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Also Known As: Otto Ludwig Preminger, Otto Ludwig Preminger Died: April 23, 1986
Born: December 5, 1906 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: Austria Profession: director, producer, actor, drama professor, theater director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Along with his fellow Austrian émigré Erich von Stroheim, Otto Preminger enjoyed a long reign in Hollywood as the quintessence of the dictatorial European auteur. With his theatre work in Vienna having attracted attention from Broadway and Tinseltown, Preminger sailed to America in 1935 to begin a long and often combative relationship with Twentieth Century Fox. Locking antlers with autocratic studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, Preminger churned out several forgettable films before fleeing to New York. Again, the maverick director's stage work drew critical huzzahs and a return ticket to Hollywood. This time Preminger scored with the proto-noir "Laura" (1944), which netted him an Oscar nomination. A string of stylish thrillers, including "Black Angel" (1945) and "Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1950), established him as a world-class filmmaker while his reputation as an on-set tyrant was solidified by his performance as a Nazi prison camp commandant in Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17" (1950). A controversial figure for his taboo-shattering films "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955), "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959) and "Advise and Consent" (1962), Preminger's industry stock tumbled with the failure of subsequent...

Along with his fellow Austrian émigré Erich von Stroheim, Otto Preminger enjoyed a long reign in Hollywood as the quintessence of the dictatorial European auteur. With his theatre work in Vienna having attracted attention from Broadway and Tinseltown, Preminger sailed to America in 1935 to begin a long and often combative relationship with Twentieth Century Fox. Locking antlers with autocratic studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, Preminger churned out several forgettable films before fleeing to New York. Again, the maverick director's stage work drew critical huzzahs and a return ticket to Hollywood. This time Preminger scored with the proto-noir "Laura" (1944), which netted him an Oscar nomination. A string of stylish thrillers, including "Black Angel" (1945) and "Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1950), established him as a world-class filmmaker while his reputation as an on-set tyrant was solidified by his performance as a Nazi prison camp commandant in Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17" (1950). A controversial figure for his taboo-shattering films "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955), "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959) and "Advise and Consent" (1962), Preminger's industry stock tumbled with the failure of subsequent projects. Branded as aging and out of touch, his later films, including "Hurry Sundown" (1967), "Skidoo" (1968) and "Rosebud" (1968), were met with open critical hostility. Dead in 1986 from the ravages of Alzheimer's disease, Preminger's legacy endured, due to the legend of his larger-than-life personality, his unforgettable physical presence, and a super-sized ego that earned him the nickname Otto the Ogre.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  The Human Factor (1980) Director
2.
  Rosebud (1975) Director
3.
  Such Good Friends (1971) Director
5.
  Skidoo (1968) Director
6.
  Hurry Sundown (1967) Director
7.
  In Harm's Way (1965) Director
8.
  Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) Director
9.
  The Cardinal (1963) Director
10.
  Advise & Consent (1962) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Hollywood On Trial (1976) Himself
2.
 Stalag 17 (1953) Oberst von Scherbach
3.
 Where Do We Go from Here? (1945) General Rahl
4.
 Margin for Error (1943) Karl Baumer
5.
 They Got Me Covered (1943) [Otto] Fauscheim
6.
 The Pied Piper (1942) Major Diessen
7.
 Rickles (1975)
8.
 Hobbit, The (1977) Voice Of Elvenking
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Acting debut at age 12, the only child among adults at a poetry reading
:
Apprenticed at Max Reinhardt's Theater, Josefstadt in Vienna
:
Stage debut as Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Josefstadt Theater (not directed by Reinhardt) at age 17
1925:
Joined German theater in Aussig (now in Czechoslavakia) where he also made his directorial debut with a production of Klabund's "Kreiderkreis/The Chalk Circle"
:
Returned to Vienna to launch theater of his own, the Komedia and two years later, the Schauspielhaus while simultaneously studying law at the University of Vienna
1931:
Returned to the Josefstadt as an assistant director
1931:
Handled only law case, a breach-of-contract suit brought by a nightclub owner against actress Marion Mill (whom he represented); Preminger then cast Mill in "The Front Page" which he was directing and married her the following year
1931:
Directed first film, "Die Grosse Liebe/The Great Love"
1932:
Took over as director of the Josefstadt when Reinhardt went into semi-retirement
1935:
Invited by Joseph M Schenck to work for his newly merged 20th Century-Fox in Hollywood
1935:
Directed first Broadway play, "Libel"
1936:
Directed first Hollywood film, "Under Your Spell"
:
After falling out with Darryl F Zanuck, returned to New York and directed seven plays
1941:
Made Broadway acting debut (replacing another actor) in Clare Boothe Luce's play, "Margin for Error" (also directed)
1942:
Returned to Hollywood as an actor, playing a Nazi officer in "The Pied Piper"
1943:
Hired to recreate his role in "Margin for Error" in film version, Preminger offered to direct and star for only an actor's fee; resulted in a contract with 20th Century-Fox to act, direct and produce
1944:
Hired as producer, he also replaced Rouben Mamoulian as director on film noir classic "Laura"
1951:
Returned to the Broadway stage to direct "Four Twelves Are Forty-Eight" and "The Moon Is Blue"
1953:
Became an independent producer; first film project, "The Moon Is Blue" became first film refused Production Code seal of approval when Preminger refused to delete the words "virgin" "pregnant", "mistress" and "seduction" from the script of the film
1979:
Directed last film, "The Human Factor"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Vienna: - 1928

