Born Franz Reichert in Munich, Germany to an actor and to a mother who was the daughter of a famous opera singer, the entertainment industry was in his blood. He immigrated to the United States in 1899, becoming a US citizen in 1911. During this period of time he worked actively on and off Broadway and was quite successful, as the above photo was taken of him in character from Broadway in 1912. Also during this period of time, he was even the head of the Brooklyn Stock Company, where at least one version on Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice was performed in Yiddish. He made his film debut straight out of his Broadway career, not as an named actor, but as a director, in 1915! This is not the usual path of silent era actors making their way to Hollywood. The film is The Case Of Becky. He did give himself a bit part in the role, something in the vein the Hitchcock would go on to do. Indeed, during the silent era, he was primarily a director. His last directorial credit comes in 1931, with him then devoting his life to acting. He is most well known to the public as the captain of the ill fated boat in the 1933 hit King Kong: Captain Englehorn. He would eventually become somewhat of a fixture in Universal Horror in the 1940's in acting roles--particularly later "Mummy" movies. His last film was Superman and the Mole-Men (1951). He passed away on 19 January 1965 at the age of 89. He is interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery. His sister, Hedwiga, would also go into acting in Hollywood.
|From King Kong 1933|