göring, but saved the life of anti-fascist actor Ernst Busch on the other hand.

Studied acting in Duesseldorf under Louise Dumont and Gustav Lindemann.

Formed his own production company at Terra Filmkunst in 1938.

Served as a volunteer on the Western Front during World War I.

Specialised on screen in portraying icy intellectuals, cynical snobs, villains and bon vivants.

Became artistic director of the Prussian State Theatre, 1937-45. Appointed by Goering to the Prussian State Council in 1936.

The actor Gustaf Gründgens is one of the most controversial but also undisputed one of the most important German actors. His part as a hanger-on of the Nazis was overrated and one-sided viewed, although he took upon huge risks for others in this difficult time.

The fronttheater was renamed to Bergtheater Thale after the war and constituted the begin of a great career for Gustaf Gründgens.

He became a very successful actor of classic roles and was also convincing in contemporary dramas.

From 1930 Gustaf Gründgens began a second successful career in the film business. Especially when he played dubious types he was convincing in an almost worrying way.

In the 30's fell the seizure of power of the National Socialism and Gustaf Gründgens made career under this new rule.

He became director of the Staatliches Schauspielhaus and a Staatsschauspieler.

He preferred the German classic and found his parade role with "Faust I" (41) with the figure of Mephisto.

Gustaf Gründgens made use of his power position at the theater in order to occupy numerous actors for his productions and gave them the status of "indispensable" as long as possible to protect them from the entry into the war machinery and saved the life of several persons directly and indirectly.

After Goebbels's total war speech on 18 February 1943, Gründgens volunteered for the Wehrmacht but was again recalled by Göring, who had his name added to the Gottbegnadeten list.

It has never been ascertained whether or not he committed suicide by an overdose of sleeping pills. His last words, written on an envelope, were, "I believe I have taken too many sleeping pills; I feel funny, let me sleep it off.".

After the war he had to endure a nine-month lasting Sovjet internment. Only after countless statements of other actors he was released in April 1946. Only one month later he impersonated his first post-war role at the Deutsches Theater Berlin and returned successfully to the scene of his former successes. His marriage with Marianne Hoppe was divorced in the same year.

The young Gustaf Gründgens volunteered for the military in 1916, immediately after the secondary school and was sent to the Westfront. In 1917 he became a member of the fronttheater company Saarlouis, one year later he managed this company.

Gustaf Gründgens died of an internal hemorrhage on October 7, 1963 in Manila during a world trip.

His career continued undisturbed through the years of the Nazi regime; the extent to which this can be considered as deliberate collaboration with the Nazis was hotly disputed.

He got married with Erika Mann in 1926, the daughter of the famous writer Thomas Mann. The marriage was divorced in 1929.

He intensified his intention to become an actor from 1919 and took acting lessons at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus. In the following years followed many engagements at different theaters.

He got married with the actress Marianne Hoppe in 1936.The wedlock was widely seen as a lavender marriage.

The engagement to the Kammerspiele in Hamburg meant the first height where he impersonated more than 70 roles within five years and directed more than 30 productions.

His single most famous role was that of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust in 1956/57, which is still considered by many to have been the best interpretation of the role ever given.

Till the end of war he took part in the movies "Zwei Welten" (1939), "Ohm Krüger" (1941) and "Friedemann Bach (1941), but his main activity was still dedicated to the theater.

Imprisoned by the Soviet NKVD in 1945, Gründgens was released thanks to the intercession by the Communist actor Ernst Busch, whom Gründgens himself had saved from execution by the Nazis in 1943. During the denazification process his statements helped to exonerate acting colleagues like Göring's widow Emmy and the director Veit Harlan (Jud Süß).

Posthumously, Gründgens was involved in one of the most famous literary cases in 20th-century Germany, as the subject of a novel entitled Mephisto by his former brother-in-law Klaus Mann, who had died in 1949. The novel, a thinly veiled account of Gründgens's life, portrayed its main character ("Hendrik Höfgen") as having shady connections with the Nazi regime. Gründgens's adopted son and heir Peter Gorski, who had directed Faust, in 1966 successfully sued the publisher on his late father's behalf, confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice in 1968.