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Paul Lukas Edit Profile


Paul Lukas was a Hungarian and American actor.


Lukas, Paul was born on May 26, 1895 in Budapest, Hungary. Son of Janos and Maria (Zilahy) Lukas.


Lukas was a student at the Actors’ Academy of Hungary and a leading player of the Hungarian stage and cinema when, in 1923, Max Reinhardt invited him to Vienna. As well as working in the theatre there, he made Samson and Dalila (23, Michael Curtiz) at UFA. He went back to the Budapest theatre and was spotted by Adolph Zukor, who gave him a contract with Paramount.


Ironically, having come to attention because of the enduring loyalties of Hungarians, Lukas was asked for most of his career to play stereotyped Hollywood foreigners, everything from caddish seducers to hissing Nazis. He began at Paramount with Three Sinners (28, Rowland V7. Lee) and worked steadily without establishing himself as more than support: The Woman from Moscow (28, Ludwig Berger); Two Lovers (28, Fred Niblo); Hot News (28, Clarence Badger); The Night Watch (28, Alexander Korda); Manhattan Cocktail (28, Dorothy Arzner); and The Shopworn Angel (29, Richard Wallace). The studios efforts to promote Lukas as a romantic hero were not helped by his obstinate accent, and he gradually slipped into character roles: Halfway to Heaven (29. George Abbott); The Wolf of Wall Street (29, Lee); Behind the Make-Up (30, Robert Milton); Slightly Scarlet (30, Louis Gasnier and Edwin H. Knopf); and Grumpy (30, George Cukor and Cyril Gardner).

He briefly revived his leading status opposite Ruth Chatterton in Anybody's Woman (30, Arzner), The Right to Love (31, Wallace), and Unfaithful (31, John Cromwell), but his most distinctive American role was as the gang boss in City Streets (31, Rouben Mamoulian). After The Vice Squad (31. Croimvell), Strictly Dishonorable (31, John M. Stahl), Tomorrow and Tomorrow (32, Wallace), and Thunder Below (32, Wallace), he left Paramount and freelanced: A Passport to Hell (32, Frank Lloyd); Rockabye (32, Cukor); Grand Slam (33, William Dieterle); and The Kiss Before the Mirror (33, James Whale). He now signed with Universal and, after Captured! (33, Roy del Ruth) and Professor Bhaer (at RKO) in Little Women (33, Cukor), settled into playing lead parts in relatively cheap pictures at that studio: By Candlelight (33, Whale); The Countess of Monte Cristo (34, Karl Freund); Glamour (34, William Wyler); and, at RKO, The Fountain (34, Cromwell). He free-lanced for the next few years: The Casino Murder Case (35, Lesley Fenton); I Found Stella Parrish (35, Mervyn Le Roy); Dodsworth (36, Wyler); Ladies in Love (36, Edward H. Griffith); and Espionage (37, Kurt Neumann), before leaving for England.

His work there was no more consistent, but he had the good fortune to play the villain in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (38), and this set him up as a suitable actor for the espionage movies Hollywood would shortly adopt: thus Confessions of a Nazi Spy (39, Anatole Litvak); Strange Cargo (40, Frank Borzage); They Dare Not Love (41, Whale); and most successfully, Watch on the Rhine (43, Vincent Sherman and Herman Sluimlin). The anti-Nazi agent of Lillian Heilmans play was a part Lukas had created on Broadway, and when the film wras made he won the supporting actor Oscar; he was good hi the film but it was an award worn on Hollywood’s war-conscious sleeve, which did little to improve Lukas’s prospects. He was now typecast as an anti-Nazi: Hostages (43, Frank Tuttle); Uncertain Glory (44, Raoul Walsh); and Address Unknown (44, William Cameron Men- zies).

After the war, he slipped into smaller films: the wicked husband/brother in Experiment Perilous (44, Jacques Tourneur); Deadline at Dawn (46, Harold Clurman); Temptation (46, living Pichel); Whispering City (47, Fedor Ozep); and Berlin Express (48, Tourneur). Semiretirement dated from about this period and he subsequently limited himself to supporting or cameo parts in larger films: Kim (50, Victor Saville); 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea (54, Richard Fleischer): The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (61. Vincente Minnelli); Tender Is the Night (62, Henry King); 55 Days at Peking (63, Nicholas Ray); and Lord Jim (65, Richard Brooks).


Served as aviation officer Hungarian-Austrian Army, World War. Clubs: Racquet (Palm Springs, California).


Married Daisy Benes, May 26, 1927.

Janos Lukas

Maria (Zilahy) Lukas

Daisy Benes