Theo Lingen

Intro Actor, film director, screenwriter
A.K.A. Franz Theodor Schmitz
Was Film director Writer Actor Stage actor Film actor Screenwriter
From Germany
Type Film, Television, Stage and Radio Literature
Gender male
Birth 10 June 1903, Hanover, Germany
Death 10 November 1978, Vienna, Austria (aged 75 years)
Star sign Gemini

Theo Lingen (10 June 1903 – 10 November 1978), born Franz Theodor Schmitz, was a German actor, film director and screenwriter. He appeared in more than 230 films between 1929 and 1978, and directed 21 films between 1936 and 1960.

Life and career

Lingen was born the son of a lawyer in the city of Hanover, and grew up there. He attended the Royal Goethe Gymnasium – the predecessor of the Goethe School – in Hanover, but left before taking the Abitur (final exams). His theatrical talent was discovered during rehearsals for a school performance at the Schauburg boulevard theatre. Beginning his professional stage career, the young actor adopted as a stage name his middle name together with that of the birthplace of his father, Lingen in the North German Emsland region. As "Theo Lingen" he performed at theatres at Hanover, Halberstadt, Münster and Frankfurt; in plays like The Importance of Being Earnest he very quickly earned a reputation as a superb character comedian, distinguished by his characteristic nasal speech. This distinction followed him when he began appearing in films in 1929, often together with the mumbling Viennese actor Hans Moser, since together they made a contrasting pair. In 1929 he was invited by Bertolt Brecht to the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, where he performed as Macheath in The Threepenny Opera. He starred in drama films like M and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse directed by Fritz Lang. Lingen and Genia Nikolajewa performing at the Scala vaudeville theatre in Berlin, 1936 In February 1928, Lingen's daughter, Ursula, was born to Bertold Brecht's then wife Marianne Zoff (1893–1984). Brecht and Zoff divorced in September; Lingen and Zoff married later the same year, they also raised Zoff's elder daughter Hanne. Conditions worsened after the Machtergreifung of 30 January 1933: Because Zoff was of Jewish descent, which under the Nazi regime usually resulted in a professional disqualification (Berufsverbot), Lingen thought about going into exile. However, because of his great popularity with the general public he was given a special permit by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to continue to perform and was able to protect his wife from persecution. In 1936 Gustaf Gründgens placed Lingen at the ensemble of the Berlin Prussian State Theatre. He also directed films like Hauptsache glücklich (1941) starring Heinz Rühmann. In 1944 Lingen moved to Vienna, and in view of the approaching Red Army retired to his cottage at Strobl on the Wolfgangsee shortly afterwards. Here for a few days in May 1945, he acted as de facto mayor, when he managed to disempower the local Nazi authorities and surrendered to the US Army at St. Gilgen. Lingen's measures were followed by the liberation of King Leopold III of Belgium and his wife by the 106th Cavalry Regiment. After the war he became a naturalised Austrian citizen, and from 1948 worked as a character actor at the Vienna Burgtheater and appeared frequently onstage in Germany, most notably in Carl Sternheim satires directed by Rudolf Noelte. Foremeost however he pursued his film career, performing in numerous comedies of varied quality, in his later days of the 1970s also on television, for example as a presenter for Laurel and Hardy films. Theo Lingen died of cancer in 1978 at the age of 75 in Vienna. The city of Vienna dedicated a grave to him at the Zentralfriedhof. The municipalities of Strobl and Lingen (in 2007) have named squares in his honor.

