German 43: Exiles and Émigrés

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Photo of Curt BoisBois, Curt

(Berlin 1901–Berlin 1991)

Actor. Appearing in movies from 1909 through 1987, he has had the longest career in German film history. A precocious child actor, Bois was made famous by his transvestite roles ("Hosenrollen") in silent comedies like Der Jüngling aus der Konfektion (1926) and Der Fürst von Pappenheim (1927). Unfortunately, the Nazis later used these scenes to tar the reputations of Jews working in showbusiness. But before emigrating to the U.S. in 1933, he also recreated the Jewish schlemihl that Ernst Lubitsch had made popular in the 1910s. His most memorable—albeit brief—appearance in an American feature came when he played the clever pickpocket in Michael Curtiz's Casablanca (1942). Eventually, Bois returned to East Berlin in 1950 to concentrate on his acting career; after spending some time with Bertolt Brecht's theater, he moved to West Berlin in 1954. Fittingly enough, this native Berliner made his final film appearance as Homer, the wandering muse of Potsdamer Platz, in Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire (1987).

GERMAN 43: Exiles and Émigrés
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