Willy Fritsch

Willy Fritsch

Additional Names: Wilhelm Egon Fritz (Geburtsname)
Darsteller, Musik
*27.01.1901 Kattowitz (heute Katowice, Polen); †13.07.1973 Hamburg

Biography

Wilhelm Egon Fritz Fritsch was born on January 27th 1901 in Kattowitz (today: Katowice, Poland) as the son of Lothar Fritsch, a farmer and machine manufacturer, and his wife Anni (née Bauckmann). In 1910, after his company went bankrupt, the father took a position as head of production at the Siemens factory in Berlin. Young Wilhelm followed him two years later, and after finishing school, he took up an apprenticeship as a mechanic for Siemens which he didn't finish. Subsequently, he worked as a messenger and scrivener at the Distict Court in Berlin.

In 1919, he took up acting lessons and was cast in smaller roles at the Deutsches Theater and the affiliated Kammerspiele, and finally was put under contract as an ensemble actor. He predominately played young lovers and comic parts, and in 1922, he joined the Reinhardt Ensemble on its tour through Scandinavia.

From 1921 on, Fritsch began to appear in movies, for instance "Miss Venus". In 1923, he auditioned for the leading role of the blind artist in the melodrama "Seine Frau, die Unbekannte", which was then re-written in order to fit his rather sunny nature. Fritsch convincingly played the would-be son of an aristocrat in Joe May's "Der Farmer aus Texas", which made him the new star of the production company Ufa, and the dashing Lieutenant Niki in Ludwig Berger's "Ein Walzertraum". The latter turned out to be a significant success in the USA, but Ufa intervened when United Artists offered Fritsch a contract.

"Der Prinz und die Tänzerin" and "Der letzte Walzer" basically followed the formula of "Ein Walzertraum", and Fritsch only occasionally altered his well-established image in films like "Die Boxerbraut" or "Spione" and "Frau im Mond", both directed by Fritz Lang.

In order to prepare him for his first sound film "Melodie des Herzens", Ufa had Willy Fritsch take singing lessons. Fritsch had already played alongside Lilian Harvey in "Die keusche Susanne" (1926) and "Ihr dunkler Punkt" (1928), and the two actors teamed up again for the seminal film "operetta" "Liebeswalzer", which established Harvey/Fritsch as the immensely popular "dream couple of German cinema".

They followed "Liebeswalzer" with a string of successful musical comedies, including "Einbrecher", the box-office hit "Die drei von der Tankstelle", "Der Kongress tanzt" and "Ein blonder Traum". Each of these films featured several Harvey/Fritsch songs, which became popular hits and were also released on records, and thereby further added to the popularity of the two stars.

Fritsch had a long-term contract with Ufa and was paid a monthly salary of 20.000 Reichsmark per month, which was doubled during in the 1930s. Eschewing his trademark sonny boy persona, he proved his range as a character actor in films like "Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht", "Walzerkrieg" – starring Renate Müller – and Reinhold Schünzel's satirical romp "Amphitryon".

After Harvey had returned from Hollywood, Fritsch joined her in the propagandistic drama "Schwarze Rosen", as well as in "Glückskinder", a rather satisfying attempt to emulate Hollywood's concept of screwball comedy. In 1939, "Frau am Steuer" was to be the last collaboration between Fritsch and Harvey, who made twelve films together. While Harvey – who opposed the fascist regime – left Nazi Germany and emigrated via France to the USA, Fritsch continued his career throughout the 1940s with new partners like Marika Rökk and Marte Harell.

After the end of the war, Fritsch relocated to Hamburg. He spoofed his own image as the romantic lover in "Film ohne Titel", and excelled as the comical conférencier in "Herrliche Zeiten". Although still in high demand, Fritsch didn't find satisfying roles in West-Germany's post-war cinema. He remained a popular figure, partly due to his work as the host of nostalgic radio shows.

In 1937, Fritsch married dancer and actress Dinah Grace (née Ilse Schmidt). The couple had two sons, Michael (born 1937) and Thomas (born 1944), who also became an actor. After the death of his wife, Fritsch withdrew almost completely from public life. Willy Fritsch passed away in Hamburg on July 31st 1973.

