Louis Wolheim Movies and Career Information

Louis Wolheim profile image
Mar 28, 1880
New York City
Louis Wolheim was an American character actor. His trademark broken nose was the result of an injury sustained while playing football for Cornell University. Despite his rugged visage, Wolheim was intelligent and cultivated, speaking French, German, Spanish, and Yiddish. He was also a mathematics teacher at Cornell before entering silent films in 1914. On the advice of Lionel Barrymore and John Barrymore, Wolheim entered films. Both brothers also invited him to appear in the 1919 play The Jest in which the Barrymores co-starred. He appeared in at least three films with John Barrymore, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, Sherlock Holmes and Tempest. Wolheim's fearsome visage almost immediately typecast him in roles as gangsters, executioners or prisoners. Towards the end of the 1920s he occasionally broke out of these stereotypes and played a comic Russian officer in Tempest and a rambunctious Sergeant in Howard Hughes's Two Arabian Knights. He also played a Chaneyesque gangster in Hughes's splendidly photographed The Racket. Wolheim acted primarily in silent films, because he died at the close of the silent era, but he also appeared in the talkies All Quiet on the Western Front and Danger Lights before he died.

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