Paul Lukas (born Pl Lukcs; May 26, 1894 August 15, 1971) was a Hungarian actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film Watch on the Rhine (1943), reprising the role he created on the Broadway stage.
Lukas made his stage debut in Budapest in 1916 and his film debut in 1917. At first, he played elegant, smooth womanizers, but increasingly he became typecast as a villain. He had a successful stage and film career in Hungary, Germany, and Austria, where he worked with Max Reinhardt. He arrived in Hollywood in 1927 and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1937.
He was busy in the 1930s, appearing in such films as the melodrama Rockabye, the crime caper Grumpy, Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Lady Vanishes, the comedy Ladies in Love, and the drama Dodsworth. He followed William Powell and Basil Rathbone portraying the series detective Philo Vance, a cosmopolitan New Yorker, once in The Casino Murder Case (1935).
His major film success came in Watch on the Rhine (1943), where he played a man working against the Nazis, a role he originated in the Broadway premiere of the play of the same name in 1941. His portrayal of Kurt Mueller, a German migr with an American wife, played by Bette Davis, was universally lauded by critics. Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times, wrote, “As the enemy of fascism, Mr. Lukas’ haggard, loving, resourceful determination becomes heroic by virtue of his sincerity and his superior abilities as an actor.” He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role, winning out over luminary efforts as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Walter Pidgeon in Madame Curie, and Mickey Rooney in The Human Comedy. He also received the New York Film Critics Award for his performance.
In 1943, he guest starred as the eponymous character in an episode of the radio program Suspense, “Mr. Markham, Antique Dealer”. On April 2, 1944, he starred in “The Steadfast Heart” on Silver Theater.
Modern viewers also remember Lukas for his role as Professor Aronnax in Walt Disney‘s film version of Jules Verne‘s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). By that time, however, he was, at age 60, suffering from memory problems during the production, apparently leading him to lash out at cast and crew alike. Even friend Peter Lorre was not immune to the abuse.
In the 1940s, Lukas was a charter member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a conservative lobbying group opposed to possible Communist influence in Hollywood.
Lukas’ film career picked up momentum in the 1960s with six films, including Fun in Acapulco with Elvis Presley in 1963 and Lord Jim with Peter O’Toole in 1965. His final film, The Challenge, was released in 1970.
The remainder of his career moved from Hollywood to the stage to television. His only singing role was as Cosmo Constantine in the original 1950 Broadway stage version of Irving Berlin‘s Call Me Madam, opposite Ethel Merman (although he is heard singing a song in the 1933 film Little Women, displaying a pleasant voice).
Lukas was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard on February 8, 1960.
|1922||Samson and Delilah||Ettore Ricco, tenor|
|1923||The Unknown Tomorrow|
|1928||Three Sinners||Count Dietrich Wallentin|
|Manhattan Cocktail||Boris Renov|
|The Woman from Moscow||Vladimir|
|Loves of an Actress||Doctor Durande|
|Two Lovers||Don Ramon de Linea|
|Hot News||James Clayton|
|Night Watch||Captain Corlaix|
|The Shopworn Angel||Bailey|
|1929||The Wolf of Wall Street||David Tyler|
|Half Way to Heaven||Nick Pogli|
|1930||Behind the Make-Up||Boris|
|Young Eagles||Von Baden|
|The Benson Murder Case||Adolph Mohler|
|The Devil’s Holiday||Dr Reynolds|
|Anybody’s Woman||Gustave Saxon|
|The Right to Love||Eric|
|1931||City Streets||Big Fellow Mashal|
|Working Girls||Doctor Joseph Von Schrader|
|Women Love Once||Julien Fields|
|The Beloved Bachelor||Michael Morda|
|The Vice Squad||Stephen Lucarno|
|1932||No One Man||Dr Karl Bemis|
|Tomorrow and Tomorrow||Doctor Nicholas Faber|
|Downstairs||Albert, the Baron’s Butler|
|Rockabye||Antonie de Sola|
|A Passport to Hell||Lt. Kurt Kurtoff|
|1933||The Kiss Before the Mirror||Walter Bernsdorf|
|Sing Sinner Sing||Phil Carida|
|Secret of the Blue Room||Captain Walter Brink|
|Captured!||Colonel Carl Ehrlich|
|Little Women||Prof. Bhaer|
|1934||The Countess of Monte Criso||Rumowski|
|I Give My Love||Paul Vadja|
|Gift of Gab||The Corpse|
|Father Brown, Detective||Flambeau|
|The Fountain||Rupert von Narwitz|
|Affairs of a Gentleman||Victor Gresham|
|1935||Age of Indiscretion||Robert Lenhart|
|The Casino Murder Case||Philo Vance|
|The Three Musketeers||Athos|
|I Found Stella Parish||Stephan Norman|
|Ladies in Love||John Barta|
|1937||Brief Ecstasy||Professor Paul Bernardy|
|The Mutiny of the Elsinore||Jack Pethurst|
|Dinner at the Ritz||Baron Philip de Beaufort|
|1938||The Lady Vanishes||Dr Hartz|
|1939||Confessions of a Nazi Spy||Dr. Kassell|
|Captain Fury||Francois Dupre|
|The Chinese Bungalow||Yuan Sing|
|The Ghost Breakers||Parada|
|A Window in London||Zoltini||Released as Lady in Distress in USA|
|1941||The Monster and the Girl||W. S. Bruhl|
|They Dare Not Love||Baron von Helsing|
|1943||Watch on the Rhine||Kurt Muller|
|1944||Uncertain Glory||Inspector Marcel Bonet|
|Address Unknown||Martin Schulz|
|Experiment Perilous||Nick Bederaux|
|1946||Deadline at Dawn||Gus Hoffman|
|Temptation||Sir Meyer Isaacson|
|1947||Whispering City||Albert Frederic|
|Don’t Be a Sucker||The Refugee||Produced by the US War Department|
|1948||Berlin Express||Dr Bernhardt|
|1954||20,000 Leagues Under the Sea||Prof. Pierre Aronnax|
|1958||The Roots of Heaven||Saint Denis|
|1960||Scent of Mystery||Baron Saradin|
|1962||Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse||Karl von Hartrott|
|Tender Is the Night||Dr. Dohmler|
|1963||55 Days at Peking||Dr. Steinfeldt|
|Fun in Acapulco||Maximillian Dauphin|
|1968||Sol Madrid||Capo Riccione|
|1970||The Challenge||Dr Nagy|