Melvyn Douglas

Melvyn Douglas ( Melvyn Edouard Hesselnberg, born April 5, 1901 in Macon, Georgia; † August 4, 1981 in New York City ) was an American actor.


Melvyn Douglas was the son of a well-known concert pianist and early determined to go on the stage. After returning from the war, he went on tour in 1919 with various companies and finally gave in 1928 his Broadway debut as a gangster in the drama A Free Soul. His greatest success on stage he had with the Comedy Tonight or Never, in which filming alongside Gloria Swanson in 1931 he gave his debut film. His reputation as a sensitive performer of complex roles earned him a starring role in 1932 next to Greta Garbo in the adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's As You want me. The film was a success, but the subsequent roles were rather marginal and Douglas went back to Broadway in 1934.

However, a more lucrative non-exclusive contract with Columbia brought him to Hollywood, where he rose with his appearance alongside Claudette Colbert in She Married Her Boss one of the most popular comic actor of the decade. In the following years he worked with alongside some of the biggest female stars: next to Marlene Dietrich in Angel, an Ernst Lubitsch comedy, on the side of Irene Dunne in Theodora Goes Wild and repeatedly with Joan Crawford, as in burning fire of passion and the woman's face. He played his most famous role today in 1939 in Ninotchka, where he brings Greta Garbo laugh. After 1942 he again went to war. However, his films after 1946 were rarely of the quality of his previous work and Douglas returned again to Broadway. He won a Tony Award for his performance in The Best Man.

It was not until the early 1960s, Douglas returned back to the canvas and promptly won an Oscar as best supporting actor in Martin Ritt's Western Hud alongside Paul Newman. He was an active occasionally on television. For his performance in Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, he won an Emmy Award. In 1980 he was awarded for his portrayal of critically ill Ben edge in Being There again an Oscar.

His second wife was the actress Helen Gahagan, who went in the 1940s in politics and won a seat in the U.S. Congress. In 1950, she lost the election for Senator of California against Richard Nixon.

Filmography (selection)