Stage & Screen Artist
Born May 3, 1902, Vienna, Austria
Died April 22, 1983, Flower Hill, Long Island, New York
It took me years to learn that one has to own and live on a place for at least three generations to be so much as tolerated by the natives of Ottsville. To be accepted takes much longer and requires inbreeding. -Walter Slezak, What Time's the Next Swan, 1962
Walter Slezak was popular for his light musical comedy roles as well as sinister character roles in American movies. Initially discovered in a Viennese beer garden, Slezak's first role was in the Berlin film Sodom and Gomorra, 1922. Subsequent success in a Berlin operetta led to contracts with a German film company, several stage roles, and eventually the leading role in the 1930 show Meet My Sister, an American adaptation of a German musical comedy. Slezak gained stardom in America for his roles in comedies, farces, and musicals, until the 1942 film Once Upon a Honeymoon shifted his audience. His portrayal of a "nazi weasel" was so impressive that for the next ten years he was consistently cast as the villain in anti-Nazi movies. He returned to legitimate theater in 1953, appearing in productions of My Three Angels, 1953, and Fanny, 1954. Slezak was a popular attraction at the Bucks County Playhouse, and appeared in special television productions for Hallmark Hall of Fame, Playhouse 90, Ford, and Studio One, as well as 200 radio productions. Also an accomplished cook, chessmaster, airplane pilot, painter and sculptor, Walter Slezak took his own life after a long illness.