Actor Maximilian Schell dies

LEGEND: Maximilian Schell, the first German speaking actor to win an Oscar has died.
LEGEND: Maximilian Schell, the first German speaking actor to win an Oscar has died.

Actor, filmmaker, opera director - Maximilian Schell, the first German-speaking actor ever to receive an Academy Award, died overnight on Friday (local time) in a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, after "a sudden and severe illness," his agent Patricia Baumbauer said Saturday. He was 83.

Pursuing many careers, the multi-talented Austrian still felt throughout his life that he was undervalued. He was active until the end and had just finished work on a television production at the time of his death.

Born in Vienna on December 8, 1930, and raised in Switzerland, the prolific actor and suave ladies' man rose to fame playing alongside Hollywood greats.

Schell starred with Marlon Brando in 1958's The Young Lions, and played the defence attorney in the 1961 film "udgment at Nuremberg, a role for which he was awarded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar for Best Actor in 1962. Success with Tokapi (1964), The Deadly Affair (1967) and Counterpoint (1967) followed.

In 1976 and 1978 Schell received Academy Award nominations for his roles in The Man in the Glass Booth and Julia (1977), respectively. He also had a role in the sweeping Richard Attenborough-directed historical military drama A Bridge Too Far (1977), which featured American actors Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Anthony Hopkins, Elliott Gould, Robert Redford and Gene Hackman, and Scotsman Sean Connery, along with English actors Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Denholm Elliott and Ben Cross, and Norwegian Liv Ullmann.

Despite playing leading roles in a number of Nazi-era films, Schell resisted being typecast by portraying German characters.

A heavy loss from which he never really recovered was the death in 2005 of his older sister Maria, herself a renowned actress. For many years, Schell, who started out as a theatre actor in Germany, suffered from living in the shadow of his successful sister.

Despite his Hollywood success, superstardom was denied to Schell, much to his disappointment. The charming bon vivant remained an outsider both in Hollywood as well as in Germany, where he starred in a number of TV movies starting in the early 1990s.

Schell also pursued a much-acclaimed career as a documentary filmmaker, and in later years, as opera director. While working on a television production in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel, he came down with pneumonia. He spent 10 days in a hospital and had just been released from there on Tuesday.

Schell was married to 35-year-old opera singer Iva Mihanovic. He has a daughter, Anastasia, from a previous marriage to Russian actress Natalia Andreichenko. Schell was also godfather of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.