Austrian-born actor Maximilian Schell, who won an Oscar for his role as a defense attorney in Stanley Kramer’s Judgment At Nuremberg, has passed away in Austria after “a sudden and serious illness,” it was reported by the Austria Press Agency. He was 83. Schell escaped Nazi Germany with his family to Switzerland initially before becoming an actor. He began on the stage and appeared in German films before coming to Hollywood in 1958. Only three years later, in 1961, he would land what was to be the role he would be most remembered for: the defense attorney in Nuremberg who argued the fate of four Nazi judges who were on trial for sentencing innocent people to death. That role won the Oscar for Schell for Best Actor. Schell would continue a career that spanned over 60 years. His first role, however, was in the WWII pic The Young Lions with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. Other film credits include The Odessa File and A Bridge Too Far. In 1976, Schell was recognized again for a best actor Oscar nomination for The Man In The Glass Booth and two years later, he garnered another actor nomination (this time for supporting) for his role in Julia which also starred Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards. He also became an accomplished producer and director. He wrote, produced, directed and starred in First Love about a young boy who falls in love with a girl, only to realize that she is in love with his father (Schell). The film was nominated for a Best Foreign film Oscar in 1970. He next directed and produced The Pedestrian in 1973 and, once again, the film was nominated for Best Foreign film. In 1984, he directed the documentary Marlene, about the great German actress Marlene Dietrich who had agreed to participate in the film initially but when Schell showed up in Paris to film her, she changed her mind. He then persuaded her to allow him to at least record her voice. She agreed and he built the documentary around those taped interviews. Once again, the picture was nominated for an Oscar under the best documentary category. He also performed on the small screen numerous times and in 1992, he was recognized for his supporting role as Lenin in the HBO miniseries Stalin. Few know that Schell was also an accomplished concert pianist and conductor and had performed with the legendary Leonard Bernstein. Born in Austria in 1930, the actor was the son of playwright Hermann Ferdinand Schell and Austrian stage actress Noe von Nordberg. His sister, Maria Schell, was also an actress and, in fact, won the best actress at the Cannes International Film Festival for her work in The Last Bridge. She preceded him in death in 2005.
R.I.P. Maximilian Schell
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