The grandnephew of South African pioneer and former president Paul Krüger, Otto Kruger trained for a musical career from childhood, but after enrolling in Columbia University he switched his career choice to acting. Making his Broadway debut in 1915, at 30, he shortly became a matinée idol of the day, specializing in sophisticated leading roles. He made his film debut in 1915 in The Runaway Wife (1915), but it was in the 1930s that Kruger's polished, urbane characterizations came into full swing. Although he occasionally played a hero, as in Corregidor (1943) he was often cast as the amoral villain or a charming but corrupt businessman (usually a banker), a task at which he excelled. Kruger was one of the industry's busiest character actors until a series of strokes brought about his retirement in the mid-1960s.
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