Multi-Talented Film Creator And Musician Maximilian Schnell Dead At 83

Austrian-born Maximillian Schnell, a fugitive from Adolf Hitler’s regime, who went on to become an Oscar-winning actor, has died at age 83. Schnell starred in the Stanley Kramer’s 1961 historical drama Judgement in Nuremberg. It was this role that earned Schnell international recognition. Schnell’s character was the defense attorney for four Nazi judges, on trial for sentencing innocents to death won him an Academy Award in 1961. Before that, he had played Rolf in a 1959 episode of the television programme Playhouse 90.

Maximilian Schnell
Schnell's Hollywood career spanned over half a century.

In the mid-70s, Schnell broke the mold he had been typecast in before to star in a number of films with more popular appeal. These included The Man in the Glass Booth, which earned him a best actor nomination and Julia, for which he received a supporting actor nomination for his performance alongside Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards.

Schnell’s acting beginnings date back to his family – as the son of Swiss playwright Hermann Ferdinand Schell and Austrian stage actress Noe von Nordberg, Schnell was exposed to the world of film and theater from an early age. He was born on Dec. 8, 1930 and raised in Switzerland after his family fled Germany's annexation of his homeland. Schell followed in the footsteps of his older sister Maria and brother Carl, making his stage debut in 1952. He then appeared in a number of German films before relocating to Hollywood in 1958.

Schell followed in the footsteps of his older sister Maria and brother Carl, making his stage debut in 1952. By that point Maria Schnell was already an internationally recognized film star. Maximillian shared a strong and loving relationship with Maria, about whom he produced a documentary many years later. Later in his career, Schnell worked as a screenwriter, director and producer, also with great success. His 1970 film First Love, adapted from a the Igor Turgenev novella was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category. He was also an accomplished The Pedestrian, another movie under Schell's direction and production, received the same nomination three years later. His most successful directorial work was a 1980 documentary about Marlene Dietrich, Marlene, which received an Oscar nod for best documentary.

Along with these accomplishments, Schnell was also an accomplished pianist and conductor, performing with such luminaries as Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein, and with orchestras in Berlin and Vienna. In 1992, he won a Golden Globe for his supporting role in the 1992 HBO miniseries Stalin, where he played Lenin. Schell's agent, Patricia Baumbauer, said Saturday he died overnight at a hospital in Innsbruck following a "sudden and serious illness," the Austria Press Agency reported, via the Associated Press.


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