|ACTOR, PRODUCER, THEATRE DIRECTOR (GERMANY)|
BORN 22 Dec 1899, Düsseldorf - DIED 7 Oct 1963, Manilla|
GRAVE LOCATION Hamburg: Ohlsdorfer Friedhof (O6 (5) (ashes))
Gustaf Gründgens was born into a family of industrials. During
the First World War he served at the Western Front. After the
war he joined the theatre group Saarlouis. He worked at theatres
in Halberstadt (1920), Kiel (1921) and Berlin (1922) before
he joined the Kammerspiele in Hamburg (1923-1928).|
Allthough he was homosexual he married Erika Mann in 1926 (she was lesbian and loved Pamela Wedekind). They divorced in 1929. In 1932 he played Mephisto in Goethe's "Faust" for the first time. During the nazi era he was the intendant of the theatres in Berlin (1934-1945) by special request of Hermann Göring. In 1936 he married Marianne Hoppe, who was bisexual. They had seperate houses in Berlin and a home together in the country outside Berlin.
Because he got on so well with the nazi's, Erica's brother Klaus Mann had him in mind when he wrote his novel "Mephisto" (about an actor in the Third Reich). Mann denied that it was about Gründgens, but nobody believed him. In reality Gründgens never was a nazi himself and he took risks to protect others.
After the war Gründgens was imprisoned by the Russians for nine months. Because he had used his good relations with Hitler to help threatened fellow actors, some of them supported him during the denazification trials. He was released mainly because he had saved Ernst Busch from a certain death as Busch testified himself. Gründgens himself spoke for Emmy Goring, Veit Harlan and Fritz Hippler. When Marianne Hoppe became pregnant by the American journalist Ralph Izzard they surprisingly divorced in 1946.
From 1947 to 1955 he was general intendant in Düsseldorf. In 1955 he accepted the same position in Hamburg and once more he played Mephisto with great succes. In May 1962 he unexpectedly stated that he was unable to sing a new contract in Hamburg. His health was a mess and his doctors had told him long before that he should slow down. He left Germany to travel around the world with his 25 year old lover and adopted son Peter Gorski. In Manilla he poisoned himself with an overdose of sleeping pills and died. It was suggested that he committed suicide, but he left a note in which he stated that he felt strange because he had probably taken too many pills.
His ashes were returned to Germany and buried at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg.
Wife: Hoppe, Marianne
was a friend of Bildt, Paul
cooperated with Flickenschildt, Elisabeth
cooperated with Göring, Emmy
cooperated with Hildebrand, Hilde
directed Hiob, Hanne
was written about by Mann, Klaus
directed Maybach, Christiane
knew Neumann, Hertha
cooperated with Wedekind, Pamela
cooperated with Weisgerber, Antje
cooperated with Weissner, Hilde
Biographie: Gustaf Gründgens, 1899-1963
Baedeker's Rhine, Baedeker, Stuttgart, 1985
Leisner, Barbara, Helmut Schoenfeld, Ohlsdorf-Führer, Der, Spaziergänge auf der grössten Friedhof Europas, Hans Christians Verlag, Hamburg, 1993
Jan Erik van Hanussen
Stern, Carola, Auf dem Wassern des Lebens, Gustav Gründgens und Marianne Hoppe, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg, 2007