Filmography

1969 Star unter Sternen. 4. Begegnung mit Willy Fritsch
Participation
 
1964 Das hab' ich von Papa gelernt
Cast
 
1963/1964 Jazz und Jux in Heidelberg
Cast
 
1961 Was macht Papa denn in Italien?
Cast
 
1961 Isola Bella
Cast
 
1961 The Playgirls and the Bellboy
Cast
 
1960 Liebling der Götter
Cast
 
1960 Wenn die Heide blüht
Cast
 
1959 Hubertusjagd
Cast
 
1959 Schwarzwälder Kirsch
Cast
 
1958 Mit Eva fing die Sünde an
Cast
 
1957/1958 Das gab's nur einmal
Participation
 
1957 Zwei Herzen im Mai
Cast
 
1956 Solange noch die Rosen blüh'n
Cast
 
1956 Der schräge Otto
Cast
 
1956 Schwarzwaldmelodie
Cast
 
1956 Das Donkosakenlied
Cast
 
1956 Wo die alten Wälder rauschen
Cast
 
1955 Le chemin du paradis
Cast
 
1955 Die Drei von der Tankstelle
Cast
 
1955 Drei Tage Mittelarrest
Cast
 
1955 Liebe ist ja nur ein Märchen
Cast
 
1955 Der fröhliche Wanderer
Cast
 
1954/1955 Stern von Rio
Cast
 
1954 Weg in die Vergangenheit
Cast
 
1954 Maxie
Cast
 
1953/1954 Par ordre du Tsar
Cast
 
1953/1954 Ungarische Rhapsodie
Cast
 
1953 Damenwahl
Cast
 
1953 Wenn der weiße Flieder wieder blüht
Cast
 
1953 Von Liebe reden wir später
Cast
 
1952 Ferien vom Ich
Cast
 
1952 Mikosch rückt ein
Cast
 
1952 Am Brunnen vor dem Tore
Cast
 
1951 Die Dubarry
Cast
 
1951 Grün ist die Heide
Cast
 
1951 Die verschleierte Maja
Cast
 
1950/1951 Schön muß man sein
Cast
 
1950 König für eine Nacht
Cast
 
1950 Mädchen mit Beziehungen
Cast
 
1950 Die wunderschöne Galathee
Cast
 
1949/1950 Sie sind nicht mehr
Participation
 
1949/1950 Herrliche Zeiten
Cast
 
1949 Schatten der Nacht
Cast
 
1949 Kätchen für alles
Cast
 
1949 Derby
Cast
 
1949 12 Herzen für Charly
Cast
 
1948 Finale
Cast
 
1948 Hallo - Sie haben Ihre Frau vergessen
Cast
 
1947/1948 Leckerbissen
Participation
 
1947/1948 Film ohne Titel
Cast
 
1945 Die tolle Susanne
Cast
 
1944/1946 Die Fledermaus
Cast
 
1944/1945 Das Leben geht weiter
Cast
 
1943/1944 Junge Adler
Cast
 
1943 Die Gattin
Cast
 
1943 Der kleine Grenzverkehr
Cast
 
1942/1943 Liebesgeschichten
Cast
 
1942 Geliebte Welt
Cast
 
1941/1942 Wiener Blut
Cast
 
1941 Leichte Muse
Cast
 
1941 Dreimal Hochzeit
Cast
 
1940-1942 Anschlag auf Baku
Cast
 
1940 Das Wunschkonzert
Cast, Vocals
 
1940 Die keusche Geliebte
Cast
 
1940 Die unvollkommene Liebe
Cast
 
1940 Das leichte Mädchen
Cast
 
1939-1941 Frauen sind doch bessere Diplomaten
Cast
 
1939 Frau am Steuer
Cast
 
1939 Die Geliebte
Cast
 
1938 Preußische Liebesgeschichte
Cast
 
1938 Am seidenen Faden
Cast
 
1938 Das Mädchen von gestern Nacht
Cast
 
1937/1938 Zwischen den Eltern
Cast
 
1937-1939 Streit um den Knaben Jo
Cast
 
1937 Gewitterflug zu Claudia
Cast
 
1937 Sieben Ohrfeigen
Cast, Music performer
 
1936/1937 Menschen ohne Vaterland
Cast
 
1936 Glückskinder
Cast
 
1936 Boccaccio
Cast
 
1935 Schwarze Rosen
Cast
 
1935 Amphitryon
Cast
 
1934 Prinzessin Turandot
Cast
 
1934 Die Insel
Cast
 
1934 Die Töchter Ihrer Exzellenz
Cast
 
1933 Walzerkrieg
Cast
 
1933 Saison in Kairo
Cast
 
1933 Des jungen Dessauers große Liebe
Cast
 
1932 Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht
Cast
 
1932 Ein blonder Traum
Cast
 
1932 Ein toller Einfall
Cast
 
1932 Der Frechdachs
Cast
 
1931 Ronny
Cast
 
1931 Der Kongreß tanzt
Cast
 
1931 Im Geheimdienst
Cast
 
1930/1931 Ihre Hoheit befiehlt
Cast
 
1930 Die Drei von der Tankstelle
Cast, Vocals
 
1930 Hokuspokus
Cast
 
1930 Einbrecher
Cast
 
1929/1930 Liebeswalzer
Cast
 
1929 Melodie des Herzens
Cast
 
1928/1929 Frau im Mond
Cast
 
1928/1929 Rund um die Liebe
Participation
 
1928 Ungarische Rhapsodie
Cast
 
1928 Der Tanzstudent
Cast
 
1928 Die Carmen von St. Pauli
Cast
 
1928 Ihr dunkler Punkt
Cast
 
1927/1928 Spione
Cast
 
1927/1928 Schuldig
Cast
 
1927 Der letzte Walzer
Cast
 
1927 Die Frau im Schrank
Cast
 
1926/1927 Die selige Exzellenz
Cast
 
1926/1927 Die sieben Töchter der Frau Gyurkovics
Cast
 
1926 Die keusche Susanne
Cast
 
1926 Die Boxerbraut
Cast
 
1926 Der Prinz und die Tänzerin
Cast
 
1925/1926 Die Fahrt ins Abenteuer
Cast
 
1925 Ein Walzertraum
Cast
 
1925 Der Tänzer meiner Frau
Cast
 
1925 Das Mädchen mit der Protektion
Cast
 
1925 Blitzzug der Liebe
Cast
 
1924/1925 Der Farmer aus Texas
Cast
 
1924 Mutter und Kind
Cast
 
1924 Guillotine
Cast
 
1923 Seine Frau, die Unbekannte
Cast
 
1923 Die Fahrt ins Glück
Cast
 
1922/1923 Hallig Hooge
Cast
 
1922 Der Heiratsschwindler
Cast
 
1921 Razzia
Cast
 
1921 Miß Venus
Cast
 

Overview

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