Maximilian Schell, the Austrian born actor who starred in the 1966 film The Deadly Affair died Saturday at the age of 83. Schell was in Innsbruck when he died following a “sudden and serious illness.” Schell’s most famous Hollywood role was Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961. He played a defense attorney named Hans Rolfe in the film and won an Oscar for his role. Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Montgomery Clift, Richard Widmark and Judy Garland all starred in the film along with him.
Maximilian Schell grew up in Switzerland after his family moved there to escape Nazi Germany in 1938. The sister of actress Maria Schell, he directed a documentary about her life called My Sister Maria in 2002. He previously directed a documentary about Marlene Dietrich called Marlene in 1984.
“Directing is like meeting a woman,” he said during a Los Angeles Times interview back in 2005. “You don’t know her, but something strikes you and then you just have to go into it. Michelangelo said that in every rock there’s a figure hidden. All you have to do is carve it out. With care, not haste.”
One of the best known foreign actors in American films, Maximilian Schell also starred in Topkapi (1964), The Odessa File (1974), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Cross of Iron (1977), The Freshman (1990), Deep Impact (1998) and The Brothers Bloom (2008). In addition to acting and directing, Schell made his mark on the music world, too. He was known for playing the piano and directing operas. Conductor Leonard Berstein once remarked on Schell’s piano playing skills, calling him a “remarkably good pianist.” This was no small compliment.
Hollywood has lost yet another film legend. And while he wasn’t a U.S. born talent, he definitely left his mark as an actor in this country for the many roles he played. He leaves behind an incredible legacy.
Image via Wikimedia Commons