Migrants from “old” Habsburg Austria and “new” Republican Austrian left a remarkableimprint on the Hollywood film industry. Directors, producers, actors, agents, composers of film music all made vital contributions to the “most American” art form – film. Many began in entertainment and theaters in Vienna and Berlin and moved on to film – switching from theater being based on language to film dedicated to image.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947 in Thal (close to Graz), Austria. With only a few dollars in his pocket, he immigrated to the United States in 1968 at the age of 21 to pursue his bodybuilding career.
Over the years, Schwarzenegger became one of the
defining figures in bodybuilding and built an acting career culminating in numerous box office hits, including the Terminator franchise.
Also pursuing a political career, Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011.
He is pictured here in Stay Hungry (1976)
Pictorial Press Ltd/ Alamy Stock Photo
Producer Sam Spiegel was born in Jaroslaw, Austrian Poland in 1901. After attending the University of Vienna, he immigrated to the United States in 1938 via Mexico.
Spiegel, a producer, was the first to win Academy Awards for Best Picture three times, for On the Waterfront (1954), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Other well-known films produced by Spiegel include The African Queen (1951) and The Last Tycoon (1976).
Spiegel (right) is depicted here with Olivia de Havilland and David Lean at the 35th Academy Awards in 1963. Both Spiegel and Lean received Academy Awards for Lawrence of Arabia that night.
Album/ Alamy Stock Photo
Composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold was one of the most influential composers in Hollywood history. Along with Alfred Newman and Max Steiner, he is considered to be a founder of film music. Korngold moved to the United States in 1934 and began composing for Hollywood films.
He won Academy Awards for Best Original Music Score for Anthony Adverse (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Born on May 29, 1897 in Brünn (Brno), Austria-Hungary, he became a child prodigy in Vienna, where Gustav Mahler called him a “musical genius.”
Hum Historical/ Alamy Stock Photo
Actor Christoph Waltz, born into an Austrian-German theater family in Vienna, Austria in 1956, is best known in the UnitedStates through his work with director Quentin Tarantino. He received acclaim for his portrayals of Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012).
He won Academy Awards for both performances and subsequently also portrayed James Bond’s nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Spectre (2015). Christoph Waltz today lives in Berlin, London, and Los Angeles. He is depicted here next to co-star Jamie Foxx in Quentin Tarrantino’s Django Unchained (2012).
AF archive/ Alamy Stock Photo
Actress Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November
9, 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. She arrived in Hollywood via London in 1937.
Initially famous for her striking beauty and Hollywood stardom,
Lamarr was also a self-taught inventor. With composer George Antheil, she developed a spread-spectrum, “frequency hopping” technology, which is widely used in telecommunications and can be found in Bluetooth, Wifi, and other technologies.
Only more recently did her substantial contributions to modern technology receive proper recognition. In 2014 Lamarr and
Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
cineclassico/ Alamy Stock Photo
Actor Maximillian Schell was born in Vienna, Austria in 1930 (as a Swiss citizen), and while he never formally immigrated to the United States, he did leave a substantial imprint on Hollywood. Schell won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) – the first for a German-speaking actor since World War II.
In addition, he received two more Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor in The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) and for Best Supporting Actor in Julia (1977). Schell also served as a guest professor at the University of Southern California and produced a number of operas. He passed away in Innsbruck, Austria in 2014.
Johnny Weissmuller (1904 – 1984)
Swimmer and ator Jonny Weissmuller was born in Freidorf, Austria-Hungary (present-day Timisoara, Romania) in 1904. Before his acting career, Weissmuller was one of the world’s top competitive swimmers; he won five Olympic gold medals and was also the first human to swim 100 meters in under a minute.
In addition, Weissmuller also won over 50 United States championships and set over 50 world records. Weissmuller arrived in New York on the SS Rotterdam. He achieved Hollywood fame through his portrayal of Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), which propelled him to international stardom. He starred in several more Tarzan movies before switching to the role of Jungle Jim (1948) in 13 movies.
Weissmueller is pictured here arriving at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, on JUne 24, 1970
Joost Evers/ National Archives of The Netherlands/ Wikimedia
Actor Curd Jürgens, born in Solln, Germany, never formally immigrated to the United States, but has left an imprint onHollywood through his work in many productions. His first Hollywood feature was The Enemy Below (1957), he went on to portray General Günther Blumentritt in the epic war film The Longest Day (1962).
In addition, Jürgens is also known to audiences worldwide through his portrayal of bond villain Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Jürgens, who had always considered himself a stage actor, appeared in over 100 films.
He is pictured here at a book signing in Kiel, Germany on October 10, 1976.
Friedrich Magnussen/ Stadtarchiv Kiel/ Wikimedia
Art Director Harry Horner was born in Holitz, Austria-Hungary in 1910 (present-day Czech Republic). A contemporary of Max Reinhardt, Horner followed him to the United States as stage manager. As an art director, Horner won two Academy Awards for Best Production Design for The Heiress (1949) and The Hustler (1961) and was nominated a third time for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969).
Horner also worked as a director in both film and in television, including the well-known Western drama Gunsmoke (1952 – 1961).
Shown here is a movie poster for Red Planet Mars (1952), directed by Horner.
TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo
Born in Wisnitz, Austria-Hungary (in present-day Ukraine) in 1905, Otto Preminger is noted for his contributions to film noir in America as a stage and film director. In addition, he is also credited with moving the
boundaries of censorship in movies by introducing taboo topics, including the 1959 Anatomy of a Murder (thematising rape).
He was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Director.
Allan Warren/ Wikimedia
Director Billy Wilder was one of the defining filmmakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Wilder was born on June 22, 1906 into an Austrian Jewish family in Sucha Beskidzka, Austria-Hungary. He moved to Hollywood via Paris in 1933. Members of his immediate family perished in the Holocaust.
In the United States, Billy Wilder reached Hollywood superstardom with films including Sunset Boulevard (1950), Some Like It Hot (1959), or The Apartment (1960). During his career spanning over five decades, Billy Wilder received 21 Academy Award nominations and won a total of six Oscars.
He was the first person to win Academy Awards as director, producer and screenwriter for the same film (The Apartment).
CSU Archives/ Everett Collection/ Alamy Stock Photo
Director Alfred Zinnemann was born in Resche, Austria-Hungary
(Rzeszów in present-day Poland) in 1907 to a family of Austrian Jews. Both his parents perished in the Holocaust.
Zinnemann first arrived in New York City in 1929 before moving to Hollywood. There, he directed 25 feature films, including some of Hollywood’s biggest, including From Here to Eternity (1953), Oklahoma! (1955), as well as The Day of the Jackal (1973), and Julia (1977).
He debuted a number of stars, including Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, and Meryl Streep. Zinnemann’s films received a total of 65 Academy Award nominations and were awarded 24.
Zinnemann himself won four Academy Awards, for Best Short Subject for That Mothers Might Live (1938), for Best Documentary Short Subject for Benjy (1951), for Best Director for From Here to Eternity (1953) and for A Man for All Seasons (1966).
Peter Lorre (1904 – 1964) Actor Peter Lorre was born László Löwenstein in Rosenberg, Austria-Hungary (present-day Slovakia) in 1904. After enjoying a stage career in Vienna and Berlin, Lorre received international attention for his portrayal of a serial killer in Fritz Lang’s M (1931).
Lorre eventually settled in Hollywood, where he was cast in many crime and mysterie films, often as a sinister foreigner.
Alamy Stock Photo