Selected filmography

Ins Blaue hinein (1929) Dolly Gets Ahead (1930) The Flute Concert of Sanssouci (1930) The Great Longing (1930) Ronny (1931) M (1931) My Wife, the Impostor (1931) The Firm Gets Married (1931) No More Love (1931) Frederica (1932) The Testament of Cornelius Gulden (1932) Two Heavenly Blue Eyes (1932) The Escape to Nice (1932) Modern Dowry (1932) Spell of the Looking Glass (1932) The Ladies Diplomat (1932) Gypsies of the Night (1932) You Don't Forget Such a Girl (1932) The Countess of Monte Cristo (1932) The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1932) Little Girl, Great Fortune (1933) Love Must Be Understood (1933) A City Upside Down (1933) Little Man, What Now? (1933) The Big Bluff (1933) Waltz War (1933) The Peak Scaler (1933) And Who Is Kissing Me? (1933) Marion, That's Not Nice (1933) Spring Parade (1934) My Heart Calls You (1934) The Grand Duke's Finances (1934) Paganini (1934) The Double (1934) The White Horse Inn (1935) A Precocious Girl (1934) Winter Night's Dream (1935) Held einer Nacht (1935) Thank You, Madame (1936) The Czar's Courier (1936) Heaven on Earth (1935) Fräulein Veronika (1936) Ungeküsst soll man nicht schlafen gehn (1936) Premiere (1937) The Charm of La Boheme (1937) Dangerous Game (1937) The Tiger of Eschnapur (1938) The Indian Tomb (1938) Tanz auf dem Vulkan [de] (1938) Eine Frau für drei (1939) Opera Ball (1939) Marionette (1939) The Girl from Barnhelm (1940) Herz modern möbliert (1940) Roses in Tyrol (1940) Seven Years Hard Luck (1940) The Unfaithful Eckehart (1940) Happiness Is the Main Thing (1941) L'attore scomparso (1941, author) Was geschah in dieser Nacht? (1941) Frau Luna [de] (1941, director) Vienna Blood (1942) Liebeskomödie (1942) Tolle Nacht (1942/1943) Johann (1942/1943) Es fing so harmlos an (1943/1944) Das Lied der Nachtigall (1943) Liebesheirat (1944/1945) Philine (1944/1949) Renee XIV (1946, uncompleted) Hazugság nélkül (1946) Wiener Melodien (1947) Hin und her (1947) Nothing But Coincidence (1949) Jetzt schlägt’s 13 (1950) Theodore the Goalkeeper (1950) Durch Dick und Dünn (1951) The Midnight Venus (1951) Hilfe, ich bin unsichtbar (1952) Schäm dich, Brigitte! (1952) The Thief of Bagdad (1952) Heidi (1952) You Only Live Once (1952) The Daughter of the Regiment (1953) Secretly Still and Quiet (1953) Hooray, It's a Boy! (1953) Heidi and Peter (1955) When the Alpine Roses Bloom (1955) How Do I Become a Film Star? (1955) Die Wirtin zur Goldenen Krone (1955) My Aunt, Your Aunt (1956) The Model Husband (1956) Opera Ball (1956) Almenrausch and Edelweiss (1957) Die Unschuld vom Lande (1957) Drei Mann auf einem Pferd (1957) The Legs of Dolores (1957) Was ihr wollt (1958) A Song Goes Round the World (1958) Die Sklavenkarawane [de] (1958) Im Prater blüh'n wieder die Bäume (1958) The Goose of Sedan (1959) Der Löwe von Babylon [de] (1959) The Night Before the Premiere (1959) Pension Schöller (1960) Der Musterknabe (1963) Tonio Kröger (1964) The Heathens of Kummerow (1967) Die Lümmel von der ersten Bank (1968/1970, 5 parts) We'll Take Care of the Teachers (1970) Die Feuerzangenbowle (1970) Aunt Trude from Buxtehude (1971) The Mad Aunts Strike Out (1971) Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best (1971) Die Lümmel von der ersten Bank (1971, part 6) Wenn mein Schätzchen auf die Pauke haut (1971) Die Lümmel von der ersten Bank (1972, part 7) Hauptsache Ferien (1972) Always Trouble with the Reverend (1972) Der Monddiamant (TV film, 1973) The Secret Carrier (1975) Zwei himmlische Töchter (TV, 1978) Lady Dracula (1978)

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