Notes

Preminger's "narrative lines are strewn with deceptive counterpaths, shifting viewpoints, and ambiguous characters who perpetually slip out of static categories and moral definitions...Preminger frequently mystifies the spectator who is looking for a fixed moral reference."--Richard Roud ("Cinema": A Critical Dictionary")

Writing about Preminger's 20th Century-Fox film noir classics of the late 1940s, Jean-Pierre Coursodon wrote in "American Directors": [They are] "not only thematically similar, they look alike, and generate the same kind of atmosphere....The fluidity of the camerawork is the concrete expression of his attitutde to his material. The camera unobtrusively but relentlessly follows the characters around in medium shots and long boom or dolly shots, so as to integrate them to the surroundings. Preminger's vision is a global one, he strives to capture the whole, not details--hence the paucity of close-up and reaction shots in his films....This stylistic option is consistent with Preminger's unfailingly objective attitude toward characters and situations....If the harmony of form and content, expression and intention, is the mark of 'classic' art, Preminger is one of the great classics of the American film."

In his autobiography, Preminger explains the discrepancy in his birth date and place: "One set of documents lists Vienna as my birthplace but another set...places my birth at my great-grandfather's farm some distance away. One records that I was born on the fifth of December, 1906, the other exactly one year earlier."

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Marion Mill. Actor. Married in 1932; divorced in the late 1940s; hired Preminger to represent her in the only legal case he ever handled; Preminger then cast her in the stage production of "The Front Page" which he directed (1931); became a well-known New York and Hollywood hostess.
companion:
Gypsy Rose Lee. Ecdysiast, entertainer. Mother of Erik Lee Preminger.
wife:
Mary Gardner. Model. Married in 1951; divorced in 1958.
companion:
Dorothy Dandridge. Actor, singer.
wife:
Patricia Hope Bryce. Fashion coordinator. Married in 1958; was fashion coordinator on Preminger's film "Bonjour Tristesse" (1957); mother of Preminger's twin son and daughter.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Markus Preminger. Lawyer. Chief prosecutor for the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then for the imperial army.
mother:
Josepha Preminger. Daughter of a lumberyard owner.
brother:
Ingo Preminger. Producer. Born c. 1910.
son:
Erik Lee Preminger. Writer, associate producer. Born c. 1945; mother, Gypsy Rose Lee; Preminger learned that Erik Kirkland was his son in 1971 and officially adopted him; worked for Preminger as a writer and associate producer.
son:
Mark Preminger. Born in 1960; twin of Victoria; mother, Patricia Hope Bryce.
daughter:
Victoria Preminger. Born 1960; twin of Mark; mother, Patricia Hope Bryce.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Preminger: An Autobiography" Doubleday
"All I Want is Everything"
"The Cinema of Otto Preminger"

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