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Maximilian Schell

Actor.

Born: December 8, 1930; Died: February 1, 2014

Maximilian Schell, who has died aged 83, was an Austrian actor who won the best actor Oscar in the early 1960s for his role in the drama Judgment at Nuremberg.

Schell, who was born in Vienna, won his Oscar in 1961 and was later honoured with further Oscar nominations in the best actor category for The Man in the Glass Booth in 1975 and for best supporting actor in Julia in 1977.

Born to a Swiss writer and an Austrian actress, he was the younger brother of Maria Schell, an icon of the German-speaking film world. He was raised in Switzerland after his family fled Germany's annexation of his homeland.

He 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. By then, Maria Schell was already an international film star, winning the best actress award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in The Last Bridge.

Her brother made his Hollywood debut in Edward Dmytryk's The Young Lions, a Second World War drama starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin.

He later worked as a producer, starting with an adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Castle, and as a director.

First Love, adapted from the Igor Turgenev novella - which Schell wrote, produced, directed and starred in - was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category in 1970. The Pedestrian, another movie under his direction and production, received the same nomination three years later.

Perhaps his most significant film as a director was his 1984 documentary on Marlene Dietrich, Marlene, which was nominated for a best ­documentary Oscar.

Dietrich allowed herself to be recorded but refused to be filmed, bringing out the most in Schell's talent.

"Directing is like meeting a woman," he once said. "You don't know her, but something strikes you and then you just have to go into it. Michelangelo said that in every rock there's a figure hidden. All you have to do is carve it out. With care, not haste."

He was also a highly successful concert pianist and conductor, per­forming with such luminaries as Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein, and with orchestras in Berlin and Vienna.

His most acclaimed film Judgment at Nuremberg, directed by Stanley Kramer, was a dramatisation of the war crimes trials in Germany which followed the Second World War. It focused on an international tribunal, headed by Americans, that was handling the trials of four German judges accused of knowingly condemning innocent men to death in concert with the Nazis.

For his portrayal of defence attorney Hans Rolfe, Schell earned broad international recognition. He was part of an all-star cast that also included Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Dietrich, Montgomery Clift, Richard Widmark and Judy Garland.

Schell won the Oscar for best actor, beating, among others, his co-star Tracy. The movie was nominated for 11 Oscars, including best picture, and won two Academy Awards. Among his other movies were Topkapi (1964), The Odessa File (1974), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Cross of Iron (1977), The Freshman (1990) and The Brothers Bloom (2008).

In 1992, he received a Golden Globe for his supporting role as Lenin alongside Robert Duvall in the HBO miniseries Stalin.

In a documentary entitled My Sister Maria, he portrayed his loving relationship with his sister who died in 2005. He is survived by his wife and one daughter.

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