- Category : Actor
- Type : ME
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (23)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Consciousness 3
Albert Bassermann (7 September 1867 - 15 May 1952) was a German stage and screen actor. He was married to Elsa Bassermann whom he frequently performed alongside.
Life and career
Bassermann began his acting career in 1887 in his birthplace, Mannheim. He then spent four years at the Hoftheater in Meiningen. He then moved to Berlin. From 1899, he worked for Otto Brahm. He began work at the Deutsches Theater from 1904, and in 1909 worked at the Lessing Theatre. From 1909 to 1915, Bassermann worked with Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater Berlin.
Bassermann was among the first German theatre actors who worked in film. In 1913, he played the main role of the lawyer in Max Mack's Der Andere (The Other), after the play by Paul Lindau. He also worked with German silent film directors Richard Oswald, Ernst Lubitsch, Leopold Jessner and Lupu Pick. In 1928 he appeared in the first staging of Carl Zuckmayer's Katharina Knie.
In 1933, Bassermann left Germany and lived in the United States from 1938.
Annija Simsone who played opposite Bassermann in the Neue Wiener Beuhne Theater in the 1920s wrote the following in her autobiography:"During the Hitler era, Bassermann did not perform in Germany, though Adolf Hitler personally held him in high regard; Elsa was Jewish. Bassermann was told that if he wanted to continue to perform in Germany, he would have to get divorced. He did not get divorced, but Elsa and he went to Switzerland instead."
Although his ability to speak English was very limited, he learned lines phonetically with assistance from his wife and found work as a character actor. For his performance as the Dutch statesman Van Meer in Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, Bassermann was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in 1940. He returned to Europe in 1946. His final film appearance was in The Red Shoes.
Of him, the revered American actress Uta Hagen had this to say in her acting textbook Respect for Acting.: "One of the finest lessons I ever learned was from the great German actor Albert Basserman. I worked with him as Hilde in The Master Builder by Ibsen. He was already past eighty but was as 'modern' in his conception of the role of Solness and in his techniques as anyone I've ever seen or played with. In rehearsals he felt his way with the new cast. (The role had been in his repertoire for almost forty years.) He watched us, listened to us, adjusted to us, meanwhile executing his actions with only a small part of his playing energy. At the first dress rehearsal, he started to play fully. There was such a vibrant reality to the rhythm of his speech and behavior that I was swept away by it. I kept waiting for him to come to an end with his intentions so that I could take my 'turn.' As a result, I either made a big hole in the dialogue or desperately cut in on him in order to avoid another hole. I was expecting the usual 'It's your turn; then it's my turn.' At the end of the first act I went to his dressing room and said, 'Mr. Basserman, I can't apologize enough, but I never know when you're through!' He looked at me in amazement and said, 'I'm never through! And neither should you be.'"
His illustrious career was acknowledged when he received the Iffland-Ring from the prominent actor Friedrich Haase. While Bassermann himself attempted to bestow the Iffland-Ring, he outlived each of the three grantees he chose. Not wanting to be mistaken a fourth time, Bassermann deferred making a choice; instead, a group of German actors made the decision.
Bassermann died from a heart attack while on a flight from New York to Zurich. He is buried in Mannheim.