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Oscar Homolka 

Best known for is Oscar nominated role as Uncle Chris in I Remember Mama (1948).

Oscar Homolka in Ebb Tide (1937)

1926Adventures of a Ten Mark Note
Tragedy of the Street
The Girl Without a Homeland
Regine, die Tragödie einer Frau
The Holy Lie
The Trial of Donald Westhof
Petronella – Das Geheimnis der Berge
1928Prince or Clown
The Serfs
The Prince of Rogues
The Green Alley
1930Revolt in the Reformatory
1931Road to Rio
Zwischen Nacht und Morgen
In the Employ of the Secret Service
1932Night Convoy
Nights in Port Said
1933Moral und Liebe
Spione am Werk
Invisible Opponent
1936Rhodes of Africa
Everything Is Thunder
1937Ebb Tide
1940Seven Sinners
Comrade X
The Invisible Woman
1941Rage in Heaven
Ball of Fire
1943Mission to Moscow
1947The Shop at Sly Corner
1948I Remember Mama
1949Anna Lucasta
1950The White Tower
1951Der schweigende Mund
1952Top Secret
1953The House of the Arrow
1954Prisoner of War
1955The Seven Year Itch
1956War and Peace
1957A Farewell to Arms
1958The Key
1961Mr. Sardonicus
1962Boys’ Night Out
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
1964The Long Ships
1965Joy in the Morning
1966Funeral in Berlin
1967The Happening
Billion Dollar Brain
1968Assignment to Kill
1969The Madwoman of Chaillot
1970The Executioner
Song of Norway
1974The Tamarind Seed

He was nominated for one Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for I Remember Mama (1948).

Oscar Homolka was born August 12, 1898.

After serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War, Homolka attended the Imperial Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna, the city of his birth, and began his career on the Austrian stage. In 1924 he played Mortimer in the premiere of Brecht’s play The Life of Edward II of England at the Munich Kammerspiele, and since 1925 in Berlin where he worked under Max Reinhardt.

Other stage plays in which Homolka performed during this period include: The first German performance of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones, 1924, Anna Christie, 1924, Boubouroche (fr), 1925, Juarez and Maximilian, 1925–26, Her Young Boyfriend, 1925, The Jewish Widow, 1925, Stir, 1925, Mérimée and Courteline, 1926, Periphery, 1926, Neidhardt von Gneisenau, 1926, Dorothea Angermann, 1926–27, Der Revisor, 1926, Androcles and the Lion, 1926, Bonaparte, 1927, The Ringer and The Squeaker by Edgar Wallace, both 1927, Underworld, 1930, Today’s Sensation, 1931, The Last Equipage, 1931, The Waterloo Bridge, 1931, Faust, 1932, Karl and Anna, Doctor’s Dilemma, Pygmalion, Juno and the Paycock, and many Shakespearean plays including: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1925, Troilus and Cressida, 1927, Richard III, King Lear, and Macbeth. After his arrival in London, he continued to star on stage, including with Flora Robson in the play Close Quarters.

His first films were Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheines (Uneasy Money, 1926), Hokuspokus (Hocuspocus, 1930), and Dreyfus (The Dreyfus Case, 1930), Zwischen Nacht und Morgen (Between Night and Morning, 1930), Geheimdienst (Intelligence, 1931), Junge Liebe (Young Love, 1931), and Nachtkolonne (Night Column, 1932). According to Homolka’s own account, he made at least thirty silent films in Germany and starred in the first talking picture ever made there.

After the arrival of National Socialism in Germany, Homolka moved to Britain where he starred in the films Rhodes of Africa, with Walter Huston, 1936; and Everything Is Thunder, with Constance Bennett, 1936. Later, he was one of the many Austrian and specifically Viennese actors and theatrical people (many of them Jews) who left Europe for the USA.

Image from the movie "Ball of Fire"

Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Haydn, Oskar Homolka, Leonid Kinskey, Tully Marshall, Aubrey Mather, S.Z. Sakall, and Henry Travers in Ball of Fire (1941) © 1941 Samuel Goldwyn Company − All right reserved.

In 1936, he appeared opposite Sylvia Sidney in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Sabotage. Although he often played villains such as Communist spies and Soviet-bloc military officers or scientists, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the crusty beloved uncle in I Remember Mama (1948).

He also acted with Ingrid Bergman in Rage in Heaven, with Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, with Ronald Reagan in Prisoner of War and with Katharine Hepburn in The Madwoman of Chaillot. He returned to England in the mid-1960s, to play the Soviet KGB Colonel Stok in Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967), opposite Michael Caine. His last film was the Blake Edwards romantic drama The Tamarind Seed in 1974.

Homolka married four times:

  • His first wife was Grete Mosheim, a German actress of Jewish ancestry on her father’s side. They married in Berlin on 28 June 1928 but divorced in 1937. She later married Howard Gould.
  • His second wife, Baroness Vally Hatvany (died 1938), was a Hungarian actress. They married in December 1937, but she died four months later.
  • In 1939, Homolka married socialite and photographer Florence Meyer (1911–1962), a daughter of The Washington Post owner Eugene Meyer. They had two sons, Vincent and Laurence, but divorced after nine years of marriage.
  • His last wife was actress Joan Tetzel, whom he married in 1949. The marriage lasted until Tetzel’s death in 1977.

Homolka made his home in Britain after 1966. He died of pneumonia in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on January 27 , 1978, three months after the death of his fourth wife, actress Joan Tetzel. He was 79 years old. He and Tetzel are buried in Christ Church churchyard, Fairwarp, East Sussex, England. Their monument there is notable for having a pair of theatrical masks carved into the surface.

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